By Simon Perchik 

Half iron, half oak, the bed
all night honed on what went wrong
–it’s an axe, striking upside down

though you sleep facing north
side by side an empty dress
shaped into bulls and chariots

with your mouth wide apart
louder and louder getting ready
for the slow descent –you sit

on the edge, trying to bleed
to open the sleeves
still reaching out in the dark.

It was a lake, used to bodies :islands
With an everlasting sunset and the glare
From jewelry, veils slowly drifting down

As the footsteps that now weigh so much
–it came here the way an icy stream
enters a slope that can no longer right itself

has no water left to give, no nights, no arms
though you are reaching for these dead
by hauling off smaller and smaller stones

on tip-toe, paving your hands for the unease
already smelling from wood, rope, holes
hidden in  bracelets and never let go.

Again and again you begin each night
as if this faucet climbs only in the dark
will widen its slow turn

to reach the sink with clouds then settle
as seawater, wait for rain to strike
shatter and along the same path

return  as lightning from a fever
that’s not a flower, still trembling
the way her breasts curved

are collecting dew –your hands
are never wet enough
and around your chest the scent

splashes over the great weight
you’re breathing in
–what keeps you in the air

is the full light from stars
kept cold under running water
draining their smoke for the surface

stretching out, lifting the Earth
closer and closer as if once
you had something in half to put back.

Arm over arm you expect
the way a child plays with sand
though once inside this graveyard

all that’s left from the ocean
are the pilings holding on
leaning against that gate

where death came into this world
as a wooden handle –you expect
to carry away the Earth it knows about.

Even without a caress its petals
wait, try more red than usual
then sweets, sent along with the scent

from the latest hillside till one grave
blossoms before the others
and you are at last alone

beside a single afternoon, holding on
though your shadow is already airborne
rising out the Earth as moonlight

still warm on your lips, impatient
the way a headstone is no longer carried
once it turns full length to embrace

lift your arms around it, pressing them
against its breasts, its lifeless throat
for whispers, for kisses and bitter air.

About the Author:


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at http://www.simonperchik.com.