Two Poems

Charles Simic

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.

To marry wisdom to foolishness
Has been my lifelong desire
Since I take pleasure in both their company
And attend to their counsel.
A blessing from my parents
Who alternated bickering
And swearing love for each other.

These thoughts and others came to me
While I slept in my bed,
And, for all I know, may have been whispered
Into my ear by the black cat
Who keeps a nightly vigil by my side,
So mice don’t nibble my toes
Or take shortcuts over my pillow.

Things Need Me

City of poorly loved chairs, bedroom slippers, frying pans,
I’m rushing back to you
Passing every car on the highway,
Searching for you with my bright headlights
Down the dark, empty streets.

O you heartless people who can’t wait
To go to the beach tomorrow morning,
What about the black and white photo of your grandparents
You are abandoning?
What about the mirrors, the potted plants and the coathangers.

Dead alarm clock, empty bird cage, piano I never play,
I’ll be your waiter tonight
Ready to take your order,
And you’ll be my mysterious dinner guests,
Each one with a story to tell.