Sunday, November 8, 2009

Simic to Bailey, Simic to Bailey: I Read You. Over.

I been reading me some Charles Simic dese days. A book of his selected and late pomes called The Voice at 3:00 A.M. Having just finished it tonight, I'm going to post a couple pomes that I really enjoyed from the book's final section entitled New [Pomes].


That's why only a couple of people wait outside.
They are strangers and the shadows of columns obscure them even further.
The windows across the avenue are no longer lit.
Everyone else must be asleep or nearly so.
The guard will be along any moment with the keys.
Or he may have come already and unlocked the doors.

At this late hour, they keep the museum dark,
Relying on lit candles in paintings to provide the light.
The Egyptian death masks are waiting.
The statues of naked Greek goddesses
And the Dutch interiors with canopied marriage beds.
You expect the couple to keep close together, but no.
She's off to another wing where there is a show
Of black-and-white photographs of small children
And he wants to see the martyrs in their torments.

It's up to us to divine what happens next.
The woman has found a bench to sit on.
She can't see the photos but she believes she hears
The rustle of the girls' stiff dresses
As they stir slightly before the hooded camera.

Miraculously, the man has been able to discern
The pale sky above some saint's head.
Dawn is breaking, clouds are racing in the sky
While they get ready to torment him.
His eyes, turned heavenward, remain invisible,
And so do his bleeding wounds
Despite all the red paint the painter had used.

In truth, I've no idea what became of the couple.
The museum has a number of paintings
With distant hillside towns no one ever notices.
They may be in one of them, alone or together,
Hugging the walls of narrow, winding streets,
And then, they might not be there at all
Or for that matter anywhere else I can think of.


Night fell without asking
For our permission.
Mary had a headache,
And my eyes hurt
From squinting at the newspapers.

We could still make out
A few old trees in the yard.
They take it as it comes.
Separate truths
Do not interest them.

We'll have to run for it, I said,
And I had no idea what I meant.
The coming of the inevitable,
What a strange bliss that is,
And I had no idea what she meant.

Next on the reading list is Dan Bailey's (who's that?) Drunk Sonnets.

1 comment:

  1. In The Museum Opens at Midnight
    I love the line
    The Egyptian death masks are waiting.


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