Two Poems

Charles Simic

Carrying On like a Crow

Are you authorised to speak
For these trees without leaves?
Are you able to explain
What the wind intends to do
With a man’s shirt and a woman’s nightgown
Left on the laundry line?
What do you know about dark clouds?
Ponds full of fallen leaves?
Old model cars rusting in a driveway?
Who gave you permission
To look at the beer can in a ditch?
The white cross by the side of the road?
The swing set in the widow’s yard?
Ask yourself, if words are enough,
Or if you’d be better off
Flapping your wings from tree to tree
And carrying on like a crow?


Set the knife and fork on your plate,
Here, where it’s always wartime,
It’s prudent to break bread unobserved,
To pour the wine out of the bottle
Watching its shadow leap on the wall.

Dusk, how your birds worry me.
I can hear them rejoicing in the trees
Oblivious of the trouble ahead.
The spider plants are more discreet
And so are your bare feet under the table.

Bloody flags flying at sunset.
Some general leading another army into the night
While you stir the thick honey
Into a dish of young walnuts,
And I wait my turn to lick the spoon.