Five Poems

by Simon Perchik

There’s still the smell from salt
–you bathe this pebble, sure its pulse
can be found close to shore and nourished

feel its way through a shallow sea
thriving on unhatched eggs from a stream
long ago extinct –you scrub side to side

as if all rock remembers hand to hand
a darkness starting to swarm in a sky
not yet breathing on its own, no stars

though what you hold up goes on to become
a death, bit by bit driven into the ground
covered over with running water and candles.

Even here you rattle these keys
as if this lock is giving off light
left to right, scraping against hooves

iron bits, stirrups half spit, half scalded
by cries to turn, more! get to the end
or let go though you are working this knob

the way all sores have a story to tell
lift your fingertips over and over
as the need to open the Earth in silence

in the dark where everything you touch
is hillside, slipping away and the door
goes back to begin again, night after night.

As if your death is not yet the same weight
traps count on though you are leaning back
putting dirt in your mouth while to the last

pebbles come by to shelter you, lie down
–you will have to die some more, brought
this far by what moonlight has to say

about holding on –you have to eat from a hand
that’s opened till your grave is too heavy, fills
broken into for each goodbye hidden away

as the breath clinging to footstones that wander
past, throwing a cloud over you, boarded up
as mountainside and so many deaths at once

–here even rain is comforted to keep you dry
–whole families sitting down, waiting for you
to walk in, forget something somewhere else.

A lone whistle cut short and this chair alongside
waits till its wheels, half iron, half the way trains
are calmed on gravel beds, let you push

till everything you gather smells from steam
from a mouth that is not yours –doze off! the rails
will carry you between Spring and this blanket

filled with shoreline that no longer moves closer
and yes, the shadow is yours, bit by bit the station
you’ll need, built from homelessness and no one

to sit near your heart, hear how weak its breathing is
windswept and the sky unstoppable, taking on water
and not sure why it’s going down inside you.

And though it’s your hands that are cold you sleep
with slippers on, weighed down the way shadows
change places to show what death will be like

before it gets dark –even in bed you limp, the blanket
backing away and you hang on, want to be there
still standing yet you can’t remember if it’s more rain

or just that your fingers are wet from falling in love
and every time they pass your lips it’s these slippers
that save you from drowning, let you go on, caress

something that is not dressed in white, disguised
as the warm breath thrown over the headboard
smelling from cemeteries without moving your feet.


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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