Saturday, October 29, 2016

Love Played Out


Love Played Out

God gets a bad rap
From those who know His mind
And yet have never met Him
Nor studied the psychology of the infinity.

With impossible arrogance
We confidently accuse infinite love
Of being responsible for every evil thing
That we ourselves have done to one another.

We demand freedom
From God’s meddling ways
And then we turn around and blame Him
For not making us behave ourselves.

Love is the only thing
That awakens love in creatures
With the free will and self-awareness
That enables us to create as He does.

Infinite Love weeps while we discover
To our dismay that the gifts of choice
That make us what we are can be misused
And God won’t interfere until we’ve learned.

Love cannot be forced
Creation without free will and choice does not exist.
Infinite power must be restrained while classes
Are still in session and so long as we still are learning.

Love requires a demonstration
We learn by experience hard-earned.
We must see love played out before our eyes or we cannot
Allow Him to deliver us even from ourselves.

© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rain on the Skylight

Rain on the Skylight

It’s weird, lying here, looking up
Rain dropping from thousands of feet above me;
Pelting down, reaching terminal velocity
Splattering against the plexiglass a few feet from my face.

I wish all roofs were clear and you could see
Through and straight on up into the sky.
Skylights are stingy and even on a clear day or night
They only grant your eyes a narrow view of heaven.

By day the shafts of sunlight in neat rectangles
Track across the carpet, reminding me,
That time is passing and I should be
Out the kitchen door to join the open spaces.

At night, I have to shift myself about the darkened room
To keep my eye upon the scarred moon’s face as it sails by overhead,
Peering down through the plastic as it passes, yet,
Ignoring me altogether, accompanied by the stars.

Because I cannot live outside these days,
I must content myself with my little windows
And the narrow piece of sky it grants to me for comfort
And the wider peace of heart it nurtures in my soul.

© 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


An Idyll on the Front Porch

I am not drunk, but sometimes I stumble.
I am not blotto, but sometimes I slur my words.
I am not hammered, but sometimes I get confused.
I am not smashed, wasted, or three sheets to the wind,
But I am in the mood to sing something tragic,
And sad and slightly off-key and out on the porch
With my trusty Squared Eel* and a flagon
Of Diet A&W Root beer and a cheese sandwich.
I should not watch the presidential debates
It's like watching Hitler and Stalin slug it out
And wondering who to root for.
And it only serves to remind me that finally,
The devil has come to claim his due.
I wonder do you have to play the banjo
To see it all for what it is - a rotten Hobson's choice?
And either way we're screwed,
            ......and no one's going to buy us dinner first.

© 2016 by Tom King
* A type of homemade banjo

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

With Tattered Sails

Homeward bound

With Tattered Sails

When we embarked upon this voyage of ours
With just a compass, charts, a sextant, and orders
From the owner of our tiny little ship,
We did not set sail for profit,
Nor for what glory we might achieve,
Nor for notoriety, fame or even admiration.
We hoisted sails and steered our vessel
In the direction where the chart says, “Home.”

There are places on that chart marked,
“Here be dragons” and sometimes our course
Lies right across those uncharted wastes,
But still we have our instruments and our orders.
So, o’er the years we have sailed close-hauled,
Before an errant wind, gentle one day,
A roaring gale the next, hauling on the braces,
Tying down the lines, repairing frayed cordage.

On before the wind we’ve sailed, the two of us,
Splintered spars repaired, replaced, cast overboard,
Doing the best we can to repair the damage,
Making do when we cannot fix what’s broken.
Each year our tattered vessel creeps on,
Looking rather the worse for wear all things considered,
But we on deck, bump along together, stitching parted seams,
Swabbing decks and taking sightings every day.

And sure enough there be dragons as the chart foretold;
Warned us there would be along the course we’d chosen.
And we have fought them as best we could.
Taken wounds along the way - some self-inflicted.
But I have seen the seagulls and the home-bound birds,
And we know that landfall lies just beyond the horizon.
And though she may be tattered He will bring,
Our tired old ship tomorrow certain home to shore.

