calling a spade a spade

Standard

Spade
Novica Tadić
To live without any news
in the boonies
like any wretched, luckless person.

Go to town and buy a spade
as if intending to turn over a garden.

Instead, find your humble place
in the village graveyard,
swing high and dig yourself a grave.

Set it up, decorate it, write on it.

Find your humble place
in a world gone mad.

Photo (c) 2008 greg used under Creative Commons license.

tell her

Standard

The Message
Charles Simic
Take a message, crow, as the day breaks.
And find the one I hold dear,
Tell her the trees are almost bare
And the nights here are dark and cold.

Learn if she lights the stove already,
Goes to bed naked or fully dressed,
Sips hot tea in the morning, watching
Neighbors’ children wait for a school bus.

Tell her nothing fills me with more sorrow,
Than the memory of seeing her
Covering her face with her hands
When she thought she was alone.

Help me, bird, flapping from tree to tree
And calling in a voice full of distress,
To some fond companion of yours
You’d like to see flying by your side.

signs of the times

Standard

Signs of the Times
Charles Simic
For a mind full of disquiet
A trembling roadside weed is Cassandra,
And so is the right
Of a boarded up public library,
The rows of books beyond its windows
Unopened for years,
The sickly old dog on its steps,
And a man slumped next to him,
His mouth working mutely
Like an actor unable to recall his lines
At the end of some tragic farce.

elusive something

Standard

That Elusive Something
Charles Simic
Was it in the smell of freshly baked bread
That came out to meet me in the street?
The face of a girl carrying a white dress
From the cleaners with her eyes half closed?

The sight of a building blackened by fire
Where once I went to look for work?
The toothless old man passing out leaflets
For a clothing store going out of business?

Or was it the woman pushing a baby carriage
About to turn the corner? I ran after,
As if the little one lying in it was known to me,
And found myself alone on a busy street

I didn’t recognize, feeling like someone
Out for the first time after a long illness,
Who sees the world with his heart,
Then hurries home to forget how it felt.

scribble

Standard

Illegible Scribble
Charles Simic
These rags the spirit borrows
To clothe itself
Against the chill of mortality.
O barbed wire of crossed-out words,
Crown of thorns,
Camp meeting of dead wall reveries,
Spilled worry beads,
Fortune-teller’s coffee dregs,
My footholds in the abyss.

chips on the table

Standard

Last Bet for the Night
Charles Simic
Wagered one more thought
Against the universe,
The one about this moment
I’m living through
Being all that’s true,
With my heart leaping
To place another red chip
On this dark night’s
Vast and unattended gaming table.

snow piled

Standard

The Blizzard
Charles Simic
O to be inside a mailbox
On a snow-piled street corner
Snuggled against a letter
Sending love and hot kisses
To some lucky fellow out there.

Photo by Kirsty TG on Unsplash