Private Bernie And Eugenio The Philosopher
 – Richard King Perkins II

Like an Old Testament charioteer
I drove the Catholic soldiers
to mass in Vatican City
every week during WWII.
Even though I was far
from being a disciple of Rome,
my buddies convinced me
to go inside the cathedral
with them one week.
Mass was about what I’d expected
until Pius asked if there
were any Jewish boys present.
Me and three other guys
raised our hands
and the pope said
an old Hebrew prayer for us.
We cried tears
both ancient and new,
swaddled in the tallit
of his words,
for we knew the pope
truly loved the Jews
even if he was just
a little silent
as millions of us disappeared
into the smoky twilight.

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee and has had work appear in hundreds of publications including “Poetry Salzburg Review,” “Bluestem,” “Emrys Journal,” “Sierra Nevada Review,” “Two Thirds North,” “The Red Cedar Review,” and “December Magazine.” He has poems forthcoming in “Broad River Review,” “The William and Mary Review,” and “The Louisiana Review.”

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