Mudlark Poster No. 16 (1999)

Simon Perchik

Your white shirt too white, its buttons
Like a warden at the evening meal

Simon Perchik's poems have appeared everywhere: in "big" magazines such as American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, Partisan Review, and Poetry, for example; and from "small" presses. Among others, the Elizabeth, Scarecrow, White Pine, and Dusty Dog presses have published his books over the years. Pavement Saw Press will release Hands Collected: The Books of Simon Perchik in Fall 1999. Perchik lives in East Hampton, Long Island.

Your white shirt too white, its buttons

Your white shirt too white, its buttons
side by side as fighter pilots
still pin flags along the fuselage
in cemetery rows

too tight. The vapor trails
come out blue --how could you know
a color would hold like a nail

--never worn before, its sleeves
streaked, already sharp, the air
afraid to move, your hand
seems smaller than when you left.

How many years is it since your arms
opened out to stir this room?
Even the rain seems thinner
and hardly makes it down.

It does no good to undress
tossed over a chair
as if it could bail out in time
the leaves still hanging from its leg.

You'd walk the same, always
to a window, the shade held close
fluttering, tries to fly
--don't cover yourself.

It never will get dark
with this shirt in the room.
No. Don't ask for any money back.

Besides, everyone in the store
will remember you and the receipt
lose its meaning again.

Like a warden at the evening meal

Like a warden at the evening meal
I body count :these stars
have something to hide --only at night
my phonograph again that Angel Eyes
as the maze engraved in a tire
filters each nail till the sting
circles higher and higher, ropes dangling.

All these knots. The set
healing on my floor, trussed
taped, glued, its top caked open
--what's to escape :that song
is on its third engine.

I'm used to my room going black
spin blind as if the fuse
blew itself up taking the sky with it
and I count without looking up one
then wait. It takes a while
but at least who else, what else
how else one is there. I never reach two.

The sun plunges once its black hood
is untied and light everywhere broken
--my Angel Eyes, Angel Eyes, Angel Eyes
reeling, snarled :its treads worn down
to almost a whisper.
I can't even see the pieces.

Escape from what!
The claw I thought would puncture
licks the wound, singing, singing :Angel Eyes
prefers this blindness --even I
wait in the trenches, in the cliffs
falling from her mouth, from the sky
not yet worn through from the cone
coiling tighter and tighter above its prey

--its road is on a map
on a song dead weight :the stillness
steadied by something hid, that outnumbers
her voice, one and Angel Eyes.

Copyright © Mudlark 1999
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