A Sequence of Five Poems

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December 21, 2018 by The Citron Review

by Simon Perchik

First on paper then the carpenters
following the saws –in the end
the house was divided with borders

where each wall was scented by a song
still playing when the hammers
were silenced the way you grip this knob

then leave a room that has no place to go
though you turn the radio around, sing along
till the static no longer comes from nails

stiffening, beginning to foam as each board
draws its wood tighter around your throat
–it’s a small house, a kitchen

that’s gaining weight, a sink
where iron drips just for the flash
when it touches the ground the way the dead

weigh less when the last thing they saw
was the darkness, drop by drop
opening the corners, the water, louder and louder.

*

You draw the map on her dress
shade in each afternoon
with a gentle stroking –here

the storm will be, the chalk
is already falling back
breaking apart over the fixed point

where the Earth was lowered
the way all graves are calmed
and though the dress is black

you hold it up as a gesture
guiding her with a night
that now weighs nothing

will circle over and over as the sleeve
no longer whitened by moonlight
taking so long to finish, become the path

helping you stay on your feet
once there’s no chalk left
no sparks and the heaviness.

*

You wash this shirt at night
letting its buttons loosen
though the sleeves harden when wet

smell from salt then stone
–you become a lighthouse
–waves could save you now

come with a sea as that darkness
you need to embrace it, let the waters
take in that afternoon as if you

are still drowning, arm over arm
in the sand left over from an old love song
come back as lips to warm you

and though this is a small sink
it’s always August, deeper and deeper
filled by an open wound.

*

You close your eyes the way this toast
blackens on its own –a second Spring
explodes, starts its journey as crumbs

and though nothing is moving outward
once near your mouth the crust begins to swell
soften, become those breasts you swallow

all morning in the darkness between the coffee
and this cracked cup catching fire
making room for love to happen

flood the Earth full steam ahead on time
as if your skin had opened to warm her
sip by sip gripped by oceans and teeth.

*

All that’s left is the rain
tossed overboard as the silence
now falling on her forehead

–you are sailing too close
to the ditch covered with dirt
filling this harbor and night after night

though there’s so little wind
–nothing moves in this sea
except as an armada :flowers

that steady each ship with the rocks
mourners leave as those voices
you hear coming to an end.


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 Osiris Poems published by boxofchalk, 2017. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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