Posts Tagged ‘poetry

11
Aug
12

Cultivate

Cultivate

Everyone has a love –
something they love
or something they love to do.
I have a niece who
loves animals beyond measure
and the art of animation too.

I have another niece who loves history.
And I have sons who are athletes
with a love for everything baseball.
If I ask them for a reason, I might
just get a shoulder shrug or an
“I don’t know. I just do.”

And that’s enough.
Your love never needs a reason
or a defense –
it’s yours.
All we can do
is support each other
finding who or what it is
we love.

[copyright 2012 Darren King]

29
Sep
09

Calling

Everyone has one –
the churched, the unchurched,
the atheists too –
because it’s a spiritual decision to be an atheist.

We’re not talking about vocation,
or career, or making a living.
It’s about your life’s work –
your life as purpose
your life as revolution.

[copyright 2009] Darren King

12
Sep
09

Revolutions

Not all are violent.
The good ones, the really good ones,
are quiet, unassuming and take place

when no one is listening, while no one is watching.
A man sits, he mediates, he prays –
and the world is changed.

A young girl hears her teacher’s words,
sets her life on a new trajectory –
and the world is changed.

A mother prepares her canvas,
paints a metaphor for time and space –
and the world is changed.

[copyright 2009 Darren King]

11
Sep
09

Carrying On

Carrying On

By Darren King
[copyright 2009]

During difficult times
we are sometimes told to move on –
to move on and get on with our lives.
But moving on is synonymous with denial.
Moving on is an attempt to escape
the full effect of events
that unfold in our lives.
I don’t know how to move on –
I only know how to carry on.
Please don’t push –
I will not be hurried, thank you.
I will not be rushed.
I will not move on
and ignore my grief.
I will not move on
and deny my grief.
I will not move on
and deny the lessons
to be learned from it all.
I am a soul.
I need time.
Time to absorb what has happened.
Time to think, time to reflect.
Time to pray, time to listen.
Time to realize I have been changed.
Then, and only then, I will carry on.
Centered.
Taking with me the memory
of what has happened,
never to forget where I was,
what I was doing,
listening to how my children’s
world had changed.
And when my oldest
asks me,
What happens now?
I say kindly,
We carry on.
We pray, we give, we remember –
we carry on.

31
Jul
09

Sheep Not of This Fold

Sometimes I wonder if at the end of the day
it all comes down to love, nothing more –
love was enough to correct the sins of this world

and yet set the world on its head too
as telling from well-written, pragmatic doctrine
acknowledge the concept, ignore the application –

                  my brother’s keeper, love my neighbor

cloak personal responsibility with compassionate conservatism,
an oxymoron if there ever was one
keeping us from the core, the root of the message, the root of the vine –

                  When branches become bold and grow too far
                  they become heavy under their own weight –
                  and break.

If, as my friend says,
all theology is autobiographical
then he is right: love be the answer –

my biography, my choice, driven by one question –
what force guides my hand in this world?
One question. That’s all.

Do I have to name-drop Jesus for everything I do?
How much bad theology can I fabricate
pimping Jesus as means for my transparent and mortal ends?

                   Justify my greed. Justify my worldliness.

Must I say His name for others to know I am in this fold?
A fold seemingly that has become a twisted marketing scheme
propped up by bad theology and simple answers?

And sermons finely crafted to wiggle my way off the moral hook
sermons that all end in John 3:16
and an “amen” yelled from a popular elder

leaning against the back wall of some
gymnasium-converted-into-worship center
who asked the prayer chain on Tuesday night

to pray for his doomed 401K after betting on China
and lead-painted toys and designer knock-offs made by children
like the purse his wife carries to class on Sunday.

They’re godless communists, look where that got ’em.

Go ahead Brother, as you like to call each other,
drive your SUV into the city where you are completely lost
if it helps your conscience –

tell your friends if it makes you feel bigger
the next time you’re downtown
for a sporting event. Take a boat into a remote village

on your mission trip shouting His name
over a malaria-infested river so all know
who it is, who sent you.

Hold your stale cracker up
to the dry mouths of the poor
make them mouth the words Brother

say you love Him, c’mon say it
say you are saved –
and eat.

