Runners train by it, both my fists
and at the finish line
snap open the way each new moon

still unbeaten uses this flourish
to poke inside these stones
--you can't hide much longer

and years mean nothing now
dropping back from exhaustion
dragging the dirt behind

--wherever you are I can find you
handful by handful broken apart
for just two fingers calling out

and in front the unyielding ribbon
suddenly dark I can snatch
the breath letting me through.

Look after this rock, it needs
your help, left on your headstone
where the sea has always come

for the stillness that lasts
though your hand never opens
as shoreline further and further out

--calm this child, let it nurse
and from your breast another hour
another sky --let it sleep

float up as mountainside
that is not a mouth
filled with that strange milk

all stone once was, what a heart
still does yet it will never remember you
or the empty cradle-song

half white-marble, half
breaking apart from want
--care for this flesh

that has your cheeks or perhaps
in the darkness it called you
by name without leaving.

Battered though its wings
disappear under your eyelids
and more smoke --this lever

lost its touch, wants out :rusts
the way this wall is kept in place
pulled down on all sides

by old wiring and wrong turns
--always one slice that can't be saved
though you wear gloves

yank the smoldering cord
so that still warm jacket
is torn open, lets the sun fall

as rain and later --this toaster
reeks from your head thrown back
to see if both eyes move

and the other slice the North Sea
pressing against your hand
for a little more time.

Though the sky comes to rest alongside
you can't tell just by a street sign
who the sidewalk is for--it does no good

looking around as if anyone wanted it
always raining --what you see now
is its descent held in your arms

as more rain and coming back with nothing
--she's not here, not there
--this walking you do, the way a grindstone

keeps wet and slippery
whose turns are no longer possible
--at least walk with an umbrella

that is not a flower --there's not enough
not in all the world enough flowers
that can walk by holding on to your hand

and the grave that you call to
is it what this rain does, too weak to stand
falling off as still more rain

--at least wear shoes! hide something
so when you let go a still dry stone
it will surprise her and more emptiness.

Without the crumpled map your shadow
fills and the cold breeze
you puff into both hands --you learn

to sail the way this yard
pulls your mouth wider and wider
--any morning now the sun

will fall exhausted, standing here
in the wind where nothing grows
except a shadow, first as far off

then empty, lost, sent down
as if your lips would remember
its name, its sky, its faded Spring.

You can tell this sink lost interest
though hour after hour you hum
another love song --it doesn't care

lets you shave, take over
half soap, half from that froth
--you are born already worried

and the mirror goes along :drain
is what mirrors do.
It's a little late for promises.

You promise you'll bring it flowers
that the sink will figure it out
--you say you'll stay all evening

the way one faucet is always rooted
in ice, arrives forever
and alongside carries away

the other and your face
helpless even now to flow
from your hands and bleeding.

    Simon Perchik 2011