Literary Orphans

Two Poems
by Mike Perkins


A History Lesson
my grandfather
always had a storage building someplace
which he filled
with all kind of miscellanea
always on the main street
in the deserted downtowns
where the rent was cheap
in little towns that refused to die
but would not grow either
just shrivel down

the last was in Sturgeon, Missouri
in a building that had housed
a funeral home
that had left
some of the equipment behind
including a tilting narrow stainless steel table with gutters and drains
as well as other macabre
before that
the storage building was in Clark, Missouri

General Omar Bradley
was born just outside of Clark
a small town
of about 300 people
we drove there one day to visit
that storage building and
retrieve something or other
he had squirreled away there

as we drove into town
we passed a bum
who probably looked older than he was
because of that weathered look
drunks and homeless get
dressed in white dungarees and ragged white t-shirt
walking alongside the road
my grandfather waved at him
from the front seat
of his Olds Delta 88

“Fuck you.”
was all the guy said
my grandfather laughed
one of those soft big bellied Buddha laughs
He said: “That guy used to be the best house painter in the state.”
I had to ask:
“What happened?”
he answered:
“He became a drunk.”
as if that said it all

I think about that day
a surreal scene
which I replay in my mind
the thing I remember most is the laugh
a Zen koan chuckled rather than a spoken Jesus parable

Grandfather’s laugh was
an acknowledgment, a resignation,
with a dash of rancor directed toward something inside himself as well
with which he wrestled
but would not name out loud


O Typekey Divider


Becky’s House
down that long narrow stretch
that comes up fast after Perche
creek the stretch that used to be
gravel, but then again, a lot of
things used to be, now blacktopped
with the good farmland fenced green on
both sides subdivided with those
big round hay bales that turn dead
gray on the outside but that crust
of death protects the good green fodder in
the middle, a metaphor, then mostly
black cattle in other lots that will eat
that hay when the time comes

off that gentle byway there is a narrow
lane of crushed white gravel dissecting the
road ninety degree that starts out
with a rise that conceals much
such that you must climb that small rise
before you see what is on the other
side when the view opens up as that narrow
drive goes straight a good quarter of a
mile to the white frame clapboard farm
house even smaller than remembered
certainly too much too small to contain
the bitter crop of ambition that
was native to the land

it was well past three decades when
I last made that bad turn off of what was
once gravel, but is now black topped, coming
after Perche creek turning into that narrow
drive then up that small rise and I have no
idea why I decided after all this time that
summer after noon to turn one more time then
there it was unchanged as I had
remembered that tiny what house stuffed
full of secrets that unwelcomed me who
dared to disturb their rest of
dead ambition so I left again
the delusion of what never really was

–Poems by Mike Perkins Sports News | Nike Air Max 270 – Deine Größe bis zu 70% günstiger