The HyperTexts

Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker and elsewhere. "Perchik is the most widely published unknown poet in America" according to Library Journal (November 15, 2000). His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). Readers interested in learning more about him are invited to read his essay "Magic, Illusion and Other Realities" and view a complete bibliography at


As if this tie could slow your fall
―full blown and yet each sleeve
expects the helpless rollover and flames

though your heart knows so little
about how chancy it is to breathe
spewing smoke no longer sea-blue

or dry―all that's left in this shirt
is the surrounding valley
that carries you down―you need more sky

and side to side stretching out
for a rickety bridge―you jump holding on
to a single knot huddled in fog and off course.


This calendar gets its genes, stays put
as if its yellowing pages
have nothing to do with fall

―the paper has already begun to age
though you wear a coat to bed
for those cell-to-cell signals

from dry wood taking hold, has the smell
frost makes when clearing the ground
to rest for awhile and your tired eyes

barely able, close to keep warm
no longer move just to move
―it's been years since you stopped

and each morning a grinding sound
disappears ahead, the sun
helplessly trying to melt

now that it's summer and the day-to-day cry
that begins in the Earth
all along reaching away from you.


You're new at this
though in front each window
your eyes close just so far

are not used to a rain
that comes right up against you
won't move even when you make room

once you learn where to look
for the sky, for the shoreline
half gone ahead, half

peeling off and your fingers
clamp on to its sharp turn
covered with sand and thirst and death

―you never know
but this rain is dangerous
has saved its memory for last

put all its strength
in how to circle you down
as days and nights together.


You were so sure! the boxes
sealed and no one
getting a bead on you

―wherever you're moving
it would be by air―not the kind
that comes from runways

but cardboard, corrugated
where its turbulence is hidden
at least till high enough

safely under your arms
still closing the flaps
and though the wings are taped

they're already breaking apart
held the heading too long
―you thought this place

would last out the month
not burn to the floor
become winds and your emptiness.

There is no tunnel, you crawl
the way a turtle takes hold
and from the sidewalk a dry breeze

smelling from salt and two in the afternoon
―the crowd thinks the cup is for beggars
fill it so the air inside

will rise and you can breathe
one more time :a tide
lets you survive in the open

though one cheek is dragged
over the other till your mouth
becomes a shell―all you can do

is drink from it
do what skies once did
filled with thirst and emptiness.


With roots that glow in the dark
you approach each grave
the way all wood remembers

its first wish was moonlight
and overwhelmed the Earth
as mornings that grow only in dirt

—you lean across, breathing in
breathing out to exchange places
though the ground is decorated

with nothing more than itself
stubborn, still filled for campfires
and all around are the beads

outlined in the shadows, woven
slowly row by row, fondled
and endless songs about travelers.


It’s a rickety table, not sure
where the bend in the river
brushes against weeds and mud

—this watering can’t last
has already broken apart
the way every tree is carved

by those endless seas
her initials are used to
as kisses and your mouth

—wood can’t save you now
though everything you wet
is circling the Earth for her

—you will die from thirst
one after the other, counted
without the summer you needed.


And though you dread the mail
this note is used to her arms
folding over your eyes

brushing aside the dust
that’s unimportant now
—you can’t make out the name

floating up as salt, empty
with some small sea beginning
clings the way every envelope
is carried along, half evenings
half sinking back into darkness
and word after word while they last.


Its shadow is helpless here
festering the way your fingers
lean over the watermarks

not yet covered with paper
though left in the open
this wall could heal, the butterflies

gently circling down
and under the painted leaves
the empty branches and wings

—you thin this paste
as if one arm works the other
till what you turn in

unfolds toward painful corners
and days without a sea
making room for you.


Before there were seeds these stones
got their start from here, each shell
shaped by snowfalls and emptiness

—you work this orchard
the way each grave stays open
for air and the sharp pebble

that feeds the Earth with silence
already beginning to slowly
in secret harden —just like that

you put into place a shadow
that is not your hand folded over
for seasons keeping track

how lush and without a leaf
waits for its darkness to surface
let go and place to place.


You trick both thumbs into sunlight
the way footpaths squeeze the dead
though you can’t breathe at night

unless this kettle is lit —you can see
where these matches end over end
are climbing midair —it’s the mirage

heat uses to add water —the stove
with nothing inside, at attention
from the day it was asked.

You belittle the directions, this paint
needs thinning—it's not safe
though for now you hold on more than ever

the way a flower inside another flower
spreads out when you add rainwater
as if this wall was still on fire

surrounding you, yelling at you to paint
with the window open, jump! the air
has nothing left, needs time, years

—the paint is new at this
can't dry by itself, half brush marks, half
motionless, already those exhausted stones

no longer overflowing near the dead
—the broken glass helps, emptiness helps
once on the ground and alongside your hands

remembers to enter this room back and forth
as if you were being watched, counted on
are sweeping it clean for later and later.


