“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Charles Simic


Someone catching sight
Of his reflection in a store window
Impersonating a person
With blood and guts
Fleeing from someone,
Yet afraid to take a closer look
At that one in pursuit
With no more substance
Than a ghost picture
On a black and white TV
In his dead parent’s bedroom,
With the station long off the air.




One sucker still left
In that dive across the street.
The woman sitting
In his lap topless,
Her smile frozen
Eyeing the one on stage
Stroking her crotch
And gasping for air
As if drowning in live mud.
The hell-like metropolis
Emptying at this hour.
Flies changing places
On a corpse, or so they say.




Unknown bird, you shrieked
Once, then twice more,
As if a knife slit your throat
In one of the huge oak trees
At the far end of the lawn.

It made the child in his mother’s arms
Stir restlessly in his sleep.
Earlier there’d been talk of war
And of the weather we are having,
When darkness came suddenly,

Blurring our faces in the yard
With what stayed unspoken
In the deepening silence.
A lake of blood still visible,
Where the sun had gone down.




Slinky black dress
On a wire hanger
In an empty closet
Its doors slid open

To catch the draft
From an open window
And make it dance
As in a deep trance

The empty hangers
Clicking in unison
Like knitting needles
Or disproving tongues

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Charles Simic received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn’t End, and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. Read more