My Noiseless Entourage
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Like a lion cage at feeding time— The floor at my feet turned red. Two-room country shack On a moody lake. A black cat at my feet To philosophize with. Listening to a birdie raise its voice In praise of good weather, Little wiggling worms, And other suchlike matters. My neighbor was telling me About her blind cat Who goes out at night— Goes where? I asked.
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Just then my dead mother called me in To wash my hands Because supper was on the table: The little mouse the cat caught. The clips of the scissors And the voices Difficult to discern at first Even as I press my ear against the wall. The barber and his customer Talking of greasy spoons, Late night back alleys, Rats leaping out of trash cans. Then, nothing further Had they wandered off Deeper into the wall, Or possibly inside my head? Where else? Someone replied cheerfully, Her identity and whereabouts A complete mystery, a scandal.
Snowflake and laughter salad.
Cuckoo-clock soup. Andouillettes of angel and beast. Bowlegged nightingale in aspic. Fricassee of Cupid with green peas. Roasted bust of Socrates with African postage stamps. Venus in her own gravy. Wines of graveyard lovers— Or so I read in a take-out menu Someone slid under my door While I sat staring at the wall.
That can't help creak at night As if a spider Let itself down By a thread To hang over it With the chair quaking At the outcome.
Microreview: Charles Simic, My Noiseless Entourage
I'll set you up in a tiny cage over my pillow. You'll keep me company, Warn me from time to time As the silence deepens. My father spent nights in the bathroom Thinking about the meaning of his life.
We'd forget all about him, Find him asleep there in the morning. In the same tall grass Where eternity was being made By a few solitary fireflies In the tails of someone's black coat. America, I shouted at the radio, Even at 2 A. A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks, That's me, dear reader! They were about to kick me out of the library But I warned them, My master is invisible and all-powerful. Still, they kept dragging me out by the tail. In the park the birds spoke freely of their own vexations. On a bench, I saw an old woman Cutting her white curly hair with imaginary scissors While staring into a small pocket mirror.
I didn't say anything then, But that night I lay slumped on the floor, Chewing on a pencil, Sighing from time to time, Growling, too, at something out there I could not bring myself to name. Any man or woman, this book tells me, Can bring an egg to maturity under the arm, Materializing thus in a wonderful fashion What may seem to you wildly beyond belief. If the parents have large ears and long noses, That helps. Large ears are a sign of good memory And brainpower, while a long nose denotes A farsighted person, secretive but fair. The newly hatched chickens walk The yard with their eyes cast down Looking for precious stones in the dirt With which they hope to repay their parents.
As for a rooster procreated in such manner, It inclines to idleness and frivolous pursuits, Gaining whatever livelihood it can get At state fairs and seaside penny arcades. The cows are to be slaughtered And the sheep, too, of course.
The same for the hogs sighing in their pens— And as for the chickens,. Two have been killed for dinner tonight, While the rest peck side by side As the shadows lengthen in the yard And bales of hay turn gold in the fields. One cow has stopped grazing And has looked up puzzled Seeing a little white cloud Trot off like a calf into the sunset.
Microreview: Charles Simic, My Noiseless Entourage | Boston Review
On the porch someone has pressed A rocking chair into service But we can't tell who it is—a stranger, Or that boy who never has anything to say? Do people still whittle around here? Do they carry clasp knives for that purpose? Do they sit on porches and tree stumps With shavings piling up at their feet? Are dogs keeping a close eye on them?
Do they lay their heads on their paws And sigh as the stick gets shorter? What thoughts are they thinking as they whittle? Little thoughts about many little things, Or big thoughts about one big thing?
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Come dark, is there enough of a stick left To sit back and chew on a toothpick? The wide-open door of a church. The hearse with one flat tire. The grandmother on the sidewalk Leaning on a cane and cupping her ear. The lodger no one has ever seen, Drawing her bath upstairs. The little boy who climbed on the roof To keep the clouds company. An old man carrying a chair And a rope into the backyard As if he meant to hang himself And then sat down and lost track of time.
A woodpecker hammers On the gutter of a nursing home Where the war cripple sits In a wheelchair by the gate. The windows are wide open, But no one ever speaks here, Neither about the crazy bird, Nor about that other war. My stars have been guilty of benign neglect. Menu Search Donate Shop Join. May 8, Topics: poetry criticism. While we have you Topics poetry criticism. Readers Also Liked.
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