"The Dark Man" is an early poem written by Stephen King when he was in college. It was later published in Ubris in 1969. It served as the genesis for the character of Randall Flagg. An edition from Cemetery Dance Publications with illustrations from Glenn Chadbourne was released in July 2013.
The poem follows an unnamed 'dark man' who rides the rails observing everything around him. The poem takes a sinister turn when the narrator confesses to rape.
Stephen King wrote the poem on the back of a placemat in a college restaurant. According to King, the idea for the poem came out of nowhere: "this guy in cowboy boots who moved around on the roads, mostly hitchhiking at night, always wore jeans and a denim jacket... The thing about him that really attracted me was the idea of the villain as somebody who was always on the outside looking in and hated people who had good fellowship and good conversation and friends."
The poem was initially published in the literary magazines Ubris in 1969 and Moth in 1970. In 2004, Cemetery Dance reprinted it in The Devil's Wine, a hardcover collection of poems. In 2013, they announced an illustrated version of the poem with illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne.
The Stand Miniseries
In Part 1 of the 1994 miniseries adaptation of The Stand, Harold Lauder gives Frannie Goldsmith a copy of Evergreen magazine which has printed Harold's poem. Frannie's father reads a bit out loud. It is a line from the poem. It is used as a demonstration of Harold's lack of ability as a writer.