10 Poems — Summer 2016

By Simon Perchik


These flowers know which birds sip

and the ones that guzzle —it’s how each sky

plans its journey for the water it needs


to breed, take in the tears already lush

as yes then yes again till your ears

overflow with sweet talk, can tell


from the echo if it’s a footstep

or someone in love is answering back

with scented dirt as a place to stay


—you dead are always on the listen

let in the shadows these gravestones make

till one by one they become this dam


and the ones that didn’t you let dry

become what you hear leaving someone’s hand

for yours, now empty and in the open.





From out the river below, these pilings

just born and already their wingtips

connect with another shore


though there’s no feathers yet and underneath

just water, the instinct to stay still

when there’s no wind —it’s how all bridges


are built for the dead, the back

that is broken, has to be lifted

held up by another place and you follow


by lowering your head to let the river leave

know it is remembered, has a home

though not a star is out, no roofs with chimneys.





You learn how by opening your arms

then let the breeze warm at your side

the way butterflies flutter their wings


and every flower waves back with a splash

for the perfume filling your lips

till your breath becomes a love song


already flowing in some shallow river bed

as a scavenger feeding on what’s left

from kisses, thighs, breasts


—the last piece to be eaten is the heart

still beating, singing from your mouth

sweetened by scraps and bottom stones.





From this wall Humpty Dumpty jumped

though piece by piece these gravestones

are still comforted by the night sky


built from leaks and hopelessness

though by morning the sun too

is made whole again —you dead


come here to write with stones

as if an endless suicide note

could still save you though its weight


is the silence facing the ground

as the only place to grow what shattered

hold one another, slow the falling.






So what it’s string, not rope —this bell

has nothing to hang on to though the sun

weighs nothing once it’s attached


the way this ceiling was made from a wall

spreading out till what you hear

becomes the chimes to call their dead back


where there are no mornings —it’s just a lamp

half magic, half dangling high above the bed

you don’t sleep in anymore, are over and over


counting the blows to open something

made from glass as if piece by piece

could pull you to the surface


and stay lit, cling as your only hope

to free the light with your arms

that have at last found the way home.






This chair no longer moves by itself

though you covered it with a dress

the way all sleeves empty in the dark


—what you want her to wear

you throw over her shoulders and the table too

knows how each warm breeze begins


by moving the chair closer to you

while reaching for a bowl and spoon

as if you were still feeding someone


could salt her lips with your fingers

not yet turning to dust and mold –you eat

in a coat, sure the bread will cool


no longer smelling from arms and shoulders

from being burnt for the few ashes

you are fed as crust and ends.




Black grass —even its dirt hunts for flesh

grows lush on the dead it captures

parades side by side across this field


as flags becoming stone and bit by bit

—you are already a whisper, weakened

by the shadows no longer leaving


though the light in your throat went out

pulling each bone from your body

where there should be stars —this darkness


could save you now, be food, let you mourn

as the night sky, higher and higher

feeding on pieces, ashes, mold and the cries.






Already a cane :one leg

born colder than the other

stretched out to find North


by slowly pressing the ground

though nothing moves inside

except moonlight digging for rocks


the way you dead hold on to the Earth

with just a handshake and evenings

that became too heavy.





This horizon can’t take the stress

and though her grave is not that heavy

it’s let go as moonlight when you pass by


leave a small stone the way the Earth

each evening leans too far and for a few hours

seas rise —this makeshift dam no longer holds


and the sky is emptied —for such a darkness

you bring another candle, lit by giving back

before it became your first breath.




You lean into where the road

takes its usual swing, rakes in

the way this neglected graveyard


was once a galaxy, lit by streams

and those sharp stones you dead

still gather up as stars


now wishes that could last till autumn

held together with tears, higher and higher

as if this abandoned hillside


is still an hourglass with weeds

dripping from its wounds :the footsteps

binding you together side by side.



Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, 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 www.simonperchik.com.

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