voices out of the West, mostly poetry, personal to planetary...

Robert King,

poet,  professor,

Greeley, Colorado

Director of the Colorado Poets Center


5 Poems


I’m Happy


I’m happy, the way a mirror

is happy with its looking.


Who can say what will fly into sight

or bloom slowly all afternoon?


I’m always surprised and

particularly at the familiar:


the script of tarry ribbons scrawled

on the parking lot’s asphalt,


a wind-bedraggled jay

on the limb out my window.


I reverently study the rocks,

the fine lines of their language.


I’m glossing the stream,

scanning for secrets in shadows.


If they’re told, I’m also happy

though I send them back.




Little Rooms


Once in a room in a New York hotel,

looking at a building whose windows mirrored

mine in a curly fashion like melting,

and then looking down fifteen stories

below my toes, I was shocked at cities,

at their artificial immensity,

and I thought we don’t belong here and not


for the first time. Years before, sitting

in Fairbanks, 40 below at noon,

having driven by the dump where a dozen

feral dogs eyed me like the wilderness,

I looked out my double-glass pane at a lot

of frozen cars and muttered the same half-joke.


Tonight I sit beside a prairie river—

all day the carp sucking and singing

in the muddy shallows of the bank—

canoe pulled up, the fire behind me,

the waiting tent, Venus bright enough

to scribble light across the slow water,

coyotes exulting on the other side.


Nor do I belong here. I return

to the little room of my fire, one light

left in the earth’s acres of darkness.






The moonlight’s windy,

all these tossing pine branches,

that broken river.



A Message Where Nothing’s Happening


A coyote, full of his own purposes,

trots toward a small gathering of elk

but only because of his straight-line path.

The elk have little to fear but they watch

as he comes. The coyote has little to fear

but he alters his path to skirt them

only a few feet wider than he might,

some margin known by both between alarm

and nothing happening. Coyotes always

carry messages but he isn’t telling

this one, satisfied with his destination,

and the elk consider it unimportant,

return to contentment, if that’s what it is.






The sky rests itself

in any water—


cloud in the river,

gold and rosy light


in the gleam of mud.

Something to forget.


Something to remember.

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