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Residual Impediments

by Kenneth Sutton


He’s my fellow traveler,

I’d know him anywhere:

at home, in church, or here at the airport.

It’s late in his tired day.

His right shoe scrapes, 

ever so slightly, against the tiles.


Loafers, because laces are difficult.


I learned to tie my shoes when I was four.

And again at fifty-two.


They gave me a walker.

I refused.


But you’ll fall down.

And I’ll get up.


They were right.

So was I.




His smile slopes off toward the scuffed loafer.

You have to look to see this, but it’s there.

He speaks with the careful over enunciation

of Miss Cluegen back in second grade,

patiently sounding out the long words

for the slow kids in the back of the room.

The agent reddens and snatches the ticket.


He halts,

his words frozen

in the ice sheath of Aphasia.


Reading aloud will help.

Half an hour.  Twice a day.


At first I read Dr. Seuss to my cats.

Later, Kipling and Burns.

They liked “Elephant’s Child” best.


 * *


It’s like God took an ice cream scoop to your brain.

This part here.  It’s gone.

The rest will take over and compensate.

But it will take time.  About a year.

And you’ll always have residual impediments.


How big a scoop did God take from him?

A double dip like mine?

Or just more recent?




When I say red

when I mean green,

When I set my coffee down

where the table isn’t,


I remember the doctor’s phrase,

residual impediments.


It’s the medical term 

for fucked up.



by Kenneth Sutton


As a blind man says

he will see you tomorrow,

I have heard thunder

in seeing men jump

after lightning’s silent flash.


I know thunder takes its time arriving,

weakens with distance, rattles men 

only when close behind the bolt.


I have heard this 

with my own eyes.

Keystrokes After My Stoke

by Kenneth Sutton


Wehn I lokk bakc ta waht I’ev typde

it’s claer my fignres haev deslyxia.   

Ken Sutton has voices in his head, old men and children, friends and enemies, close relatives and people who waited with him at a bus stop in 1966. They have an act to justify, a sorrow to share, some just want their say. They speak in his poems. He had a stroke in 2003 and is amazed at what he has recovered. He retired in 2012 and lives near Machipongo on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Ken is on the advisory board for the Poetry Society of Virginia, and is the author of Manhattan to Machipongo and The Convenience of War. He will bring another book out soon, The Midrash of the Marginal.

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