Issue 16: Simon Perchik



Sometimes, your hands won’t close

though they ask for an end

then pour their warmth into this cup

cracked the way primordial ponds

were stirred by the far away that once

was two rivers filled with rain

to darken the bottom with the small stones

not yet its tears – you still weep

while the brew flows over your lips

and the word for a great heaviness

that became the Earth – you fondle the cup

till it empties as kisses that just as slowly

take root, stained, caked at the rim

smell from dried steam and the magic

uncertain how to grow on its own


These flowers know which birds sip

and the ones that guzzle – it's how each sky

plans its journey for the water it needs

to breed, take in the tears already lush

as yes then yes again till your ears

overflow with sweet talk, can tell

from the echo if it's a footstep

or someone in love is answering back

with scented dirt as a place to stay     

– you dead are always on the listen

let in the shadows these gravestones make

till one by one they become this dam

and the ones that didn't you let dry

become what you hear leaving someone's hand

for yours, now empty and in the open.


From out the river below, these pilings

just born and already their wingtips

connect with another shore

though there's no feathers yet and underneath

just water, the instinct to stay still

when there's no wind – it's how all bridges

are built for the dead, the back

that is broken, has to be lifted

held up by another place and you follow

by lowering your head to let the river leave

know it is remembered, has a home

though not a star is out, no roofs with chimneys.


You learn how by opening your arms

then let the breeze warm at your side

the way butterflies flutter their wings

and every flower waves back with a splash

for the perfume filling your lips

till your breath becomes a love song

already flowing in some shallow river bed

as a scavenger feeding on what's left

from kisses, thighs, breasts

– the last piece to be eaten is the heart

still beating, singing from your mouth

sweetened by scraps and bottom stones.


From this wall Humpty Dumpty jumped

though piece by piece these gravestones

are still comforted by the night sky

built from leaks and hopelessness

though by morning the sun too

is made whole again – you dead

come here to write with stones

as if an endless suicide note

could still save you though its weight

is the silence facing the ground

as the only place to grow what shattered

hold one another, slow the falling.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled ‘Magic, Illusion and Other Realities’, visit his website at


Copyright © 2016 by Simon Perchik, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.