Richard Fox 


You didn't say no


You admire my two-tone green Ford F-250.
Four on the floor, leather boot, long-shaft shifter.
A man's clutch you tease, asking
to drive it on Route 66.

Half after dark, side-by-side on the bench,
deserted lanes, no bobbing of headlights.
I pull onto the shoulder.
You nibble my earlobe, climb over me,

taking the driver's seat. I slide under,
hide an accelerating erection, trace
the crescent of your waist—higher. You clap
your palms on the steering wheel.

A truck's transmission, nasty to a novice.
You pump the clutch. I pull the shifter.
A few stalls—we ace the gears,
speed down the highway.


At my apartment, you grab a six-pack of Busch Bavarian,
tune the TV to "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman".
We pile pillows against the wall
at the head of the bed.

Lounging, sipping beer, Mary Hartman
segues into a Marx Brothers movie.
You coax your head onto my shoulder.
I angle my cheek to swim in your hair.

We giggle at Harpo, agree he has the best lines.
I plant wet kisses along your neck.
Your fingernails caress my chest.
We roll across the bed until we gasp for air.

You grin, crinkle your nose.
We submerge. Hands traverse
swells and hollows, follow ridges—
collar bone crest, xylophone ribs.

Shirts, bra, fall away.
I trace your nipples with my tongue,
brush the path from heart to belly button.
Undo the top button of your jeans. 

You stiffen. I look up. You smooth
my hair back, whisper Please don't.
I nod,
watch your teeth unclench,
rest my cheek on your tummy.





 the penultimate optimist,

I don rose-colored lenses on red days
My apparition trumpets words
Terminal terminal terminal
Dead dead popsicle stick dead

I trace scars chest to side
My funk flares, dawn’s fog
Wake-feel, alive alive alive
Pill pill docile savvy pill

I blare hearing aids on blue days
My doctor poses chemotherapy
Palliative care, quality of life
Faith faith grocery’s grace faith

I romped our first radiation war
My body marched, poisoned-burnt
White flag, sealed in casket
Kill kill proportioned count kill


how to tell my dog I'm dying

Bailey smells blood, discharge from my incisions.
He crawls on his belly, ears pulled back
when I groan, pillow to side, after a cough.

Bailey curls his back to my waist,
sniffs and stares in my face,
watches me spit into a bowl.

I need the toilet. He leaps off the bed,
trails me to the bathroom. I think back to
his puppy days, following him until he peed.

When I die, I want him to watch over me,
to know that my body became a corpse,
to know I didn't just leave him.



Richard H. Fox was born and bred in Worcester MA. He is the author of two poetry collections: “Time Bomb” (2013) and “wandering in puzzle boxes” (2015). When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, Richard’s poems focus on cancer from the patient's point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. He seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry."