By Don Kenton Henry


There is a great black cloud which fills the void between the prairie to the sky

It blocks the sun and breathes and, as it does, exhales a wind

from the soot and sulfur filled lungs of the dark side

It rolls onward and before it comes a pale horseman

On an ashen steed, he rides

Its stride is long, its neck is stretched, its nostrils flared, and it reeks of death

It gallops on a wind that bears the putrid stench of rotting flesh


Tribulations and lamentations


The monster cloud builds as it rolls across the earth feeding on the life which clings to it

And blood falls from it like rain and the rivers and rows between our crops run red

It visits us a nightmare and brings a pox upon both the young and aged

The horseman wields a scythe he sweeps across the land

It fells beast and plant and all before it

None shall be left to tell the tale of our flesh turned to dust and our teeth to sand

None shall know our tribulation nor hear our lamentations

For the pale horseman will spare none to tell our story


Except for you my fortunate friend


We of sickly pallor, the whites of our eyes gone yellow, in windows do we wait

Blood stained cloths we hold to our face as the rider delivers our fate

Consumption eats our lungs

The preacher and the atheist debate

“Have mercy on our souls!” says one

“There is no God!” the other

“What know you of what lies beyond the edge of the universe?” cries the agnostic

“Of what is made the dark matter which fills the void between the stars?”


And all about them, both the wicked and the innocent pray for mercy

One repents and each makes promises they will never live to keep

For too late they come to the table

And in this world death comes even to the stable


Nothing left to do but pace and weep

Tribulations and lamentations

Pestilence and plague upon us

Locusts all about

Into our walls they seep

Through the floorboards fanged and scaled serpents creep


The horseman thunders through our door

The chest of the ashen steed heaves as it hooves pound the floor

Fire from its nostrils sets our house ablaze
Death come quickly, please


Tribulation and lamentations


Now tis your job to pass this word

The burden of the lesson falls to you

In the end we all do learn

Cries for exceptions will fall unheard

Death always makes its appointed rounds

For one day we are born from ground

And another we return

One day we overestimate our worth

And all too soon we’re turned to dirt





By Don Kenton Henry


He works in the quite corner of a dank and darkened gym

It reeks of the sweat of men of color and the working stiff

Alone, it’s just the mirror, the floor and him

Gone are the days he was all angle iron and barbed wire

on two feet fighting for fun or hire

Yet his hands are wrapped tight as his hardened core

Hardened still, but less so than years before

At one time, the first―his fists―were like ten pound stones

The other―his core―like a granite slab

Only now, he feels the grind of the cracks that run through them . . .

But he’s tapped for this fight and steps into the ring once more


For now, he jabs at his opponent who smoothly counters punch for punch

And he slides along the wall taking cover under his jab―

Protects his chin under a shoulder hunched

As each fighter shuffles to the rhythm  of his plan

Too well each knows the other man


In his mind, he is the pugilist young and elusive

The sweet scientist

A feint, a slip, a bob and a weave, luring the old guy in

Then suddenly impetuous―the brawling banger!

He lets loose his famous left hook which he drives from his hips

All the way from South Chicago to East Philly

It’s one that’s caused many a pug to take leave from their senses

But the guy in the mirror just gives it a shrug; and into the breach he advances

He’s bold and he’s cold and not afraid to take chances

Strong on offense

And, though worn and torn, his opponent reminds him of someone he once knew in younger days

Someone who reminds him of his once careless ways


Light is in his corner but very dim

Still enough to illuminate the scars of the other man

The laced brows of bigotry, the thickened eyelids of  narcissism, the cauliflower ear―one of infidelity the other of conceit

They are less trophies than sins

He feels the guilt that comes from knowing, at one time―to him―there was no difference


He sees that look in his eyes and the other guy sees and feels it too

He wants to take this guy out, make him feel pain, make him pay, make him lose

He wants to punish him for the smallest mistake

Today’s and yesterday’s

Prove that pride is a costly corner man


A double jab, a hook to the rib―break that floater! Feel it crunch all the way through the glove, up the forearm and into his shoulder―then a cross to twist the chin―to twist the jaw―to twist the spine then―hopefully―lights out

Let blood, sweat and spittle fly across the ring, over the ropes, into the crowd

across the face of family and all who judge

But the punches seem to glance off

And the old guy keeps coming

The one guy he never handed a loss


The old guy carries with him a reminder of everything he ever walked away from

No―not fights or punches; he took the best and brunt of those, the judge’s cards be damned!

