Five Untitled Poems
By Simon Perchik

They’re eggs nobody wants :snow
all day falling from their nest
and these waves broken in half

— it’s so long since I sang
— I forgot how a word, one
then another, another and I am flying
taking hold a mountain, somehow the top
then stars — even the drowned

will rise to the surface
looking for air and the cold
— all winter this sea kept warm
— some bomber ditched, its engines left on
— four small furnaces and still forging wings
from bottom sand, shaped the way each wave
still lifts the Earth, then tries again

— each year the sea made warmer
by those same fires every mother
nurses with soft words :this snow
growing strong, already senses
the flight back as lullabies — my mouth

can’t close, a monster eating snow, my lips
swollen from water and cold and loneliness
— someone inside my belly
has forgotten the word I need to say
or sing or both my arms into the sea
feeding and feeding and feeding.

This birthmark through my neck
expects these storms, waits
the way an iron rod pointing north
and in the darkness to volcanoes, water

— it learned to wake my jaws at night
for steam, drinking from the patch
and grunts pushed back into the cup
that always cracks

that must like this portable electric range
filled with crushed seawalls, tea leaves
lightning — one o’clock in the morning
— one eye at first, already thirsty

already drilling for water
for the still wanted spark
— cup after cup :a bridge higher, higher
and the sea that was born from these storms

that keeps looking under :waves
that let nothing pass, taste
from one arm holding another
attached to some invisible dog

still asleep, waiting under this table
as if a ladder
and soon more stars :missing pieces
melting this darkness for its thunder

its side to side through my throat
almost water again and my bare scar
as if it belongs
even without the stitches
the wires and craters.

And the sun in ashes
leaning against this mist
not yet split into logs

— you once flew through the sun
without its flames, went blind
watching how its light peels off
half born, half glowing in you stove
half no smoke yet, whose shadow
still has some heat left

is older than the ground
and every morning held down
by rope, never loose again

— even without your eyes
the vapor trails still pull the sun
closer to its fire, to this iron gate
left out in the cold the way a net
is carried across a desert, sifts
for missing branches, birds
the light covered over, still breathing.

You expect the noon-alarm at City Hall
— it’s the tangled siren from nowhere
skidding corners, trucks and nozzles
and when it’s over

the usual inspections, who started it
who — you almost hear the hoses
clawed open, marking off where a sea
is buried — you’re never sure

what’s wave, what’s warm from the fire
— all you know is that coastlines
and fright have too much in common
with pasture, how panic
still excites, leads back the years ago
eaten to the bone and you

can hardly breathe, cover your ears
the way a thin plume dies out and hillsides
pulling up grass, breezes — it’s always noon
— you dread the one minute leaping overhead

from one time to a closer time
— you almost hear a plane, the ladders
and smoke falling away from you

— you can’t move
and the pain that once could heal
suddenly becomes a cry
without holding on to your hands
or the world.

Ankle deep it’s Spring, these stones
already green — to keep from falling in
he’s taught himself to limp, stutters
while I bathe the invisible dog
that clings to his chest, whose fur
bristling with gooseflesh half at the controls
half iron pail for the drinking cup

— he must dread the splash
is trained to wade slowly and where
the waves are buried, where these stones
harden, climb to that same altitude
they once flew — a sky
still slippery, filled all at once
with 12 dark-green stones

and he looks up, says my fingers
as if the spray reminded him
how his first breath is now too matted
though it tries to leap, its huge jaw
licking its paws — a few months each year

he wobbles into a water
that’s falling off the Earth and he says
his fingers are too heavy, says
hold him, save him.

Simon Perchick’s poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere. You can visit him online here.