Twelve Selected Poems – Spring 2019

By Simon Perchik


Lost and you watch the sun worsen

already falling as the nights

too weak to warm your shadow


though you read only in the afternoon

crouched under this kitchen table

with nothing on it that could sag


and without a sound weigh too much

let you open the mail, return to life

the window left in this small room


–you can tell from the stamp

it’s easy to fear

–so frail is its darkness


only your hands can be seen

holding your forehead, pushing it back in

to remember where you live.






By yourself though the sun

still needs more water –all that land

dried for just one afternoon


sent back alone and every morning now

you let the coffee try, boil

the way this table is spreading out


become the dirt for what’s in store

ready made as that small mouthful

that swallows you whole


to look for thirst inside a cup

side by side this one kept full

as if it was at home.






And though this pillow is enough

you still come by at night

safe from sand and salt


–with both elbows on the bed

your clothes in a heap

–what you can’t say


is soaking in sea grass

and her clothes too

no longer moving, piled close


for encouragement, lift your head

–on a dark bed, stroking an empty dress

Mickie, Mickie, Mickie


as far as it can reach

with her hand over your mouth

one sleeve at a time.






You no longer dig for shadows

as if this hillside depends on you

for water –what you hear


is trapped between two suns

one circling the other till nothing’s left

but the afternoon and beneath


letting its pieces fall off –you dead

are always listening for the gesture

the lowering that sweeps in


those pebbles mourners leave

as words, overflowing, certain

now is the time –it’s not the time


this dirt is afraid to open

become a rain again, be a sky

let it speak by throwing the Earth


and over your shoulder, eyes closed

though there is no grass

and your arms a Weber, Miller, Marie.






Even as silence you dead

favor knots, brought here

the way each grave is tightened


counts on constant gathering

and the arm over arm

that hold the skies together


as if some nesting bird

would fly out from this hillside

and leave behind its wings


spread-eagle, letting go

those small rocks mourners bring

for your shoulders –you want rope


not for its name but the weight

still taking shape inside, kept empty

and all around you the lowering.






Wobbling on rocks and salt

scented with little goodbyes

–you’re drowning in wood


–don’t fool yourself, this door

can’t save you now, it’s filled

with corners still into the turn


already seawater and on the way down

a warm face though talk won’t come

is hiding in back your mouth


naked, afraid your lips will move

as the silence the dead adore

without leaving the room.






It was a brook, had names

though these bottom stones

are still draining, passing you by


before letting go the silence

that stays after each hand opens

–you dead are always reaching out


–end over end unfolding your arms

the way each star ends its life alone

in the darkness it needs to move closer


become the light in every stone

as the morning that never turns back

keeps falling without any mourners.






It’s grass growing on the mirror

and every Spring more smoke

blacking your teeth –the dress


looks like hers, tossed off

piece by favorite piece and death

not yet shoulders and hips


–without a fuss she is touching you

though you are moving closer

as the lips that wait inside


and smoldering –it’s half a mirror

hardly enough for its kisses to fall out

look at each other and the afternoons.






You lace one shoe with thread, the other

as if this wooden spool could be held

spin end over end and hold you


by the hand, let you feel her body

no longer moving as the careless tug

in all directions at once –you learn


to limp, to hear dirt struggle

and the step by step as if it could escape

not yet leaching in your hands.






You gargle the way each morning

trusts the soft rustle from a dress

becoming dirt, set out on foot


looking for her in shadows

that no longer move though the sink

is covered with something weak


making believe it’s learned where

your fingers are holding the bottle

in a place not even it will remember


how empty your mouth is, lost

day after day spitting into the Earth

that still opens when you whisper to it.






You water her grave with words

–they never dried, were written

at night, sure this stone


would rot inside the note

though you don’t fold your arms

–what spills has eddies, swells


shorelines reaching into the Earth

no longer certain –this stone

doesn’t recognize itself


is growing roots, sags

becomes a sea, the bottom

holds on, unable to stand


or come closer, cover her

without seeing your fingers

or what it’s like.






Hiding on this tiny rock

its light is falling arm over arm

brought down as hammer blows


and mountains clinging to the sun

the way mourners will gather

and aim for your forehead


–it’s not right for you dead

to lower your eyes once they’re empty

–they have so much darkness


are still looking for tears

and all around you the Earth

splitting open a single afternoon


up close –you are touching seawater

without anything left inside

to take the salt from your mouth.


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

To view one of his interviews please follow this link


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