Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan
Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Readers interested in learning
more about him are invited to read Magic, Illusion and Other Realities
at this site that also lists a complete bibliography.
Or paying off someone :each funeral
once only at night, the hearse
still black and along side
another shadow :the witness
closest to the wheels, holding fast
swells then withers
then stretches out :each breath
begins with a few words in your ear.
You dead contradict only in whispers
are still in doubt about these trees
and the soft sound falling into snow
into those small stones
already taking root, that grow
only in winter, in mouths.
Everything you do is whisper.
There are no wings on birds anymore
and everything falls into this ground
as if it were a sea and your shadow
set adrift among the calls from seabirds
one behind the other--you dead
go everywhere in crews
and though I rode with the others
I leave unprotected, afraid which shadow
is yours, slowly from its continuous night.
Even the sun, overwhelmed
by your grey suit :mask
and its invisible black thread
that moans, slowly, steady
though it's the custom at gravesites
after one lapel's cut open
as if the dirt would know
could see there's one more
and the razor--the same dark suit
you wear in bed, hiding everything
except your face and still you can't sleep
--3 in the morning you phone 411
for information, for a voice
you don't see, that could be made
from a stone or a shadow
--you begin to stink, to study your bones
giving them names, calling them
to windows you don't open
and on the sills small stones
and around your arms the dark jacket
falling into some night that's full
--you hear the waves asking you closer
whispering There's no such number
no one by that name.
And the gray 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.
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