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Richard Fox, three poems

Quảng Ngãi café

sugared coffee

tables rattle, walking bombs

each ordnance, unique cameo in foam

rpg poppies dance in breeze

mortar sea fig tree shadow drifts

rocket silhouette of mama, smiling

watch mama shudder

cousin shrieks, blood stream from temple

sister wraps her khān ran

wall leaks brick

every eye counts clan

thunderclap shakes the deck

that one, further away

baby girl, mute in bassinet

pull back cover—sticky

raw flesh, butchered rabbit

nose, mouth—


—dye the white comforter

Frog and toad are friends

I glance out the bathroom window

my young son plays with a red ball

toss chase, toss chase

the swing-set has a fort at its base

a fawn lies inside

nibbles clover

my son approaches from the rear

fawn inches out through the lattice

steps away sniffing the lawn

my son squats where the fawn lay

rolls his red ball

I rinse my razor, glance out again

my sister, on the porch of her house

hands my son a translucent pail

filter in the center

he scoops mud into it

runs to a puddle

grabs handfuls of clay

looks uphill at the stone wall

my son enters the bathroom

his turn to shave

I ask him to look out the window

can he see himself as a toddler?

I tell him this view is the apex

of my happiness

he spies a toad leaping across the grass

The Grim Reaper

I scoff at your depiction



black hood

black cloak

black hole face

well, there you are

I suck everyone in

truth is

you can't see me

I masquerade as virus

ride the rapids of your arteries

land my island hopping guerrillas

on lungs pancreas breasts blood

even appendix tonsils

I gauge every possibility

when the bill comes due

I may clog your carotid


burst a capillary in your brain

that’s kindness

compared to the wars I start

fragging DNA

turning cells malignant

by the time you notice I'm dug in

you near kill yourself

cutting tissue out

pumping poison through your veins

burning flesh

in the end

you wave a white flag

as for me

I was here before you were born

I carry on



Richard H. Fox dreams on Sanibel Island FL and in Worcester MA. When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, his poems focus on cancer drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. He is the author of three poetry collections: Time Bomb (2013), wandering in puzzle boxes (2015), You’re my favorite horse (2017) and a chapbook: The Complete Uncle Louie Poems (2017). The winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize, he seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry.”

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