Robert S. King



Carrot biters or flesh predators,
everyone eats corpses every day.
Animal lovers, saints who don’t
eat meat, feast on bodies
once buried in garden rows.
All children of nature learn
to bite beyond remorse.

If we ponder the murders,
hear the wailing ghosts
of beasts and plants, our hearts
might break like mirrors.
Perhaps then we’d rather starve
or eat ourselves
than take another life.

Between Fire and Ice

In my old age
all pain is young,
is a child trapped
in a burning house
without doors.

The body is a stranger’s
made of ice, cold
to the touch, fevered
by the old dreams
burning down.

Downslide, Song of My Father

                    —for B. N. King, Guitarist and Clockmaker, d.2006, almost 88

Songs old and body brittle, any raindrop
might break his bones. He cannot stop
the shrinking of skin on bone, the waste-away.
His heart weighs more of monolith each day.
Even his guitar cannot pick away the blues,
nor can time his many ticking clocks defuse.

His life is clear as mud tracked in from rain;
every trace of his old self leaves a stain
and footprints deep as graves. He in pits—
deeper than he is high—never quits,
though it takes an ever greater toll
to climb out of ever deeper holes.

The Children of Chaos

I lived here on earth
long before I was born.

Nothing anywhere is native,
but everything belongs.
Past, present, and future coexist,
but nothing stays the same.
Under the electron microscope,
everything is a scatter of matter,
the small universe as vast
as its larger self. Yet distance
somehow warps: Through any scope
everything is a matter of importance
that explodes, collides, merges—super
novae and black holes stirred in a soup
rising to the boil of another journey,
attracted by the gravity of elsewhere.

Pieces of the greater mind bang about,
looking for the one who bore them.

Dalí on Drugs

                   —an imaginary painting

His wild eye repaints the winter
landscape. His first brush thaws the wind.
In January’s frozen bone-yard, words
are hard to chisel, but a painter’s
warm heart beats the lifeless
into rhythm. In this unspeakable
world, pantheism tells its story
with warped creatures of beauty.

To a poet who paints, a drugged quark
of inspiration comes from its own reason,
like his cold eye flung free, crashing
through a window, becoming what it
could not be, to be shards of light dusting
a room surprised, to be a bloodshot egg
looking hard in the mirror, while creatures
of comfort still deny the sudden cold wind
cutting their faces, shredding their masks.

In Dalí’s winterland of crystals and ice,
the dance of prism light begins. Wind chimes
of icicles play in kaleidoscopic dawn,
strings of light broken down but tied together.
Few could have predicted this colorful show
or how the dance might affect the weather,
an outcome the artist knows long before
common sense feels it in the bones.

Copyright  ©  2014 Robert S. King

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in the mountains near Hayesville, NC. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Lullwater Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full‐length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press, 2012; and One Man's Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013. A fourth chapbook, Diary of the Last Person on Earth, is forthcoming from Sybaritic Press.