[copyright 2009] Darren King

07
Jul
09

Today, Here, Now – Listen

Today, Here, Now – Listen

I wanted to write something positive.
Tell you about the weather –
how blue the Michigan sky has been,
how green the grass in our yard,
the slightest cool breeze during our evenings.
I wanted to tell you I have healthy children,
a loving and supportive wife who’s also a friend,
a home and plenty of food –
like missing a doomed flight,
born on the right continent at the right time –
spending the rest of my days
converting survivor’s guilt to thanksgiving.

[copyright 2009 Darren King]

15
Jun
09

Sunday

Sunday

Today is a day of turning pages,
turning corners.
We watch our boys carry
a bucket of baseballs, mitts,
a couple of bats and a cooler
with waters up the path from our house
through the woods and up to the meadow
where some kindly neighbor mows
a baseball diamond.
They’ll throw down the
polyeurethane squares I found
after I cleaned out a stockroom
at work, use them for bases
and measure out the distance
sixty-feet apart like so,
arrange teams using a
variety of criteria like
player size, age and skillset
to be fair and start the summer right.
You and I
we read.
You a novel.
Me, a book of poems.
I sip a beer and smell the pines,
new mown grass, something sweet,
flowers perhaps.
I hear the sounds of healthy children
playing in yards adjacent to our’s.
I hear the squeaks and tweets from
birds and hear the hijinks from the chipmunks
in the woods and others who stay on
our patio, playing in our landscaping.
And turning a page to another poem
in a book by another Michigan writer
I turn a page in another chapter
of my life, see it is blank,
clean and ready to be written.

[copyright 2009 Darren King]

04
Jun
09

Big Sur (or, working from my wife’s studio)

This painting by another artist
in my wife’s studio,
the painting she found years ago
at a garage sale
in our old neighborhood where we
lived after we were first married,
I wonder if the artist knows,
if she ever speculates
that I’ve walked the brush strokes
of her foamy shores
and have sat for hours in the cove
she fashioned patiently,
just for me.
And for weeks now I’ve listened
to her waves and never tire
of the salty breeze
off her aqua-blue water.
And all the calls from corporate world
can not detract me from her horizon,
where she has painted
water meeting sky meeting water.

[copyright 2009 Darren King]

26
Apr
09

R

R

By Darren King
[copyright 2009]

We gathered for Christmas,
all of us there,
all of us –
sharing couches and floor
with the grandchildren playing board games,
except me
who remained in the kitchen
putting, as I must, an order to things.
Perhaps,
you are stronger than I.
You seemingly shake
off easily what I can not.
Me
I must stop. Contemplate.
As I do this very night counting –
ten water glasses, ten dinner plates,
the sounds from ten hearts beating
in our home.

14
Dec
08

Rock Star

Rock Star
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

If Jesus were music
he’d be a rock band –
not Bach or Debussy
with their soft violins
their tranquil images
sheep safely grazing
and clair de lune –
he’d be thundering drums
and a chorus of electric guitars
powered by a wall of
Marshall amplifiers.
Because he didn’t mean
for the sound of his words
to pass casually by our ears
like white-noise
like a muted soundtrack
to our daily grind.
He didn’t mean for his
words to affect us
like opium
as Karl Marx thought
medicating us into
quiet complacency.
He wanted his words
too loud to ignore
to awaken a deaf world
telling us
dance
shout
and sing dream on
walk this way
and for his final encore
to storm into the dens
of this world’s thieves
flipping over their money tables.

11
Dec
08

Spreading the Word

Spreading the Word
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

Besides the obvious reasons
my wife wonders about
my keeping poetry anthologies
on the tikki-looking stand
next to the toilet
in our powder room.
You’re so odd
she says to me –
like I’ve gone all evangelical
and left a Bible out
with little pieces of paper
strategically placed
into dog-eared pages
marked by yellow high-lighter.
But even if I did
I wouldn’t steer my captive reader
to the obvious, more popular passages
known even in secular circles
because I know I only
have their attention
for about five minutes –
fifteen maybe, if it’s a man.
You’ve got to entice them
get their interest now
move them beyond the canon
of Frost’s, Dickinson’s and Poe’s
so when they leave
the new words remain
lingering
unfinished thoughts
waiting to be processed
so they will look them up later
on their own
when it is safe
when no one is watching.

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.

