The McKinley Review Magazine

Five Poems

By: Simon Perchik | Posted on: Summer 2019




Step by step each morning

is everywhere at once, closing in

and though you count on it


you begin to bake instead

takes classes as if the sun

has room for another sun


and its crust at last break open

for air –after each funeral

you learn to make crumbs


–with just two fingers

held close the way the Earth

is emptied by a small stone


kept warm in your mouth

and once set out with you

closer to the ground.





And though the shoes are black

you add a glow to your lips

that opens by itself, spreads


the way a simple kiss

is scented with wood catching on

just once –this coffin


needs it dark, is closed

and the door to each room

gutted to find the evening


that came here to stay

to hear it from you

it was a fire, just a fire.




These sheep have no choice either

though even in summer

they still want to hear the truth


just by staring back at the grass

lifelike –it’s not for you

they hold power here, let go


nothing, not their fleece

not these sleeves, face to face

–you have no right to stand so close


as if a second sky would wave you past

make room, gather in the Earth

and lift :a small hillside


anything! to mourn –the dead

are here somewhere

not yet marble, not yet enough.





This path so like the others

doesn’t know where else to go

and for each funeral


you build another hallway

in another mountain, the palaces

filling with a great rockslide


though you’re never sure, the shovel

is bent from sunsets and distances

has hands already coming due


and what chance has the small room

this frail stone gives off

coming here to die.




The ground so slow to heal

has yellowed though the camera

injected a faint gloss


calmed the family and friends

still afraid to move the body

–not too close! Your cheek


could scare her off and the snapshot

tree and all, left empty

cared for by the sun alone


can’t get a hold :each evening

hides in front with the small lake

pressed against her forehead


that has nothing to warm

and though the frame is wood

you shake it the way leaves


once left in place tell you

here! among the kisses

with no time to lose.


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

To view one of his interviews please follow this link