Keith E. Sparks

Keith E. Sparks Jr. has been writing since a young age. He has had his work published in various literary journals and magazines and in 2004 was nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. More recently he has published two collections of poetry titled “Facets” and “The Doggerel Dog.” Keith is the creator of Open Skies Quarterly, a digital and print publication dedicated to poetic voices, and operates its Facebook presence, Open Skies Poetry group, as an outlet for poets worldwide. Keith resides in West Virginia with his wife and three children whom are the epicenter of his existence.

The One-Eyed Crow

  The Rictus grin of rotting flesh 
 that feeds the one-eyed crow—
 Whose putrid scent offends the sense
 of what we thought we know.
 A savage peck for pounds of flesh
 it plunges to the bone,
 and leaves the empty rictus grin
 no lips with which to moan.
 That blackened beak and morbid cry
 cuts canyons in our backs,
 and comes to rest as kith and kin
 for the common sense we lack. 

As My World Sleeps

  I often find you there at night
 as the world around us quietly sleeps,
 and pigeons calm their endless cooing from the eaves— 
 as muffled houses line the streets 
 and rumbling cars are finally subdued.
 Your mother lay in dream, crumpled sheets askew,
 while shadows painted mutely on a wall
 dance in subtle rhythm to a ceiling fan off kilter.
 And darkened hallways lead to quiet rooms
 where children snuggle in the zoo 
 strewn across unkept beds.
 The creaking stairs betray the silence— 
 Creeping down the way to fill an empty cup.
 I often find you there,
 and wonder who you would've been.
 When eyes of blue reflect a passion
 for patterned colors on a page— 
 When depths of brown reflect the song
 whose voice keeps time, but shyly— 
 Or hazel depths become the mirror
 of mother's unquenchable fire.
 I often find you there...
 Pluto's graying brindle face betrays
 a wisdom I've misplaced 
 in scattered memory and dream.
 That leads me to a Rainbow
 laying snug within his bed.
 To pray I never live to find
 that this one has an end.
 I wonder who you would've been
 beside brothers and the sister
 that you will never meet
 laying peacefully in dream...
 and as the world around us quietly sleeps,
 and pigeons calm their endless cooing from the eaves.
 I often dream that you are there
 though you never left the womb. 

Shattered Seals

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 Some have seen the signs of seals broken. 
 Some, say three and six will follow the crowned rider, 
 bleach wood bow drawn astride a horse of white. 
 Our world of peace and war quietly laid waste
 by will and faith blunted as priests end Sermons 
 in garish garb—in penance of fire after Sunday mass—  
 grown drunk on communion and sins confessed.
 Some will hail Mary and say, "Guilty of doubt I seek your grace" 
 sprawled in prayer, prone before sinew drawn full.
 Ice the bolt of conquest three and six.
 From twice shattered seals what has the mind perceived?
 I've seen the fiery nostrils flare, tasted brimstone, 
 I have felt the flame of hoof and breath upon my back.
 I've known the fire of desire and seen it fueled with rage
 as I've seen the signs of a second seal released.
 I know the voices spoken, I hold no virtue in the lies they sing 
 with forked tongues casting venomous spittle.
 Those who drink the ichor of hate, who raise the crimson blade, 
 who favour the fall of man and praise the funeral fire 
 still fill the pyre as the Red Horse tramples mankind.
 But if blood on blood should equal war
 if sword to sword we shed the soul it matters not at all!
 Had man forsaken faith for violence, to desolation round again,
 for faith to perish now upon the whims of priests—  
 it matters not at all as twice the seals were broken.
 I know the rider black as night and think softly of the scales, 
 precariously balanced, I have heard the seal and crack.
 I know the feasts of famine and enough of hunger 
 to feel fear of what’s to come.
 To hunger ravished—say a quart of wheat for all your wages
 for those that slave the day till fingers bleed 
 for want of relief from rumblings unquenched. 
 Destruction has come round again—ice 
 the heart of midnight unleashed
 For Death is also plague and next to come to call, 
 a pallid rider with flaking flesh to feed the masses,
 pounds of flesh to feed us all from skeletal hands
 whose great feats of pestilence proclaim the doom of man.
 Some have seen the signs of seals broken— 
 seen a world of war and peace quietly laid waste— 
 Destruction has come round again.
 And as hosts of martyrs rise, would distant skies alight with fire
 suffice to silence what we know of hells and heavens?
 Crafted using every word of "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost in sequence. 

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