10 Poems—Summer 2017

By Simon Perchik


Even the colors are anxious, carried

as if its new home above ground

would skimp the way all rows use dirt


cut in two with nothing in between

–you suddenly bring it a darkness

use one hand to comfort the other


though you’ve done all this before

have no faith in mornings :clumps

that want only to forget, just lie still


holding one end close, for a long time

sorted out and unfamiliar fields

taken place to place in flowers


in ribbons, string, thread, something

feeble, tied to the dissolving Earth

by this shadow and your arms.




This rotted log yes and no

longs for the stillness

that is not wood though you


are already inside, seated

at a table, a lamp, clinging

the way all light arrives alone


except for the enormous jaws

once shoreline closing in

without water or suddenness


–you lay down a small thing

and the Earth is surrounded, fed

slowly forehead to forehead again.




Though it gets dark earlier and earlier

you were already weakened at birth

–without a shrug let go things


the way each grave is graced

used to being slowly moved along

blossom and in your mouth


a somewhat pebble half fruit

half sweetened, not yet

broken apart in your throat


–you can’t make out where in the turn

you are clinging to its path

that led you here, not yet strong enough


or longing for some riverside or rain

or the night by night, warm

still falling off your hands.




You fold your arms the way this pasture

gnaws on the wooden fence

left standing in water –make a raft


though it’s these rotting staves

side by side that set the Earth on fire

with smoke rising from the ponds


as emptiness and ice –you dead

are winter now, need more wood

to breathe and from a single finger


point, warmed with ashes and lips

no longer brittle –under you

a gate is opened for the cold


and though there’s no sea you drink

from your hands where all tears blacken

–you can see yourself in the flames.




You drink from this hole

as if it once was water

became a sky then wider


–without a scratch make room

for driftwood breaking loose

from an old love song in ashes


carried everywhere on foot

as that ocean in your chest

overflowing close to the mouth


that’s tired from saying goodbye

–you dig the way the Earth

is lifted for hillsides and lips


grasping at the heart buried here

still flickering in throats and beacons

that no longer recede –from so far


every word you say owes something

to a song that has nothing left , drips

from your mouth as salt and more salt.




Before this field blossomed

it was already scented

from fingers side by side


darkening the lines in your palm

the way glowing coals

once filled it with breasts


and everything nearby

was turned loose to warm the miles

the pebbles and stones brought back


pressed against her grave

–you heat the Earth with a blouse

that’s never leaving here.




These crumbs are from so many places

yet after every meal they ripen

sweeten in time for your fingertip


that shudders the way your mouth

was bloodied by kisses wrestling you down

with saliva and rumbling boulders –you sit


at a table and all over again see it

backing away as oceans, mountains

and on this darkness you wet your finger


to silence it though nothing comes to an end

–piece by piece, tiny and naked, they tremble

under your tongue and still sudden lightning.




It had an echo –this rock

lost its hold, waits on the ground

as the need for pieces


knows all about what’s left

when the Earth is hollowed out

for the sound a gravestone makes


struck by the days, months

returning as winter :the same chorus

these dead are gathered to hear


be roused from that ancient lament

it sings as far as it can

word for word to find them.




Before its first grave this hillside

was already showing signs

let its slope escape as darkness


mistake every embrace for dirt

though one arm more than the other

is always heavier, still circles down


bringing you closer the way rain

knows winter will come with snow

that was here before, bring you weights


till nothing moves, not the shadows

not the sun coming here to learn

about the cold, hear the evenings.




Though you can’t tell them apart

your tears came back, marked the ground

the way leaves go unnamed to their death


as the need to follow one another

one breath at a time, face up

and after that the rain and warmer


̶ you weep with your collar open

make room for another grave

near a sea each night wider, further


no longer heard the way now and then

comes by to close the Earth

with buttons and sleeves and tighter.




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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