Simon Perchik’s recent books include The Autochthon Poems (Split/Shift, 2001), Hands Collected (Pavement Saw Press, 2000) and Touching the Headstone (Stride, 2000).







I reach for this huge crowd
as you would enter a cathedral
– become an arch :my skin
taking hold on the others – on all sides

a great coat that won't come off
that brushes against :a fire
must have kindled here, some
remember one another – once inside

I widen the streets and my heart
making room – I walk slowly
without shoes and the cobblestones
still soft from the fire – street

by burning street till all these arms
legs :flames and the furious hold
growing enormous – barefoot
as if a second stone will suddenly explode

into more sunlight, more you! you will say
it's dangerous, that the ice
is melting, watch where
and not always toward the sky

– you will calm my hand against yours
and your lips over mine :the silence
you almost say is the needed weight
for leverage, stone to stone.








And the grey that granite
left on my teeth, your name
slips on the smooth stone
growing old in my mouth
– for a long time this taste
almost a lovesong
and footsteps just by listening.

You will recognize these tears
and across my lips
almost bleed from between my arms
– each tooth scraped to the bone
and rain clouds that disappear
into the cry for mountain water

for the beautiful dark stones
that belong on the Earth :a tiara
whose majestic setting is covered
with a shadow that no longer leaves by itself.

You remember the sun
the way each stone simmers
calling its mother – day after day
my mouth refilled with icy streams
frozen into stone

and your name. What do you know?
Even rain has its doubts
falling on faces as if it were
some warm dirt – you leave me your name
the way light and the silence
almost that stone still on fire.








You listen for rain
the way this breath :warm
headwind after frozen headwind
letting it believe you're the sun
and the dead Earth
covered with motionless cries.

You've quieted this hillside
– it's descent you hear
even at 6 in the morning, by noon
the solitude as if another dive
had entered your heart
and these flowers were trained
for winter, another Spring
another Earth, each one deeper.

You will die empty, rehearsed
– for the hundredth time
to lose all light
the way pilots still dip one wing
to blanket themselves with the cold
just to get used to it
and return the air
sometimes in songs, sometimes in flames
sometimes in the dead
who know how innocently air climbs
from under each bomb run.

You still listen and the sky
that grieves on its way down
– all these years to enter the ground
then as its wing, now with its rain.








This great carcass :jagged cliffs
– the marrow dry
and faded though the sand
still keeps some trace

– after each storm the shoreline
disappears into the sea – I can watch
and the drowned gathering hope :huge breakers
almost green, clawing to take hold
while oils sweeten my shoulders
to stave off the water

and the sun – after every flood
more and more light till stars too
become invisible and I am led
across this beach singlehanded
the way mourners still bring water
and when the sun turns up alone
they bring more water, flowers
then more water – with every storm

– what else can I do! even in Winter.
the rain falls scorched
and what I believed was snow
is ashes, still damp – more and more

lotions and waves breaking apart
midair – for a split-second
again at the controls, looking down
the way this sun watches for the moon
for the monstrous bones
waterlogged – a mist smelling from dust
from the dead carried back :these cliffs
and just below the watermark the reefs
cracked open and my uneven arms.








From nowhere, a star overflows
pouring its light across your lips
and some old love song

– who can remember every word
– even the sun by evening
leaves empty :you learn to forget

so the melody will flicker off
fall apart in your mouth
– a few lines, that's it!

What a shame, such a voice
but you can't remember
complain the lamps are arranged

too far apart, too dim
then move room to room
with the words that are left

are exhausted, sweating and glowing
– the roof and the moon are both flying
filled with a huge chorus

and the clear light across the world
– you forget – without looking
a song half lost, half through the rafters.








All night and the rain that's lost
falling to its death
– what the sun comes upon
and the dark puddles where the dead

– without shoes you walk through
excite the water rising to your lips
the way footsteps, still new
will talk about far away
– a few words that never dry
that never get used to your angel mouth
breaking open on kisses.

And then? Look, kid
you can stomp all you want
but we need birds :fruits
dropping off the sun
and singing out loud in their sleep

– when you stop that make-believe limp
you will smell from mud
almost feathers and birdsong, in time
walking away will be easier.








They become the dim light
in some empty theater, the aisle
deeper and deeper – nothing is left in me

that I can use for whispers
– what you hear are kisses
almost invisible – I close my lips

to give off a great darkness
the way each star sets out
for its first cry, quivering

in terror – my weaker lip
soothed till its shadow
lets go :each Fall

exactly one hour
only with stars
raked into piles and the ground

– what you hear is my mouth
made blind and the wind going by
– only the air takes root

and bedrock holding fast
and on my lips
pitted from corners and distances.








You will whisper the way rivers
still break away from the continent
– mouths appear and words
never alone before, already far off

– the kiss will be brackish
making a dam, then another and my lips
against the sky backing up
– even at noon, overflowing with moonlight.

You will leave and the moon
still gasping from fright
– just born and it already cries out
from a darkness that has no air

the way each child learns the sound
that will fill its heart with distance
and the soft wingbeats
flying downstream – everything you say

will say goodbye – from deep inland
your mouth toward its first damp breath
then another :waves pulling apart
in all directions, kiss after lifeless kiss.