11 Poems — Winter 2017

By Simon Perchik


Don’t you believe it! to be continued

distracts from the front page

brushing against some hearse


wants more time –this newspaper

is opened then wider as if the rattle

could be heard though you sleep


a lot, sitting in a chair half wood

half the way a bell will practice

till its stance feels right


though you are the only one

listening in some great hall, your arms

folded as if they were not yet lost.





Just by reaching in –this sore

is heated though your arm

covers it the way moonlight


can’t hold on any longer

lets some hillside pour over it

and mornings too grow huge


count the nights from so far off

and each other –you collect

enter each room deeper and deeper


careful not to shake the walls

–on tiptoe so nothing falls

takes root bent over a table


warmed by these small rocks

to follow you, shut half by the stench

half on their own, one by one.





The flowers leaving this page

open up in water

are already heading back


the way your shadow empties

still remembers one by one

icy streams crossing overhead


with something more to give

–you write another letter

make the words embrace


followed by day, by evenings

and everything put on paper

is safe, is mountainside


returning rock by scented rock

drained and in this small bundle

passed among the others.





These stones still anxious, sip

stuttering as if they had no surfaces

or shoreline –syllable by syllable


you gather them up, not sure

they can bring the dead closer

though this sill is already wet


reaching out the way its paint

covers the Earth with a darkness

brought together piece then pieces


breathless, buckling and uncounted

–you bathe these stones in a broth

broken open, flowing to a stop.





You think it’s cramps

though certainly this dirt

resembles her voice


and no one here but you

pours from a bowl, sure

it’s laced, opens out


sickens your step by step

–for a while they’re quiet

washed in front her grave


though your mouth is tighter

swollen, surrounded by inches

no longer dry or empty.





You cover one eye, upset

though sunlight means nothing now

and against your cheek some mother


strokes her child –you praise half

and what’s left spends the night

the way all wounds begin


as a single touch then end

broken apart under the same wind

birds use for a home


and every morning more sleep

is needed, more darkness, returned

as if it had its beginnings here


is touching down, adored

by one hand held out, the other

no longer moving or found.





From each funeral some dampness

rushing in and hulls half wood

half already end over end


still remember a place being close by

–it has to do with looking up

though her name can’t be changed


and this gravestone stays soft

the way shorelines forget

where to come back for water


trembling just below the surface

–you call for furniture, dishes

rinsed in flowers once scented


with sunlight, used to this dirt

to company and every shadow now

something that never happens.





For a long time the stairwell

uproots the way a sudden gust

is led between this floor


and the floor above, empty

worn out –it grows a mist

hovers from hand to hand


as if you are holding a cup

wet from mountainside

though she is not asleep


and your armfuls drift

pour hot coffee across the wall

the sheet, the distances


–from where you sit this bed

is in bloom, is touching your lips

as branches now that it’s over.





Over the same spot these sleeves

clinging to grass as if a jacket

would scare off whatever flies


could reach around and your shoulders

that no longer take leather for granted

fall back though the zipper


is used to rain, rain then no rain

runs through fields not yet planted

or attacked or along some tree-lined lane


its harvest changing into those stones

mourners startle the dead with

step by step –from every direction


a safe place disguised as water

hiding inside your mouth, your arms

and nothing else to lay your head on.





With roots that glow in the dark

you approach each grave

the way all wood remembers


its first wish was moonlight

and overwhelmed the Earth

as mornings that grow only in dirt


–you lean across, breathing in

breathing out to exchange places

though the ground is decorated


with nothing more than itself

stubborn, still filled for campfires

and all around are the beads


outlined in the shadows, woven

slowly row by row, fondled

and endless songs about travelers.





It’s a rickety table, not sure

where the bend in the river

brushes against weeds and mud


–this watering can’t last

has already broken apart

the way every tree is carved


by those endless seas

her initials are used to

as kisses and your mouth


–wood can’t save you now

though everything you wet

is circling the Earth for her


–you will die from thirst

one after the other, counted

without the summer you needed.




Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Comments are closed.