In this latest collection of poems, Charles Simic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, brings us startling new visions of the haunted landscape that has been his oeuvre, where the surreal and the mundane, the sacred and profane, are indistinguishable, a world where "everything is teetering on the edge of everything/With a polite smile." A man waits at a bus stop for the love of his life, a woman (Lady Luck?) he's never met. The world's greatest ventriloquist who sits on a street corner uses passersby as dummies and speaks through us all. Hamlet's ghost walks the hallways of a Vegas motel. Sunlight streams through a windowpane of fire. Mary Magdalene cruises Santa Monica Boulevard. Flies from a slaughterhouse leave bloody tracks across the pages of a book. Jesus panhandles in a weed-infested Eden.
These poems are strange, dreamlike things with a lot of classical references throughout. They're short, written in accessible language and a little bit creepy. I liked them- well, most of them.
Here are some examples specifically for October:
That same light by which I saw her last
Made me close my eyes now in revery,
Remembering how she sat in the garden
With a red shawl over her shoulders
And a small book in her lap,
Once in a long while looking up
With the day's brightness on her face,
As if to appraise something of utmost seriousness
She has just read at least twice,
With the sky clear and open to view,
Because the leaves had already fallen
And lay still around her two feet.
A tree spooked
By it's own evening whispers,
Afraid to rustle,
Bewitched by the distant sunset
Making a noise full of deep
Like bloody razor blades
And then again the quiet.
The birds too terror-stricken
To make their own comment.
Every leaf to every other leaf
A separate woe.
A finger of suspicion.