Richard King Perkins II



You Called Me Sweet Vermin

You don’t say a word,
but above our sightline we feel every last thing.
You’re hearing ostinatos, outros, optics.
You don’t say a word,
but this sky is where clipped-wing birds hide,
and the peahen plucks a blood feather
from her side. I’ll take an octave from you,
a diminished ninth, diaphanous, pellucid,
rising past ears.
I’ll take from you a sound dissimilar to hiss
and nothing will occur when moon pulls
and deer mice go to sleep.
There is no object that can make up for
the disamplitude keeping us stagnant,
separate in the same room.
As everyone looks on,
the hermit crab returns home.
It must have been the lure of the pumpkin sky,
the enchantment of a purple finch
clearing the horizon, a hunter’s trap gone awry.
You credit granite, leaden shadows
released to scrubland.
We are the apocryphal couple,
an imprecise pairing, vulnerable
to swallowing air.
Everything is flawed, I contend
but you can see the chill
of so many nights wasted,
know the shallow misgivings
of plain birds grounded,
giving back missing music to breath.
And in the ground,
a civilization of deer mice respire, grown thin,
captured in the terra firma of dreams,
the sibyls of nearest minutes.
As winter loses its way
beyond the foothills of desert,
you let go misgiven sounds of intimacy
finally to hear them sing—
a fado released like captured vermin
from the trap of your strumming fists.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He resides in Illinois state, USA, with his wife and daughter.  He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. In a six year period, his work has appeared in more than one thousand publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Roanoke Review, The Red Cedar Review and Crannog. Mr. Perkins’ poems are forthcoming in The William and Mary Review, Sugar House Review, Old Red Kimono and Milkfist. He was a recent finalist in The Rash Awards, Sharkpack Alchemy, Writer’s Digest and Bacopa Literary Review poetry contests.