ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Simon Perchik

Tied to the ground this shovel
relies on the heights
though it's your arm spreading out

–you whittle off pieces
the way its long handle
shaped the Earth

opened its slow roll-over
for wood that will become
a second sun yet February

is already a single day
warmer than all the others
expects you to remember, dig

till a hole rises alongside
as a few hours
where none was there before.


What did you do! floating off
as the sound these walls make
from the light between the bed

and the pillow leaving together
once you shut your eyes –this room
is not a place to hand over

or wear a necklace that is not a sling
–this room is now a tiny stone
even mourners can't empty

though the window is kept closed
and the sun too was lowered
is turning into water, drop by drop

carries you along, smoothing your dress
your hair, loosening its still damp light
on the rug, your bare feet and earrings.


Though only two survived, each eye
is homesick for the others
still fingertips, unable to go on

are fanning out as darkness
before it becomes hillside
carried off with this small stone

for loving you, are letting each one
loosen, fall away from the others
still wet from a brother or a sister

or the night washing over you
the way you see through dirt
–you watch how you are wanted

with just two fingers, held close
looking for rain after it leaves
as lips a little at a time.


For a few hours every night the floor
slows and the room cuts back
quieted, begins its descent

the way a dead lake is filled
with shoreline –the rug
is used to boards that stay wet

though it's an iron bed
breaking in half where a pillow
once filled with seabirds

still clings to the other side
before it opens –it takes time
but the floor has to be washed

every night just to hear the dress
touching down, folding over the mop
the rotting wooden handle.


You wait at a fence though the yard
no longer moves –all this air
and not one mouthful for these dead

left in the open where each leaf
is handed over as the loss
that was the one too many

and from the same gate, half wood
half kept open as those slow climbing turns
that never make it back, forget how

to fall from moonlight, make room
for more wood and these dead
feeling their way down hand over hand.

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 Gibson Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2019. For more information including free e-books and his essay "Magic, Illusion and Other Realities" please visit his website at
To view one of his interviews please follow this link


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