Four Poems by Ken McKeon

After Reading A Customized Classified Position

Found out today that I, retired now for years,
Occasionally house bound with ms,
   Am still wanted,
      Not for any crime,
         Not dead or alive,

But for teaching tap, that’s right, tap,
Tappety tap,
   Right here in the East Bay,
      Advertised as if for me alone,

      And I’m ready to be

On stage at last, floodlit, happy-happy,
Not a soft shoe pitter patter slide and glide,
Not a swing time loop-de-loop
    To a hot jazz tune,

But tap, and doing that with a hat and cane,
With easy elbows, smiling face
   And a shining stunning mind at happy ease,

As I lay down a line of bullets on the floor,
Or spin my body way up through the climbing stars,
Before I turn and ripple down the stairs
   Or chase my cane around
      Until I hear that the milkman’s on his way.

Tap, I’m down for it, are you?

Thanks Donald

In a time of no light the worst things happen,
Shoes get lost,
   Sheets cannot be found,

   And worse yet,
            An unseeing sun might crash
                  And the seas simply steam away,

That would be an odd sight,
   For if that, the shore shelving beds of kelp
      Would wither up and fall apart into a khaki colored dust,

The bulbous eyes of seals and sea lions would lose their light,
That’s sad and mournful,
   But there are no tears,
      How could there be in this now dry realm?

   I have neither heart nor mind
      To speak of the stranded whales
         Pained and gasping in the only faintly misty depths,
            Nor of the vast schools of fish beached there too,
               The once luminous fields of plankton, dimmed,
                  The stilled swells, the shifting flows,
                     Their froth, their roaring hollow tumbling speech,
                     The moon spun, sun fed, tidal sweeps,
                     All done for now, 

             And even the far inland plains, 
              Where life might live on,
               Are darkly stilled, and as cold as unborn space itself.

The gloom would be palpable, the time leaden, cheerless, done.

Thanks Donald.


Gods always star my eyes up with sunlight,
But not this one,
   He’s from the sea,
      Water drips from his brow, lips, chin, chest, gut,

    It passes over him 
         Like a plummeting wind
               Just called back to its cave,

This god stands alone,
   With a trident in his hand,
      He has unearthly eyes,

        Opal eyes, so much larger than ours,
        They miss nothing
        They are tidal in their shifting penetrations,

        They give me the shivers,
        I try to stay out of sight,
        That doesn’t work,

       They net me up,

       I am held by everything I’m not,
       I know that well, I bow,

       Then I am thrown back into the sea.

At The Border

When I got to the border
A voice asked me what I wanted.

I told the voice that I could use a dirigible,

I like to fly, I like big and nearly silent,
I want to move through the sky
I want my lady with me in the skies,
We will sort of float up the coast,
Skirting the big cities,
Hugging the cliffs, the beaches,
Shadowing the sea at dawn,

We will embrace each other
Like the curling waves embrace the shore,
We will break and ripple with foam and laughter,

Have you ever stretched out like sunlight
On the pink sands far to the south,
We have, we brought ourselves to life there,

We lathered each other with spume and creamy sea,
I was awash in her love, she in mine,
Our love mirrored the gliding ways of pelicans,
We rode the curling lips of breaking waves,
And full of the bubbling runs we made,
We rose as towers in the sky
Before plunging headlong down to feed
In the churning fish swarmed sea.

But now it’s north for us to Monterrey,
I love the names and fields, the air,
The deep folds of life on land,
But I especially love the coast, the sea,
The blending unfenced borderland of sand,
Of cliff or shelving rock, pools and surf,
Slowly shifting beds of kelp, the deep swells,
And at last the open ocean, in all seasons, all weathers,

I can’t buy a dirigible, where would I keep it?
How could I possibly pay, I have so little.
I have words, songs, I play guitar,
You have a fence, fine, open a door,
Open up your ears as well,
Learn to love again this vastly
Open wonderful land of yours.

I can get along, I can do, can you?

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