Kent Taylor

Kent Taylor started writing poetry his freshman year at Ohio Wesleyan University. After quitting medical school at Ohio State University, he returned to Cleveland, and became a charter member of the underground poetry scene that erupted there during the 1960s. His first six books were published by d. a. levy. Taylor moved to San Francisco in 1970. Publications include 14 books and hundreds of appearances in such anthologies and periodicals as The Quarterly, Rattapallax, Abraxas, Ragged Lion, Onthebus, Invisible City, Vagabond Anthology, Painted Bride Quarterly, Free Lance, and Rain City Review.



Poets & Writers page


remains to be seen

we disappear
from the ground
cut off
by the curvature
of the earth

empty nooses
pass for
as a coin
at sunset
the last ray
of light

~kent taylor

returning to Cleveland with an olive branch

in this city
that fostered
then betrayed

my illusions

trains wail

like a Greek chorus

parting my memory

with echoes

as if change

might be the greatest

illusion of all

now that these

runaway years

have stripped the morning sun

of promises

broken by night

Cleveland and I

are brothers

whose battered armor

only decorate scars

enough light remains

to keep us

from falling

but we can no longer see

what we’re missing

~kent taylor



                 i always dreamed of
                          some flashing light
                          on dark water
a flame in my head
                                 if not in the sky

                     always chasing words
          that knotted something inside

             something felt days after
                                  the untying

             words along evening river banks
                  lonely with grass

            words imagined during blackout forgotten
                later remembered
                    like abandoned things

           words locked in a girl’s eyes
                 accidentally catching mine
words anxiously unspoken
                because i didn’t know there were
                              no words

                     the day brings its newness
                              like water
               and i leave the words
                    and they silently


the looks of water in a
                         child’s eye

           something about the
    rising of waves
    the bending of the curl
          or the evening sun expanding
             red behind empty land

                    the back of a distant
          wondering about their
   how they think
why do they do things that seem
                    impossible for

the water along a beach
            a child
            sand through his hair
                    dangling seaweed


i feel like seven days

curtains of light in
                my head
                this warm autumn day
poundings like spring rumble across
                                        the night

           sirens wail           like science fiction
     sitting in apartment thinking
of earlier places
of earlier friends
               of late friends
               of time ending in us
        of cities forcing loneliness
                     /warm air through the window

          the way a thumb bends around
                    a pen almost like love
almost winter now
          the warm wind is a late song
          the furniture dark and silent
                    the book falls           breaks
coming rain doesn’t wait for openings
          the night turns
                and i feel like seven days
                    that slowly crossed themselves
                              off a calendar
          for k.

i never knew how
          the knot inside
    finally went away
          or how to play the game
                    of touch
          i never understood
          it had to end

                     so after was always

          leaving friends after a party
              the loneliness the hunger the
collapsing everything somewhere
      beneath the chest

      today           i still haven’t
                    learned the rules
      hung up on a girl who lets
                    me hold her
nothing to be done
       the day drifts by
the girl who touches
       who feels so warm
          now moves through other habits
              my insides twist and grab

          the haunting vision of everyone’s
          personal sadness as their driving

          returns as it did
          along the banks of the Olentangy
                    during lost college years

i never knew
i still don’t


twisting roads leading
             to the past
     the kiss of rain through
                    a purple mist
                salt spray rising
           over the railing

the red days of autumn
          pile up
                    like leaves
and burn

                    i almost wanted
          so quickly gone
          past my eyes
             past memory
now walking some secret street
                    that i imagine dark and cool
her coat blowing
          her eyes and I can’t even dream
her thoughts
                    i’ll never know