Robert S. King



A leaf on the ground turns

to powder in the wind

as your sister spirit leaves.

Still you hear her everywhere,

in the door hinge that cries

or squeals her joy

a little less loudly each day.


They'll never fully fade,

these pictures where you find her again.

And you touch her again

in hair tangled in the brush,

in small depressions on the cushions,

in the dark when you brush

against her scented pillow

or hear the tap-walk of her feet

a little less loudly each night.

Her absence is a presence,

a breath you can never quite exhale.





No sun this Sunday.

Just fog along the walkway near the church

where Sunday suits and silk dresses

line up to go to Heaven.


I limp by in last week's jeans

stained as my face,

carrying my paid-for house on my back.


Their doors are open

but close quickly behind.

Question marks in the pews straighten

like bulbs stretching to the stained glass light.


But I follow the fog between light and dark,

look for a street sign, a detour

around another dead end.


Neither fire nor hymns for me.

I curse suffering no matter

which authority causes it.


Here before these fine people,

I dare not pass around

my collection plate.

That would be robbing God

who may need it more than I.


Nor can Devil afford my soul,

too heavy to carry, too thick to burn.

He'd resell it to God for a profit.

I'd be left outside the gates again.


In true mirrors Devil sees half a halo,

God a single head horn.

I cling to the fence between them,

their curious, outcast son.


Robert S. King has been writing and publishing since the 1970s. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, including The Kenyon Review, Southern Poetry Review, Lullwater Review, Chariton Review, Main Street Rag, and others. He is currently Director of FutureCycle Poetry,



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