Three poems by Richard King Perkins II

Becoming Serpent

Ex-marine seen too much killing
wants to be a serpent has a plan and much money
removes lips splits tongue head already shaved
pulls teeth snips ears reticulates skin with tattoo
cuts off fingers cuts off toes grinds down nose
stitches snake-eyed lenses to his eyes
fuses foot to foot hands to hips learns to wriggle and hiss
and swallow things whole
there is problem with sex organs and then there is not.

Ex-marine transformed to serpent has a plan
writes to tattoo mags and swinger rags
asking to be less than a slave or man
no one responds to the simple plea
by the ex-sergeant who has become
the lowest creature on earth.

In desperation new serpent man shattered plan
joins a church of strychnine drinkers and snake-handlers
and to his horror is venerated like a god.

"Snake" (photo by Flickr user Steve Lodefink)

“Snake” (photo by Flickr user Steve Lodefink)

A Trusted Stranger

It’s easy to lose awareness while in your own recliner.
By this time, the material is contoured to your needs
just as its protests are recognizable. Staring at the television,
the distant sound of airplanes overhead is correctly pitched.
The owl that calls from the pine tree in your neighbor’s
backyard is well-known. Panning your vision is an antiquated
slide show of people familiar in your life. You have grown
comfortable with the activities and patterns surrounding you.
But in the unknowable distance, someone is unwittingly
plotting a collision course to your home. Like a spiraling
bullet or a trusted stranger, they will alter everything;
with an arrival, a meeting and the soft caress of your blood.

"Boot" (photo by Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski)

“Boot” (photo by Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski)


Was there ever enough time?
Adultery in its purest sexual form
seems to fold the hours
like my grandmother did laundry;
cold and starkly efficient.

The language of darkness
is a terse symbolism
quashing the shoots of oversentimentality.
Our itinerary is a blind rush of immediacy.

When you speak, it is only of now,
asking me to twist the grain of your marrow,
to drift within the gulf stream of your shifting blood.

Sprinkled daybreak enters the room
and turns your mouth-words upside-down
and I’m no longer certain of what you’re asking me.

I guess this is how it ends.

Two corpses rigored in osculation
and your dreamy little one laughing at you
for kissing someone that’s not Daddy
nor even Santa Claus out of costume,
seeking warmth in the coldness of night.

IMG_6312Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He has a wife, Vickie and a daughter, Sage. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications including Prime Mincer, Sheepshead Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Fox Cry, Two Thirds North and The Red Cedar Review. He has work forthcoming in Bluestem, Poetry Salzburg Review and The William and Mary Review.