It's just poetry, it won't bite

Shadow Keeper

10.11.17 Posted in today's words by

John J. McKenna’s most recent poem to appear here was “She asked me if I could ‘sum it up nicely'” (September 2017)

Shadow Keeper
By John J. McKenna


when I met you
I stepped quickly to center
there in the field
so that the light was upon me

I removed my gloves to hold your hand
ensured that my posture was such
that you could easily see my eyes directly and well

I spoke of my Life—unfiltered and unaffected

I spoke Truth

I spoke of
treasure and torment
hearts and minds and bodies of women that I had shared
and those that had shared my own (some less delicately then others)

I placed soon into your hands
three poems

the topography and journey of my Life
my loves
and heartbreak

I shared with you gently, yet swiftly, my story
so that—should you wish—you could and would know,
not accept or agree—but simply understand

and choose for yourself

I shared the wandering, wonder and worship
that had enriched and enlightened me

the melody of the myriad Muse
in my writing and heart

Joy, that in spite of the certain grueling challenges, had never abandoned me
Joy that had been, and still remains, my ever and steady companion
since my earliest barefoot days of boyhood
along the creek bank and river

I shared my story unapologetically and in full

I shared in my own voice

I spoke of the pain that had found me
the violence that had afflicted me
the suffering of others that I love

and you spoke


however, little, clipped,
your own editorial design
squandering my giving ears

you spoke vaguely
more often of what you had most recently read—than of what you had lived
more often of what you wished and dreamed for—than what you had made

and when you did share slivers from your story
you were intentionally elusive

the drip – drip – drip
trip – clarify – drip – rationalize – drip – qualify – drip – drip – again – repeat

the slow reveal of you
was brutal

like the unnatural night cold
of the lonely mountainside valley
that we were to visit in Summer’s August to come


I asked you to do differently

to speak aloud and full with comfort and confidence
while knowing and receiving the kindness, understanding and new love offered by me

You chose differently,
in spite of your songs of peace
you mistook my conviction as another’s criticism

I simply sought Truth

I asked you to share
and you chose differently

white knuckled—you kept open and hid and alive in you
antiquities and anguish,
dream and delirium,
of somewhere, something and someone else

you chose not to fully accept nor receive the hand and heart
I gifted to you
on a bed of Athelas


I had wished to have walked with you in the Light shared,
realizing only now,
in spite of your brief and partial appearance there,
you were in yourself

a Shadow Keeper

One Response to “Shadow Keeper”

  1. H. Larew says:

    John McKenna’s poem is powerful in voice, carefully rendered, and long echoing in impact. Thanks to him for writing it and to vox poetica for sharing it. HGL

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