Diary of a Sensitive Youth by Richard King Perkins II

Travel Poem:

In Cody

I remember the woman with no teeth who was crying.

I wanted to give her a couple of cigarettes

or maybe even the whole pack

but then I wouldn’t have any, so I kept them,

and I moved on.


In Spokane

I was living at the park with the other homeless people.

Me and my friend were showing off

to the college girls that passed by

but I got tired of that

so I climbed a cliff about thirty feet high

and when I stood on top I could see the whole city

and when I looked down I saw a kid about my age

wearing black Converse shoes

his body covered by a ripped orange tarp.

His hands were on his stomach, cradling his severed head

and I said, well, at least you can’t feel anything—

but I wasn’t sure who I was talking to.

I couldn’t speak for a couple of days after that

and one night, by the fire,

I noticed that I was wearing black Converse shoes,

wrapped in an orange poncho

and I knew that I would never talk again

if I stayed there, so I got up,

and I moved on.


Outside Spokane

I gave a woman my last five dollars because she looked like

the woman in Cody who I wanted to give cigarettes to.

But even after she had the money,

people still turned their heads from her in shame

and I thought, what difference does this really make?

Five dollars might last half-a-day

and then she’ll still be the same anyway.

I was totally broke now, and I wished

I hadn’t given away all my money, so I made a note,

and I moved on.


In Denver

I was sleeping at a friend’s place

when I heard gunfire and jumped up and remembered

oh yeah, this is Denver, and went back to sleep

not too bothered by the drive-by-shooting.

In the morning

I heard that a little boy had been shot in the crossfire.


I was sad in a way

and wanted to do something to help.

Three weeks later, I was still there,

unable to think of any way to help, but I heard

he had gotten better anyhow and I felt better,

so I lit-up a found, half-cigarette, inhaled,

and began moving on.


BIO: 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, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.