Mid Way and Still Here (Two Poems by Ken McKeon)

Mid Pacific

No road signs in mid Pacific,
No calving ice bergs signaling true North,
No every now and then island chain
Between Hawaii and Japan,

Only the rolling broad blue swells,
And the dawn light God begged for and finally got,
Cloud borne resplendencies of pink and red,
The golden plenitude of light itself,
And light’s round core, the sun,

I am bound by it,
Bound to the basking shore
Of the arriving day, it welcomes me,
I flee to it each morning
After the long hours of the revolving night,
And why not?

The twisting involuted depths
Called me beyond myself,
Strange chords I hear within their joyous spells,
They are the stunning blocks of time,
They are the giddy shudderings
Of atom and star swung ecstasy,
They mate in emptiness,
They move far on, far out, to be
Themselves alone, together,
Opening nowhere vastness,
All and inwardly, the outward is
Momentarily forever,

It’s a stunner, certainly is,
And it’s come to be,
And we are here,
I am beginning to shade my eyes,
I turn from the sun to see,
The churning froth full wake
That spreads out to signify our passage through,
From point to point our vanishing within the moving sea.

Meeting Ino

He was a hard core jock and a mindless kid,
That’s a bad combo,
A silly fool ready
To break himself in two,
So caught up in a self-say spell,
The boost, the boast, the end,

Thought he could swim against a sea
Wind blasting into his face,
Could keep off the rocks,
Sharp teeth snapping through the waves,
The pitiless waves, rough thrash smash,

He was way far wrong
He was leaning out over life’s sheer cliff,
He was ready to fall,

And then a calm voice said,

Here, take this fin, put it on,
Swim straight out to sea,
Rest a while on a kelp bed,
Then swim south with the sea surge,
Stay in these moving mounding depths,
Do this until the water calms,
Then head in, step out, and live,
Be sure to toss this single fin
Back into the sea,
Hurl it out far beyond the storm surf,
I’ll find it, I’ll have it, it’s mine,
But it’s yours for now,
Like life itself, a momentary gift.

The gods are with you on this one fine day,
And you are a truly lucky lad.
Be thankful, be worthy, be glad.

And I was, I might be, I ever am.

–Poems By Ken McKeon


5 comments to “Mid Way and Still Here (Two Poems by Ken McKeon)”
  1. In “Magic Moutain”, Thomas Mann observes that people are either drawn to the sea or to the mountains. I live more than a thousand miles from the sea; and a mile high mountain (The Sandias) overlooks Albuquerque, where I have awoken every morning for half my life. Yet I talk about the sea all the time, that and the wind in the trees. But your poems get right into the waves where we may well wonder if, like Wittgenstein, we are meant to reach the edge of the known, solid terrain of our lives, and be content to gaze out at the ineffable and unpronouncable vastness.

    But as someone who drowned when I was two years old, I also appreciate hearing–from dry land–how I am not the only one who was cast up out of the whale’s mouth to live another day.

  2. Love these poems by Ken, and your comment too Michael. We like to dwell awhile at the edge of vastness… however we know that edge, it pulls from us the connection we are between the forms around us and the openness within…

  3. I, too, was stopped in my tracks by the line about God begging for light. It is an audacious and intriguing thing to say.

    As an instigator of thought, it is wondrously effective. “Let there be light” is much more of an order, a command rather than a supplication.

    But to whom was God speaking?

    And what is the primordial “stuff” made of? Is it “the Word” (Gospel of John) or is it “light” (Genesis)? Poets — who deal in such things as words and light– would say it is both, and they would say that the two are one-and-the-same.

    Our Western, technological left-brain cries out for a logical answer. We chastise the poet for his lack of a cohesive theology. The poet winks back and says quietly, “Gotcha.”

  4. These thoughts are pretty deep. If light is the essence of being, and illumination and enlightenment are the natural home of being, how can even God bid light into being. What could God be if not light? At most God could say “Let light be visible to all these created beings so they too can share in my greater Being”. And perhaps it’s not just we human beings who feel that it never hurts to say “Please”.

Leave a Reply