Thursday, January 26, 2023

Charles Simic (#poem)


Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.


The well-lit,
All-night drugstore
In the sky
Open for business

Something, please,
To ease my fear
Of the dark.

She, not looking up,
Into a vial

Drop after drop
Of that clear
Odorless drug,
They call infinity.

Further Adventures of Charles Simic

Is our Charles Simic afraid of death?
Yes, Charles Simic is afraid of death.

Does he kneel and pray for eternal life?
No, he's busy drawing a valentine with a crayon.

Pale as a freshly chopped onion,
He goes over the wrongs he committed.

His conscience, does it bother him much?
Only when he lies down to get a night's rest.

The hellfires, does he feel them closing in?
No, but he hears the hounds barking.

Does he lift his eyes humbly in forgiveness?
Her love was his judge, her wrath the jury.

Some dark night, praying to the Lord above,
His own tongue will slash his throat.

-Charles Simic

After Charles Simic passed away a couple of weeks ago (Jan. 9), I pulled the book off the shelf and have been making my way through it again. These are a couple that caught my eye on this rereading. (I haven't yet finished it.)

Simic (1938-2023) was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and moved to the U.S. as a teenager in in 1954. He won a Pulitzer for poetry as well as various other awards, and was made the U.S. poet laureate in 2007. (A two-year term, I think, at that point.) 

'Watermelons' is from his book Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk. (1974)
'Venus' is from They Forage at Night. (1980)
'Further Adventures of Charles Simic' is from Biography and a Lament. (1976)


  1. Coming to English after a childhood rich in another language---I like that in a poet. I have two of Simic's poems in my collection: "Stone" and "Classic Ballroom Dances."

    1. It is pretty astonishing that he only came to English as a teenager.

  2. Well, the poems are certainly unique, you can say that for them. I hadn't heard of him but I'm glad I've now read a few of his poems.

    I like your little shelf-guy, BTW!

    1. My mom made that for me years ago, but after I'd lost interest in stuffed animals--which is why he's in such good shape...

  3. I really love Venus. Thanks for sharing these poems. :D