The Undersell

The Undersell

The Undersell

A Poem by Richard King Jr.

We spent last night watching Lifetime movies—

the titles are so forgettable,

but it was the one about the woman

who was so much more than anyone ever knew


how she undersold herself at every turn

to all the wrong people

until she found herself at a bus station

not knowing on what dusty road she would end up.


All she took with her from her former life

were a few cheap orange razors

and a handful of sock monkeys she had made herself.


As we watched, we ate popcorn

poured from a plastic bag into a plastic bowl

and stepped over piles of stuff

which had lain around for so long

we had stopped seeing them.


The movie ended in such a hokey way—

the woman found true love with a guy

who had written a song for her years earlier.


You asked me if I’d ever write anything for you

and I came up with this:


You breathe cyclones into being

along the shoreline of a Scandinavian twitch


and this made us laugh

until the next movie started,

the one about the college girl

who goes into porn to pay for her education.


This movie ended in a much more satisfying way

for you—


the young woman clearly understood her full value

and developed some genuine survival skills

though you found it strange there was no nudity at all

in the entire movie;


but nothing quite so odd

as the mini-trampoline we need to hop on

whenever we pass through the kitchen


on the way to the bedroom we share

at the end of a long and dusty country road.


Richard King Perkins II

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, 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 including The Louisiana Review, Plainsongs, Texas Review, Hawai’i Review, Roanoke Review, Sugar House Review and The William and Mary Review.

You Were There

You Were There