Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Family of Man (Pavement Saw Press) is scheduled for Fall 2009. For more information, including his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at <www.geocities.com/simonthepoet>.

Eight months your heart
that blinking flag
mountaineers still carry to the sun
-you came down
with only a crib sheet
folded around the light

-it’s enough! The air
ignites, cries out
pours down your bones
gutting your throat.
You drink maps
waiting for a name

named Eight.
The July you couldn’t find
looms in front
covered with snow -Eight

just born and your heart
one month short
rises as each morning the sun
somehow must be carried down
tiptoe, asleep on its side

and the July you couldn’t climb
will always be too dry, too hot
your skin burn out
-a druggist walks past
wraps something for shade
and inside the jar you hear that fire
folding around your name.

July. The highest month
lost, climbing to claim the sun
without you, step by step
like a small breath
tossing among the snowflakes
or the beautiful shadow from your heart.

The mirror a convict holds out
and between two bars
sees the long, steel corridor :the sun

aches too, hunting down the light
that escapes each evening, hides
a few hours, a few clouds, the cold
the lifetime -what did you expect

holding out your hand
as a dorsal fin will deflect
and everything swerves to the floor
-I’m drowning
so close to your lips

and my heart held out
still looks down the hall
the dust covered breasts
no longer thirsty for lips
or hands almost on fire

-a small mirror shares my room
with an electric switch
with light that kills on the spot

and what did you expect
holding out the sun
till it finds a window
covered with frost
and how the curtain warmed your shoulders
and kisses and yes, birds and oceans too
are hiding somewhere from my arms.

The plumage in this narwhal’s side
lifts as every birth tangled in water
bleeds from a place it’s not wanted
-one feather left
splashing and splashing, the sea
dead, drifting, all these waves
torn from one gill

-night after night a breath
so huge in my chest
and the Earth rolling on its side
bloated with air and pain.
Choking almost helps.

I carry this enormous breath
back to its sea, its silt again
then rise into moonlight :tides
trying to revive these waves
as if underneath all wings
there are no roots and water now

weighs less: the whale
tumbles each night closer
circling to gather speed
and its blood
as streams will wither
on the mountain inside

-in this darkness
everything is red :the moon
floating away or I cough
or walk like a sunrise

-again that birth: the sky
chased from my side and emptying.

The cots, the stove, the crew
unclaimed in this Nissen hut :my mailbox
between twelve more :a camp
ditched, the road too narrow, curved
from rain and letters home, tissue thin
too weak to lift my lips, my slow
wide, rippling sweep
crumpled to tin, its great arc
now eyes and claws and thirst, the flag
soaked in blood, waving where it fell.

People I don't know send letters
promising to lose. I've already won!
A SOUTHERN CAPE FOR TWO that couldn't wait
printed on the envelope --my hangar's

full. Too many capitals and these stamps
each day heavier :monuments
defaced the first time up
tenacious as fly paper

--I can't separate the mail
just by calling out, every name
sounds as if mine at some briefing
we agreed the last one left
a prize that sounded more like laughter

--the letters too heavy now :a heap
as clouds still gather each evening red
--the last carrying their dead
to the pile: every sky

waiting on my table to be sent home
as a flower reaching into the world
or letters with my name outside.

No hardhat and this stubborn doctor
too close, my heart
battering his head --his timid fingers
knocking to unearth from my chest
the great cave, the fire that listens

for flesh --he collects and keeps a chart
slants is pencil-thin light
writes on my eyes
something I want forgotten

--without a rope, the light
lowered through my throat.
He says my breath is still in place
warm from human sacrifice.
He asks how old I am

and my heart by milliliters
is carried off on a tray
as if a wince could tell
what blood was like in ancient times

the blood that always saw me naked
the blood long before the Earth
began to beat :the avalanche
still gushing out my arms
my colors and perfumes.

This doctor's used to snapping nerves
with pointed hammers and whisk brooms
--he digs bareheaded, uncovers
the murmur stone by stone :so many deaths
for one brief grave :my heart
as sometimes an old school song
and the soft drizzle that was a name
before his cold fingers, the fierce cough
he tells me to try.

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...