Submit Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

Best Famous Charles Simic Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Charles Simic poems. This is a select list of the best famous Charles Simic poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Charles Simic poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Charles Simic poems.

Search for the best famous Charles Simic poems, articles about Charles Simic poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Charles Simic poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See Also:
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem


 A New Version: 1980

 What is that little black thing I see there
 in the white?
 Walt Whitman


Out of poverty
To begin again: 

With the color of the bride
And that of blindness,

Touch what I can
Of the quick,

Speak and then wait,
As if this light

Will continue to linger
On the threshold.
All that is near, I no longer give it a name.
Once a stone hard of hearing, Once sharpened into a knife.
Now only a chill Slipping through.
Enough glow to kneel by and ask To be tied to its tail When it goes marrying Its cousins, the stars.
Is it a cloud? If it's a cloud it will move on.
The true shape of this thought, Migrant, waning.
Something seeks someone, It bears him a gift Of himself, a bit Of snow to taste, Glimpse of his own nakedness By which to imagine the face.
On a late afternoon of snow In a dim badly-aired grocery, Where a door has just rung With a short, shrill echo, A little boy hands the old, Hard-faced woman Bending low over the counter, A shiny nickel for a cupcake.
Now only that shine, now Only that lull abides.
That your gaze Be merciful, Sister, bride Of my first hopeless insomnia.
Kind nurse, show me The place of salves.
Teach me the song That makes a man rise His glass at dusk Until a star dances in it.
Who are you? Are you anybody A moonrock would recognize? There are words I need.
They are not near men.
I went searching.
Is this a deathmarch? You bend me, bend me, Oh toward what flower! Little-known vowel, Noose big for us all.
As strange as a shepherd In the Arctic Circle.
Someone like Bo-peep.
All his sheep are white And he can't get any sleep Over lost sheep.
And he's got a flute Which says Bo-peep, Which says Poor boy, Take care of your snow-sheep.
to A.
Hamilton Then all's well and white, And no more than white.
Illinois snowbound.
Indiana with one bare tree.
Michigan a storm-cloud.
Wisconsin empty of men.
There's a trap on the ice Laid there centuries ago.
The bait is still fresh.
The metal glitters as the night descends.
Woe, woe, it sings from the bough.
Our Lady, etc.
You had me hoodwinked.
I see your brand new claws.
Praying, what do I betray By desiring your purity? There are old men and women, All bandaged up, waiting At the spiked, wrought-iron gate Of the Great Eye and Ear Infirmery.
We haven't gone far.
Fear lives there too.
Five ears of my fingertips Against the white page.
What do you hear? We hear holy nothing Blindfolding itself.
It touched you once, twice, And tore like a stitch Out of a new wound.
Two What are you up to son of a gun? I roast on my heart's dark side.
What do you use as a skewer sweetheart? I use my own crooked backbone.
What do you salt yourself with loverboy? I grind the words out of my spittle.
And how will you know when you're done chump? When the half-moons on my fingernails set.
With what knife will you carve yourself smartass? The one I hide in my tongue's black boot.
Well, you can't call me a wrestler If my own dead weight has me pinned down.
Well, you can't call me a cook If the pot's got me under its cover.
Well, you can't call me a king if the flies hang their hats in my mouth.
Well, you can't call me smart, When the rain's falling my cup's in the cupboard.
Nor can you call me a saint, If I didn't err, there wouldn't be these smudges.
One has to manage as best as one can.
The poppies ate the sunset for supper.
One has to manage as best as one can.
Who stole my blue thread, the one I tied around my pinky to remember? One has to manage as best as one can.
