Keith E. Sparks Jr

Keith E. Sparks Jr. has been writing from a young age. He has had his work published in various literary journals and magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. More recently he has published various solo collections of poetry that are available through Amazon and other venues. Keith is the creator of Open Skies Quarterly, a digital and print publication dedicated to poetic voices. Keith resides in West Virginia with his wife and three children whom are the epicenter of his existence.

Time And Tide

Part One: Between Shadow


There, in a corner 
where time has found a swifter pace
and awkward feet too large for such a ledge
are sure to topple the balance 
and slip between the shadows 
where light forgets his name--
And darkened pathways echo youthful dreams 
that we've forgotten, lain to rest, spread thin,
to molder in earth no longer known
but misremembered as a chain 
of broken memory fumbled 
from pockets worn with age…

Still, the fragments remain lodged within the head--
Under skinned knees and bruises from the fall--
From spinning wheels and wobbly bars
that teeter with the pedals faltered rhythm
as asphalt leaps with pleasure to tear flesh…

It’s how it often ends before begun…

The fall that leaves the blood to breed the memory
that’s ugly in its head, and ponderous in its breadth-- 
where learning what we will, will bring the pain
and drive a crippled mind to try and try again
the steady rhythm and level bars 
that lead a boy to freedom…

Look at you Billy, look at you go!

And off he went, 
down the street and over the curb 
to cross the way where Wranglers sped
turn by turn through yellows, reds, and greens…

and over fields that led to wooded paths
where dirt ways packed let go to thrills
and each in turn could fly a flightless leap
to feel the wind caress the cheek
before the crash of shattered bone.

And all the children wish to sign…

Though we forget the names of those who came 
as swirling patterns and delicate script
begin to coalesce in memory

Where we wonder when the time had changed 
from days of youth that seem possessed 
of endless ways…
To open graves whose distance shadows the horizon
that we may never reach…

And collapsing into darkness, we sleep

between the shadow and the real
where every moment forgotten 
is replayed, re-written, re-mastered to a fault
under tapestries of wispy grays too thin
to hide the growing spots upon a head…

We grow old 
and feel the weighted press of aching bones
and watch as each of what has come must fade
in a corner where time has found a swifter pace
and steps we take no longer hold a youthful vigor.

To contemplate the hands upon a face 
that bear no trace of daylight savings 
as they count down to our end…

It wasn’t that he feared the fate he chose--

To stand before the gods 
that cursed a child’s fate 
and pondered misplaced trust for children’s care 
in false piety while hurling wrath 
upon the youthful innocence 
by shattered jaws and forked tongue lies 
that set the stage upon a mountain

Where rumblings deep within 
had hinted at the flow
and shook the mountain at its base.
Where pressure built and rocked the pseudo gods
until the core imploded with eruption 
following suit in contradiction…

You can be anything, Billy, the world is yours…

To scurry in alleys searching for scraps
where ebon cats and rats lay dead 
in stagnant puddles at the feet
whose soles have not yet weathered 
miles enough to care…

As all the mortal pride 
once wrapped with tenderness in bows 
and tucked away in places of the heart
where castled kings could keep the hallowed ground
have faded with the color of your eyes.
Whose sparkle is now hidden behind clouds 
that help to hide the creases in a face
and skinned knees and bruises from the fall
where asphalt lept with pleasure to tear flesh…
before the crash of shattered bone…

That led a boy to freedom…

Part Two: The Quiet Dread

Alone, in a dark house
where moonlight leaks through broken panes,
and weathered walls absorb the heat
as shadow seeks to hold at bay
the lunar rays that slaughter lies,
and by a subtle glow reveal a hidden truth.

Where every edge perceives a different slice
that’s been etched upon your breast--
Pressed and twisted towards the heart--
Impaled upon the words we've lingered in
to contemplate the reasons for a quiet dread
that will never have a name.

