Five Poems by Simon Perchik


To listen you work this bowl
and each evening crouch
with your lips in all directions

wrapped around a warming spoon
near, nearer to the side she slept on
filled with sharp corners

and lower your forehead, let the soup
cool –you swallow a bed, are fed
on windswept fires, the sound

that has become the mouth
you’re drowning in –arm over arm
making room for her and lower.

Don’t move closer –with such talk
you back down, hands more on your chest
than hiding from the moon behind the moon

to cool as dirt left over for shadows
and the suffocating shovel after shovel
falling from a sky already back –you dead

have given up the whisper, its flames
called off with a single yell
ripping open the narrow space

between its memory and the surprise
when an embrace covers your head
the way this gravestone turns green each Spring

shines from the breath bent over your name
come back for you and flowers
warmed by this comb breaking in half.

This battered window box
has found an opening
–with a single flower

is taking on the sun
though you use well water
fitting it into its shadow

as if madness needs a corner
for its darkness reaching out
the way your heart was filled

with river noise
that has nothing left to give
–what you hear is the sun

swallowing ice as the antidote
to flower after flower and the mist
from someone breathing.

In the space between two chairs
then each night you crack open a shell
let it darken and begin from there

–it’s already home to the silence
making room the way this rug was torn
for one more shadow and the floor

that mourns forever –each board
still lowered with some mountain
breaking up from the bit by bit it needs

to begin again –all these shells
just for their emptiness and slowly
to stir as in fingertips and magic.

With the door gone now
you set out for the waterlogged
as if some makeshift plank

could face shore as a stone
already upright, filled
with branches and salt

though there’s no sail
and even more than the sea
you have no place to mourn

–you need driftwood :a mask
held in place by an emptiness
certain it arrived before you.



Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His collection The Osiris Poems is 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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