The Skid Row of Cold Mountain

Han Shan has been dead a thousand years.
Let him stay dead in the skid row of Cold Mountain.
The rocks of his graffiti are dust.
Blow his words out from the cracks of your keyboard
with a can of compressed air.

There is no reason to try and follow him.
His poetry is a magnitude of white radiance
in a singularity of lightless noise.
Breathe in. His words become a part of you.
But Han Shan is still dead
laughing at the dullness of your dreams.


Finding Pauperdom in the State of Eureka

We couldn’t afford a hotel in California
so we found the cheapest motel in a ten mile radius.

Ecstatic energy bolts me to the bed;
a smear of darkness channels through me like a caressing riptide.

We try to recloak our technicolor history.
We only seem naked after the fact.

This is not the dull shadow cast by familiar objects;
but I hear the same parable with its homespun morality—

the old wolf, the cackling scullion lie dead
with their guts strewn across the cordillera’s upthrust daggers;

where the sweetest flowers have been over-pollinated by mutant bees
and their thuggish entourage of sycophants.

A matrix of bitterness, lost in her deluge,
keeps me stranded on a mountaintop near Petaluma.

Kestrel hymns foretold the decline of conjugal integrity,
releasing the throttle of sensual dime store drama.

I can stand here for a near eternity,
manifest in the key of duality;

vicious in wisdom, sagacious in the bartering of virtue
deftly hidden by earliest clouds—

caught in the act of self-pleasuring; in the thievery of moonbeams
stealing wads of silver from midday, or here;

in the small escape of light crumbing its way beneath the door,
the first thought of me, returning.


The Curb of Ivanhoe Court

Specious reasoning—
the night explores itself in opal and wine
while the sun has lost me in the backyard trimmings.

Sierra copper darkness extrudes from beneath her door—
prowling like gunmetal machetes.
How many days have I been parked outside her home
posing a rubric threat to her intellectual tan leather?

Her arm, taller than a giraffe’s thoughts,
stretches out to the hooves of the moon.
All things wobble in an uneasy orbit—
rising like smokestacks out of the earth’s corruption.

Countless fractional movements and random deviations
have led to lotus days and nights of jade
on the curb of Ivanhoe Court.

Though her belief suggests
a particular knowledge of me,
a stitch of stranger stagnates in the null of my car.

With ideas ripped ugly at the seams,
moonlight and the sum of all possibilities begin to erase
her tracing paper form,

speaking silence to a silhouette, a cup spilling black,
that only my eyes can see through to beyond.


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 and daughter. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee whose works have appeared in more than a thousand publications.