The Tower Journal

Robert King

Regarding the Chinese Poets

Not exiled, I can’t know what it was like
to watch, alone, the moon glide through pines,
to hear the river moving in its darkness,
and remember the wars continuing
on the borders, in the streets of the capital,

but I still watch the moon glide through pines—
everyone I’ve known now somewhere else,
the wars continuing on the borders
or in the streets of the capital—
and hear the river moving in its darkness.

The Sparrows

The sparrows of South America
don’t worry about speaking Spanish
the way the sparrows of New York

or Rock Springs, Wyoming, aren’t concerned
about the prevailing tongue. They speak
what God speaks—why we have so many

religions, troubled in translations—
but they don’t care. God dies, they don’t
notice. Rises, they’re looking away

despite our belief that He watches
over them, even the Least Sparrow.
They’ve come to my table but not to me,

nor do they notice. Intense, “they’re not busy,”
Jim Harrison once pointed out—“they’re hungry.”
Gravel is gravel anywhere and the sun,

which closely watches over them, doesn’t know
rock from temple, bread grain from bone from God,
but they know in the cities there lies some

tiny food and they continue intently,
chirping profound exclamations
throughout their own vast, vivid empires.

Losing My Senses

I don’t smell good.
I mean, smell well. Oh,
I can detect sour milk
or a nearby cigar
but the last scent
I’m down to was
Marilyn’s in high school.

After my dates, mother
enjoyed waving her hands
in front of her face as if
to ward off a sweetheart’s allure
which may have been gardenia.

So I apparently need excess.
Shout, as I’m getting old
in the ear. Hand me a pickle
or pepper to give me taste.

Bathe your beautiful
nakedness in Exotic Nights,
my dear, or smoke a cigar
if you’d make an impression
upon this failing system.

Oh, Marilyn. Where are you now?
And do you still smell good?

Copyright © 2014 Robert King

Robert KingRobert King’s first book, Old Man Laughing (Ghost Road Press), was a finalist for the 2008 Colorado Book Award in Poetry and his second, Some of These Days has appeared in 2013 from Conundrum Press. He recently won the Grayson Books Chapbook Competition with Rodin & Co. He lives in Greeley, Colorado, where he directs the website

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014