© 2016 by Tom King

Monday, October 3, 2016

April 30 - Something Welcome This Way Comes

© Public Domain

Something Welcome This Way Comes

In the sodden morning, autumn’s musty breath
Whistles down the lane, rattling the cottonwoods,
Generating expectant whispers high up among
And all along their loosely ordered ranks.

Expectancy hangs like the Spanish moss
Back home in Texas and Louisiana.
Here in the North Country the seasons wear
The passing of time like a pampered fashion plate.

Each season’s turning sends a new and bitter wind
Rattling across the treetops, each year a little colder
Than the last; more fraught with gray, less brightly colored
Less welcoming than in seasons gone before.

And on the porch we sit and note the subtle changes,
Catch the scent that’s carried on the breezes,
Mark the signs engraved against the dismal Earth and sky
That speak of something welcome this way coming.

© 2016 by Tom King

Monday, September 26, 2016

April 29 - Bridge Builder


I remember how that bridges
Always held an utter fascination
When I was just a bootless boy
With ample time and much imagination.
When I would with building blocks, Erector sets,
Hunks of stone, woodpile scraps and slivers,
Litter the house with rickety bridges
That spanned imaginary rivers.

It was the barriers I suppose
That I never really liked,
Always in the way of where I wished to go,
Barring every quiet trail I hiked.
Rivers invited me to build canoes.
Gullies, ravines defied me to try
To traverse intricacies of knots and rope,
Some book had taught me how to tie.

In the intervening years I’ve built
More bridges than I care to say
Some well used. Others, not so much.
It does not matter anyway.
You are not required to always cross
Every bridge encountered everywhere.
Bridge-builders do not mind, just so.
If a bridge is wanted, it is there.

That’s all I really wanted all along.
To leave behind me crossings that abide
A string of bridges, spanning barriers
Paths by which to reach the other side.
I hope that God will leave some rivers
When he makes the Earth anew.  
Chasms I can throw a span across;
And places I can build a bridge or two.

© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, September 25, 2016

April 28 - A Refuge


A Refuge

When I build a place of refuge,
I compass myself about
With walls, but I always leave
A door and window facing out.
I cannot block away the sky
Nor the mountains or the sea.
I will not place a wall between
The warm brave sun and me.

                                                                © 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

April 27 - Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Sometimes you just need
Food that tastes like home,
Flavors you share with someone else,
Smells that make you smile.

I used to think that
What you ate was not important.
I was wrong about that.
The smells sneak up on you.

Smells that take you back to places,
You’d forgot you’d left behind;
A joy that all of us,
In the family share it.

© by Tom King

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

April 26 - An Old Man Without a Dog

An Old Man Without a Dog

An old man without a dog
Walks down the hill toward home,
Just past the place along the road
Where he left the dog behind.

In the same way he left
Other companions,
A brother, a father, a son
A love already home waiting.

The ground gently falls away,
Beneath his feet, sloping down
Toward his journey’s end.
Without thought, he slows his pace.

Meandering now, his senses alive,
He drinks the nuances of smell,
Of light and color and movement,
Of leaves rustling, of birds chattering.

Life is precious down near the end,
Now that he finally sees where he is going.
His feet linger not wanting
To miss anything worth tasting.

He wanders steadily toward home,
Where he knows a comfort waits;
Waits with arms outstretched,
Listening for his footsteps.

© 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

April 25 - I Sing Because


I Sing Because
I sing because I cannot be silent
When the world is hurting.
I shout because some things
Simply must be heard.
I weep because some things
Are worth weeping for.
I tell stories because we need them
to make sense of our lives.

