You limp the way a stream
will soothe a single rock
and along the bottom
remembers this path
as darkness and dry leaves
though you don’t look down
–you hear it’s raining :the hush
not right now but at night
these cinders float to the surface
keep one foot swollen, the other
has so little and for a long time now
the listening in secret.
The alarm went off and we found that the world
hadn’t ended, that all the ramblings of the church elders
weren’t true. My husband sighed and rolled out of bed
found there were only dirty clothes left for him to wear
sighed again, dressed, went to work.
I could hear birds chirping in the yard
a squirrel on the roof, cars
passing on the road out front.
I held onto my dreams of apocalypse
for a few moments longer, savoring visions
of the angels, the devastation
that could still be waiting just outside the door.
when I was pregnant, all of my dreams
were about snakes. as much as I tried
to dream only about baby kittens, baby puppies
human babies, my nights would be filled
with twisting pythons gathered in knots
inside me, their slick skin undulating
in the dark, pushing and bumping as if
trying to find a way out.
friends without children would ask me
what it was like to be pregnant and I’d
have to lie. I was so worried that
imagining the baby inside me was a coiled serpent
in my stomach
meant that I was already a bad mother
meant something was wrong with my baby.
“It’s like being a butterfly house, ” I’d say instead.
“I’m all full of fluttering butterflies.” I’d put his or her hand
on my straining stomach as I spoke, whispering
“Can you feel them move? Can you feel it?
Isn’t it wonderful?”
We wait for the bombs to feel us out
pass the potatoes, say grace over the odd angels
that have watched over us for years
through the stained-glass windows of old churches
through the eyes of Orthodox iconography. This is a moment of peace
that will never come again.
Through the windows, the strength of distant concussions
fold trees in half, take grain silos and snap power lines.
We turn up the gas, clear the dinner table
I put a knife in your hand, just in case.
The sky grows as dark as if seen through closed eyes
windows shake and fly apart. Hands
over their eyes, I stretch out next to the children
tell them it’s just the sound of His voice, there’s nothing
to be afraid of, it’ll all work out in the end.
the soldiers didn’t seem to care
that the hotel we were staying in
was haunted. they didn’t seem even a little interested
when we told them chairs were moving all by themselves
that we could hear voices whispering in the bathroom pipes
that the clocks had all stopped exactly at midnight.
the people in the streets outside
didn’t seem to care either, seemed more concerned with
pushing back against the soldiers, standing ground
in front of their own crumbling, possibly haunted hovels
seemed more annoyed than anything when we
said we needed to find another place to stay.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).
Another Failed LDR
I taste him in your mouth, his name stretched
past three syllables on your frosted tongue.
Combination of lime & taffy dreams. Lipstick
on your teeth like perfumed blood. Kiss goodbye
blotted on the bathroom mirror. You hold
phones in place of babies & beaus. Condensed
love pressed to your ear like a conch shell.
It isn’t waves you long to hear, anymore
but merry message-chimes. Acronyms
absorbed into your workday. I’m shocked I hear
him in your voice, your disconnected overage,
the lack of hang-ups as you brush my gums
in your need to feel something IRL.
We all sound the same in text form. You won’t
even have to close your eyes & pretend.
I’m learning how to be mentally present
such that I’m more likely to hear random things
I don’t know I want to know yet
What you open leans against wood
that is not a door you can muffle
put your arm around the only sound
when you knock on this kitchen table
whose corners were broken off
straight down, still lit, letting you in
circle her mouth not yet the room
left over and listen for the smoke
around the hush from small fires.
Just died and its rain
is already snow, comforts
the obituary page
with moonlight pieces
slowly circling down
as that star-shaped lullaby
small stones still look for
–it’s this morning’s
though over your head the deaths
are hidden in silence
begging for water
that doesn’t break apart
the way each sky
is hollowed out for another
–you make a sea
for these dead, each name
a boat, sails, the spray
midair and out loud.
This tree abandoned at last
flows past as ravines and riverbeds
and can’t fall any more
–it’s used to dirt and those initials
you carried along inch by inch
not in some stone letting you stop
for water –you were buried
in the afternoon, late so the light
could close the lid with leftover kisses
become an ocean, still burning
and between each wave the glint
from a clear silence you took for yes.
To survive you disguise each log
as the aromatic sun the mornings
can’t resist –even when naked
you hide some kindling close by
let it give birth in the smoke
that leaves with nothing, becomes
the emptiness though your eyes
never look up or warm –a fire
is feeling its way to your mouth
with lullabies and the small stone
falling asleep on the stove
–you feed it wood as if your lips
still smell from milk and salt
–an ancient, gentle art now lost
somewhere in those nightmares
set off by an empty dress
and along your forehead the light
begins to melt, wants to stay, keep going.
Even these weeds panic
circle around your fingertips
as if the stream they fasten on
knows only one direction –the dead
still fold their arms, dare you
to raise your hand, ask for salt
clear the ground before the no! no!
stops and in the silence makes room
for flowers and your mouth
sweetened by the warm breath
it still remembers as sunlight
struggling and the pull up! pull up!
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, 2019. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.
To view one of his interviews please follow this linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK774rtfx8
Eyes like ripening fruit, an image
Enters, plunges into heart and is gone.
Gather the emptiness in your arms
Until they overflow. Trap the voices
In resin, melt it so they flutter away
Out of order—aimless moths.
Conjuring is the spitting out of words.
These are only words. Let them in.