Archive for the 'writing' Category

01
Dec
08

In Memoriam

In Memoriam
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

I’m so sorry things
did not work out
for you in the end
as you planned
as we all plan
when we are young –
44 is young.
Like so many others
I knew you only
through your accomplishments
which were many,
more than most.
I knew you through
your essays
introspective pieces
of your life revealed
each one a little picture
of the place we lived
when we were young
we could see it
touch it
feel it
we had been there
we had felt
that kind of cold
that sticks the snow
on our knitted mittens
to our skin
until we could get back inside
where it is warm and
the thaw how it hurts
red fingertips and ears
and where I learned
we had a son the same age
we were both from Michigan,
writers.
In the photograph
you are smiling
eyes bright
clearly outside as evident
by the cold on your face
fair and framed by
a few frozen locks
of light brown hair,
pen and paper in-hand,
looking always the writer.
I said I did not know you
I don’t
only through your work
as I read this night
flipping
through old magazines
looking for your essays
and others too on-line
readers, writers
who knew you
only virtually.
But your passing is so sad
and it stayed with me
this snowy evening
and I said a prayer
in the car
and then at dinner
it was the proximity
of our lives
the weight of it all
I thought of your son
as I watched my son
struggle to twirl his spaghetti
onto his fork
which eventually he did
just as I was about
to ask him if he needed help
and then he slurped
what did not make it
onto his utensil
but dangled between
his mouth and his bowl
as young boys do for economy.
Your son will do that too –
your son who’ve you left
a grandmother who is there
and friends
who only loved you
and you’ve left him
with two strong names
which he will need
as he grows
and remembers all
you’ve taught him
and will continue to teach him
now that you’re gone.
And you’ve left him
your life’s work
proximity to you
a map to your spirit
a map forever to find
his way to his life with you.

17
Oct
08

Veteran in a New Field

Veteran in a New Field
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

I’m not sure exactly
how these things happen.
I started out on this path
waking early for years –
a burst of creative expression
in written word,
a whole body of work produced.
But then there is the other work too –
that puts the food on the table,
that pays the bills.
This work takes precedent
as it should
over the negotiations
of sentences and syllables.
But it as if I threw my hands into the air
and became less willing to brave
the loneliness of empty thoughts.

No wonder then, I take to poets
who were farmers, or who grew up on farms.
Farming and writing –
both require a lot of heavy lifting
and waking early and lonely hours
when there is no one to help,
no one but you
to get what needs to be done, done.
Lord knows you’re not in it for the pay
and you wonder if anyone even notices,
if anyone even cares.
And then you hit a drought,
or a stone and the wheels fall off,
all seems lost,
you can’t get it back together
you can’t get it back in the groove
you were in when everything
seemed so easy.
Hope becomes a thread
from which you hang yourself
grasping for any straw,
any straw that will see you through the day,
any straw that says things will turn up.

But then the thought comes to you
that maybe the drought is
part of the process –
to slow you down
to reprioritize your day
to get your bearings straight
to remember who you are
and speak the plain language
of the land you know
but have forgotten –
to plow ahead and be brave enough
to dig a little deeper and flush out
what was already there,
what has always been there.

12
Oct
08

Billy, Chad and Tikki Tikki Tembo

Billy, Chad and Tikki Tikki Tembo
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

When my son’s friend peddled his bicycle out of
our neighborhood for what would be his last time
and his life forever separated from our’s,
first by distance and eventually by time,
I thought of you, Billy, and your last day in our First Grade class.

Life provides a list of sorrows and sadnesses
seemingly connected and thirty-odd years later,
I remember now, your moving away.
You displayed and dispensed
justice and had a sense of yourself

you needn’t prove to the other children.
You were a leader worthy to follow and so
I gladly played my role as your right-hand man
on the playground and in the halls of school.
I shadowed you that day in class

and was certain someone would notice
and then point out to embarrass –
the lump I could only feel in my throat.
At recess, with you and another boy
as captains, we were divided into two teams

and played one last game of kickball,
everyone else acting as if nothing
would change later that day
when the dismissal bell rang. Your empty desk
the next morning came as a surprise to me.