I ask because unless someone asks
We'll never get an answer.
I write for those who need to read it
All in black and white in order to believe.
I comfort because a sympathetic hand
Makes it so we do not feel alone.
I sleep in peace because I know,
I have done all I

© 2016 by Tom King

April 24 - Two Weeks From Everywhere

The town where I grew up was small. How small?
I could walk the town all the way across and back
In the space of an idyllic sunny afternoon
Along some random sun-dappled, leafy track.
They were all like that, the roads and streets and trails,
Tucked among the gnarled oaks and chinaberry trees;
Drenched with pungent crape myrtle perfume,
And the sounds of dogs and kids and humming bees.
It was a town that taught you patience patiently.
If you needed something not on hand, they'd get it,
But you could count on waiting 14 days in any case.
Two weeks, a fortnight you could safely bet it
No matter what it was; no matter how large or small
Time warped itself always into equal spaces.
You learned to live with it or else you moved,
Somewhere rushed, more nervous, wired to faster paces.  
I carry some of that little town with me now,
Especially as I grow old, my powers wane, and my career peaks.
And when some nervous youngster demands to know how long?
My answer now's always the same about two weeks!

© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, July 31, 2016

April 23 - You Built This

With boards and nails,
With bricks and mortar
You build the edifice,
That is the life you live in;
A steady stream
Of mights and maybes,
Yes and no and compromise
Choices conspiring together to bring you
To the place where you are now.
I am, you are
What we have chosen,
But also what He has made
If we have called out
In desperation as our handiwork crumbled.

We pick the foundations
We pick the materials
We choose the architect
Ours now to build or break,
But His if we'll have it
His if we'll allow Him,
The gentle corrections that keep
The construction on course
Till at the end it is you we know
It is you o' Lord
It is you who have done it.

© 2016 by Tom King

Thursday, July 21, 2016

April 22 - The Return

The Return

Your eyes are open, but they do not see.
Your ears catch the breeze, but they do not hear.
Your heart beats, your lungs fill with air,
But your mind thinks of nothing but itself.

Your eyes brighten at the vain display of princes.
Your ears tingle at the sound of empty promises.
Your hearts beat faster, you pant with excitement.
Your mind is filled with only that which satisfies its vanity.

See the signs that He is coming.
Hear the warning that time is short.
Do these things that your heart may turn to Him;
That you may breathe the air of heaven;
That you may yearn in your inmost self for His coming.

© 2016 by Tom King

Saturday, June 18, 2016

April 21 - Mouths Wide Open

Mouths Wide Open
by Tom King

Mama bird cussed me out today
I got too near her hungry brood.
Her babes have hatched she didn't say
I knew it by her attitude.

She doesn't mind so much when I
Go out to water the flowers and plants.
She calmly watches me pass by
With my dripping plastic watering cans.

I, beside the planter, left her a bit of seed,
But now the eggs have hatched that she has lain;
The nest is filled with hungry mouths to feed.
And she'll no longer tolerate my artificial rain.

She sits, a bit of seed held in her beak
And chitters angrily at me - no song
From a nearby branch she'll chirp and squeak,
At me till I consent to move along.

Five open mouths wait for their mama there
Packed cheek to cheek they cheep and call,
Open-mouthed, demanding mama's instant care.
And I remember what it was when ours were small. 
It's seems we moms and dads were always shoving
Food or drink down open mouths; taking them to pee
They demanded time, energy, and unconditional loving.
And we were as tired as mama bird must be.

Were we ever such tiny hungry mouths to feed?
All day did our poor mamas stumble back and forth,
Till she had tended to her childrens' never-ending need,
 And gave and gave again for all that she was worth.

I left more seed this blustery afternoon so she,
Would not have to fly so far to feed her bunch.
And then I called my mother just to see
If maybe she would let me take her out to lunch.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, May 20, 2016

April 20 - A Good Life

A Good Life

By Tom King

You know I've had a good life all in all
The usual struggles of course, but then
That comes with the territory I suppose.
It's not so bad getting old if you don't
Have a lot of high expectations.
I've got more books than I can read,
A few I've yet to write,
More films than I can watch,
More trails than I can walk,
And Sabbaths stretching out for eternity,
Even if I sleep through a few of them along the way.
I wish you lovely Sabbath days
And if you don't live to see it,
May you be safely tucked in
Until Jesus comes looking for you.
© May 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mamaw's Hands

Mamaw’s Hands

By Sheila King

The withered hands once strong and sure,
   Though weighed with time and trembling now,
Moved by love, through pain made pure;
   Oft touched the fevered brow

They toiled in diligence and patient love,
   The precious fruits of life to tend,
As though guided from above
   All cares, all sorrows, theirs to mend.

