Walking the black cat : poems

by Charles Simic

Paperback, 1996





New York : Harcourt Brace & Co., c1996.


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member VioletBramble
I bought this book years ago for a TIOLI challenge and never read it. (The challenge was to read a book written by an alumnus of your university) I choose this book for the October RandomCAT because of the word Black in the title and because the book jacket promises that Simic delivers startling
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new visions of the haunted landscape. This is the first time I've read the poetry of Charles Simic. Simic is the 1990 winner of the Pultizer Prize for Poetry.
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,
Just now
Bewitched by the distant sunset

Making a noise full of deep
Like bloody razor blades
Being shuffled,

And then again the quiet.
The birds too terror-stricken
To make their own comment.
Every leaf to every other leaf
An apparition,
A separate woe.

Bare twig:
A finger of suspicion.
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National Book Award (Finalist — Poetry — 1996)



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