* stepping into the river with Charles Simic

The stone is a mirror which works poorly. Nothing in it but dimness. Your dimness or its dimness, who’s to say? In the hush your heart sounds like a black cricket.

Charles Simic

*who you calling dim?*
*who you calling dim?*

Since I quoted the man last week in regards to the prose poem, I thought I would share some of Charles Simic’s own work in the genre.

In these excerpts from his book The World Doesn’t End you definitely can catch some of that sense of being caught up and driven to rereading a poem in order to continue grasping what the first reading of it had you start to grasp.

This may be an exasperating way of thinking about reading – you not only read but go over what was read to read into it more – but it’s the kind of thing that poetry teaches you to do and the helps the reading of a poem to be at times both illuminating and, well, exasperating.

Simic himself says in one of his notebooks that poetry and philosophy make slow solitary readers.

I know the feeling.  In the same way you can’t step in the same river twice, so you can’t read the same thing the same way twice.  You change each time.

Stepping into the river with Simic, I always leave surprised.  Here’s more:


Things were not as black as somebody painted them. There was a pretty child dressed in black and playing with two black apples. It was either a girl dressed as a boy, or a boy dressed as a girl. Whatever, it had small white teeth. The landscape outside its window had been blackened with a heavy and coarse paint brush. It was all very teleological, except when a child stuck out its red tongue.


We were so poor I had to take the place of the bait in the mousetrap. All alone in the cellar, I could hear them pacing upstairs, tossing and turning in their beds. ‘These are dark and evil days,’ the mouse told me as he nibbled my ear. Years passed. My mother wore a cat-fur collar which she stroked until its sparks lit up the cellar.


Happy sparking!


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