Frail hands I wrap safe up in mine,
One last sweet touch, then softly gone
To fold in rest until the time
They wake and journey on.

© 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 19 - Confluence of Numbers


 Confluence of Numbers

They’re just dates, ages, times and amounts.
Rolling by, leaving marks in history,
That no one a thousand years from now will see.
But here in the moment they feel like everything.
They mark the paths of their lives.
By merest chance a birthday crosses a day
With someone’s death in it;
Losses falling on anniversaries of life;
Days of celebration marked with pain.
It can’t be helped I’m sure.
God knows the way we need to go.
Every day’s somebody’s celebration.
Every day is someone’s sorrow.
Only time will smooth it over,
Eternal life’s the only thing that can
Leave behind the grief and keep the holidays.

© 2016 by Tom King

* Picture courtesy of

April 18 - My Daisy's Bear

Daisy gets a vacuuming in our old chair....

My Daisy’s Bear

She’s gone too suddenly
I’d no time to prepare.
So I sit here of an evening
In our broken down old chair

Daisy thought she was a lap dog
She’d jump up in the chair
With me for her daily cuddle
And take a nap up here.

Sometimes she’d bring her bear
Or squeaky duck or mouse.
We’d play a game of catch and shake;
Romping all about the house.

She’d watch the world with me.
Lying there on her rumpled bed.
Or she’d sit beside my recliner
And make me scratch her head.

Now my chair’s half empty.
And broken down and battered
By a heavy man and big old hound
A Fellowship that to us mattered.

I sometimes see her shadow
On my old companion’s bed.
So I keep her old bear by me now
And sometimes scratch her head.

2016 by Tom King

April 17 - Sauce for the Gander

Sauce for the Gander

If you play it loose
The sauce for the goose
Is sauce for the deuce
The goose and gander
Don’t mean to pander
Don’t get up your dander.
I want you to know
The same is so
Wherever you go
I don’t know
You can puff and blow.
But your cultural practice
The simple fact is
And history backs dis'
That the things we like
In front or back of the mike
Every recreation
Came from some other nation
And was an appropriation.

Peace out!

© 2016 by Tom King
* Skeltonic Verse was invented by English honky poet John Skelton (1460-1529). Skelton was a colorful character. He was teacer of Prince Henry, later King Henry the VIII (the original party king). Leading the way for modern rappers, Skelton did a stretch in the big house when prisons weren't the fun places they are now. He also was banned by the Church as a "corrupter of youth".   

Like rap music, Skeltonic verse has two stresses per line and any number of unstressed syllables. Every line is rhymed with the line before it – unless the poet decides to change the rhymed last word. So sometimes you’ll get 2 lines that rhyme with each other and then two more with a different rhyme. The rhymes could be repeated three or four or ten times – however many the poet decides he wants to repeat the rhyme. The rhyme pretty much goes on till the rhyme runs out of “energy”. 

Given that Skeltonic verse was invented in the 15th century in England, I think it’s fair to say that the rap rhyme scheme was appropriated from ancient Caucasian culture – at any rate, we had it first. In exchange for my foregoing corn rows, I demand that you forego appropriating our white rhyme schemes. 

As John Skelton would say, "If you play it loose, what's sauce for the goose......

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 16 - Daisy's Chains

Daisy’s Chains

She was just a dog, so why the hole
In our hearts, now that she is gone?
We didn’t rescue her. She rescued us.
It was our souls she’d print herself upon.

She danced upon our hearts not long enough
Always underfoot, her foolish lopsided grin
Telling us there were squirrels outside
That needed chasing up their trees again.

