ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

A journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998.


Five Poems by Simon Perchik


A single charm and the air
slows though what you breathe in
is clustered with stones

falling into stones –even here
you use the ruined
to anchor between one miracle

and another –shoulder to shoulder
with no place to go these graves
are opened for stars

half coming back, half
the way your breath covers the dirt
takes hold and lifts from under.


You expect more from rain, point
though cupped in your hand
there’s no sign when these stones

pulled it to the ground
as mouths broken open
devouring the Earth

–all that’s left standing
is the way moonlight enters
with just enough darkness

to touch down everywhere at once
and not have to remember –the sky
owes you, should stick

cover your skin with a toss
made from a single name
coming to a close –splash

is what you count on
–place to place watering
the small door that opens at night.


Not yet certain, half stone
half held back –wave after wave
rattles it, makes it start over

louder, distracted by the sound
that is not your shoulders
gathering around this grave

no longer facing the fragrance
riverbeds become once they dry
by calling out to each other

clog your mouth with salt and nearby
–what you hear is edging closer
has doubts, lost count

the way these rocks are winded
and one by one broken up
as flowers and your arms.


Dragging one leg you dust
the way sunlight changes colors
once it touches down and this rag

spreading out along the limp
that carries you away
wiping off weeds, winds

and those webs spiders are taught
to listen with just their shadow
for distances –you smother

as if one death would point
where the others let you
and cover the Earth

with mouths that never close
though you tug, taking root
in wobble, losing hold

strutting into these corners
pulled by a closeness
that is not dirt or moving.


Inside this glass its sand
flowing between the hours
and shoreline –you drink

waves, not sure one grave
would pull you under
give in to the small stones

you swallow twice
covering your mouth
with beach grass, harbors

and sea birds flying toward you
no longer keeping track
bringing you more cries

and expect an answer –you water
rock that never ripens
though your shadow

is rotting on the ground
pouring from these dead
as moonlight and left behind.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at

His work appears in Offcourse #54 and #59.

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