Later Lilies

In white sheets of light
she promised herself

she would curb her appetites
when later lilies closed.

As orange falls through clouds
of grape and lavender

her limbs are hummingbirds 
holding an electronic brevity

and she breaks
into a crystalline flush.

Like regret spreading wide
in ascending stems

her diet will last longer 
than her chastity.

Cedar and Fallen Totems

If I could hide you beneath my bed
in a world of floorboards and dust

could we live there unbothered
by the separation 

of a mattress and box spring?

Could we recycle air each night
in an intimate system

of transparent words
and secret breathing

where you ask if there’s a way
to turn today into yesterday

and if something can be unborn?

If it meant being something worse
than unpopular or forgotten

could you find honesty within crests
on this simple infertile delta?

Sunlight does not creep
but for you it slows to a crawl

as we watch movies in ritual cellophane
crying at even the funniest parts.

There are so many adjustments to be made
that by the time it is finished

we look nothing 
like the people from before.

If we could live in a world
of cedar and fallen totems

could we send a message to the ones
we once knew and cared for

that we just want to be white irises
embraced and alone in a flatness 

of inconsumable snow?

Trinkets of Blue Smoke

The few who remain can live openly.

Those you’ve fallen away from,
the others without bodies
have disappeared because they are unremembered.

After sunset, you may think of me.
You may possibly hold all that I was 
like trinkets of blue smoke

listening with lament
because only a few handfuls of rain 
can be squeezed from passing clouds.

You shout disappointment at the capricious unending,
weeping fog, vanishing the albino sky.

With a sidelong glance and a stray memory
enemies begin to reappear;

wraiths are the voice with which you sing

and I stand next to you, crossing November gales,
consorting with light itself.

Celestial Whip

The others are intimidated 
by your tragic attitude—

the wires of your binding,
the ligature marks 
of inward glories.

Across your body 
I see jagged question marks—

records of your beating heart

the tiniest moments 
of life and death.

It seems to me your years 
as a street artist
are coming to an end

and now you’ll specialize
in an apostasy
of plain white chairs and pain.

I'm not sure if these gripping hands
are the basis or the end-result 
of loving you

but I do know

this is the only chance I’ll have 
to experience 
your celestial whip

on the way to a heaven

I can never attend.

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, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

Poetry by Richard King Perkins II