Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 53, April-June 2014
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
5 Poems
by Simon Perchik
Followed by Q&A

With each handful you dead
breathe in, nourished by dirt
by these leaves half stone

half come to a stop –without a breeze
your mouth smells from some quarry
that has no past –you are fed

among flowers and slowly behind
go on eating, adored, immense
seething with mountains

no longer outside, creaking
or far away another bedside
fragrant with lips and whispers.

It’s this thin envelope, empty, closed
gasping for air though your knuckles
are still flickering –what you hold

was never mailed, lets you rest
read the address over and over
just to move it further off

away from this boiling mountainside
ripping apart, flowing down your arm
with nothing left and cools –these days

you don’t lick the glue –in all directions
your mouth is her name, alone
coming back as ashes and snow.

You count with your throat
drink from waiting lists
as if these stones are nourished

end over end –test their glow
for hidden sores and darkness
that want to circle back

touch you on the neck
the way shores pass each other
cleared for water and closer

poured slow –keep score
let you seal their thirst
filled with dirt and the need

to sip –you carry a small spoon
just to stir and step by step
pointing out ribbons, braids.

There is skin even the sky
seeps through –both arms
weighted down though you

are flying through dirt
and under this faucet
hear it clouding over

already hillside and grass 
–you listen for water
broken apart by the handfuls

making room, falling behind
in streams not yet the gravel
covering your forehead

as if this water itself
was still in pain, chased
and the soap too heavy.

Except for the new suit
the boy in the photograph
is starting to wave again

though you dust its frame
half sweetened wood, half
no longer exhausted

drawing sap and the rag damp
from brooding –you spray
then wipe, ready this wall

the way each small stone
is rinsed side to side as the river
that carries off one shore

the other each year heavier
holding you from behind
screeching across, wet with saliva

with nothing in writing
or a button you can open
for its scent and mist.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, 
The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at


Q: If you could create a soundtrack for your poem(s), what would it be? 
A: Something from Mahler’s songs.

Q: You have written, “As an attorney I was trained to reconcile disparate views, to do exactly what a metaphor does for a living.” Are we in danger of losing the appreciation for metaphor in a society racing toward the visual image over the word? 
A: I doubt it. Unexpected connections are needed and provided in literature. It’s always been that way.

Q: What did you collect as a child—rocks, insects, stamps?—and why? 
A: Stamps. Not sure why.

Q: Discuss your process as a poet, what sparks a poem and how you work it through to completion (or abandonment.) 
A: Never abandonment. What sparks a poem is when if confront a photograph, describe its images and ideas page after page. Then I read something on myth or science and when I come across something exciting (like a child born by two mothers, or speed of light slowing down) I then ask myself what has the photo to do with the myth or science. It’s a brutal way to work but I stay with it, sometimes 50, 80 pages of drafts, until the two have everything in the world to do with each other. Incidentally, I gave an interview for the local TV station that’s now on Youtube. (The lighting was off, I’m not that bald and wrinkles)