portion of the artwork for Simon Perchik's poetry

Five Poems
Simon Perchik

You put up the roof
creaking under each arm
as if this tree knows when
and climbs till its leaves
no longer heat the Earth

—you set aside rooms
for the roots that opened
into hillsides turning away
and with the last nail
you build hallways
the way river water
still carries off the smell
from leaves falling on wet roads
already along the branches :wave
after wave with no one in your arms

—you save a place for the door
to grasp this shaky house
and there will be children
all next spring climbing out
and fruit that has the heaviness
from rolling on the ground.

The wiring inside this bulb
wants only to stay dry
and along the night after night
the sun covers with water
that darkness brings from the sea
gathered around it as sleep
and falling to the ground

though the dead have always
held up their arms
and with their last breath
winding down the way rain
breaks apart on the bedrock

they stack over your heart
filling it stone by stone
used to the sudden weight
spreading out on the floor

—without looking down
you are towed across a darkness
still moist, that has no name
except its common cries and Esther.

All that’s left on the wall
is the sea —this wooden frame
year after year crushing its shadow

and against some reef as if a rock
once broken apart will lower the dead
barefoot, step by step to make the path

the sun uses for its descent into daylight
into the bowl, chair, stale bread
now shoreless, sent to the bottom

the way each still-life
is painted with that hungry brush
only a wall can take to its mouth

and crumble from emptiness
—you clasp what was a sail
whose only heart has shut down

adrift between your arms
smelling from the beautiful dress
almost touching the floor.
As if the sun lets its darkness
take hold and night after night
your hand begins that vague ripple

from there to here —your arm becomes
some ancient wave and you can’t stop
or slow the unraveling

or along each step by step
the stillness all light attracts
once it stands at the door

—you have no choice! it’s hello
or be left, breathing in
just to stretch out and keep moving

—you can’t be born
without these stars in motion
—you can’t die either
though each evening brings you
another mourner, one alongside the other
nomads along the road where once

a dark sea covered the sky
set it adrift, first as a warm breeze
then the hillsides slowly over your heart.
Once this bedroom door is closed the rug
deals in flowers, its dark scent
reaching up where your eyes
expect sunlight and miles away the heady whiff
from a firefly —already she’s naked

the woman you just this minute
inhaled, a deep breath
who can’t see, has to feel along the grass
though the dead still stake a claim

and never leave —the room is locked
with the fragrance stones come for
—it’s a little room
a place you keep for yourself
so the door can become the distance
that fastens her arms to yours

and you wait for the pathways
to fall inside your throat
as the cry for footsteps
filled with kisses and fingernails

and the rug torn apart for rags
smells from loneliness
from the mouth you will gently place
over her heart and time to time.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 44 | Fall 2014