A chain of evidence, of a vibrant doggy life;
Everywhere the traces of the love she left behind;
Of a life well-lived among the humans she possessed.
Traces meant for us one day to find.

One by one I’ll collect them all – her toys, her blankets;
Her bed, her brush, her collar, all the things about her.
And her human mom and me, weep over every bit and bob,
We come upon in our struggle to live on without her.

©  2016 by Tom King

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 15 - Ragged End

Ragged End
By Tom King

I think I’ve hit a point in life where I do not care much,
About when all of this will rattle down to its ragged end,
Or whether I’ll even finish all that stuff I wanted to get done
All those years ago when I was standing in the starting gate.

I think we sense when our work in this world is just about done
Or at least when it’s coasting down to some kind of conclusion.
There’s a kind of finality that hangs over everything we do now,
Fog-like, intrusive, nagging at you constantly every dragging day.

I’m not afraid anymore, though. God is watching us too closely for that;
Making all things work together for good and all,
If not for our comfort, then I suspect He does it for our edification.
I’ve learned to live with that after all these years and all I’ve seen.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 14 - Homegoing

By Tom King

I’m far away; a stranger in a strange land.
My heart is elsewhere in the soil of another place.
I used to think I carried home around with me.
But it seems a part of me still occupies a former space.

The power of the familiar draws us all at last,
When our denouement comes stumbling down the lane
And life passes haltingly before us one more time,
The picture album so long closed now opens up again.

If you live to be old, life doesn’t flash before your eyes,
There at the last. It scrolls itself out – pages plucked by chance
From memory - misty, age-dimmed, yet calling softly still; 
An invitation, time-faded, to a well-remembered dance

© 2016 by Tom King

© Copyright Chris Reynolds and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 13 - The Myth of Power

The Myth of Power
By Tom King

A wise man said once that power corrupts,
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
But I think he was wrong and it’s always been
An opinion I’ve held resolutely.

You see it’s not power itself that’s the problem,
Anymore than a spoon causes fatitude.
It’s that power attracts the corruptible sort.
It attracts those with a corruptible attitude.

It’s the smarmy, the sleazy, the evil and slimy,
That you find drawn to places of power.
That give us the fits, when they once get their mitts.
On the keys to that terrible dark tower.

It’s hard for a man with money and power,
To pass the eye of the heavenly needle.
There’s only one way and that’s on his knees
It does no good to bargain or wheedle.

So I say to the snake oil salesman parade,
To the charlatans, frauds, and rich few,
You may win for a season, but a reckoning comes,
For there’s a power that’s greater than you.

© 2016 by Tom King

April 12 - Tex-Mex by Moonlight

Tex-Mex by Moonlight
By Tom King

Late in the evening in Texas
When hunger pangs they do vex us,
We make a run for the border
And with a jalapeno-laced order,
Build a fire under our solar plexus.

© 2016 by Tom King

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 11 - Raindrops on Noses

Raindrops on Noses

By Tom King

Raindrops on noses,
Whiskers on old men,
Stumbling along the cobbles
On a wet afternoon.

Mist swirling ‘round legs
Dewdrops on young men
Pounding the jogging paths
In the foggy wee hours.

Sunshine on shoulders
Brown skin on children,
Running in the park
Through the golden afternoon.

Snowflakes on my bald head.
Frozen drizzle on my shoulders.
Impelling me forward
Along the pathway toward home.

Weather at rest,
Where it fell to the earth.
Falling on souls
Beside moments of living.

ã 2016 by Tom King

April 10 - It's the Sun Stupid

It’s the Sun Stupid
By Tom King

I went out on the porch in the morning one day.
The sun had come up in the usual way.

The radio sat playing inside of the kitchen.
NPR had a scientist on the air just a bitchin’.

We’re destroying the planet he knowingly opined.
It’s your car, it’s your dinner, it’s your lifestyle he whined.

You people quite obviously don’t give a darn.
That your selfish pursuits make Earth terribly warm.

Yes the warming is global he shouted and lectured.
All the scientists agree, it’s not just conjectured.

