Let me entice,
let me speak to you
for five minutes
and we’ll be walking the periphery
between light and birth
and someplace else.
If I could look upon you
for thirty seconds
or maybe a few seconds more
we’d be intimates
without artistic redemption
beyond blame and the errors of sin
in a turned down bed
along the northern bank
of an east-west river
where there’s a first time
for every love that should-have-been.
"Terminal At Chula Vista"
Fog wraps every sign of heaven
like a proposal gone awry
a cloak covering the whitest earth
like shavings of wood and black ravine.
We lay down famished and parched,
your chest pressing on my arm.
You know the question
but you’re afraid to ask me.
I’ll tell you everything.
Indifferent child, incipient world.
Song of Sweetwater and harbor spray.
Rarest snow two-thirds distant from the pole.
How you rested the ache of your head
on my shoulder
after we came back from a forest
of white maples and ginger.
You returned before I could say good-bye.
I’m a nightmare of infertility—
an orchid bed of lovetands and bracken.
I held my breath
and you suffocated and died.
The certainty of past
is flawless and unapologetic.
I am parent, but not father or mother.
Shadows crowd in purity
at the backlash of my elbow.
I know about the dead things
that could one day blossom into life.
I thank that night,
sperm impregnating the moon
troughs spreading flat and meek.
(continued, with stanza break)
I walk away from the vision,
my legs kicking at waves of light.
My eyes squint with near-blindness
into the soundings of sky.
Here, within the backyard fence,
grass blades recognize me anonymously.
Remembrance is a hopeless ikon,
a story for the defeated.
By morning, water will have filled
my recent depressions of sleep.
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.