10 Poems—Spring 2017

by Simon Perchik



Not yet finished melting :the sun

—you can hear its sea struggling

spilling over though each morning


it comes from behind now

brushes against this cemetery gate

that’s still shining, floating past


—to this day you go home

the back way —you don’t see

your reflection or the ground


face to face with shoreline

—what you hear are waves :one hand

reaching for another and in the dark


you let your fingers unfold end over end

then close, gather in these fountains

as if they belong one side then another


are nearly too much stone —here

where this gate is filling its lungs

and you tearing it in two.







Again The Times, spread-eagle

the way these subway doors

once were waves opening out


as the faint wings beating now

between your arms and the track

—a dark, single thread


pulls this sea under

though on the bottom

you can’t be sure it’s morning


or two shorelines, side by side

crawling into that slow, climbing turn

half sand, half you never get used to


—page over page

covered with weeds :feathers

from a long way off  —you can touch


their darkness :words still dangerous

circling with seabirds :your eyes

don’t want you, are closed.







Lower and lower this fan

smells from stone and the ice

broken off your forehead


still in the same, tight turn

holding on, almost back —you stare

even with sunglasses, the ones


you wear at funerals, cooled

the way this small room

has already started as snow


not yet the invisible arm in arm

louder and louder overhead

without a trace and no place to go


to harden, take hold, darken

let its wings down, close

your eyes and the ceiling.





Appearing and disappearing, this gate

you wave between one hand

after the other and doves on cue


break through the way each flourish

opens midair, is helped along

clearing the rooftops, palms up


—on your back as the aimless path

that has such low windows

—from nowhere, no longer white


each stone is closing its wings

letting go the sky, the graves

and just as suddenly your shoulders.





These graves listen to you

though they lean too far

half side to side, half


taking hold your spine, blinded

in front by sunlight, in back

by its endless bending down


as if together these bones

would steady you, in time

your limp disappear


already the small stones

buried here, there, in the open

to tell you what happened.





To clear your lips —a simple wipe

though once spread out

your sleeve fills with shoreline


follows on its own, washed

with enormous wings

shaken off the stale crumbs


half sand, half seabirds

half before each meal

—you don’t use spoons


they won’t resist enough

would empty the way this bowl

is still looking for what will pour


easily through your heart

letting it drip and for hours

one arm circles the other


closer and closer, the one

that will stay with you forever

—always the wide, lower and lower


reaching in —your mouth

no longer clears the rim

broken open by its cry


to jump! and you bleed

again from your arms letting go

their dead breeze, dead sky, dead mouth.





It’s a risk, these clouds

gathered in the open, grow huge

take on the shape they need


though once inside this jar

escape is impossible

—you collect a cloud whose mist


no one studies anymore, comes

from a time rain was not yet the rain

pressing against your forehead


and your mouth too has aged

coming from nowhere to open

as some mountainside


believed by all the experts

too high for predators

or a dirt that devours


even its place to hide in flowers

yet you will date the jar

for their scent and later on.







And both arms more and more

spread-eagle, clasping the dirt

tearing it side to side —another sore


cut out the way a shrug

is divided piece by piece

carted away in songs about love


that no longer depend on lips

reaching across as mist

not yet sunlight or useless


—you dig two holes, one

for bells, the other no longer bleeds

is already moving the sky closer


letting it lean forward

emptying the Earth, kept open

and listening for kisses.







And when the tide slowly at first

though the palm underneath is smaller

girlish, clinging to sand and each other


the way all night these clams

are etched by your gentle waves

already the bond all water


grows used to :hand over hand

tasting from salt and each shell

counted as two —in the dark


it’s easy to mistake all that’s left

with a single shoreline —the sea

led down, emptied clam by clam


to close it, knee deep in madness

in some vineyard, kisses and kisses

counting as if you are still uncertain.





With all its weight this wall

just built and is already

tugging at your side


as if with every birth

its twin will block your path

with those same flowers


mourners still pull up

try to climb a bit longer

reach out the way these stones


half marble, half bubbling

interlocked, higher and higher

almost crushing you


with their garbled cries

as hillsides, to bring

more, to cool and one another.


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.

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