White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Simon Perchik
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. He is the author of 20 books of poetry, including Hands Collected: The Books of Simon Perchik (Poems 1949-1999) (Pavement Saw Press, 2000), The Autochthon Poems (Split/Shift, 2001), and the forthcoming Family of Man (Pavement Saw Press).

Featured Work
Subscribe to RSS     Share

Simon Perchik




This sea as every saddle

—a crazed horse gnawing each raindrop

and I begin to count, take attendance

though-- it does no good, the rain


still smells from salt, from snow

—even winter is lost, sniffing my wrist

as if it came from a warm room

and a flower, maybe by December.


I strap to this great sea

a pail filled with feed :a class, tiny desks

set adrift, 30, 31, 32 :the waves

bolted to what might still be

those cramped chairs or from the beach

my heart waving back to something it can't see.





Simon Perchik

No one sees the hooves pick up the scent

—the sea delirious, foam everywhere

—sweet water! swirling under those numbers

—arrows louder than afternoon bells

and under my skin the halls

the chalk, the falling away.

Simon Perchik


These bricks almost to the top

won't make it down, footsore

offered a warm plate, a table

a lamp smelling from crust


from bread for saints and halos

and under each loaf more ashes

—my thumb all night gathering the crumbs

the sun they will become


—already there's oceans, glowing

as if Earth too comes here

or its sister —great waves

clinging, their fire crumbling


and under my feet this chimney

steeper and steeper, without the darkness

the coming back —already there's a line





Simon Perchik

where my finger cut into the bread

—there's smoke and these helpless bricks

beginning to spin :a wind


once underground, lifted into orbit

adrift :a gesture

washing over these sand-like shards

over these fingers and tears.

Simon Perchik


It's been rain and rain covered

with cinder block —against my cellar wall

I trace its nest till the moon

at last remembers where I was born

—there were two and snowing and the wall


is warmed by moonlight when I turn on my side


following, nearer to the sun

—they keep watch, a pond must be near

and a small hill.


It's impossible in the dark

in these blocks holding each other

by thread-like streams

—all their tears weighed down

and never enough light to find

my birthday scratched with a fingernail

—there's blood inside this wall.




Simon Perchik

Someone is being born and the cry

that goes around from mouth to mouth

wants to be called by the name

for cinders held together

—that first cry has two names, one

sounds like rain

the other must be near.

Simon Perchik


Again this snow, its cry

seems to come from a bird

from a simple sip at the headwind

and melting cramp —I have forgotten


plant empty jars, opened boxes

—it's useless! a branch from nowhere

and the sun's cut through :a scalding rain

half feathers, half ashes, half gravestones

—I forget, rinsed cans and plates

still buried, filling with snow

and the Earth each Spring heavier

—I water and from my other hand

an underground stream somehow

wandering away —I water the lost


and under the snow

this raging hillside tightening

—I still collect cardboard flaps

stuffing lids and bottle tops

wait at the holes the way I once called out

sifting each damp shadow.

You were always thirsty.

Simon Perchik


And in the dark my pillow, abandoned

shimmering —you've heard its cry before

tell me Try, get some sleep


take something from the night

even if it's only the continuous rails

or the train that is invisible

against the black, drenched mountainside


washing out its sweat or from under my cheek

the river wider, wider

—what I think is my arm

you say is only the window holding on.

There's room for a real arm.


You say I need more leverage, to sleep

on my side, that just this simple posture

props up the Earth till it sees itself

in front the careening headbeams :each train

as if all the stars are late

from everywhere, from nowhere



Simon Perchik

—-rejoice! all this darkness, you say

from just one shadow :the sky

black all those years —even today

no one can count and I am older

than the sun, you say —that's why

the night is so familiar

so heavy on the windowpane, on the sun

and turning —I can stand in front a star


certain it will come so far and no further

—I am the waters, the strongman :the night

and all those ruthless years

fill into me and I —you say this


—are you sure? I still cringe

gathering my bedside lamp

into the darkness that never moves

that lives forever, close to the divine light


rising toward the sun, close to those stars

whose light is still invisible

all its own and dying.

Copyright © Simon Perchik. White Whale Review, issue 1.3

Previous Author Prev Next Author