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Tag Archives: United States Poet Laureate

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.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in American Lit, poetry

 

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From the Writer’s Almanac

On one of my favorite poets:

It’s the birthday of poet and essayist Charles Simic (books by this author), born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1938). His family survived the bombing of Belgrade during World War II and fled Eastern Europe after the war was over, moving first to New York, which Simic said “looked like painted sets at a sideshow in a carnival,” and then to Chicago, which he described as “a coffee-table edition of the Communist Manifesto, with glossy pictures of lakefront mansions and inner-city slums.” Eventually, the family wound up in Oak Park, Illinois, and Simic went to the same high school Ernest Hemingway had gone to. His first ambition was to be a painter; he didn’t start writing poetry until his last year of high school, publishing his first poems in 1959, when he was 21. Since that time he has published nearly three dozen books of poetry, many translations and works of prose, and served as the poet laureate of the United States.

Secret History

Of the light in my room:
Its mood swings,
Dark-morning glooms,
Summer ecstasies.

Spider on the wall,
Lamp burning late,
Shoes left by the bed,
I’m your humble scribe.

Dust balls, simple souls
Conferring in the corner.
The pearl earring she lost,
Still to be found.

Silence of falling snow,
Night vanishing without trace,
Only to return.
I’m your humble scribe.

In the Library

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has 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.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in American Lit, poetry, Writers' Almanac

 

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