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Two Poems

Charles Simic, 4 March 2004

... In the Planetarium Never-yet-equalled, wide-screen blockbuster That grew more and more muddled After a spectacular opening shot. The pace, even for the most patient Killingly slow despite the promise Of a show-stopping, eye-popping ending: The sudden shrivelling of the whole To its teensy starting point, erasing all – Including this bag of popcorn we are sharing ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 2 October 1997

... The School for Visionaries The teacher sits with eyes closed. When you play chess alone, it’s always      your move. I’m in the last row with a firefly      in the palm of my hand. The girl with red braids, who saw the girl      with red braids?                               * Do you believe in something truer than truth? Do you prick your ears even when you know      damn well no one is coming? Does that explain the lines in your forehead? Your invisible friend, what happened to her?                         * The rushing wind stops to listen ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 22 February 2001

... Wooden Church It’s just a boarded-up shack with a tower Under the blazing summer sky On a back road seldom travelled Where the shadows of tall trees Graze peacefully like a row of gallows, And crows with no carrion in sight Caw to each other of better days. The congregation may still be at prayer. Farm folk from fly-specked photos Standing in rows with their heads bowed As if listening to your approaching steps ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 24 July 2003

... Description of a Lost Thing It never had a name, Nor do I remember how I found it. I carried it in my pocket Like a lost button Except it wasn’t a button. Vampire movies, All-night cafeterias, Dark bar-rooms And pool-halls, On rain-slicked streets. It led a quiet, unremarkable existence Like a shadow in a dream, An angel on a pin, And then I lost it ...

Two Poems

Charles Simic, 11 November 1999

... Past-Lives Therapy They explained to me the bloody bandages On the floor in the maternity ward in Rochester, NY, Cured the backache I acquired bowing to my old master, Made me stop putting thumbtacks around my bed. They showed me, instead, an officer on horseback, Waving a sabre next to a burning house, And a barefoot woman wearing only her slip, Hissing after him and calling him Lucifer ...

Two Poems

Charles Simic, 5 October 2000

... Car Graveyard This is where all our joy rides ended: Our fathers at the wheel, our mothers With picnic baskets on their knees As we sat in the back with our mouths open. We were driving straight into the sunrise. The country was flat. A city rose before us, Its windows burning with the setting sun That vanished as we quit the highway And rolled down a dusky meadow Strewn with beer cans and candy wrappers, Till we came to a stop beside an old Ford ...

Four Poems

Charles Simic, 27 April 2000

... No One in the Room And here I was asking About some child I saw on the street Carrying an Easter Lily. It was spring then. She came my way In a crowd of turned backs And emphatically Blank faces, With eyes of someone Who sees Through appearances – And she didn’t like What she saw in me. Was it alarm or pity? I always wanted to know. No hurry replying, I said to no one ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 23 August 2001

... The Late Game That sleepwalking waiter Carrying a tower of plates Is he coming to our table, Or is he going to walk right out of the door? He’s going to walk right out of the door. A baseball game is being played Under the lights In a small field across the road. It’s gone past midnight Because the score is tied, And now someone’s hungry In the near-empty bleachers, In the bushes where lovers make out, Or behind the row of metal sheds That serve as dressing rooms, Where young boys smoke reefers And take long pees in the dark ...

Two Poems

Charles Simic, 6 September 2007

... Department of Complaints Where you are destined to turn up Some dark winter day Walking up and down dead escalators Searching for someone to ask In this dusty old store Soon to close its doors for ever. At long last, finding the place, the desk Stacked high with sales slips, Concealing the face of the one You came to complain to About the coat on your back, Its frayed collar, the holes in its pockets ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 1 October 1998

... Firecracker Salesman I was drumming on my bald head with a pencil, Making a list of my sins. Well, not exactly. I was in bed smoking a cigar and reading In the Sunday papers about a Jesus-lookalike Who won a pie-eating contest in Texas. Is there some unsuspected dignity to this foolishness? I inquired of the large stain on the ceiling. Is someone about to slip a note under my door Summoning me urgently to a meeting Of indecipherable purpose and significance? Hell, I’m only a firecracker salesman of sorts ...

Four Poems

Charles Simic, 6 February 2003

... Everybody Had Lost Track of Time The wide open door of a church. The parked hearse with bald tyres. The grandmother on the sidewalk Leaning on a cane and cupping her ear. The lodger no one has ever seen Drawing her bath upstairs. The cat in the window That keeps an eye on things. An old man carrying a chair And a long rope in the backyard As if he meant to hang himself ...

Two Poems

Charles Simic, 10 June 2010

... The Marriage If I had an ounce of good sense I’d stay put in the country, Rising early to hear the birds And see the sun come up, Taking long walks after lunch, Stopping only to talk to a crow, Or a dog who happens by. The trouble is, I like to raise hell As much as I like sitting quietly Like a monk in his cell. A car careening with a screech, Carrying a party of revellers To another late-night dive in the city, Sends me into ecstasies ...

Three Poems

Charles Simic, 9 September 2010

... Migrating Birds If only I had a dog, these crows congregating In my yard would not hear the end of it. If only the mailman would stop by my mailbox, I’d stand in the road reading a letter So all you who went by could envy me. If only I had a car that ran well, I’d drive out to the beach one winter day And sit watching the waves Trying to hurt the big rocks Then scatter like mice after each try ...

Five Poems

Charles Simic, 16 November 2006

... The New Office Tower They tore down the seedy block Of small, poorly-lit shops With their dusty displays Of love bracelets, nose rings, Tarot cards and sticks of incense Where years ago I saw a young man With blood on his white shirt, Blow soap bubbles on the sidewalk, His face pinched and troubled Save when he filled his cheeks with air Aunt Dinah Sailed to China Bearded ancestors, what became of you? Have you gone and hid yourself In some cabin in the woods To listen to your whiskers grow in peace? Clergymen patting chin curtains, Soldiers with doorknockers, Sickly youths with goatees, Town drunks proud of their ducktails ...

Four Poems

Charles Simic, 22 February 1996

... The Preacher Says Regiments of the damned, halt! So, we turned to take a better look At the spread eagle on the sidewalk. There he was, hair combed over his eyes. Abominations, he called after us, Everything crummy and screwed up since Adam Is thanks to you! Let’s see you turn water into wine! Let’s see you get down on your knees and pray!      * You are nothing but a lightning bug The night flicks off its sleeve! An abandoned movie lot in the desert With its windows broken ...

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