Simon Perchik

7 poems

Your shoulders in overhead sweeps
pulling you through the dark water
--you're turning the Earth
from its center, eyes closed
as if you still need the soft, white pillows
the nurses left at your sides.

It still snows, it rains
and my eyes too are useless
without some glass bent over to comfort them
--we can't look up, blindfolded
like a man about to be shot
his eyes kept empty
as if they could reach out
fill his ears with riversides

--what you hear is this Mason jar
and the fresh mound
these berries will feed
--they're sweetening the winter now
and the fields grow fat, peaceful

--you hear its jar from the middle
and the dirt that must know by now
still sniffs my hand
streaming with blood
and the fingers too are missing.

Barely coating the corner trim
this dark green must think it's summer
and pinecones shimmering
till the knots too show through

--even the air, back and forth
till a thin breeze
warms the wood, covers your arm
still coming out the ground
and opening outward

--this paint will take years
dries the way I move to a new place
--first, it can be sure this house
will be pulled by a river
that's been forgotten
then slowly opens the sky and around you.

Two syllables :the curve
where her name can turn homeward
and the path take on the shape
the spiral working its way

--you see the name bend
leaving your eyes
for the ice that trembles between your hands
and rivers sinking into the Earth

--in your arms her name and its shadow
has a forehead, made from iron
--you can't lift it closer, kneel
till no light enters or leaves

--two sounds that have no sound
but the longing for the small feathers
that flutter past your lips
shake the sky loose and in your arms.

The air I breathe out stays cold
fills with stones and unyielding flowers
--I still gather these sharp blooms
fold my shoulders over the height
that arrives without trees
without the space between them --each

another stone and falling through the sky
its breeze rippling outward
turning back the sun, bloodstained, lifeless
left rearing from the battlefield
one by one, carried out
never again so blue
and looking for flowers.

It's not the needle, leaving
is always faint, a metallic hum :my blood
and along this clear glass tube
while you stare from some cockpit canopy
banking slowly into ice, then rain, then ice
never coming to an end

--not the sudden breeze
unfolding under my skin
though you grip my wrist, count the years
till I say that in the dark
my breathing slows --more light! and you

press a small warm bulb into my eyes
tell me inhale, deep, go down
--come back, you say, kisses
will bathe me, --my blood show where
--a plane can't just disappear

its enormous wing embedded in my heart
and fill this tube, piece by piece
falling without me.

One by one and every Spring my eyelashes
somehow taller, lush, almost green
--every few hours I need rainwater
more blades --3, 6, 10 times a day.
How red the sea must have been.

I don't let my beard and the leaves
are gone :shave till my face
smells from those seablooms
that became my heart, my arms
my legs too need running water
and birdsong --this razor
can't keep up! tree after lifeless tree
chipped for its still warm dust

for that first timid wave taking root
on shore as if all these warm breezes
now filled with soft seawater
new branches :Spring, one behind the other.

Dorian's lips in ruins
and the slow song
that never catches up --her son

not yet named, almost weightless
born with a bone already broken
and his arm left to heal.

Perhaps he will remember
how sometimes even the sea
needs more room, even that tiny hand

wanting to take hold the world
--perhaps with a name, made whole
by a sound that left some far coast

shipwrecked, to make an offer.
The doctors say but what

James Bertolino

Carotid Song: A Kind of Triolet

She proclaimed, “I am the MasoChrist,”
and took a karate kick to the carotid.
Feeling dizzy, as if shaking off lice,
she uttered, “I am the MasoChrist!”
Her aggressive partner said, “You must slice
through your self-importance and be rid
of any notion you are the MasoChrist.”
She delivered a stunning blow to his carotid.

Lyn Lifshin


under the gray paint
maybe still the
DNA of your palm.
It was the first night.
I wish I had known
I’d already fallen
for your voice,
your stories on night
radio. Who could
want a man without
a treasure of tales?
Isn’t it when each
person’s stories run
out it starts to get
boring? Your plastic
leg like a totem
while you held me,
too few nights, the
beat that my heart

Murray Dunlap

A Calming

Never worry, my sweet girl. Never worry. He has no hidden agenda. No secret plan. He just likes you is all. And tells you so. Never worry, sweet girl. He has enough support to get through this spell. He'll figure it out. And he'll do things for you, if you would just let him. Let the poor boy, my sweet. Let him have his moment of being normal, and paying for his dear new friend to have a nice time out. It's for him, you see. Just know that. You would not be doing this otherwise. I understand. And so does he. He just likes you is all. And wants to help. Just let the boy. And he's your friend for life. Know that too. For life.

So when he calls from the phone on the corner, let him. Just let him. He’ll lay your number on the table by the window, and he’ll think about it for a spell in the couch. But then he will get up, walk to the window, lift the pad and call. Just let him.

And be calm. Let the new angles of life allow you to see clearly. He's got a clear view of them. He'll show you. He'll take your hand and hold it easy and snug. Just right. And if this is hard for you, please just tell him. He'll understand and slip out of sight. But if you can manage a smile, please tell him it is ok. My dear sweet girl. My dear. He's falling. Falling hard. Don't be afraid. It's silly. Just let him. Let him fall and he'll do whatever you need. Anything. Just keep this on the outside. No need to hide anything. He's honest to a fault. You see, it helps him remember. Lies get lost. But you, you would never be lost. You just smile and be you. That is all he requires. And my dear sweet girl, he's your friend for life. Just know that.

So be calm. There is nothing to worry about. Nothing. It's easy. Just relax and be calm. Your calming will calm him. And perhaps you will see that he has gone insane. Entirely insane. And you will see this if you see him through the window he is calling from. Insane.

But calm.