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.
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
your celestial whip
on the way to a heaven
I can never attend.
Poetry by Richard King Perkins II
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.