09
Nov
08

Carol

Carol
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

I didn’t want you
to have to be that person –
who walks to the edge
of the abyss
and looking down into
its murky depths
walks in
undaunted
if but to hang on
to someone you love
as if going in yourself
you could bring him back.
I didn’t want you
to have to be that person
you who are too good
too kind
and now all too knowing
of what angels know
what is there
what the rest of us
can only wonder
assuming we are allowed
even to speculate
what it was you saw.
But it is telling now and
for me a haunting glimpse
when someone recently
asked you in mixed company
Carol what is it you are afraid of
you smiled and replied softly, kindly
in the only language you know –
I’m not afraid of anything anymore.

04
Nov
08

In Somebody Else’s Shoes (or, why I lean left)

In Somebody Else’s Shoes (or, why I lean left)
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

It’s not so much
that I don’t recognize
these are good paying jobs
for an unremarkable town like this –
with no apparent downtown
and the discount chainstores
unloaded just off the interstate exit.
And I recognize people must own
the choices they make.
She’s all too young though, too comfortable
in factory life –
with her over-sized Kevlar gloves
and safety glasses clamped to her face,
fair and framed by a few
loose locks of blonde hair.
She manages herself all too well
among the hazards, the dials, the danger.
Born into other circumstances,
this day in autumn
might have been different.
But here on this cold plant floor,
her shift just starting and
lunch four hours away,
everything grey,
everything the same,
the first part she will make
indistinguishable from her last.

29
Oct
08

Orion Outside My Door

Orion Outside My Door
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

Walking out my front door
the other morning
I felt the sting of cold air –
it’s come early this year,
and noticing it was also dark
looked up out of habit
as I do each October
for Orion’s return –
his intimidating stance,
his drawn sword,
ready to strike,
but does not strike,
his infamous
belt of three stars.
Here I am
just north of forty
having always lived
in houses facing south.
His presence is as comforting
as it is unnerving
as only something so
powerful can be.
And I haven’t decided
after all these years
if he’s friend or foe.
On some mornings
he appears to be
looming over my house.
On others, he hovers,
protectively,
like the bearer of bad news
who has come to comfort,
which plays with my darker side.
What ominous event comes this autumn
that I need protecting?
What is it this winter brings
that I need heaven’s sentry?

28
Oct
08

The Space Between

The Space Between

“And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding.”
-First Verse, The Tao Te Ching

By Darren King [copyright 2008]

This is the place
where things are
neither black or white.
Not so much grey really
but silver –
metallic reflects hope
like pixie dust,
there is still room
for magic and miracles,
for possibilities.
This is the place
of holy ground,
where we seek
no answers and
welcome the question.
This is the place
where we dwell
into the mystery –
between the secular
and the august,
between the heart
and the intellect,
between belief
and unbelief.

23
Oct
08

15th Anniversary (or, why we still hold hands)

15th Anniversary (or, why we still hold hands)
By Darren King [copyright 2008]

Because we know how dangerous
this world can be,
how fragile.
Because we know the power
of words –
how they can hurt,
destroy,
undo,
how they can heal,
mend,
all that we have done
to garrison this union.

Lord knows
I can piss you off
like nobody’s business.
But here we are,
fifteen years later,
after dating
nine and a half weeks
and a nine-month engagement,
just north of forty,
with two children,
one who looks like you,
one who looks like me,
living, as you say, the kit
the corporate job,
the house,
the minivan,
the Saturday soccer games.

But after the children have grown
I want to raise a barn with you
and fill it with your paintings.
And in the other half
my instruments
and you will paint
and I will write music
because time really
doesn’t change who we are,
like that Saturday morning
when the boys were little
and we were rollerblading
in the basement
with your U2 blaring
out of my circa 1987 stereo.
Or like the first night
we met,
a blind date,
when we talked about religion
and politics and relationships,
about being real,
and knowing when something
significant is happening
while it is happening.

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

A Testament to Freedom

A Testament to Freedom by Darren King [copyright 2008]

For Pfc. Joseph Sturgis, Jamestown NY

I sat next to him on a flight
from Atlanta to Detroit
and closed my book somewhere
over the Tennessee Valley –
he wasn’t ever going to stop talking.
He was going home
on a seventeen-day leave of absence
after basic training,
then onto a twelve-month
stint in Korea.
He was going home to tell his father
how sorry he was,
for the trouble he had caused,
the worry.
He was going home to tell his father
he had become a man
and was someone to be proud of.