The flea I was standing on, jumped.
One has to manage as best as one can.
I think my head went out for a walk.
One has to manage as best as one can.
This is breath, only breath, Think it over midnight! A fly weighs twice as much.
The struck match nods as it passes, But when I shout, Its true name sticks in my throat.
It has to be cold So the breath turns white, And then mother, who's fast enough To write his life on it? A song in prison And for prisoners, Made of what the condemned Have hidden from the jailers.
White--let me step aside So that the future may see you, For when this sheet is blown away, What else is left But to set the food on the table, To cut oneself a slice of bread? In an unknown year Of an algebraic century, An obscure widow Wrapped in the colors of widowhood, Met a true-blue orphan On an indeterminate street-corner.
She offered him A tiny sugar cube In the hand so wizened All the lines said: fate.
Do you take this line Stretching to infinity? I take this chipped tooth On which to cut it in half.
Do you take this circle Bounded by a single curved line? I take this breath That it cannot capture.
Then you may kiss the spot Where her bridal train last rustled.
Winter can come now, The earth narrow to a ditch-- And the sky with its castles and stone lions Above the empty plains.
The snow can fall.
What other perennials would you plant, My prodigals, my explorers Tossing and turning in the dark For those remote, finely honed bees, The December stars? Had to get through me elsewhere.
Woe to bone That stood in their way.
Woe to each morsel of flesh.
White ants In a white anthill.
The rustle of their many feet Scurrying--tiptoing too.
Gravedigger ants.
Village-idiot ants.
This is the last summoning.
Solitude--as in the beginning.
A zero burped by a bigger zero-- It's an awful licking I got.
And fear--that dead letter office.
And doubt--that Chinese shadow play.
Does anyone still say a prayer Before going to bed? White sleeplessness.
No one knows its weight.
What The White Had To Say For how could anything white be distinct from or divided from whiteness? Meister Eckhart Because I am the bullet That has gone through everyone already, I thought of you long before you thought of me.
Each one of you still keeps a blood-stained handkerchief In which to swaddle me, but it stays empty And even the wind won't remain in it long.
Cleverly you've invented name after name for me, Mixed the riddles, garbled the proverbs, Shook you loaded dice in a tin cup, But I do not answer back even to your curses, For I am nearer to you than your breath.
One sun shines on us both through a crack in the roof.
A spoon brings me through the window at dawn.
A plate shows me off to the four walls While with my tail I swing at the flies.
But there's no tail and the flies are your thoughts.
Steadily, patiently I life your arms.
I arrange them in the posture of someone drowning, And yet the sea in which you are sinking, And even this night above it, is myself.
Because I am the bullet That has baptized each one of your senses, Poems are made of our lusty wedding nights.
The joy of words as they are written.
The ear that got up at four in the morning To hear the grass grow inside a word.
Still, the most beautiful riddle has no answer.
I am the emptiness that tucks you in like a mockingbird's nest, The fingernail that scratched on your sleep's blackboard.
Take a letter: From cloud to onion.
Say: There was never any real choice.
One gaunt shadowy mother wiped our asses, The same old orphanage taught us loneliness.
Street-organ full of blue notes, I am the monkey dancing to your grinding-- And still you are afraid-and so, It's as if we had not budged from the beginning.
Time slopes.
We are falling head over heels At the speed of night.
That milk tooth You left under the pillow, it's grinning.
1970-1980 This currently out-of-print edition: Copyright ©1980 Logbridge-Rhodes, Inc.
An earlier version of White was first published by New Rivers Press in 1972.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The School Of Metaphysics

