12 Poems—Summer 2015

By Simon Perchik


The rock that sparked a supernova

circles this lamp no longer moving

stays dark though every star


is hunted down by a crack in the wall

or someone else’s window till one by one

they become a reef that smells from salt


–every headstone here is lit

with a smaller stone set off at night

with a boatman as dew and losing itself.




This usher is used to the night shift

–heading you left to right

where the bigger numbers are


points to a seat that will open

when moonlight appears

still licking its broken shell


and where in the balcony

it’s darkening from kisses

though the actors too


are in on it –the woman

uncovers her breasts –you can see

he’s a captain, has his orders


is no longer taking tickets

though the mouth inside you

is gobbling its placenta


tries to cry out in the credits

among all the names

what happened to the others?




You wait for the curb

the way a man from loneliness

looks down at the water


–have one leg in the air

and though the light will change

the road would carry it along


–it’s how you mourn

one foot holding on, the other

worn out from asking where


–you point –it’s simpler

then tears or the sound

a splash makes after it dries


–it’s how you drown

step by step pulling you under

as the cry years later


encased in bottom stones

dripping over the dead

over your eyes as dew




You become an acrobat, a night

–whose darkness is the only color

with both its knees kept folded


for the deep breath and summersault

–trained the way the moon

in a few hours will orbit the sun


be heated for a single cup

where there should be two

to count hand over hand and not let go


till the cry caught in your fist

melts, blackens the water

this close to the window and your throat




Then everything else for winter

you plant in your arm

though whatever it reaches for


is here, circles slowly down

the way all bones

become what they touch


and without a trace are burned

when your arm grows a heaviness

is bending the Earth, surrounding it


with the dirt it needs

to bury the dead an in your arm

make room for water


that no longer is invisible

except as a shore named for her

and the waves –it’s all water


rowing and rowing :loosening

till nothing puts out the fires

or covers the holes in your arm.




This sidewalk was laid down for the dead

the way a great wall falling on its side

still hopes to last –why else would you walk


where even stone is anxious, was left behind

in a dilapidated neighborhood

smelling from someone you still love


–with one shoe reaching down for the other

you set fire to the one that’s empty

letting it melt into rivers and pails.




Then the lag :a year, afterthoughts

when your wrinkled arms and this shovel

make a hole in the sun for your shadow


that once would lift itself, could reach

from behind, gather up a darkness

no longer weightless or water


–after all this time what’s left

is flowing between one day and another

the way this well was dug –you drink


from both your hands as if they were taken

and afterward have to be returned

lower and lower, over and over again.




We dead are always listening for chimes

as the small steps mourners still leave

for the gentle tap that echoes from each stone


–this cemetery is building a barricade

grave by grave still facing west

covering it with grass though each thus


is starting to move between the soft tones

eased along on tears that are too heavy

have your eyes, don’t want to wait anymore.




Side by side a planet that has no star

you wander for years

which means remorse has taken hold


the way this dried love note

never lets go its warmth

though the afternoon becomes a place


for constellations, is wobbling

as silence and the end

–where else can it hide


is more forgiving than a period

left where a well-meaning sentence

gave all it had and for the first time


a darkness was falling from above

bird-like, spreading out as far away

around and around, over and over again.




Gradually, you can tell from its silence

this fence was building a bridge

though it’s the rust spreading out


that makes it so –you think it’s plankton

and how hurried was the river

when each afternoon still reaches out


becomes a sea again, heating the sun

with the same shadow

that leans against this iron gate


lets its great weight open the Earth

though nothing is left in your arms

is held anymore –you think it’s raining


as if that’s all there is in the water

that could help you breathe

without leaning over.




You clam though it’s the sea falling away

lets this rake threaten it yet go free

taking you along –knows all about going off


disguised as a night that reeks from salt

to keep from sinking –you reach for the bottom

the way your casket disappeared with a candle


made from paper –it was an old love note

in pencil, with nothing on the back

then folded over and over to fit into your hands


as moonlight –even now this long, wood handle

ties you dead to water –you hear the splash

giving up, lying down, at last what it wanted.




This paint is wet though when you weep

it flakes –the wall knows close

is too close, starts to turn away which means


it’s breaking open for steam, somehow

a few sparks and after that your tears

will cool, at last a hilltop lake, far off


still making its final decent as a second sky

–two skies and what you breathe in

are the pieces broken off those stars


that would become the sea and never dry

let you witness each wave slowly going off alone

from your eyes that have forgotten 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 e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Comments are closed.