Two Poems

Charles Simic

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.

First, the radio preacher lost his voice
Then our four tyres went flat.
The springs popped out of the upholstery
Like a nest of rattlesnakes,
As we tried to remain calm.
Later that night we heard giggles
Out of a junked hearse – then, not a peep
Till the day of the Resurrection.

Empty Barbershop

In pursuit of happiness, you may yet
Draw close to it momentarily
In one of these two leather-bound chairs
With the help of scissors and a comb,

Draped to the chin with a long white sheet,
While your head slips through
The invisible barber’s greasy fingers
Making your hair stand up straight,

While he presses the razor to your throat,
Causing your eyes to pop open
As you discern in the mirror before you
The full length of the empty barbershop

With two vacant chairs and past them
The street, commensurately empty,
Except for the pressed and blurred face
Of someone straining to look inside.

Used Clothing Store

A large stock of past lives
To rummage through
For the one that fits you,
Frayed at the collar,
Cleaned and newly pressed.

A dummy dressed in black
Is at the door to greet you.
His eyes are blue.
His moustache looks drawn
With the tip of a dead cigar.

He is surprised to see you.
Towers of pants are tilting,
As you turn to flee,
Towers of hats are falling –
And it’s like a wild cry
Muffled by a quick hand.