04
Oct
08

REESE’S FAMILY

By Darren King [copyright 2008]

REESE’S FAMILY

It’s what you wrote
there in our driveway
the weekend after
you turned five –
uppercase letters
in pink sidewalk chalk
perfectly centered across
a score in the pavement.
You drew a large
pink heart
above your words
then stood back
and smiled –
the way one smiles in pride
for his lineage, his name –
this is my home,
these are the people I love,
these people belong to me.

03
Oct
08

First Born

By Darren King [copyright 2008]

Your formal name
is derived from Old English.
But ever since you were born
we preferred its Irish form
meaning spirited;
which more suit
your personality as an infant,
especially as a toddler
and definitely as the
undaunted young man of ten
I drove to hockey on
winter Saturday mornings.
You are your mother
and your father both
when at their very best.
You have inherited
their eccentricities
which can make you
difficult to parent
and for other children
easy to admire.
And when Sage our cat
had to be put down,
you wanted to go with us,
to be there for him.
And if we had let you,
you would have stayed,
I know you would have.
But it was one of those times
(please forgive us)
when we tried not to forget
that you were still just a boy
when we were trying so much
to do the right thing for you,
when nothing else about that
sad, sad day felt right.
But let me say this –
when sorrow is overcome
by bravery
for someone you love,
it means you are too good
for this world of cabbages and kings,
which places you my son
among its saints.

02
Oct
08

Honey I get it. I really do.

By Darren King [copyright 2008]

 

There’s the first life you live –
the one where you help
your little boy clean himself
after with limited success
he’s used his big-boy potty seat
and then you wipe up the
cat puke in the foyer
you swiffered the night before
after Letterman.
It’s the life where
piles of laundry rule your space
but you’ve grown to ignore
them as a strong-hold defense
against insanity.
Make the beds, wash the dishes,
vacuum the floors, you’re too
busy to make lists and by evening
you’re waiting for your husband
so you can start dinner.
And when he finally arrives he’s late
and smells of his lunch he ate
peacefully in a nice restaurant
with his colleagues –
all of whom are over the age of four.
He comes in through the front door,
unscrews the top of his head, places his brain
on the table in the hall and asks,
“How was your day?”
Your second life
is the one where you imagine yourself
among your artists acquaintances
on a sunny Thursday afternoon
in a University town,
the streets have been blocked off,
you’re in a white, tented booth
with your name on the outside,
listed above the town you’re from,
your artist booth number.
You sip vendor lemonade as
your shoulders pink over the day
and you talk with attractive,
culturally-sensitive people who
upon approaching your work
ask you many interesting questions –
none of which have to do with laundry,
the best swiffer or pet vomit.
You love your children.
You love your husband.
But at least once a day, every day,
the possibility of your second life
will see you through
the reality of your first.

 

28
Sep
08

berrying

Berrying

“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back and get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless.” – Deuteronomy 24:19

I keep searching
hoping
to uncover some hidden truth
to glean a revelation
like the poet who stares into a painting
and awaits the spark
when all he sees are dots
acrylic and oil chaos
and randomness
like an unkind god.
But the Lord is kind
and the Lord gives and
the Lord has taken away
and it comes to me
my father’s death
three years ago this day.
His host returning
to the same earth and dust
no hidden truths
no revelations –
only a remembrance
and itchy plants
and cool earth
and strawberries sweetly
suspended in disbelief.

[copyright 2008 Darren King]

28
Sep
08

some choices, some luck, mostly grace

By Darren King [copyright 2008]

I like grocery shopping with my wife.
We don’t do it often. Mostly
when the children are with my in-laws.
Sometimes we catch a movie,
or we end up in a bookstore,
or a coffeehouse,
or the university town near our home.
And sometimes we go grocery shopping.
My wife pushes the cart and makes the choices.
I saunter behind her, or ahead of her.
I keep on an eye on her purse in our cart
while she inspects pineapples or kiwi or strawberries
and tells me the names of vegetables
her Grandma Dorothy grew –
vegetables I’ve never heard of much less eaten.
I check out magazines, books and snacks,
things she repeats we will never buy.
So I drink the free coffee
they offer in the corner of the store.
And it’s then I realize how grateful I am
for my life and the way it has unfolded.

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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