Poems by Richard King Perkins II

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Diary of a Sensitive Youth

In Cody

I remember the woman with no teeth who was crying.

I wanted to give her a couple of cigarettes

or maybe even the whole pack

but then I wouldn’t have any, so I kept them,

and I moved on.

In Spokane

I was living at the park with the other homeless people.

Me and my friend were showing off

to the college girls that passed by

but I got tired of that

so I climbed a cliff about thirty feet high

and when I stood on top I could see the whole city

and when I looked down I saw a kid about my age

wearing black Converse shoes

his body covered by a ripped orange tarp.

His hands were on his stomach, cradling his severed head

and I said, well, at least you can’t feel anything—

but I wasn’t sure who I was talking to.

I couldn’t speak for a couple of days after that

and one night, by the fire,

I noticed that I was wearing black Converse shoes,

wrapped in an orange poncho

and I knew that I would never talk again

if I stayed there, so I got up,

and I moved on.

Outside Spokane

I gave a woman my last five dollars because she looked like

the woman in Cody who I wanted to give cigarettes to.

But even after she had the money,

people still turned their heads from her in shame

and I thought, what difference does this really make?

Five dollars might last half-a-day

and then she’ll still be the same anyway.

I was totally broke now, and I wished

I hadn’t given away all my money, so I made a note,

and I moved on.

In Denver

I was sleeping at a friend’s place

when I heard gunfire and jumped up and remembered

oh yeah, this is Denver, and went back to sleep

not too bothered by the drive-by-shooting.

In the morning

I heard that a little boy had been shot in the crossfire.

I was sad in a way

and wanted to do something to help.

Three weeks later, I was still there,

unable to think of any way to help, but I heard

he had gotten better anyhow and I felt better,

so I lit-up a found, half-cigarette, inhaled,

and began moving on.



How could you not be captivated

by her bohemian chic

and dirty bare feet,

voice chanting with sounds

borrowed from our unrecorded past.

She is offering a new branch—

a divergent history

and antediluvian caresses.

Kneel with her a moment,

let her lips press your human vestiges

and her hands remove

stain and defeat from your permanence.

You bathe in wet earth,

unbecoming yourself

spilling the last illness

into her forgiving lap.

Now try to look at her once more.

Her clothing conceals nothing.

Her feet glide over intangible soil.


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***Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.***



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