Seven Poems

By Simon Perchik


In the cold you blow on it

give it branches then roots

spreading out to pull you closer


–it’s hopeless! this wooden bowl

stays empty, is watered

with whispers while dirt everywhere


goes on lifting as the endless thirst

that makes all wood human

hunted down the way you say goodbye


with a cry that’s not a song anymore

not overhead though the bowl

is just for show, a little something


where nothing keeps its hold

on cradlesong –you lower it

till it disappears and you drink.






Inside this glove its fleece

pressing against the ground

keeps it warm even in the daytime


–what’s left for a pillow

touches her cheek the way your hand

reaches slowly across


though it’s no longer needed

will work for nothing

just to rest as a quiet mound


giving birth and the snow

is used to it, covers her

with a makeshift lullaby


that lifts the dirt

for your arm going nowhere

then shoulder to shoulder.






Once you reach the window in back

the chair pretends to be in place

circles lower and lower


though it’s you who can’t keep up

and the rag, sometimes alone

sometimes holding on


–you don’t open the canopy

afraid a breeze will come too close

lift the shade, take what’s left


room by sunlit room –the rag

already wiping your cheek

smelling from smoke and inches.







Wherever the nurse touches you

more gauze is needed

though the shoreline stretches out


the way your blood here to there

drifts off course, not remembering

why the sea motions not to move


let your arm float on the few drops

still beating –you are wrapped

in salt, close to being buried


absorbed by a sharp rock

and what feels like rain

is the handful that has taken so long.






Head-on and the shield curves in

till the wind is powerless

–you can see through and lift


becomes possible though the battle

has no name, just this map

wingtip to wingtip, unfolded


heated by some hillside

beating under the hood, working

the thermals –you smell smoke


but no one is listening

no one will get in the car with you

or along where this road


used to turn, then for a few minutes

didn’t move –you don’t touch the map

you don’t need the room.








Helpless on the ground this dirt

is already salt, then darkness

though your mouth belongs


the way each winter your shadow

thaws as the flower

that no longer talks in the open


or wanders off to become the scent

that hides in your heart

and melting candles –dirt


is useless here –cold

is your shadow now, buried

in the darkness moving across


–you can barely hear the cries

watching over you, covering

this unbearable Earth.






Disguised as mountainside

–all wing though the sky

can’t let go and all evening


updraft –the sun thins out

becomes red then black

dead on the ground, choked


as if every climb is made from dirt

keeps its hold till the air

takes root and you drift


without moving or water

–you hound this darkness

by mining it arm over arm


and around each stone

your arms held in

picking up speed –the sun


dangling from your teeth

and the distance

that has forgotten how.


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

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