poems by Simon Perchik


After all, it was the rain, a day

no one died and the sun now is here

demanding cake, red hot

still glowing, one candle

centered to make good --just one day

but enough room for those clouds

to get in the way, half rain

half that short-lived happiness

filling my hands the way all fruit

ripens, sweetens the air --I owe the sun

something lit, held out

--on that Fall-like day my feet

never touched down --it was the rain

seeping into my side

that became the river no one leaves.

And now? I lift this cake

as if its shadow will take my place

--I offer the sun what it wants

to be seen spreadeagle, circling

the sky that is its own

wants nothing between my arms

--I offer it another year, the cake

roasted, slit with a knife

held slack, stroking the damp grass

the damp wings, the willing shadow

--even that is not enough, the candles

are never at peace though my soft breath

says nothing about the flames

not the smoke, not the cake

that becomes a silent hole

dissolving in seawater where the sun

collects what it can

from my emptied hands, my single cry.


They must learn it from the sun

--at the first freeze

these leaves lose courage

after awhile end their struggle

though I clutch my belly

and with my other hand

drag this door open

sideways --the sound a train makes

when leaving a city.

You say it's not the sudden noise

that it's my gloves

and trees are taught to run

as best they can, getting some help

from the sun who is already cold

falling back, letting go

or mostly it's birds

whose plumage is that same trembling

leaves lick from the air

or the time I emptied the house

in a blizzard --books, rugs, chairs

emptied! stacked one thing over another

and nothing touched the trees

not the bed, not the table, not the coats

side by side swollen from snow

or have you gone away

--this great thirst

drop by shriveled drop

without a mouth, without arms

following you

falling haywire at noon.


The plank reaching down for waves

half hidden in sand, half feathers

and sunlight below the waterline

--your heel will remember the splinter

and these few minutes holding you

on an Earth already swollen from hulls

and undertow --the shore

listing, breaking up

waiting to capsize :with each step

one foot even without a shoe

will tighten the way during the war

pilots were trained to watch

where the sky is shallow in places

--the slightest breeze

will be painful, your limp

make a slow, climbing turn

and the sun who lifts then lowers

--one foot will always run aground

so you never forget the tweezer

taking hold, making room, unraveling

wing over wing --you watch

how death is learned

and the wrenched calm

you need for later though at the end

you closed your eyes, must know

even now, from far off

a wave-like darkness

is flying alongside you

almost overhead, crumbling

--you must know this beach loves you.


I tell you it's a bell, the funeral

will pass by any minute now, days

weeks, between these quarters, dimes

and pennies --Leave it for the sweeper

but I say these coins

do their own thing, do what they want done

become the waterdrops the dead

listen for and every night both pockets

are poured across this floor

the way mourners will lean to one side

long afterward. You're used to this.

You hear only my pants falling

my shoes, socks, shorts

and those old nights closer

little by little, drenched

are breathing though I can't bend down

without these chimes wobbling

into hearses, grass, small stones

and one is always moonlight

always in a far branch where you

are picking fruit, back and forth

holding my hands

--I want to look up, without a word

move your lips, your breasts, your hair.


Nothing, not your name

the way a weightlifter

cups both hands and my back

almost breaks --I bring you flowers

the kind they once made gods from

helped slow down the summer

made a picnic here that lasts

fixes the Earth in bedrock

--I bring a stone

you bring a stone --with one hand

I hold it to my ear, listen

for your arms stretching out

underwater :a grass taking root

slippery, almost green

and overhead one wing

is singing to the other

half circling, half

secret passageways that can't clot

is shaking again

though I squeeze it tighter

for whispers, for the light

from your cheeks --no one

can stop it, nothing and endless stones.