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  • Ana Savković

Simon Perchik: The Earth Will Never Leave You/And Everything Hurts

"even in the daytime. No. The Earth will never leave you"

"The most widely published unknown poet in America", as he has been described by Library Journal , Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. In his most recent collection The Family of Man Poems, published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2021.(, Perchik's dense, difficult-to-decipher poetry takes center stage and captures the reader's attention from the very beginning.

"—I must have been once a stone: a patch still trying to muffle the Earth's first bone"

Earth, stones, the sun, stars... These are just some of the "cornerstones" Perchik uses to construct his poems. They shape his inner world and capture his imagination as he weaves them through his poems. "Cornerstones" that hold together the walls that he carefully builds around his poems, making them unpierceable. The truth about the nature of existence that the poet possesses is hidden behind these walls made of words. He will not give it up easily. So he buries it, along with his own vulnerability, in his cryptic poems, but it breaks through anyway, carving itself in the reader's mind.

"—I have so many hearts and yet my watch does all the work keeps records, does the dreaming"

Sometimes Perchik is speaking to a specific subject, and his heart, that he "learned to hide" so well, is on display, but the poet doesn't mind bearing his soul from time to time, which becomes more visible as the collection progresses. It is as if he is gathering more and more courage as he goes on, more strength to expose his feelings.

"—we learn to hide the heart

quietly, early: a small cloud

that never rises, carries its storm"

His poetry is at times deeply melancholic, filled with bittersweet memories, and it looks as if the poet is contemplating his whole life on these pages, looking back and reevaluating. And the people that passed through it, are now passing through his poems, leaving their mark on the paper, just as they did in his life.

"Nothing will return. Even your room

where birds would drink

and the name on the doorbell drinking too

and your street ***

I've already forgotten your room

and the huge key turning softly

forgotten your bed, your kisses

and water is water again."

Can a poet successfully convey his hard-earned wisdom in only one poem? It seems so, because Perchik does exactly that in the poem below. He generously passes on his knowledge to his fellow writers, telling them it is okay to be afraid and not know what they are doing, because eventually they will find their way, just as he did. They just have to continue writing.

"This pen clinging to my hand

is frightened —in small doses

even a stone emits an invisible ray

slowly devours its predators

—who would suspect something so old

still wants to survive


—your hand too will ache

cautiously holding this page

and the paper spread through your body

through the withered shallows

just learning to weep —you try to save yourself writing at night, all night"

It can be said that the following poem is the strongest, most uncompromising one in the whole collection. Because in this one Perchik breaks his own rules, and speaks openly, honestly and without hesitation, and it resonates with the reader completely.

Nothing enters painlessly, the Earth

chucks up our hubcaps, puddles, rust

as mothers long ago learned

—we are taught to kiss

with our mouth closed, to hear

their dark, bent

and the creak we cannot see

unrolls the Earth

the crushed lullabies, mufflers

and evenings

—I'm hauling this sun

back into the ground

into an ocean never heard before

—carting a light that wouldn't wait

whose first breath came from this dark

and the last, half asleep, again

carried down in my arms.

"Everything hurts", this is the simple truth, this is the hard truth. Perchik lives with it the best way he can, and his poetry stands as a testament to his pain, to his experiences on "Earth which will never leave him", nor will he leave it, existing forever in his poems. And so the poet is given the gift of eternal life, because he found the key to immortality; words written down and passed on to future generations.

"—if I closed my eyes your eyes

could be darker, could see

the loneliness taking shape

winding around itself: the nights

tighter and tighter till even your arms

and nothing hurts. And you watch

and everything hurts..."


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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