This heat still underfoot
reminds you how the sun
would come to your grave's edge

with flowers, with a sky
whose season now is lost
and the listening

that goes on forever.
You can tell from the silence
I'm standing close, my footmarks

stopped —for a while we are both dead.
Who but you would think about daylight
how colors tire so easily here

biding their time, listening
to one foot beside the other
never letting go and the warmth.


As if for the last time you let go
the way the sun looks back in sadness
and circling down —without a sound

you make a pile from the discarded
and with the warmth still in your hands
you stare at the sky without blinking

though what rises from the ground
is lifeless, sets out on the weaker side
as shadow :a shell kept empty for calm

for leaf by blinding leaf and this smoke
half there, half anchored against the rake
left to rust, no longer struggling

dragged under, exhausted and the light
wears away, becomes air again
holds your mouth open for dirt and gentleness.


Even this tree :a stranglehold
once used for calling you and now
means the night —this low branch
still ruffling feathers
can't recover its faint cry
its warm breeze that shelters you

now that every stone is sealed
is pressed to my lips
as if some trumpet or fountain
or filled with ecstasy
ready this time —even the sun

broken in two and now
your light darkens half the sky
glows over my arms and the moon
that can't look away :this digging

has to stop! the tree can't hold on
—not all its shadow will survive
—these leaves will shatter, the sun
in bits onto the ground and the neighbors
say they can't sleep
are tired hearing about when I find you
and it's already almost morning.


Even on the bottom sand
no one's there to stop my fall
—the sun must know why
its needed rest will be its last

already pulling back
shaking its head no, sideways
then no, all the while downward

—must hear my heart
whose constant sparks :each wave
leads the other back, by night
two more tides
falling through the world

—must know why its light stays warm
leaning against a great wall :the sea
almost ashore, a boat suddenly
tied to the dock, the man
tracing on a name, the woman
and sandbars no one's noticed before.


You whisper as if this dirt
weighs nothing and underneath
the way darkness sifts for rain

once the Earth moves alongside
fondles each footstep
that is not evening

—in your low voice
an ancient sky is brought to life
as still more stars

holding on to one another
unable to crawl between
these two small stones kept together

for this hillside against your shoulder
and helpless to lift your face
in the same breath.


As if this dirt still childlike
was something new in the world
not yet the powerful side to side

and you could walk slowly uphill
the way each breeze is cradled asleep
—you wrap these stones with a mask

that is not a grave —closer and closer
they follow behind one another
tugging you somewhere that weighs

nothing —you don't plant anymore
though your arms move softly
as you wait for the stones

and whatever they can still lift
—every Spring is filled with dirt
and one hand already hillside

—even now you open your arms
and the emptiness, by instinct, sways
with her footsteps facing the others.


Though there's no boat the rain
waits among the waves
the way every bridge faces the ocean

then leaps into rock once water
used to tides and the stench
from a small stone wearing out

smoldering, half cinders, half
as if it was bathing her cheeks
over and over in this shallow path

remembered only as your shadow
holding down a single splash
—nothing drifts off, all these years

heading nearer to the bottom, sifting
beneath her lips for coastline
for seabirds then arms and feet and kisses.


Before there was an evening one arm
was already at home as that nightfall
these headstones count on for balance

grasp at the small weight you drop inside
from habit, still splash though oceans
formed this way before —these slabs

are used to it, leaning against the wind
half marble, half that survive
as another hillside glistening on your arm

kept damp though there's no moon —nothing
will dry all those years falling behind
in a small sea that won't let go.


This twig could just as easily
be a hurricane, drained then swept away
though it must sense downhill

with dying wood —what you collect
you steady between two fingers
already sunlight and ashes

and any second now
this scrap left for dead
will split in half and disbelief

—a random snap
as if you had forgotten
to count backwards, not sure
once you reach the emptiness

it will still answer, tell you
how to follow behind
well after well, filled

with passageways and slowly
you take up the slack, the unfit
the shaky wearing out in a circle

half sunlight, half chasing off
the cold broken open, infected
with fires that never recover.


It's 3 o'clock though this table
can't take it anymore, marooned
with nothing on it except a bowl

half wood, cold and the lace
that no longer covers the window
—you mop and with one hand

grasp the other, clear a place
for the sea beneath and daylight
floating past, kept empty for shells

broken open as landfall and cobblestones
—all night and the splashing
that comes forward, unable to stop

the bleeding or open your hand
to let go where the floor ices over
where it widens exhausted, still thirsty.

The HyperTexts