 Executioner happy to explain
How his wristwatch works
As he shadows me on the street.
I call him that because he is grim and officious And wears black.
The clock on the church tower Had stopped at five to eleven.
The morning newspapers had no date.
The gray building on the corner Could've been a state pen, And then he showed up with his watch, Whose Gothic numerals And the absence of hands He wanted me to understand Right then and there.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem


 Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile And spit out the teeth.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The Wooden Toy


The brightly-painted horse
Had a boy's face,
And four small wheels
Under his feet,

Plus a long string
To pull him by this way and that
Across the floor,
Should you care to.
A string in-waiting That slipped away In many wiles From each and every try.
2 Knock and they'll answer, Mother told me.
So I climbed four flights of stairs And went in unannounced.
And found a small wooden toy For the taking In the ensuing emptiness And the fading daylight That still gives me a shudder As if I held the key to mysteries in my hand.
3 Where's the Lost and Found Department, And the quiet entry, The undeveloped film Of the few clear moments Of our blurred lives? Where's the drop of blood And the teeny nail That pricked my finger As I bent down to touch the toy And caught its eye? 4 Evening light, Make me a Sunday Go-to meeting shadow For my toy.
My dearest memories are Steep stair-wells In dusty buildings On dead-end streets, Where I talk to the walls And closed doors As if they understood me.
5 The wooden toy sitting pretty.
No, quieter than that.
Like the sound of eyebrows Raised by a villain In a silent movie.
Psst, someone said behind my back.
------------------------------------ Poetry Volume CLXXI, Number 1 Eighty-Fifth Anniversary Special Double Issue October-November 1997
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

Inner Man

 It isn't the body
That's a stranger.
It's someone else.
We poke the same Ugly mug At the world.
When I scratch He scratches too.
There are women Who claim to have held him.
A dog Follows me about.
It might be his.
If I'm quiet, he's quieter.
So I forget him.
Yet, as I bend down To tie my shoelaces, He's standing up.
We caste a single shadow.
Whose shadow? I'd like to say: "He was un the beginning And he'll be in the end," But one can't be sure.
At night As I sit Shuffling the cards of our silence, I say to him: "Though you utter Every one of my words, You are a stranger.
It's time you spoke.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

Against Winter

 The truth is dark under your eyelids.
What are you going to do about it? The birds are silent; there's no one to ask.
All day long you'll squint at the gray sky.
When the wind blows you'll shiver like straw.
A meek little lamb you grew your wool Till they came after you with huge shears.
Flies hovered over open mouth, Then they, too, flew off like the leaves, The bare branches reached after them in vain.
Winter coming.
Like the last heroic soldier Of a defeated army, you'll stay at your post, Head bared to the first snow flake.
Till a neighbor comes to yell at you, You're crazier than the weather, Charlie.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The Initiate

John of the Cross wore dark glasses As he passed me on the street.
Theresa of Avila, beautiful and grave, Turned her back on me.
"Soulmate," they hissed.
"It's high time.
" I was a blind child, a wind-up toy .
I was one of death's juggling red balls On a certain street corner Where they peddle things out of suitcases.
The city like a huge cinema With lights dimmed.
The performance already started.
So many blurred faces in a complicated plot.
The great secret which kept eluding me: knowing who I am .
The Redeemer and the Virgin, Their eyes wide open in the empty church Where the killer came to hide himself .
The new snow on the sidewalk bore footprints That could have been made by bare feet.
Some unknown penitent guiding me.
In truth, I didn't know where I was going.
My feet were frozen, My stomach growled.
Four young hoods blocking my way.
Three deadpan, one smiling crazily.
I let them have my black raincoat.
Thinking constantly of the Divine Love and the Absolute had disfigured me.
People mistook me for someone else.
I heard voices after me calling out unknown names.
"I'm searching for someone to sell my soul to," The drunk who followed me whispered, While appraising me from head to foot.
At the address I had been given.
The building had large X's over its windows.
I knocked but no one came to open.
By and by a black girl joined me on the steps.
She banged at the door till her fist hurt.
Her name was Alma, a propitious sign.
She knew someone who solved life's riddles In a voice of an ancient Sumerian queen.
We had a long talk about that While shivering and stamping our wet feet.
It was necessary to stay calm, I explained, Even with the earth trembling, And to continue to watch oneself As if one were a complete stranger.
Once in Chicago, for instance, I caught sight of a man in a shaving mirror Who had my naked shoulders and face, But whose eyes terrified me! Two hard staring, all-knowing eyes! After we parted, the night, the cold, and the endless walking Brought on a kind of ecstasy.
I went as if pursued, trying to warm myself.
There was the East River; there was the Hudson.
Their waters shone like oil in sanctuary lamps.
Something supreme was occurring For which there will never be any words.
The sky was full of racing clouds and tall buildings, Whirling and whirling silently.
In that whole city you could hear a pin drop.
Believe me.
I thought I heard a pin drop and I went looking for it.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

