A Dawn of Dry Cereal by Richard King Perkins II

Poetry by Richard King Perkins II evokes the hardship of poverty, the beauty of pleasure and the emptiness of a couple out of synch.

A Dawn of Dry Cereal

In a dawn of dry cereal,
still huddled in our sheets

we held knives against all the throats
calling from outside.

Your aunt owned the tract
of Section 8 housing where we lived

and she called us around that morning
to look at old pictures of her naked body

posed four decades ago
in black and white.

She spoke of the man who took them;
an army guy

who became her mechanic
and something more

a guy she thought she might marry
but didn’t.

On the back of one photo,
a poem—

“I know the milk of your deepest wound…
and only my love can save it.”

Lilac Park

We enter
an elixir of landscape
bound inside the thread count
of your caress—
night is pulled down
and we’re built up by ash and dust
closer to all that remains
but still fractured
in a lilac park of glimmers
and moonfire fringe.


She’s floored in the bathroom again
loving bottom-shelf wine
rambling on her phone,
incoherently texting
to anyone who’s out there.
Her eyes are blurred and bloodshot
for any number of reasons.

He’s firmly planted on the couch
in front of the TV,
owning every platform,
all the best video games.
He knows it’s her birthday
but tonight he’s poised
to reach a godly high.
His vision is sharp and clear.
His hands respond
with perfect coordination.

Photo by Amanda Smith.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, Ill., with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand 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 Hawai’i Review, Sugar House Review, Plainsongs, Free State Review and Texas Review.