poetry by James A. Perkins

Only the Trees

Built on the site
of an iron-age hill fort
Roman foundation gave way
to Celtic modification
before Saxon walls
fell to Norman arms.

Various roses vied to root
before the Tudor Rose
brought peace
allowing decoration
to replace defense.

Lawns gardens and hedges
now mazed and formal
now wild and grottoed
changed with the fashion.

Only the trees, oak, ash, yew and thorne
watched over the by generations of foresters
acquire ring by slow ring to tower
changeless over all this change.


Traditional Korean Breakfast

I decided what I would have
for breakfast this morning
in Kangwon-Do, Korea
thirtyfive years ago
in Jackson, Mississippi.

Yesterday while I had the traditional
Korean breakfast, fish soup and rice,
my wife had “the continental breakfast”
which turned out to be bacon and eggs.

I had to sit on one side of the room
and she on the other.

This morning I went for the familiar,
Bacon & Eggs. I would rather
sit with my wife
than eat fish soup and rice
for breakfast.


Trying to Explain to a Star

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed
        his grasp
Or what’s a heaven for?”

–Robert Browning

I cannot grasp you
Cannot hold you
But I can reach out
Later in the long darkness
Though my arms are empty
This ache in my shoulders
Will teach me
The meaning of light.