Clouds Gathering

 It seemed the kind of life we wanted.
Wild strawberries and cream in the morning.
Sunlight in every room.
The two of us walking by the sea naked.
Some evenings, however, we found ourselves Unsure of what comes next.
Like tragic actors in a theater on fire, With birds circling over our heads, The dark pines strangely still, Each rock we stepped on bloodied by the sunset.
We were back on our terrace sipping wine.
Why always this hint of an unhappy ending? Clouds of almost human appearance Gathering on the horizon, but the rest lovely With the air so mild and the sea untroubled.
The night suddenly upon us, a starless night.
You lighting a candle, carrying it naked Into our bedroom and blowing it out quickly.
The dark pines and grasses strangely still.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The White Room

 The obvious is difficult
To prove.
Many prefer The hidden.
I did, too.
I listened to the trees.
They had a secret Which they were about to Make known to me-- And then didn't.
Summer came.
Each tree On my street had its own Scheherazade.
My nights Were a part of their wild Storytelling.
We were Entering dark houses, Always more dark houses, Hushed and abandoned.
There was someone with eyes closed On the upper floors.
The fear of it, and the wonder, Kept me sleepless.
The truth is bald and cold, Said the woman Who always wore white.
She didn't leave her room.
The sun pointed to one or two Things that had survived The long night intact.
The simplest things, Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day People described as "perfect.
" Gods disguising themselves As black hairpins, a hand-mirror, A comb with a tooth missing? No! That wasn't it.
Just things as they are, Unblinking, lying mute In that bright light-- And the trees waiting for the night.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

Poem Without A Title

 I say to the lead
Why did you let yourself
Be cast into a bullet?
Have you forgotten the alchemists?
Have you given up hope
In turning into gold?

Nobody answers.
With names Such as these The sleep is deep and long.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

Hotel Insomnia

 I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month a crippled old man came to play "My Blue Heaven.
" Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat Catching his fly with a web Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark, I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.
At 5 A.
the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller, Whose storefront is on the corner, Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought For a moment, I was sobbing myself.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

To The One Upstairs

 Boss of all bosses of the universe.
know-it-all, wheeler-dealer, wire-puller, And whatever else you're good at.
Go ahead, shuffle your zeros tonight.
Dip in ink the comets' tails.
Staple the night with starlight.
You'd be better off reading coffee dregs, Thumbing the pages of the Farmer's Almanac.
But no! You love to put on airs, And cultivate your famous serenity While you sit behind your big desk With zilch in your in-tray, zilch In your out-tray, And all of eternity spread around you.
Doesn't it give you the creeps To hear them begging you on their knees, Sputtering endearments, As if you were an inflatable, life-size doll? Tell them to button up and go to bed.
Stop pretending you're too busy to take notice.
Your hands are empty and so are your eyes.
There's nothing to put your signature to, Even if you knew your own name, Or believed the ones I keep inventing, As I scribble this note to you in the dark.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The Supreme Moment

 As an ant is powerless 
Against a raised boot, 
And only has an instant 
To have a bright idea or two.
The black boot so polished, He can see himself Reflected in it, distorted, Perhaps made larger Into a huge monster ant Shaking his arms and legs Threateningly? The boot may be hesitating, Demurring, having misgivings, Gathering cobwebs, Dew? Yes, and apparently no.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

The Partial Explanation

 Seems like a long time
Since the waiter took my order.
Grimy little luncheonette, The snow falling outside.
Seems like it has grown darker Since I last heard the kitchen door Behind my back Since I last noticed Anyone pass on the street.
A glass of ice-water Keeps me company At this table I chose myself Upon entering.
And a longing, Incredible longing To eavesdrop On the conversation Of cooks.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

A Book Full of Pictures

 Father studied theology through the mail
And this was exam time.
Mother knitted.
I sat quietly with a book Full of pictures.
Night fell.
My hands grew cold touching the faces Of dead kings and queens.
There was a black raincoat in the upstairs bedroom Swaying from the ceiling, But what was it doing there? Mother's long needles made quick crosses.
They were black Like the inside of my head just then.
The pages I turned sounded like wings.
"The soul is a bird," he once said.
In my book full of pictures A battle raged: lances and swords Made a kind of wintry forest With my heart spiked and bleeding in its branches.