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’, please 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.