Five Poems

by Simon Perchik

And though the snow still clings
smelling from breasts
–you are afraid sit down

stop short the way your mouth
no longer spreads its devouring glow
changes into water, then winter

then cups your hand
squeezing the sky into ice
then darkness –you dread

this breathing out loud
till it becomes fragrant
and lets the skin over your lips

listen as flowers
while your arms fill with arms
that are not yours, are covered

with shallow river water
flowing past you as moonlight
and this snow feeding the ground

on loneliness and mornings
already dead, shaping the Earth
fitting it deep into your throat

for the cry falling toward you
as kisses, as oceans, then skies
–you never had a chance.


And now it’s the sun
oozing, remembers
how these flowers
for the first time
stayed long enough
to grow a fragrance
though all you smell
are the stones
still cooling :a dark mist
imbedded forever
in ashes longing for rain
the way a consuming wound
still begins with a valley
and hillsides closing in

–you can’t move

let these lingering stones
drip from your fingers
that have become a single hand

holding out a single hand
left open, trembling
dropping the Earth into pieces

and why not? you dead
need more stones
armfuls! more, more, more.


And for the first time, begins
till even today all water
longs to escape with the sun

the way the dead have been taught
and once on shore
wait for the waves to open again

as flowers smelling from salt
and lips and readiness
–it’s not by accident

blood at the slightest chance
will run away
though not every wound

can be traced back to the sharp turn
and circling down into stones
by the mouthfuls –you taste a sea

stained by faraway nights
and teeth then loneliness
and not one star is spared

–by morning the throbbing
is at home in your heart
brings it closer and closer

as if a sister sun, not yet visible
rises inside the months, years, oceans
and what you carry off

is the silence they once were
silent and covered with smoke
no longer struggling or grass.

Between two fingers the dirt
still greets these dead
coming by with open eyes
then rain that can’t hold on

–this strange handshake
over and over warms your arm
though the sun fell short
missing the Earth

the way a hillside stops growing
if no one touches it
as flowers whose colors
can no longer remember

or face this arm
the one you bring too near
chosen for its memory
its power and sound.


As if you could untie each finger
let go so your fist
would drift till it’s empty

the way all roads lean
and once into the turn
you check for snow and falling rocks

that never fall except as sand
and salt from ocean mist
and those bonfires all night

lit along the shore
–with just one hand you fight back
wring from this curve in the road

the huge truck rushing past
filled half with water, half
with seabirds, half with another sky

hacked out for more mountainside
–you are forever finding turns
that come back to you as dirt

overflow with its darkness
its thirst with no room
not a breath, not a word, nothing.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at

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