12 Selected Poems — Summer 2018

By Simon Perchik


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.




You reach for lullabies, left over
and the slow crawl half whispers
half where your lips ache, float

the way this empty cup still wobbles
will break apart, overloaded
disguised as two steps closer and alone

then fill your arms with its darkness
seeping through, breathing out
not yet an embrace, not yet the mouth

where your fingers end, surrounded
by more and more dirt, a small room
here, there, there, not yet asleep.




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 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.




You open this jar the way each raindrop
breaks apart mid-air, stops telling time
when struck by another, head to head

as streams  ̶ your hands stay wet
let you gather the hours that are not
the bottom stones mourners use

for water though this lid is still circling
where you listen for those nights
on the way back as the puddles

water makes when trying to breathe
into a place on its own and empty handed
the glass shatters all at once.




And though the Earth lets you dig
it’s your tears that heat the ground
already growing stars

once the darkness covers it
to lure these dead here
with stones scented with shorelines

returned not as rain but grass
just as it was, closing in from all sides
the way this shovel is warmed

by your hands kept wet, pulled
closer  ̶ you cling to this dirt
as if it once was an afternoon

knows only the slow descent
hand over hand into stone
that no longer opens to hear the bleeding.




Leaning against the wall
it becomes a death bed
the way a name on paper

flattens out to take hold
for which there is no word
only a room where no one noticed

you didn’t ask for help
so close to the corners
with the light still on.




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 Osiris Poems published by boxofchalk, 2017. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

If you’d care to view one of my interviews posted on YouTube, please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK774rtfx8

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