Simon Perchik: Five Poems

Side by side a planet that has no star
you wander for years
which means remorse has taken hold

the way this dried love note
never lets go its warmth
though the afternoon becomes a place

for constellations, is wobbling
as silence and the end
–where else can it hide

is more forgiving than a period
left where a well-meaning sentence
gave all it had and for the first time

a darkness was falling from above
bird-like, spreading out as far away
around and around, over and over again.

Gradually, you can tell from its silence
this fence was building a bridge
though it’s the rust spreading out

that makes it so –you think it’s plankton
and how hurried was the river
when each afternoon still reaches out

becomes a sea again, heating the sun
with the same shadow
that leans against this iron gate

lets its great weight open the Earth
though nothing is left in your arms
is held anymore –you think it’s raining

as if that’s all there is in the water
that could help you breathe
without leaning over.

You clam though it’s the sea falling away
lets this rake threaten it yet go free
taking you along, knows all about going off

disguised as a night that reeks from salt
to keep from sinking –you reach for the bottom
the way your casket disappeared with a candle

made from paper –it was an old love note
in pencil, with nothing on the back
then folded over and over to fit into your hands

as moonlight –even now this long, wood handle
ties you dead to water –you hear the splash
giving up, lying down, at last what it wanted.

This paint is wet though when you weep
it flakes –the wall knows close
is too close, starts to turn away which means

it’s breaking open for steam, somehow
a few sparks and after that your tears
will cool, at last a hilltop lake, far off

still making its final descent as a second sky
–two skies and what you breathe in
are the pieces broken off those stars

that would become the sea and never dry
let you witness each wave slowly going off alone
from your eyes that have forgotten how.

Upside down, as if this cup
was once a blossom
would overflow with the tears

mourners fill then row ashore
–it’s empty, close to the grass
though her grave is still damp

from this hillside washing over it
scraping from these headstones
a lighthouse for each wooden boat

pulled from the sea –you heard
a trumpet when the cup capsized
is done, put down its sound

as if there was nothing to lower
that wasn’t crushed on these rocks
still trying to lift, one after another.


Simon Perchik‘s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

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