Sept 28, 2009 Late September

Belgrade, NYU, the US Army, Chicago, New Hampshire, a black cat: what do all these things have in common? Give up? Prize-winning poet and immigrant Charles Simic. I recently read a good book of short stories by Wells Tower, which reminded me of nothing other than being young and mad, and I’ve since shouted about it to anyone who reads. A friend read it and told me the last story (which involves Vikings, roughly speaking) reminded her of a poem by Charles Simic, which she then described in some detail. I couldn’t find that poem but I found this one, which, well, is perfect for today. Aside from the fact that I’m on a sunny lake, not a coast, this poem presents a most accurate picture of my POV today. It’s Monday. Feels like Sunday.

I know so many people love fall, but do they love, too, the sense of impending death, which Simic doesn’t hesitate to remind us of here? Each stanza has a nice interplay between the quotidian and the grand, the natural and the personal. Remember WB Yeats?: “the whole rant is a mirror of my mood?” Only here, no rant–just a lot of flat vowels.

Enjoy fall. I could use it 20 degrees warmer… -ed.


The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.


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