But from the loves, the smiles, the laughter, days spent with the young and the old, the hopes, the dreams and The Brass Ring of what is now lost and unfulfilled potential

And, closing the gap, his opponent now leads with his right―his strong hand―and catches him right in his conscience

His head reels, his ears ring, and so does the bell

And the guy in the mirror raises his left hand he calls “time” and his right hand he  calls “past”

In a ring of “Broken Dreams”


Our fighter’s down on the canvas then awakens in bed, dripping in sweat

Until the next night when he steps in the ring with the stone cold undefeated

A dark shadow in a black satin robe that bears his name in red . . . “Regret”

And once more our fighter digs deep in his guts, down deep into his soul . . .

And gives all for the upset




The Sound Of A Heart Breaking


By Don Kenton Henry

What sound does a heart make when it breaks

Is it as quiet as the breath that now you cannot take

Or . . . as the goodbye you never heard


Is it the sound of the fluttering broken wing of a bird as it struggles in vain to fly

While you watch helplessly as your broken heart joins in arrhythmic sync with it

In what seems its own attempt not to die

What difference between your heart and the broken sparrow on this cold December day

Love and nature can be hard on all God’s creatures


Is it the sound of a room once full of furniture

And the life and love of family

Now vacant of wood, fabric, leather and laughter

Echoing of as though of the lone Chaplain’s footsteps on an empty hospital hallway long past the midnight hour


Is it the sound of frozen tears dropping on a China plate

The tink when they shatter after falling from your face

Or more like icicles falling off the eaves of a roof

Which crash then shatter loudly

And you take this as proof

That is the sound a heart makes when it breaks


What is the sound hope makes when it leaves your heart

Is it the sound of a ship’s mainsail, one moment full and tight

The next, canvas collapsing on itself as its life breath , the wind . . . dies

Is that the sound love makes when it decides to depart


Or is it the echo of her laughter or a kind word that she said

Each one you play over at night as you lie in your bed

Saddened by the emptiness where just nights before lay her head

Such a short time ago her scent still lingers on the pillow

And you wonder when dreams die . . . just where do they go


Oh, hazel eyes, I miss you

Oh, hazel eyes, what I would give to kiss you

Once more

Oh, what I would give to write the poetry I promised you

To read the stories I had yet to read . . . and the ones which I would write for you

To put you in them like some long lost Russian ballerina who stole a school boy’s heart

To dance the dances we would have danced

To travel the miles to Rome and Paris I would have traveled with you

To feel the smiles we would have smiled along the way

This is the picture a bard had painted on his open poet heart he wished to share with you

Words unspoken, tales untold, dances left undanced, smiles left unsmiled, love ungiven


Oh, soft and gentle hazel eyes

Nothing to be forgiven

And nothing will be forgotten



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As I say in the accompanying video, I have been writing since I was fifteen years of age. (Except for the thirty years I took a break.) The last seven years, I have been a member of a writer’s club here in my home, The Woodlands, Texas. Our work is often read by the leader of the group, or another, member but they tell me they enjoy it more when I read my own. I suppose that is because I, more than anyone, know the feelings I am trying to convey. Outside my club, only a select person or two has heard me read my work.

This is the first in what will be a series of recitations of my poems, short stories and flash fiction. I hope you will listen and enjoy them. I also hope, with time, I will become better at reading on camera. If nothing else these will be a legacy for my grandchildren to come and allow them a look into who I was and the matters of my heart.

