Simon Perchik

You kneel the way this sky never learned
those chancy turns the dirt throws back
as breezes, still warm, scented

with what’s left from when the Earth
had two centers, one blue, the other
footsteps, half random, half gathered in

for stones no longer moving
–you begin each descent
unsure, around and around, entangled

as if roots would nudge the dead closer
again into your arm over arm waving goodbye
with one more than the other

–it’s how you dig, folded over
and your shadow deeper and deeper
already reeks from far off and wings.


You have to let them fall
though once the ground cools
–this toaster is used to it

sure each slice will climb
side by side and even alone
you wear a fleece-lined jacket

set the timer left to right
the way the first sunrise
turned from what was left

–it’s still warm inside
and each hillside –you expect them
to burn, to break apart midair

making the room the dead
no longer need
though there’s no forgetting

why this crust just through
two graves, yours
and alongside in the dirt

brought to the surface
as the cold bread
that no longer hopes for anything.


Holding on to the others this hillside
knows what it is to live alone
all these years falling off-center

though you no longer follow
still back away till your hands
and the dirt once it’s empty

both weigh the same –a small stone
can even things out
the way this casket on each end

leans toward shoreline, smells
from a sky unable to take root
or balance the Earth, half

with no one to talk to, half
just by moving closer –what you trim
floats off as that embrace all stone

is born with, covered
till nothing moves inside
except the lowering that drains forever.


Look around you, yes
it will pass by the way darkness
comes from the ground

wanders alongside you
with nothing to stop it
crawling over your grave

as if it needs these flowers
gathered from the center
the Earth no longer turns

and before that nothing
–this hillside already has
your cheeks, is still expanding

needs more dirt, more sky
and your shoulders waving
in all directions at once

making room –reach around
and all this emptiness
all from a single goodbye.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at