I’m the uncrowned king of the insomniacs
Who still fights his ghosts with a sword,
A student of ceilings and closed doors,
Making bets two plus two is not always four.
A merry old soul playing the accordion
On the graveyard shift in the morgue.
A fly escaped from a head of a madman,
Taking a rest on the wall next to his head.
Descendant of village priests and blacksmiths:
A grudging stage assistant of two
Renowned and invisible master illusionists,
One called God, the other Devil, assuming, of course,
I’m the person I represent myself to be.
The White Labyrinth
There is one waiting for you,
On every blank sheet of paper.
So, beware of the monster
Guarding it who’ll be invisible
As he comes charging at you.
Armed only with a pen.
And watch out for that girl
Who’ll come to your aid
With her quick mind and a ball of thread,
And lead you by the nose
Out of one maze into another.
Don’t Name the Chickens
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.
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?
With One Glance
–Charles SimicThat 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.