All Too Near

by Richard King Perkins II

Artwork, “Fragmented” by Susan Peters

At the funeral,

we all perfunctorily shake hands,

unconsciously congratulating ourselves

on not being the one praised


nearly seduced by the subtle movements

of fresh corpses

we pretend not to see.


My thoughts are bifurcated—

half alive, half dead.

I ignore the voices of here and gone poets

while reciting their paralytic words.


Despite our silent lunar speak

we’ll lose nearly everything

of insubstance


a memory of us walking backwards

with shoes tied together

toward the rock and stone barrier,

daring above a waterless cliffside.


In the land where the sun still rises

it’s hard to tell if the pitch and bog in here

is worse than what waits outside.


It was decades ago the last time

you pretzeled your skinny Jew legs

around my back


but I shake my head clear

pretending those once familiar sticks

aren’t already rotting in the box

we’re standing all too near.

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