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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Saturday, April 16, 2011


April, 2011, in this our National Poetry Month, we celebrate and we are featuring one of our best southern poets, Robert S. King. He was born in Georgia and grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge.
Robert is currently the Director of FutureCycle Press (www.futurecycle.org) and serves as President of the Georgia Poetry Society (www.georgiapoetrysociety.org).  Additionally, he is a member of  the Georgia Writers Association and the North Carolina Writers Network.

I know Robert S. King as a long time practicing poet who has given many of his hours, days and years promoting the poetry of others, in fact, he was one of the first to publish my poems in the 1970's. I see him now, in semi retirement, still hoping for a minute to work on his own poetry while, yes, still giving much to publish the work of others. He has "punched his time card," he's "given at the office." I'd like to see Robert S. King get the acceptance for his own poetry that he deserves.


Dream of the Electric Eel

nothing shocks me
not even the black leaves forming the sky
of this swamp nor my shape
in the dark water dammed with ash

no one to hug me
I am my own arm
have made the absence of touch a weapon
made my voice an image in the current
too late announcing my coming

fishermen throw me back without touching the line
snakes shed a skin of ash
when I grow suddenly warm

underwater lightning
I have left a trail of fire
on the river’s back
for mine is the voice that boils water
yet makes it feel cold

they say an eel is lower than a snake
that even the swamp is above him
but I say I have fallen like a power
line leaping on the river
that when I go down
all I touch twitches
and rises to the top

--first published in Southern Poetry Review
Reprinted in The Hunted River

 What Missing the Cat Means
for Ian, my son, after Thai went away

It means that something in nature hungered for change,
perhaps the cat, maybe his taker,
perhaps the circular soul of give and take, life and death.

Loss is a hole that forget-me-nots grow back around.
Loyalty is a beautiful gown of leaves
worn together for a season.
Then the pet will not so much leave you as go on.
Or change his form, invisible as wind
that blows far beyond a mere nine lives.

We sweep the floor where his shed white fur
almost forms him whole again.
He is still in our gravity
in the snake’s or the hawk’s eye.
His taker has taken on his white shadow,
his night vision, and among the crickets
his purr and soft rubbings.

You will always have him,
though you must seek him beyond this moment’s void.
Keep his touch to warm your room
but look out across these whiskers of grass,
let him hunt there in a greater self.
Love that holds is less than love that frees,
but you may keep the gift
of knowing that whatever his form,
he’s moved by your gentle rain, still feels
your hands softly along his rainbowed back.

--first published in Gaia: A Journal of Literary & Environmental Arts
Reprinted in The Hunted River

 The Last Saint of the Empire

Stranger, I am cupping in my hands
the land’s last water for you.
You will not drink alone.
The sun too is steaming in this meager pool.

Drink before the water boils away.

What you have won is mostly smoke:
Above us, old mystics, old clouds,
redden from the dust of battle:
the wind twists them like sponges,
wringing out across the valley
a dry and crimson rain:
Even the gentle, holy winds rub
together like flint:
below them the frocks flame:
the shadows of monks are dark ash
piling up in prayer.

My invader, my wounded heir,
you are drinking my boiling blood.
You must swallow what you conquer.
You must dress for the weather you bring.

It is a hot day:
Smell the feathers of the angels burning.

--first published in En Passant
Reprinted in The Hunted River

Robert has published in hundreds of magazines, including The Kenyon Review, Southern Poetry Review, ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum, Midwest Quarterly, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Negative Capability, The Hollins Critic, Blue Unicorn, Poem, Louisville Review, En Passant, Xanadu, Chattahoochee Review, The Cape Rock, Amelia, Slant, Sow's Ear, Windless Orchard, Great River Review, Visions Inter­national, Writers' Forum, Lullwater Review, Permafrost, Habersham Review, Spoon River Poetry Review,The Bridge, Hellas, Hammers, Poetpourri, Grasslands Review, Lungfish Review, etc.

His chapbook titles are When Stars Fall Down as Snow (Garland Press, 1976), Dream of the Electric Eel (Wolfsong Publications, 1982), and Traveller’s Tale (Whistle Press, 1998).

Two full-length titles, The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, were published by Shared Roads Press in 2009.
Robert is available for readings, lectures, and workshops. You may contact him at rsking@futurecycle.org.


Joan Ellen Gage said...

It is difficult to think oneself a writer after reading these poems by Robert King. Thank you for sharing these, Nancy.

Nancy Simpson said...

Hello Joan, I know exactly what you mean.When I read Robert's poems, I see how far I have to grow. But, Dear One, you are a writer. Keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I just found out how lucky I am to participate in a critique group with Robert King. His range of insight and precise skill of expression are gifts to us.

Maren O. Mitchell

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks for the comment, Maren. We are all fortunate to have Robert S.King come back home to the mountains and I'm happy he joined Netwest.

I'm celebrating his poems while celebrating National Poetry Month. Spread the word. There will be two more posts on this site with his poems before the end of April.