by Simon Perchik

He says nothing like that
lends me his ladder, the trowel
and between the last two bricks
in the mortar as best I can
child-like birds almost flying off

—he will never say, the pot, it’s wood
chewing the water alive
that there’s so little room
and smoke is always filled with wings
before they harden

—he doesn’t say each brick now
will fatten only in the dark
or cover his right wrist
to imitate a worm—that the chimney
will shimmer, gnawing the dirt dry.

He holds only the ladder
as if it was the breeze creaking
and rung past rung the open porch
the old men almost remembering

—he already hears the nest
and he is frightened too, his grip
tighter than mine, than the tiny birds
that won’t let go

and you too know those cries.
They fly toward the dark
toward your throat and nothing you say
is heard or falls into your arms.

by Simon Perchik

As every midwife and the Earth is bent
this migrant worker grieves then firmly
first the head—the lettuce
has no arms, no legs, nothing but that cry
from dirt and leaves spreading out
as if they once were air
were lullabies and evening baths.

I lean closer though nothing sleeps
inside this huge, brown bag
with room for my arms
for these leaves reaching up
to name another child  

—the holes are for its eyes, the lips
and this mask as every cup is passed
in pain, made holy.

I hold this lettuce tighter than Medusa
still imagines the cleaver fixed in stone
or that her Pegasus
would never fly from such a wound

—from such a wound comes wandering
—field to field though he hears
forever and the crying.

by Simon Perchik

These combines even taxi in formation
—slipstreams towing the squadron back
without a loss except overhead one bird
lags, gave up battering the evening
and this barely ripe wheat  
—your bread is never again noisy.

You will forget how birds warm the air
and every Spring hatching into dawns
tall and flapping, fanning this harvest
wider than pistons synchronize
the blue-green smoke and walls still falling.

You will need my knife. It slides back
when cutting downward—a rhythm
not every blade—you will forget, mistake
this moving field for the horizon
and reach out, its looping edge
darker than crust tightening

as if somewhere in the English countryside
you are mowing this airfield over and over
striking the same stone: one raindrop
falling back, falling back and the sky
by evening, again and alone, touches down.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan
, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.  Family of Man (Pavement
Saw Press) and
Rafts (Parsifal Editions) are scheduled for publication
in 2007.  For more information about Perchik, including his essay “Magic,
Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his
website at

On the three poems:    
The short statement is I confront, with a contradictory idea or image,
the idea and image in a photograph and resolve the contradiction.  
The long statement can be found in the essay cited in the bio.  

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.