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Poetry by
Simon Perchik

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Music by Paul Gibbons
Art by Irina Botea

*
Art by Irina BoteaBefore you even saw a lake
or a river or an ocean
or lifted half asleep
with stars washing over you

--hours old and already you hear
the nights left over from the Flood
and in the distance one wave
waiting for more darkness

as if it had a twin somewhere
--your first bath --by instinct
another minutes later, an overflowing
the way each tide

never forgets the other
--two baths and after those
nothing matters, though all your life
you wait for just a trace

some splash you almost believe
you heard before --just born
and the warm hands under you
reaching out from the soft waves

--before you ever saw water
you learned to cry --a natural! bathed
and the night beginning to recede
to feel its damp sand creak

against what must have been the Ark
or the sun or your cradle breaking apart
under these stuffed animals
--a single dove clinging to the rail
and the first morning.

 

*
Again the sky rubbing against my legs
the way a dog closes its eyes
--I wade toward a place

that has your hairline, your nose
lips the same--tonight's no different
although these stars once side by side

behind their invisible starting line
--a few already clustered in the lead
some last and between I walk

from Gemini to Sirius to Orion
--all 14 miles by myself
and in my hands an empty glass

that magnifies the sky --I still look
for clues, for the ankles, the yes or no
as if the night has already forgotten

what is dead, what isn't, what
is hiding in the step by step
across an old footprint that might be there

might still be wandering and its bark
try once more for distance
the way a timekeeper's pistol is grasped

held up, but the stars
slip from under, drowning before my eyes
--the sun still alone, coming back

with yesterday, today, tomorrow
with the closed windows and the streets
left out too long.

 

*
Art by Irina BoteaThe same Krupp? this coffee mill
arm and neck
on orders and German engineering
and now each morning
the way marrow darkens
fresh ground from smoke and seawater

--who can drink from such a place
can touch this switch as if the trains
would stop, back up without expecting clouds
that have my nose, my eyes, my lips
sit down at the table, ask what's new.

The clerk in back the counter
is next, wants me to know
these playful mills are made
only black or white
photographer unknown
exhibit at Nuremberg trial
--talks from behind some valve
he's opening, sticks a little --a few
seconds
is all it takes --I can't make out the words

--even at home, hour after hour
I listen to its motor --no water, no beans
just the blades over and over
like a plane trying to get it right.

 

*
They're eggs nobody wants :snow
all day falling from their nest
and these waves broken in half

--it's so long since I sang
--I forgot how a word, one
then another, another and I am flying
taking hold a mountain, somehow the top
then stars --even the drowned

will rise to the surface
looking for air and the cold
--all winter this sea kept warm
--some bomber ditched, its engines left on
--four small furnaces and still forging
wings
from bottom sand, shaped the way each wave
still lifts the Earth, then tries again

--each year the sea made warmer
by those same fires every mother
nurses with soft words :this snow
growing strong, already senses
the flight back as lullabies --my mouth

can't close, a monster eating snow, my lips
swollen from water and cold and loneliness
--someone inside my belly
has forgotten the word I need to say
or sing or both my arms into the sea
feeding and feeding and feeding.

 

*
Not until these stars began to cluster
did the first heart stir --even now
the sky rising and falling
brushing against just my finger.
I almost start a fire, almost not.

To point has always been dangerous
--even the firing squad needs protection
and I cover your eyes
--already one star stopped moving
no longer passes through your heart
falling from one place another
backwards into how far everything is,

the glove is useless, not yet wet
or cold or the morning whose light
was once a seed deep inside the Earth
--one finger still remembers the North Star
the exact distance and from your eyes
their vague breeze still climbing
taking the stone away from your stone
till nothing is left but the darkness
that used to be the sky on fire

--more than ever now
I walk at night as if I could
with just a simple touch
and from your heart a great morning
--all these stars --in a pack
and from my hand the sun
lifting you into mountains, wolves, flesh.

It takes time. Winters.
And the glove I left for you
somehow is blowing away.
They take so much time.

 

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Simon PerchikSimon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Rafts (Parsifal Editions) is his most recent collection. For more information, including his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website.

 

 

Irina BoteaIrina Botea is a visual artist, whose works combine cinema verite and direct cinema with reenactment strategies, auditions and rehearsals. Solo and group shows include: National Gallery Jeu de Paume (Paris), Reina Sofia National Museum (Madrid), Gwangju Biennale 2010, U -Turn Quadrienale (Copenhagen), 51st Venice Bienale, Prague Bienale, Kunst-Werken, (Berlin), Casa Encendida (Madrid), Salzburger Kunstverein, (Austria), Argos Center for Art and Media (Brussels), Artefact festival (Leuven), Rotterdam Film Festival, HMKV Halle(Dortmund), Casino de Luxembourg, Kunstforum, (Viena), Foksal Gallery (Warsaw, Poland), MNAC (National Museum of Contemporary Art (Bucharest), Museum of Contemporary Art in Szczecin (Poland), Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowki Castle (Warsaw).

 

Paul GibbonsPaul Gibbons writes both music and poetry and teaches writing at the University of California at Merced. He is currently in Reason and Horses, a band of professors who are also all writers.

 

 

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