portion of the artwork for Simon Perchik's poetry

Five Poems
Simon Perchik

This is where the photo stayed put
and though the bombers no longer move
there was a loud noise

where the nail should be —what’s left
is a hole constantly facing down —look
they were old planes, extinct, sealed

in glass that was already yellowing
the way sunlight helps you remember
the same day each your to come back

with paint that dries from the top
begins its descent for you to tell the story
crouched, still at the controls, the brush

with both hands, held the way every shovel
stays covered with dirt that knows no peace
is sent out higher and higher for the missing

and later a wall that’s in the open, bleached
where the dead, still in formation, listen for cracks
and edges that lead nowhere, already belong to a grave.

Still, this toy pail didn’t stand a chance
held tight the way a doll filled with sawdust
will struggle to unfold its arms the inch by inch

around the child it depends on to say the words
for wood —where else but over this grave
would you set in order a shore so close

to everything you are, constantly stuffing
a plaything with sand from these stones
stockpiled by the dead just to hear them

one by one, pleased how much like a sleeve
is the ground, how much like an arm
is the place that’s needed over and over.

You wait for the blanket to thaw
—this is the glue that in the dark
clings between two rivers

though you go to bed alone
the way this pillow is alone
now that the other each night

stretches out on the grass
has huge letters, one by one
reaching into you the way a Will

is filled with shrieks that waited too long
can’t stick to water that already
keeps its place when you breathe out

to touch, take from the dead
both hands and with tenderness
hold on, melt into them.

The chill from behind this dirt
can be found in each headstone
once it’s notched and step by step

takes its turn around your neck
the way the sun is swallowed whole
as your usual supper, the bowl

filled with soup and fingerprints
that will stick to the bottom
no longer scrape the ground

for the bench, the clue
—it’s a small cemetery, you eat
standing —just the place

for the silence that brings the dead
a witness :your shadow is used to it
knows where to stay in line

is no longer wandering underground
homeless, holding a shovel
that could cover your tongue with snow.

As if your initials added to hers
did it, floated the arrow
that would live forever here

is still alive and after each rain
feeds off the heart you left marooned
waiting for the horizon to come closer

bring her suddenly back in a boat
half wood, half as a hull
carved by hand and bleeding.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 57 | Spring/Summer 2021