I don’t know why. Perhaps it was your nametag
the three-by-five index card, still taped to your desk
which wasn’t your desk anymore. And Mrs. Clancy,
with whom I was hopelessly in love, reading to us and I,
cross-legged at her feet, sat mesmerized by her story

of the Chinese boy and his family who lived in the
wonderful ink-and-wash drawings with fanciful swirls
and the bricked well, the old man sleeping, always by a tree
and the boy, always the boy, in water up to his eyes,
waiting to be noticed, waiting to be rescued.

08
Oct
08

Coming Home

Coming Home
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

Traveling for business is odd. At least when you do it as frequently as I do. It’s necessary. But it’s odd. The drama that comes with airports and shuttles. Rental cars and hotels. Sometimes I feel like Steve Martin in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”. Take a flight, add in a lay-over, a whacky flight attendant and an irate passenger, throw in some bad weather and you’ve got the makings of a screenplay.

But traveling for me is necessary. There just are some things you can’t do over the Internet. You can not replace the value of time spent with someone face-to-face. Yet, while I am traveling, building relationships elsewhere, the relationships back home are on-hold in the same physical sense. I can communicate with my wife and children by cellphone and emails. But it’s not the same as actually being home. I don’t kid myself about these things. When I’m away – I’m away. And after a few days days, being in a hotel room without your family? It gets old. Fast. And because I travel so frequently, when I do I enter into a whole other life. A very different life. Alone and with a whole different set of habits and routines that kick in as soon as I hit the airport.

I always fool myself into thinking I’m going to catch up on sleep. This is usually a sign that I’ve started the trip already sleep-deprived. However, as soon as I get to my hotel room it’s a different story. I unpack my clothes. I set out my toiletries and find a plug to charge my cellphone. I pull back the bedding, unpack my laptop and sit cross-legged on the bed while flipping channels on the television. I read. I write. I catch up on emails. The news. I prepare for the next day’s set of meetings. I call business contacts who have left messages at two phones. I call my family to say good night. I stay up too late. I have the whole routine down. Like other habits, it’s all very easy. After a few days of this, I’m ready for home.

This week I was back in the great state of North Carolina. One of my frequent trips to Durham. Making the time away a little more bearable, I stay across from Papas Grille right in Durham. The friendly couple who own and run the restaurant also own and run the coffee house next door. She makes my morning coffee. He makes my dinner.

“Hello Darren!”, she says, when she sees me on the first morning of my first full day.

“Can you turn my light on dear?”, she says.

Six-foot, three, she is asking me to reach up and pull the little chain for the light at the front of the cafe’, like I’m the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph, putting the star on the Christmas tree. “And he doesn’t even need a step ladder!” She stands behind the espresso machine watching me; a large, skim, hazelnut, latte’ already in the works.

“How long are you staying this time?”

“Four days,” I say, “through Thursday evening.”

“Oh good. Then I will see you for dinner?”

“Yes,”.

“Good,” she says. “We will make you something very special.”

So this is how my week away from home went. And will go. I rise early. I stay up late. I work. I hear a lot of funny conversations. I miss my family. But I see her each morning when she has already started my coffee and asks me to pull the little chain for her light. And I will see them at night when he makes my dinner. And when things slow down, we’ll watch CNN on the flatscreen in the corner of the bar. We’ll talk about politics, the stock markets. We’ll talk about her grown sons and my young boys and compare the weather here in Durham to home, in Greece and Michigan.

02
Sep
08

Antidote to the Rejection Letter

Antidote to the Rejection Letter
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

The dream is always the same –
she is sitting next to me,
confident, beautiful,
gracefully turning
the pages of my poems,
telling me her favorites –
I love the imagery in this stanza,
that word, it’s so effective,
I must share it, she says.
With perfect enunciation
she reads aloud my work,
my words.
My poems sound so relevant,
so necessary,
when Oprah is reading them.




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