We’ve monitored temps from weather monitoring stations.
Like the one in our parking lot near the heat pump’s location.

The planet’s getting warmer they tell us for certain,
And if we do not do sumpin’ we’re all gonna be hurtin’.

I sat down to ponder the points he did pose.
Felt the heat of the sun on my face as it rose.

And it suddenly struck me as I sat there a thinkin’.
I thought and I thought till the sun started sinkin’.

Then, I noticed it’s colder when the sun’s out of sight.
Maybe, just maybe there’s a connection alright.

Maybe, I thought, if the temp’s going up.
Then maybe the sun’s thermostat’s been turned up.

I suspect if the globe’s climate changed I know why.
It’s that nuclear heater way up in the sky. 

© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 9 - The Science of Love

The Science of Love

There once was a brave scientist,
Who never had ever been kissed.
With some gears and a sprocket
He had in his pocket
He discovered just what he had missed.

He used a computer for brains – quite fantastic
Electrical stuff all covered in plastic,
A robot, a beauty,
A mechanical cutie,
A paramour mechanically gymnastic.

© 2016 by Tom King

April 8 - She's Going Away

She’s Going Away
By Tom King

She’s going home for a while.
There’s a cousin with a dying husband,
She’s needed there; more so than here.
Besides, she thinks it’ll be a good thing.
I’m being left behind,
Just me and the dog,
And a mound of unfinished business.
It’s not that I mind getting my own supper,
I’ve been doing that anyway for a while.
It’s not the household chores, she knows
They won’t be done to her standard.
She’ll fuss and fumigate when she comes home.
I worry will she be all right without me,
To bring her morning coffee,
Her meds and breakfast in bed?
I worry most that she might find,
That running around with Cousin Kay
Is a lot more fun than putting up with me.
What if she doesn’t come back?
What if something bad happens to her,
And I’m not there for her
And she calls out for me
And I am 3000 miles away.
What would I do?
If my phone was out of minutes,
And I could not hear her voice.

ã 2016 by Tom King

April 7 - The Song of Eeyore

The Song of Eeyore
By Tom King

We see the pain in those we love, in their eyes.
We see the sadness engulf a tender heart and want to help.
And we draw conclusions often wrong – we did not know;
Stepping back instead because we fear to intrude.

They need not isolation, the cheerless ones;
They need not to be alone with the grinding pain.
But we hesitate to take them in for fear of doing harm,
Holding back when we should be drawing in.

Pooh knew the answer, so his friend always came with the gang.
Pooh knew that adventures have the power to heal a wounded soul.
So he would take his friend along without demanding that he
Should be happy when they all understood that he could not.

You understand what it’s like; you do not want the pity either.
You understand what it’s like; you want to be a part of everything.
Just as who you are, even with your quirks, your joys, your sadnesses;
Just as one of the gang, going along on an adventure.
© 2016 by Tom King
© 1994 by Micah King

April 6 - Disappointment

By Tom King

So I’m sitting in the lobby in one of those plastic chairs
With the butt-shaped dent in the middle of the seat.
The doc’s got me waiting while they test my blood,
And ruminate over the condition of my arteries.

It’s an appointment.  You know that makes it sounds so serious
and final, like some kind of reckoning – which it kinda is.
The doctor is never fully satisfied with my numbers anyway,
So, it works out to be more of a disappointment.

© 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 5 - Mama Said


Mama Said

By Tom King

Don’t go in there, it’s dark.
Mama said that, when I was little.
It’s good advice, even when you’re big.

Don’t go swimming after you eat.
Mama said that too, but she was wrong.
Cramps can get you almost any time.

Always wear clean underwear, you could get into an accident.
Moms have vivid imaginations, where underwear is concerned.
But there are other good reasons for having clean underwear.

Don’t run away from bees, they’ll sting you.
Mama said that too; but wrong again.
The hornets stung me nine times. Of course hornets are not bees.

Do what your Mama says, it’s good advice.
She’s not always right, but she means well.
And that means the odds are good that she knows.

© 2016 by Tom King