Thank you for listening and following . . .

The Bard


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Captured By A Classics Comic Book

By Don Kenton Henry


Upon first glance, she strikes you like the page of a book

She’ll never mean too much until you take a close look

Just black letters on a small white sheet

Nothing pleasing to the eye, nothing special to meet

But read her like a speed reader and examine the whole

You can’t focus on one word and expect the story to know


If there’s no worth in her that you can see

Perhaps you’re reading her in English, and she’s really Chinese



Don’t hold that page upside down

Read her from the right perspective

The page will suddenly make sense when you turn her around


So many “Plain Janes” that I never discovered

Just passed them on the shelf and chose a fancier cover





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Focus the microscope a little closer, please

I’ve never observed a species such as these

Their method of consumption is quite crude

Their reproductive system . . . rather rude


Inefficient and unsuccessful despite its simplicity

Attribute this to selfdestructive tendencies


A succession of splitting cells and selfreplicating DNA

Mitosis, Meiosis, Prophase and Anaphase


It’s all too much to observe in one night

So put up the equipment and turn off the light

I’ve had enough of this species called man

Andbefore we leavelet’s not forget to wash our hands





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From Where I Sit

You talk of what you’ve done

and have the nerve to criticize me

You speak of missions failed and how much you despise me

You laugh at my defeats, savoring each downfall with great pleasure

Knowing all the time, it’s you who lost―you’ve done nothing to be measured


Myself, I’ve never been content seeking safety from the storm

Stagnation and―a mundane life―result from living in the norm

I took my chances; refused to hide

Sometimes I lost; but I always tried

Sometimes I fell

But I always got up

Always answered the bell, always came back tough


You . . . you’ve made a career out of playing it safe

Gambled only when the odds were in your favor

And you had nothing at stake

I took the long road; you took the short

I’ve come a long way

You’re still docked at the port


It’s easy to laugh at another’s mistakes―

Laugh with your friends and sling mud in my face

While you live with your mother―grow old and get fat

Sip chardonnay with the girls and think you’re where it’s at

Well, if it’s at the bottom―you’re there


But I’m on the high road and when I get to the top

Don’t remember my name, don’t give me a thought

Don’t worry, don’t fret, for I won’t forget you

Nor the things I have learned or the things I’ve been through


One thing before I close, before I’ve said my last word . . .

Let me pause  . . . . . . . . .

And say, thanks

For the comeback you’ve spurred


For without your company down in the pits

I’d be doing my time in an assembly line hitch

Living in a trailer with an obese old bitch

Drinking cases of Stroh’s  . . .

Scratching my one year―seven year itch





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May the sorrows of your mother, sevenfold

on you, her bastard son, be bestowed


Raped by a rabid dog on a moonlit night

Upon discovering reality with the morning light . . .

Your mother livedthe poor dog died of fright




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Can’t Compete With California

If tears were silver dollars

I’d have you to thank for making me a rich man

And if hurting me was your objective

consider yourself accomplished


But on your way to self-actualizing,

I think someday you’ll be realizing

you stand to inherit the fortune you gave me

Bequeathed for the way you deserted,

betrayed me


For you, I became an involuntary martyr for all kind of man

Left by his woman, his friend, with dreams in her head . . .

Too much time on her hands


For your sake, I hope there’s still gold in those California hills

That you find what you want


And if, what the song says is true,

there’ll be no rain in your life . . .

Except when it pours


When that happens,

seek shelter in the company of those to whom you ran

since turning your back on me

For time is the healer of all things

And it takes a better man than me to forgive his Judas





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A homo sapien and his canine took a stroll on the street

A mobile metal monster they happened to meet

Bloody guts


It’s been said by the son of a son of a son

That one rots and bloats in the noon day sun

Not so for the other, he’s got a schedule to keep

Cock ‘n bull

Maggots ain’t picky ’bout what they eat