Issue 14

Poetry: Simon Perchik

Not yet feathers though you
still breathe in the smoke
trailing from some climbing turn

hidden by clouds and weightless
circling this tree allowed at last
to shed its bark, warmed

the way each leaf expects
a better life somewhere, takes hold
with its wings around the Earth

carried up hillside over hillside
spurting more and more blood
from your eyes, your ears

till their shadow flies from under you
escapes this time, hovering overhead
as branches and evenings

and further though their roots
come by to remember why this sky
ended its wandering and closed.

Face down though there’s no room
–the crowd still on its feet
as if there were ropes and the bell

could save you, take on the cold
from under the threadbare news
and your name nowhere

–this paper not yet marble
can’t warm you
has no one to lose to

no headliner after headliner
whose arms hang over
and all winter

still work the corners
prop up the dead
the way this bench

looks you in the eye
covers you night by night
and never there enough.

Under your tongue these stones
the dead leave empty
–what you warm

basks next to words
no longer side to side
sung the way evenings

still turn back
–it’s an old love song
buried then buried again

needs more air than the others
–you breathe for two
though there’s no breeze

only a birthmark taking hold
the way a single song
began as a few stones

and a fresh start –you inhale
as if this thirst needs you
wants mountains, backhoes, a mouth.

Another stomp though it’s sunlight
dissolving into dirt the way all noise
wears out, limps and at your side

two radios, one covered with mud
the other bit by bit chips through
the small stones inside each ear

and in-between, who’s alive? who’s dead?
–who listens for that static
still on fire as this shovel

not yet exhausted, entangled
with weeds that can’t take it anymore
break apart and the unbearable heat

from blossoms the sun empties into
as rain and more rain
till you splash in the sound

not yet your shadow
though one foot blackens first
dragging you under and inches apart.

Pulling this bowl to your lips
as if traction was needed
though it must know by now

why you dig with the same whisper
that once beat back the wind
and the sky changing direction

–you lift with what became
the moon, still crawling in its cage
one end to the other, that no longer

struts in the open, is terrified by air
wants to cool and in your throat
crumbles from exhaustion and splashing

–you make a spray so this spoon
will empty in your arms overflowing
as grass and so many fingers.