Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Poems by Simon Perchik

Though the one you had your eye on
is rising north to south
the small star you thought died off

moves side to side slowly behind
the way an ancient blessing
still warns the absent moon

against those dark corners
all marble rubs across
becomes a single stone

that divides itself in two, here
an empty breast, there
the child is already dead

--you dress for this
bring the new scarf, new gloves
for what was evening once

was lullaby :the dirt
east to west, clumps
shining all around a place

already freed from the Earth
--new boots, new coat :a constellation
never here before, still cold.

This flag, as the saying goes
smacks from the sun
so you salute, can use the shade

though by the time the parade cools
your fingers ache from holding up
a lovingly carved radio that once

was a woman whose voluptuous breasts
still feed you music from the forties
--love songs for common prayer

as if July, too heavy to bear
spreads out on every lawn
and by the 4th day you are listening

the way loneliness is fed, the Earth
turning you slowly on course
corrects for winds and nourishment.

You're new at this
though in front each window
your eyes close just so far

are not used to a rain
that comes right up against you
won't move even when you make room

once you learn where to look
for the sky, for the shoreline
half gone ahead, half

peeling off and your fingers
clamp on to its sharp turn
covered with sand and thirst and death

--you never know
but this rain is dangerous
has saved its memory for last

put all its strength
in how to circle you down
as days and nights together.

Without any flowers
you are still breathing
--without a throat

still eating the warm air
though what's left from the sun
is no longer blue

hides the way your grave
is covered with stones
and still hungry

--you could use more stones
a heaviness to become your arms
one for working harder

the other invisible
leaving your heart
lifts from the dirt

your mouth, your eyes
and the sky letting go the Earth
as if you weigh too much.

As if it finished its last meal this long
sits back, waits inside for the stove
the way ashes roll over and all around you

trees are burning on rivers
that came from the first fire
still settling down as thirst

and the heady smoke flames leave behind
to be remembered by--from day one
their slow climbing turns, at first

threatening to gut the place and now
you can't live without them though your fingers
after so many years have become airborne

safe from the dangerous shadows all night
dripping between each breath and your mouth
left open--you pour in wood

to get death started :an arriving flame
surrounded by the Earth and tiny holes
--it's the only way you know how.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.  His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, free ebooks and his essay titled "Magic, Illusion and Other Realities" please visit his website at

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