The Reflection in a Glass Eye Poems by Simon Perchik

Candle-Ends: Reviews
Shelley Carpenter


The Reflection in a Glass Eye Poems by Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik has been named the most prolific unpublished poet in America in numerous interviews and reviews.This phrase alone made me pause and wonder when I opened his book of poems, The Reflection in a Glass Eye Poems (Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020).

Indeed, it was a pleasure to learn about this amazing poet and the volume of his work, which is astounding. His poems are evocative, conversational, and full of abstraction. The duality of Perchik being an attorney by trade and poet by inspiration is a very interesting juxtaposition to draw from. In his essay, “Magic, Illusion, and Other Realities,” Si writes, “As an attorney, I was trained to reconcile disparate views, to do exactly what a metaphor does for a living.”

The collection takes its name from another similarly named prominent book: Reflections in a Glass Eye, a photographic collection by the International Center of Photography (Bullfinch Press, Little, Brown and Company, 1999). In addition, other texts such as Science News Magazine and a borrowed collection of mythology contributed to the atmosphere and inspiration behind Si’s work. Interestingly, Si has openly shared his process in numerous interviews and articles. Apparently, he tackles his poems the way he would attack a legal case, working all the abstract angles until they are rectified into a solution or in this case, a poem.

Si states, “The idea for the poem evolves when an idea from a photograph is confronted with an obviously unrelated, disparate idea from a text (mythology or science) till the two conflicting ideas are reconciled as a totally new, surprising and workable one.” (“Magic”).

As with many of his poetry collections, The Reflection in a Glass Eye Poems were created with images. One-hundred-eighty poems Si wrote using his unique creative process coupled with specific imagery that invites the reader to imagine not only the landscape of Si’s imagination and inspiration, but also to discover personal meaning from it. How could they not? The poems are an invitation to explore, to wander and wonder about big things and small moments not just in the poet’s mind or world but, I soon discovered, in my own existence as well. The longing and grace in his poems transcend the pages. Si’s collection is generous.

The first poem took my breath away. I felt like a voyeur eavesdropping on a very intimate, one-sided whispered graveyard conversation between separated lovers. I was intrigued and wanted to know more. It was a feeling that continued and intensified with each poem.

You are quieted the way this dirt
no longer steps forward
is slipping through as silence

though there’s no other side
only these few gravestones
trying to piece the Earth together

where the flower between your lips
is heated for the afternoon
not yet the small stones

falling into your mouth
as bitter phrases broken apart
to say out loud the word

for eating alone: a name
curled up inside and pulls you
under the lettering and your finger. (1)

The poems are related and flow like little streams traversing through Si’s collection, widening and narrowing, revealing and disappearing underground and emerging again, somewhere else. Where one ends, the next picks up and the reader travels along… They are written from a curious second-person point of view as the speaker seemingly addresses a nameless person or entity in an poignant earthy elegy of time, space, and transformation. Perhaps, to someone, or something that has taken on a new form, tangible or intangible. Oddly, sometimes as I read (aloud) I felt as if the speaker stopped and turned to me, the reader, addressing me directly. Other times I felt the “you” was the poet, himself.

Every love note counts on it, the winter
racing some creek till it melts
becomes airborne, carries off the Earth

the way every word you write
presses one hand closer to the other
—it’s an ancient gesture, learned

by turning the pen into light
as if every fire owes something to the sun
covers the page with on the way up

making small corrections, commas
asking for forgiveness as waterfalls
burning to the ground. (84)

The poems left me with many emotions: typically thoughtful, sometimes comforted, joyful even, and other times plain old bewildered. Each one was an unexpected journey and I was enchanted. I didn’t want them to end even though I was curious where they would eventually take me, each one becoming my new favorite before I turned the page.

Though this leaf was a child
when it let go your hand the branch
took a little longer, was weakened

by its over and over reaching out
while the tree no longer moved
—a heart was being carved

urging it on with your initials, short
for kisses, kisses and the afternoons
that have no light left to offer. (39)

Simon Perchik creates an existential ecstasy of living with longing; his soulful poems echo a deep humanity and a wanderlust for life and love here on earth.

Side by side a planet that has no star
you wander for years
which means remorse has taken hold (136)

*

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 Weston Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website. To view one of his interviews please follow this link.

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Shelley Carpenter is TC’s Reviews Editor. Email: reviews[at]toasted-cheese.com

“Every meal begins with your hands”

Poetry
Simon Perchik


Photo Credit: Jonas Tana/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Every meal begins with your hands
dry and around your forehead
squeezes into its hiding place

—in such a darkness both shoulders
slump forward till they hear
the tablecloth pulled closer

fed air and a shirt collar
left open, waiting to lie down
where a plate should be —it’s the sound

your fingers make when drop by drop
a makeshift lake is pieced together
from a missing vase —wherever you eat

it’s night, still wet, bending over
and hand to hand breathe in the smoke
from a chair no longer there

—you eat from a chimney, reach up
with your eyes covered by a bedsheet
still warm from roses and ash.

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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 Reflection in a Glass Eye published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website. To view one of his interviews please follow this link. Email: simon[at]hamptons.com

Five Poems

Poetry
Simon Perchik


Photo Credit: Brian Goodwin/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

*

These gravestones left stranded
warped from sunrises and drift
—they need paint, tides, a hull

that goes mouth to mouth
the way seagulls come by
just to nest and preen

though death is not like that
it likes to stand and lean
scattering its brilliant feathers

—look up when you open the can
let it wobble, flow into you
till wave after powerful wave

circles as face to face
and your own loses itself
already beginning to harden.

 

*

You need more, two sinks
stretching out as constant handfuls
though each arm is lowered

by the darkness you keep at the bottom
—a single cup suddenly harmless
not moving—this rattle you hear

is every child’s first toy
already filled with side to side
that’s not the sound a small stone makes

trying to let go the other, stake out
a cry all its own, fill it
on your forehead without her.

 

*

You collect grass the way each star
Eats from your hand, trusts you
To become a nest for the afternoons

Not yet at home in the air, named for nights
That circle down, want to be night again
Take root in your chest as the ripples

From the long stone fallen into the water
Teaching it to darken, to stay
Then smell from dirt then shadows

—side by side you dead pull the ground closer
—with both arms need these whispers warm
already the place to ask about you.

 

*

And though this stone is small
it has more than the usual interest
in the dead, waits among tall grasses

and water holes, smells the way dirt
still warms the afternoons
that no longer have a place to stay

—you leave a nothing in the open
letting it darken to remember
where you buried the Earth

as if the sun could not be trusted
to take back in its light
and by yourself turn away.

 

*

You read out loud the way this bed
listens for the makeshift seam
loosening each night down the middle

and though there is no sun
you peel off page after page
as if underneath what you hear

are her eyes closing—word by word
louder and louder—you think it’s air
that’s falling—everything in your hands

is too heavy, becomes a shadow, covers her
with a single finger pointed at the ceiling light
what’s no where on the pillow or closer.

pencilSimon 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 Osiris Poems published by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website. Email: simon[at]hamptons.com