portion of the artwork for Simon Perchik's poetry

Five Poems
Simon Perchik

This school bus learned nothing about aging
slows down in both directions at once
—stars never seen this early

stop then stop again the way hillsides
take their place behind folding doors
and funerals —you approach this step-by-step

and mothers waiting everywhere
as if once upon a time there was
an immense forest, an enormous lake

with water lilies that never die
—you almost hear what could be
birdcalls and for those few minutes

your breathing stops then yellows
though it’s the moon holding you back
the dark sky in the roadway.


This newspaper and each evening
another gate is raised
spreads across some infield

miles from the game
—you reach for the ball
and without a sound the moon

goes wild in the dark
already rolling off the Earth
and in this still warm glove

the catch you read about
sitting in the stuffed chair
suddenly on its feet

torn open, blown forward
further and further
almost at the stadium

turning you page by page
into shoulders, into distances
into this invisible sunrise

everywhere at once —sleep now
is impossible, the floor too far
too restless even with the lights on.


Ear to ear though the tree
darkens the way this saw
no longer drifts alongside

in the open, clings
to wooden boats and the dead
you can touch with your tongue

once it’s morning and the blade
has nothing to do, already
half rainbow, half riverbank

low over your mouth
opened so you can read
between the lines, send back

a note smelling from wood
older than anything on Earth
stretching out till the dirt

overturns and you drown
swallowing leaves, branches
days —you cut with hours

that know each other
that bind and by themselves
filling with clear water.


For a time, carefully reduced
as if these shoes were watertight
and each pricetag pointing out

—you don’t know where to dig
though dirt must mean something
motionless under the exact place

that could be anyone
the way nothing in this shop window
is left standing, needs more dirt

more and more and the hillside
that always falls backwards
refuses to get up, no longer tries

and all these passers-by two by two
in your arms already opened
for so many dead from just one grave.


You strap this watch in place
as if it inherited the wobble
that grew into sunlight

then darkness, then wear, then
you set the time years ahead
the way dirt still unravels

and between each finger
a slow, climbing turn remembers
the middle before it became

the sun —it’s hopeless! the watch
trying to keep up
taking you by the hand

though you dig alongside
clearing the ground for later
for the footsteps already wagons

and you wait, humming
to the small circle passing by
tired and in your mouth.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 39 | Winter 2013