Five Poems

By Simon Perchik


To calibrate this stone

you break the sun just so

part shoreline, part darkness

where the Earth survives

by holding on to your shadow

as if it had no mouth

and what you hear are seabirds

covered with cries that circle

as rain and dust and nightfall


–it’s an ancient gesture

half salt, half waves

and nothing inside the stone

that can reach so far


yet you let it drop

with an undisguised precision

that blows open your fingers

and one stone toward another


that is not the sea

not the grass among these flowers

nothing, not the overcast all night

falling from some woman’s dress

and you can’t hear it raining.




And though the snow still clings

smelling from breasts

–you are afraid sit down


stop short the way your mouth

no longer spreads its devouring glow

changes into water, then winter


then cups your hand

squeezing the sky into ice

then darkness –you dread


this breathing out loud

till it becomes fragrant

and lets the skin over your lips


listen as flowers

while your arms fill with arms

that are not yours, are covered


with shallow river water

flowing past you as moonlight

and this snow feeding the ground


on loneliness and mornings

already dead, shaping the Earth

fitting it deep into your throat


for the cry falling toward you

as kisses, as oceans, then skies

–you never had a chance.





And now it’s the sun

oozing, remembers

how these flowers

for the first time

stayed long enough

to grow a fragrance

though all you smell

are the stones

still cooling :a dark mist

imbedded forever

in ashes longing for rain

the way a consuming wound

still begins with a valley

and hillsides closing in


–you can’t move

let these lingering stones

drip from your fingers

that have become a single hand

holding out a single hand

left open, trembling

dropping the Earth into pieces

and why not? you dead

need more stones

armfuls! more, more, more.





And for the first time, begins

till even today all water

longs to escape with the sun


the way the dead have been taught

and once on shore

wait for the waves to open again


as flowers smelling from salt

and lips and readiness

–it’s not by accident


blood at the slightest chance

will run away

though not every wound


can be traced back to the sharp turn

and circling down into stones

by the mouthfuls –you taste a sea


stained by faraway nights

and teeth then loneliness

and not one star is spared


–by morning the throbbing

is at home in your heart

brings it closer and closer


as if a sister sun, not yet visible

rises inside the months, years, oceans

and what you carry off


is the silence they once were

silent and covered with smoke

no longer struggling or grass.





Between two fingers the dirt

still greets these dead

coming by with open eyes

then rain that can’t hold on


–this strange handshake

over and over warms your arm

though the sun fell short

missing the Earth


the way a hillside stops growing

if no one touches it

as flowers whose colors

can no longer remember


or face this arm

the one you bring too near

chosen for its memory

its power and sound.


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

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