The way smoke drifts from your lips
reminds me, somehow, of love.

The chill of winter
holds me as close
as I wish you would

while I watch you consume cigarettes like heartbreak
until the sky between us is clouded over with you.

© Keighley Perkins


The Distillery

These days, I’m trying to get over you
but you’ve worked your way into my system
like a good whiskey

and turned my body into a distillery
that makes thoughts of you
in oaken casks of longing.

And, though I know I shouldn’t,
I find myself sampling the merchandise
from time to time,

getting hazy on the thought of you,
drowning these frustrated sorrows
in the liquored memory of your eyes.

© Keighley Perkins

Three Years

It has taken three years
to achieve this undressing,

but we are here now
and I’m trembling like a bridegroom
at each word your lips confess.

You reveal history
like others reveal skin:

slowly –
with a cautious,
backward glance.

You work carefully through your memories
until there is nothing left of you but the core.

A core I already know
and love and cherish
as much as a first kiss.

© Keighley Perkins

The Bookworm’s Break-Up

There are no pages
I could turn
to rid me of you.

You are the preface
to every chapter of my life.

It is your hand
that haunts me the most,

assertive in its cursive scripts,
lingering in the linguist of me,
inspiring a succession of chilled thrills in me.

How do you exorcise a ghost
that only lives in your head?

© Keighley Perkins

Love is…

Love is an unwelcome house guest
who enters quietly and begins
to re-arrange the furniture.

Love is a succession
of headaches,
a fool’s toolkit.

Love is the curse
of disservice,
a frustrated knot.

Love is the draft that breaks
through a closed door and begins
to play upon your bones.

Love is a passionate hangover,
the morning after the night before.

Love is painful.
Love is unapologetic.

It is demanding,
a tantrum.

Love is you and I.

© Keighley Perkins


You still smart
under my skin
like sunburn

too sore to soothe
with creams or patience.

There is too much you
beneath this skin,

building cities of yourself
like a cancer inside me,

populating my body
with longing.

Filling me with regret.

© Keighley Perkins

The Queen of the Unrequited

I’ve been loving you so long
that to win you now
would be a defeat.

©  Keighley Perkins