Poem of the Week

The Week
by Charles Simic

Monday comes around with a new tattoo
It won’t show us and here’s Tuesday
Walking its latest nightmare on a leash
And Wednesday blind as the rain tapping
On a windowpane and Thursday sipping
Bad coffee served by a pretty waitress
And Friday lost in a confusion of sad
And happy faces and Saturday flashing
Like a pinball machine in the morgue
And Sunday with a head of crucified Christ
Hanging sideways in a bathroom mirror

(I’m happy to say my weekends are a lot better than Simic’s.)

Poem of the Week

In the Library
by Charles Simic

There’s a book called
A Dictionary of Angels.
No one had opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps

Her head tipped as if listening.

The books are whispering.

I hear nothing, but she does.

[categories poetry]

Poem of the Week

Cameo Appearance

by Charles Simic

I had a small, nonspeaking part
In a bloody epic. I was one of the
Bombed and fleeing humanity.
In the distance our great leader
Crowed like a rooster from a balcony,
Or was it a great actor
Impersonating our great leader?

That’s me there, I said to the kiddies.
I’m squeezed between the man
With two bandaged hands raised
And the old woman with her mouth open
As if she were showing us a tooth

That hurts badly. The hundred times
I rewound the tape, not once
Could they catch sight of me
In that huge gray crowd,
That was like any other gray crowd.

Trot off to bed, I said finally.
I know I was there. One take
Is all they had time for.
We ran, and the planes grazed our hair,
And then they were no more
As we stood dazed in the burning city,
But, of course, they didn’t film that.

Poem of the Week

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I really love Charles Simic‘s poetry. Here’s proof that poetry is not dead and not opaque, far from it.

I couldn’t find the photo he saw, but the slides above are all by Walker Evans.

HITCHHIKERS

by Charles Simic

After a Walker Evans photograph from the thirties

Hard times brought them out early
On this dreary stretch of road
Carrying a suitcase and a bedroll
With a frying pan tied to it,
The kind you use over a campfire
When a moss-covered log is your pillow.

He’s hopeful and she’s ashamed
To be asking a stranger to take them
Away from here in a cloud of flying
Gravel and dust, past leafless trees
With their snarled and pointy little twigs.
A man and a woman catching a ride
To where water tastes like cherry wine.

She’ll work as a maid or a waitress,
He’ll pump gas or rob banks.
They’ll buy a car as big as a hearse
To make their fast getaway,
Not forgetting to stop for you, mister,
If you are down on your luck yourself.