Three Poems

Charles Simic

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.

The prisoner opens the thick dictionary
     lying on his knees.

The floor is cold and his feet are bare.

A chew-toy of the gods, is that him?

                        *

Do you stare at a black window

As if it were a photo of your unsmiling parents?

Are you homesick for the house of cards?

The sad late night cough, is it yours?

Vacant Rooms

Unused to the sound of a voice.
Emptied and swept clean,
Their windows like eye glasses
Raised to the light
With no one squinting behind them.

Windows spattered with drops of rain
Which take turns listening
To each other fall intermittently
As they go around collecting memories
That do not belong to them,

In a room darkening with shadows
That appear lost, digging deeper
In their pockets for the address
And finding only more shadow,
More silence smudging like ink.

Starless evening: a lamp lit below
By someone as secluded as you,
Who taps her forehead
On the window pane, visibly troubled
As if overtaken by vertigo.

There’s no likelihood she suspects
You are spying on her,
So how is it that she looks up
Now and then and remains looking
At the rows of black windows

As if there were sunset fires
Smoldering in one of them,
Night birds flying to and fro,
A white cat pausing on the parapet,
Its tail a question-mark?

The Invisibles

A true detective story
In which a large black dog
Listens at a keyhole
In a room across the way.

Late in the day
Sunday kind of quiet.
Not much to think or say.
The dog still there.

Their window open wide
Despite the drops of rain.
Silent drops,
Blurring my window pane.