Two Poems by Ken Mckeon

Light Thinking
Think of light, that’s one move one
ought to be able to make,
for surely the thought

of light is light, a light thought,
say, of the lovely lift
of a blue balloon

slipping out of the grasp of a
small child’s hand,
the sudden puff

of a light breeze,
the loosely held string
slithering right on through,

nudged along by the thought
of winning a goldfish by
simply tossing a dime

out to a small glass plate, and
having it stick, why I
could certainly do that

and the goldfish will
be mine, a pleasing thought
to keep in mind, and thus

the balloon simply sailed off and away
into the blue, now gone, that blue
balloon, and the child

pondered his weighty loss,
until the goldfish, the dazzlingly
golden goldfish, came back to play.

A Jelly At The Pier

                                               For Barbara

The drift of me so often hard to figure,
Me, a freely floating jellyfish,
Slopping around
As the current tends,
Permanently on vacation,
Luminous easy thing that I am.
I wonder why I sting on contact?

Hardly neighborly, but then
I sense that, I know that.

Settling down for me, maybe not an option.
Spurned and spurning, the natural me?

Yes, I am touchy, so don’t you touch me.

I’ve been often asked this:
Why not simply shift to a let-down-all-defenses mode,
Open to experience,
A curious harmless companion?

Well, think about all that I don’t have:
No feet legs hands arms eyes, face,

None of it wired into
A unified and unifying
Control system,

I mean a viable me, a ready at hand self
To do as it wills and can, given its circumstances,

I could deal with being so, but not me as now, not me as a patsy.

Do you think I like this free floating slavish
Rolling in and out water-bound life style?

You call this stylish, being swept into pilings?
Sharp mussels ripping me.
My jell, like your flesh, does rip.
Did you ever think of that?

Being pummeled by pilings!
It’s not much fun, pushed in, out, back, forth,
Helplessly adrift, then scorched by a rasping wharf.

An unintentional bumper into everything I’m not.
Listen, I’ve got big stress, my life is a mess.

Would that I could shape up and have a say!
If I did, I’d scurry everything out of my way.
I’d hold real sway, I’d scuttle the kids, those brats
Who poke me with sticks, and giggle when I quiver,
Flip me like a pancake, but wary of my stingers.

I oughta get in shape? I gotta get a shape.
I thought about doing push-ups,
But I’ve got no hands, how could I push?
And as for running, you see any feet?

Like I said, I’m poked by kids with sticks!
It makes me want to change, improve,
Makes me want to shape myself up,
To stand tall, erect, commanding, dangerous,

Able to defend myself, get my way, make use of
Newly formed fully functioning fists,
From Jelly to granite in one swift move,
Not cowering in my gooey field display
Of sloppy slurpiness, that would be over.

Behold the prompting sweep of a rock hard left, a right,
Then a solid sock to the jaw, I’d lay them out flat,
Then let the tide wash those cads away while I stand firm.
Sure I’d stay around, be notable, not a washed-up has-been.
I’ll start right now on learning how to seed my jelly sag self
With legs feet toes hips a towering spine, everything.
That done, I’ll step out of the sea, I’ll stand tall,
They’ll all fall, and the loud crowd will quiet to a hush
As I bellow out of my newly freed mouth, my mouth
Finally rid of anus sharing- talk about a
Screwed up design! An automatic potty mouth!
And that was for openers!
That’s just part of what I’ve had to deal with,
And I have dealt with it! Moving on:
Into my now mostly clean mouth hole
I’d take in a breath and then
From that fine mouth I would shout out loud and clear:

This beach is mine!

I’d be an astonishment,
Venders would gather around me ,
Offering up their trinkets,
Jewelry blankets t-shirts various ointments,
They’d freely give me most of it for nothing,
Asking only my protection in return.

I’d rule them, rule them all,
Beach beauties cooing at my many sides,
Celebrity volley ball tournaments held in my honor,
That would be so cool.

But I might lift myself only to find myself
Still down, stranded by the tide,
A broken egg yolk,
Sand grit rough on my under belly,
New structures of limbs and laden spine,
Fallen back into formlessness,
Any efforts, any trials, quickly lost
To boat wakes,
Tide wash,
Moon shifts
Lifting me back to where I was, nowhere,
Alone, helpless but for my trailing tentacles.

But they do have their sharp stinging points.
Points? instruments of pain!
Even as I am, you better watch out.

Beware, don’t you ever touch me.
And if you do,
Be ready to scream and jerk away.

And don’t you dare blame me,
Fault me for being what I am,
An unwilling formless left behind
Menacing lurk of a passive retributive violent
Attack mode innocent victim of the sea, but also

A bit of jelly fully formed beauteous flower too, so true,
But only if left isolate, statuesque stunningly
Elegant unworldly balanced design
By a god who knew beauty when he saw it,
And who said yes to me completely,
And in saying yes saw himself anew,

Basking in early light, a penetrative being,
Held beyond gloom or joy, saw and still
Sees an instantaneous wonder, wholly itself,
Forever unapproachable, so step back why don’t you,
Take a good look at me, I’m so far beyond you,
Really, what more could you ever possibly want to be, but me.

About the Poet
Ken McKeon is a retired teacher and active poet living in Berkeley. He has been writing verse for most of his life. published two books: Winter Man and Spring Equinox, studied with Thom Gunn and Josephine Miles at UC Berkeley, also served as Miss Miles’ T.A., and was a founding member of the Rhymer’s Club. He presently teach meditative inquiry at Berkeley’s Nyingma Institute.