naming chickens

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Don’t Name the Chickens
Charles Simic

Let them peck in the yard
As they please
Or walk over to stand
By the edge of the road.

The rooster strutting about
Will keep an eye on them,
Till it’s time for them
To step under a tree

And wait for the heat
To pass and the children
To return to their toys
Left lying in the dust.

For, come Sunday,
One of the chickens may lose its head 
And hang by its feet
From a peg in the barn.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

late-night inquiry

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Late-Night Inquiry
Charles Simic

Have you introduced yourself to yourself
The way a visitor at your door would?
Have you found a seat in your room
For every one of your wayward selves
To withdraw into their own thoughts
Or stare into space as if it were a mirror?
Do you have a match you can light
To make their shadows leap on the wall
Or float dream-like on the ceiling
The way leaves do on summer afternoons,
Before they take their bow and the curtain drops
As the match burns down to your fingertips?

 

Photo by Maik Garbade on Unsplash

dark night

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Dark Night
Charles Simic

Because life eternal is boring,

Angels play pinochle in heaven,

Devils play poker in hell.

You can hear the cards smack the table

In the dead of the night.

God’s playing a game of solitaire,

Satan playing one as well,

Except he cusses and cheats.

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

the lunatic

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The Lunatic
Charles Simic

The same snowflake
Kept falling out of the gray sky
All afternoon
Falling and falling
And picking itself up
Off the ground,
To fall again,
But now more surreptitiously,
More carefully
As night strolled over
To see what’s up

Photo by Raisa Milova on Unsplash

with one glance

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With One Glance
Charles Simic

That mirror understood everything about me
As I raised the razor to my face.
Oh, dear God!
What a pair of eyes it had!
The eyes that said to me:
Everything outside this moment is a lie.
*
As I looked out of the window today
At some trees in the yard,
A voice in my head whispered:
Aren’t they something?
Not one leaf among them stirring
In the heat of the afternoon.
Not one bird daring to peep
And make the hand of the clock move again.
*
Or how about the time when the stormTore down the power lines on our streetAnd I lit a match and caught a glimpseOf my face in the dark windowpane


With my mouth fallen open in surprise
At the sight of one tooth in front
Waiting like a butcher in his white apron
For a customer to walk through his door.
*
It made me think of the way a hand
About to fall asleep reaches out blindly
And suddenly closes over a fly,
And remains tightly closed,
Listening for a buzz in the room,
Then to the silence inside the fist
As if it held in it an undertaker
Taking a nap inside a new coffin.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

war

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War
Charles Simic

The trembling finger of a woman
Goes down the list of casualties
On the evening of the first snow.

The house is cold and the list is long.

All our names are included.

Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash