Three Poems By Matthew King

There Was No Light Left On Above the Door

There was no light left on above the door.
The house sat hunched in darkness like the rest
when I came home in twilight after four.
I knew already what would be in store
but now the shadow seized me in my chest:
there was no light left on above the door.
And though it always had been lit before,
and though it would be lit for any guest,
when I came home in twilight after four
I saw I’d never see it anymore,
so deeply was the dearth of it impressed:
there was no light left on above the door.
And since we both despaired we could restore
it, none could be absolved though all confessed
when I came home in twilight after four.
You asked me what the light was ever for,
and every unvoiced answer failed this test:
there was no light left on above the door
when I came home in twilight after four.
Words Fail Me

Like a loon who’s lacking a lake, whose nest floats 
vacant in a sewage lagoon, you’d best learn:
hide the lacuna in your home, embank moats,
dig out the blank notes

written to wrest you out of bouts of heartburn 
(from puny mustard plants what potent seed grows!)
winding word-shrouds round your middle, each phrase-turn
meant to mend gut-churn -

see the sheer hubris! See right through it! You chose
not to be the kind of person who (say) writes
“I’d rather runny yeses than stuffed-up noes.”
Time whizzed on your toes,

etched the palm you read in prophetic sound bites;
you sacrifice your ego to its alter,
lost like nubivagant bugs, buzzing spotlights,
cloud-trails of word-flights - 

tell me, vagrant preacher, what scripture’s halter
binds the spine of your xenolalic psalter?
When you belt a tune all your dead lines balter - 
words fail me! I falter!
Desire Arrives to Rhyme with Fire

Desire arrives to rhyme with fire,
but will the poet snuff the flame?
And if you do, are you a liar?
Desire arrives to rhyme with fire:
the muse would have you, shy denier,
to play her game and sing your shame,
but will you, poet, let desire
arrive with fire, or snuff the flame?

Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto; he now lives in what Al Purdy called “the country north of Belleville”, where he tries to grow things, takes pictures of flowers with bugs on them, counts birds, and walks a rope bridge between the neighbouring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry. He won first prize in the 2020 FreeFall Magazine poetry contest; poems of his have recently appeared in Orchard Poetry Journal, Sparks of Calliope, and Talking About Strawberries All of the Time. He can be found on twitter: @cincinnatus_c_

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