Remember Mary, home is not a place…

Where phantoms trace the charted course
that mapped out each new height in doorways--
Where hash mark splinters slipped in feet and hands
of children scaling heights by painted doors
that no longer hold the warning signs--
That kept the youngest of the young away 
and shook in rage of slamming doors
that barred the way of godlike wrath…

Mary, open the door. We need to talk…

Basking in a light the Moon had cast aside,
a shadowed chair of where they used to sit
to fend off fiends that we’d forget with each new dawn,
lay broken in a corner
where time has found a swifter pace…

And voices sound in empty rooms
that harbor mournful ghosts of what we cannot change
that linger near the surface 
to cast the trail of shattered stars
where footsteps often traveled, fade…
and fallen tears that patter in the dust
can no longer be retraced…

Don’t cry Mary, we’ll always be together…

Alone, in a dark house
where moonlight leaks through broken panes
and weathered walls will echo only memory 
of timeless warmth and comfort
set for demolition with the dawn…

Part Three: Scripted Sands

In moonlight, we linger…
Where castles built on shifting sands
reflect the evening glow of waters
that tip toe with a subtle measure 
masked through gently rolling waves
who seek to walk a rhythmic line.
Immortalizing moments born of crafted hearts
that bear a precious tenderness 
for names we’ve etched upon the strand…

While casting golden lassos at the sky
we end the jealous reign of grinning moons
that often bleed the night of darkness.
Where the world forgets our names--
as crossing invisible lines, we walk
embracing shadow

and grinning turns to sorrow in our sky
as one by one and turn by turn, 
the tides of time will wash it all aside.
To cleanse the scripted sands of all we’ve known
as castles swiftly flow towards drifting seas
That rip away our names in memory--
That knew no locks behind a broken door--
that crumbled in a ragged heap 
within an aging mind.

While in the tide of shadow, we wallow.
Where moon and stars can never reach 
or send the evening tide to scatter grains of sand 
beyond a shore of remembrance.
As each to each, they lay
muffled, blurred, and weak, tightly bound
and pressed beneath our vengeful feet
to stifle fractured light that blinds the eye
to all a weary mind would wish to save…

Until collapsing into darkness, we sleep…

and dream the scattered pieces in our heads,
to puzzle mismatched fragments into place
that bear no more than hints of truth
Nor carry through the burdening lies
we stitch in part by strings of what our minds once knew…

That time has somehow crafted differently 
To blend a new reality inside a clouded mind
that won’t perceive the jagged seams.
And truths, no longer truths, become reality
wrapped in strands of moonlight tied to stars
we scatter through the heavens painting worlds
in constellations unrecognized…

and yet, the captive moon must still remain
to bear the bitter blows of what’s to come.
For someone has to take the misplaced blame
for cleansing scripted sands of all we’ve known
that crumble in a heap of aging minds…

So lending depth to patterns on a shoe
we give a gentle twist to kill the moon…


Part Four: Our Sin


Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…

Through spoken word that grants the edge
to phantom winds that bore the hint of steel
and with that subtle twist, laid bare the anguish
too quick for one to feel the razor’s chill
that spread its crimson warmth across the skin.
To fall in splattered patterns to the floor
and in that final breath, we weep

and paint pictures of a time we vaguely hear.
That echoes from the mountain peaks
where pseudo gods have taken toast and tea
and contemplate the finite fates of mortal shells
that flounder in forgotten depths 
swept away by fallen tides through paths 
they can’t remember...

Where eyes of blue alight with fire
once wondered at the heavens, counting stars,
and each new wish that fell to earth
would wrap itself within a desperate soul--
and with a subtle rhythm strike a chord
that lifted hearts and lightened feet
as dancing through our stars, we dreamt 
of far-off places and of people we would meet.
Where castled kings could keep the hallowed ground
before the crash of shattered bone

as drifting into darkness, we speak...

I am old Father, and I have sinned.

And slain a child through shattered dreams
whose fragments lain upon the sands erode,
and wash away the one we thought we knew.
As plunging steel into the youthful breast
we gave a subtle twist to bring the pain
too quick for one to feel the razor’s chill
and cast our inner self into the sea
as worlds forget our names

by accepting we are old…


Part five: Collapsing Darkness


What brings us to our knees
with backs bowed in stagnate winds?
Scrubbing in circles a sacred sin
whose stain denies a weary hand
of finger bleeds and calloused claws
that snap while scraping the memory…

Where all that was, has never been,
and what we thought we were, 
lay sprawled before a bristled brush
that slaves the day 
yet leaves our sin unscathed...

Until collapsing into darkness, we sleep…

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