Friday, March 25, 2011


4 Poems

By Simon Perchik

Not until these stars began to cluster
did the first heart stir --even now
the sky rising and falling
brushing against just my finger.
I almost start a fire, almost not.

To point has always been dangerous
--even the firing squad needs protection
and I cover your eyes
--already one star stopped moving
no longer passes through your heart
falling from one place another
backwards into how far everything is,

the glove is useless, not yet wet
or cold or the morning whose light
was once a seed deep inside the Earth
--one finger still remembers the North Star
the exact distance and from your eyes
their vague breeze still climbing
taking the stone away from your stone
till nothing is left but the darkness
that used to be the sky on fire

--more than ever now
I walk at night as if I could
with just a simple touch
and from your heart a great morning
--all these stars --in a pack
and from my hand the sun
lifting you into mountains, wolves, flesh.

It takes time. Winters.
And the glove I left for you
somehow is blowing away.
They take so much time.

At every birth the extra child
disowned on the spot, sent off
still calling for more mouth
for both a father and a twin

--with the first breath
one is human, the other with strength
to lift clouds, whose grave
should always be moist.

Twice a day since who knows
I bathe from a well, then the walks
alone, try to remember
the last time it rained

--I need water from the sky
carry this axe on my shoulder
my step by sharpening step
half thunderclap, half

the bitterness only that banished twin
could pull apart and overhead
another sky begins to clot, tastes

like wax and my one fist
squeezed dry --I never heard my twin
or where such anger, closer, closer
from nowhere tighten even on my name.

All the huskies are eaten, my knuckles
reek from gangrene, the sled :beds
have their limits and the nurse
leans as if I could read the chart
would turn back and the scented ink
only flames make legible

--I'm running hot, low on oil
and the ladderlike thermometer
half slush, half a cross between
the way mechanics test
and constant tightening

while she unwraps the badly dented tray
tells me calm down, use my strength
for sleep the way lovers
are always unfolding some note
kept secret till stars, little by little
and before their eyes evening begins
and lasts forever --it takes time

though she uses a fountain pen
twisting its cap
and whatever's not strapped tight
squeaks --time and the fires

grouped just so, so not yet asleep
fingerprints show up on my deft, soft hand
slowly, slowly and her breasts
almost visible, her mouth already opening
and the whisper there's still time.

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.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. For more information, including his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at

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