Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Nemesis” by Richard King Perkins II. Mr. Perkins is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in hundreds of publications including: The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Roanoke Review, The Red Cedar Review, and The William and Mary Review. He has poems forthcoming in: Sobotka Literary Magazine, The Alembic, 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. Mr. Perkins resides in Crystal Lake, Illinois with his wife and daughter.
Richard King Perkins II
The last time I saw him —yesterday afternoon—
he was fully alive.
Sandaled, frenetic, mustachioed, scatter-brained;
We could agree on nothing
except that each of us must be the protagonist
in our poorly-framed story.
Less than a day later and I’m trying,
to think of kind things to say about this man
who I’m sure thought me as much of an idiot
as I did he.
After an uncomfortable amount of time,
I decide to say:
He certainly was passionate about the things he believed in.
To me, this seems fair enough
and I mention it to several mourning
co-workers throughout the day.
When I’m asked to help
sort through his office late in the afternoon
my eyes are drawn to the familiar pattern of my name
scribbled in a binder
with a little blurb beneath—
He believes in the truth of poetry
more than the honesty of people.
Oh goodness, yes.
Almost too late,
Poet’s Notes: This poem is based on a relationship with a man with whom I often sparred professionally. We were seldom in agreement and typically opposed in our viewpoints and assessments. It wasn't until after his sudden demise that I began to see him in a much more complete way. Our rivalry seemed so insignificant compared to the totality of what his unique attributes offered to so many.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Perkins does well with the set up to the surprise ending, walking the fine line between sentiment and sentimentality--no easy task. He offers us a thought provoking if sobering piece with a theme that will resonate with many.