New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012by Charles Simic
For over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He/i>
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“It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic’s work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight.” -Los Angeles Times
For over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He has been awarded nearly every major literary prize for his poetry, including a Pulitzer and a MacArthur grant, in addition to serving as the poet laureate of the United States in 2007 and 2008.
In this new volume, he distills his life’s work, combining for the first time the best of his early poems with his later works—including nearly three dozen revisions—along with seventeen new, never-before-published poems. Simic’s body of work draws inspiration from a range of topics, from the inscrutability of ordinary life to American blues, from folktales to marriage and war.
Consistently exciting and unexpected, the nearly four hundred poems in this volume represent the best of one of America’s most distinguished and original poets.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read an Excerpt
When I see a cockroach,
I don’t grow violent like you.
I stop as if a friendly greeting
Had passed between us.
This roach is familiar to me.
We met here and there,
In the kitchen at midnight,
And now on my pillow.
I can see it has a couple
Of my black hairs
Sticking out of its head,
And who knows what else?
It carries a false passport —
Don’t ask me how I know.
A false passport, yes,
With my baby picture.
Crazy About Her Shrimp
We don’t even take time
To come up for air.
We keep our mouths full and busy
Eating bread and cheese
And smooching in between.
No sooner have we made love
Than we are back in the kitchen.
While I chop the hot peppers,
She wiggles her ass
And stirs the shrimp on the stove.
How good the wine tastes
That has run red
Out of a laughing mouth!
Down her chin
And onto her naked tits.
“I’m getting fat,” she says,
Turning this way and that way
Before the mirror.
“I’m crazy about her shrimp!”
I shout to the gods above.
Relaxing in a Madhouse
They had already attached the evening’s tears to the windowpanes.
The general was busy with the ant farm in his head.
The holy saints in their tombs were burning, all except one who was a prisoner of a dark-haired movie star.
Moses wore a false beard and so did Lincoln.
X reproduced the Socratic method of interrogation by demonstrating the ceiling’s ignorance.
“They stole the secret of the musical matchbook from me,”
“The world’s biggest rooster was going to make me famous,”
Oh to run naked over the darkening meadow after the cold shower!
In the white pavilion the nurse was turning water into wine.
Hurry home, dark cloud.
The Common Insects of America
Bumble Bee, Soldier Bug, Mormon Cricket,
They are all there somewhere
Behind Joe’s Garage, in the tall weeds
By the snake handler’s church,
On the fringe of a beaver pond.
Painted Beauty is barefoot and wears shades.
Clouded Wood Nymph has been sightseeing
And has caught a shiver. Book louse
Is reading a book about the battle of Gettysburg.
Chinese Mantid has climbed a leaf to pray.
Hermit Beetle and Rat Flea are feeling amorous
And are going to the a drive-in movie.
Widow Dragonfly doing splits in the yard
Could use some serious talking to by her children
Before she comes to a tragic end.
They like shady rooms,
Cracks on the ceiling,
Flies on the pillow.
If you are tempted to lie down,
Don’t be surprised,
You won’t mind the dirty sheets,
The rasp of rusty springs
As you make yourself comfy.
The room is a darkened movie theater
Where a grainy
Black-and-white film is being shown.
A blur of disrobed bodies
In the moment of sweet indolence
That follows lovemaking,
When the meanest of hearts
Comes to believe
Happiness can last forever.
Meet the Author
CHARLES SIMIC was born in Belgrade and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He is the author of many books of poetry and prose. Among other honors, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and served as the Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007–2008.
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