Celebrating National Poetry Month 2015
At the High Point
Excerpt from upcoming book Point Blank
The whacking headboard
and squealing mattress means
neighbors, above you, are at it again.
You hear galloping bed legs
and imagine lovers in a mad dash
to pop up at their destination,
as if the course wasn’t a beach
with pink sand meant to slow them
to a jog along its turquoise coast.
Weren’t you naïve once, thinking
all there was to keeping a woman
was breaking the last man’s record
while she cried out,
then kissed you afterwards?
That’s when you were young enough
to see the climax as a finish line
you bolted across before collapsing,
breathless and disoriented,
like the couple upstairs
whose sounds slide down
to you and your sleeping wife—
who, earlier, vacuumed the living room
while you streamed movies—
scanning the action category—
swigging a ginger beer.
Now you watch her stir
under the sheets, knowing—
after three years of complaints
about your dirty dishes
crowding the sink and clothes piling
a couch arm—your life together
is far from its climax.
Her sleeping smile,
a bright song in its slow rise
Excerpt from upcoming book Point Blank
Another day lands
like a rolled-up newspaper
that smacks the front porch.
And I’m glad to wake
with my soul like a row
lighting my inner cathedral—
food globs passing
like a collection plate
from stomach to liver, kidneys
and intestines. Nutrition—
the body’s tithes and offering.
Knowing this, my wife’s smile
is a billboard for better living.
I once asked for dessert,
and she slid me Fuji apple slices
and plump red grapes,
sad consolations for the German
chocolate cake and sweet potato pie
that thrilled my blood’s locomotive
until I remember two years ago,
watching my parents prick themselves,
checking their blood, shooting
insulin when their sugar spiked.
I so sweet, Dad once said. I spoil!
Mom’s laugh swallowed my chuckles.
It wasn’t funny the following year,
when I broke a sweat over the lab test,
wondering if glucose got me,
if I’d lose my limbs and digits
to its gluttony. Or worst.
But I’m still intact, laying in bed
while first light pours over my wife
in the bathroom mirror, over
our cockatiels fussing for their feed.
And I’m happy I have those sounds
for the sun’s slow climb in the horizon,
grateful that nothing trips my inner
fire bells and strobes,
that another day thuds
against the waking door.
TRAILER for book, DRIFT: https://goo.gl/VToDmA
Love and Light for Your Tuesday!
Alan King is a poet, journalist and author, who lives in the DC metropolitan area. He writes about art and domestic issues on this blog. Professionally, he’s currently both a communications specialist for a national nonprofit and a senior editor at Words Beats & Life‘s global hip hop journal.
King’s journalistic experience includes him being a staff writer for the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper, where he covered the Baltimore City Council, as well as wrote about redevelopment in east Baltimore and the displacement of its residents. He also traveled to Kingston, Jamaica, to write about the historic landmarks and covered the island’s 47th Independence Day celebration.
Prior to the AFRO, King freelanced for various publications including Prince George’s County Gazette, East of the River, and New America Media. He was also a research assistant at the Center for Public Integrity, a government watchdog organization of investigative journalists. There, he wrote profiles of past presidential campaign donors and compiled a chronology of news articles on election fraud and corruption for the book project, “The Buying of The President (BOP) 2008.”
As a student at Howard University, King traveled to New Orleans to do post-Katrina coverage as part of a student press team assembled by the university and the Washington Post. His article, “Katrina Aftermath Still Undercuts Special-Needs Housing,” was published on washingtonpost.com. That article is about the aftermath of Katrina and its effects on New Orleans residents living with HIV/AIDS. King is also an accomplished poet. Here’s what Derrick Weston Brown, poet-in-residence at the 14th and V streets Busboys and Poets, had to say: “A fixture on the D.C. MD VA scene since 1999, Alan has at one time blessed every Open Mic spot throughout the area.
“Mangoes, he was there; Brookland Cup Of Dreams, he was there. The ‘first’ Java Head Cafe in College Park, he was there. The first Mocha Hut on 14th St, he was there. Yogi’s Records, he was there; Harambe’s in Adams Morgan, he was there. Teaism, he was there; and Bar Nun, he was there. This cat is a walking history book of D.C. poetry. Not only that, he’s a dynamic performer and prolific writer.”
King’s poems have appeared in Alehouse, Audience, Boxcar Poetry Review, Indiana Review, MiPoesias and RATTLE, among others. He’s also facilitated creative writing workshops throughout the DC/Baltimore region including at Duke Ellington School of the Arts (part-time Creative Writing Instructor) and at the DC Creative Writing Workshop (part-time Senior Program Director).
He is a Cave Canem Fellow, an alumnus of the VONA Workshops sponsored by Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, and a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Low-Residency Program at the University of Southern Maine. He’s a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and was also nominated twice for a Best of the Net selection. His first collection of poems Drift (Willow Books, 2012) is out. You can order it here.
When he’s not reporting or sending poems to journals, you can find King chasing the muse through Washington, D.C. — people watching with his boys and laughing at the crazy things strangers say to get close to one another.
To order Drift (Willow Books, 2012) please visit: http://alanwking.com/books/
National Poetry Month Posts references: April 2015 (Thomas Sayers Ellis w/James Brandon Lewis, CeLillianne Green, Alan King) April 2014 (Scott Hastie, Amanda Johnston, Rebecca Villarreal, Nathan Peoples, Tracy Chiles McGhee). April 2013 (Kwame Alexander, Joel Dias-Porter, Scott Hastie, Terry Spencer Edwards, Jarvis Talley)