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ANGEL TONGUE/Charles Simic Theresa, do you remember That dive filled with smoke Like a house on fire Where nightly we huddled In one of the rear booths Reading to each other from a book On the mystic way of life? Days, all prim and clear-eyed, You went to work in a bridal shop. It had bars on its window. The two mannequins in white Had tense little smiles for me Every time I dropped by While you stood behind them. We played an elaborate game Of hide and seek with words And our hearts while feigning To find clues of divine presence On streets steeped in shadow. I recall the sight of your lips Quivering from the cold As you spoke of light so fine, So rare, it lights the very light We see by, in the meantime, Your eyes were open so wide, I hurried closing them with kisses, While you talked of mystic death With the tongue of angels. 30 · The Missouri Review BURNING EDGAR POE/Charles Simic O the late days of autumn, The wind's blowing Charred book pages Out of a neighbor's chimney Scaring the blackbirds. They can't tell their own From the flying soot In the saffron-colored sky, And neither can I. The Missouri Review · 31 LOOKING FOR TROUBLE/ Charles Simic Didn't know I was doing it. Had the notion I was living A nice, quiet life Patting the children on the head, Going for a long Sunday drive. In short, thriving. Useless words. My smile faded The day I found a man asleep On my doorstep. Why? I said Stepping over him carefully. I spent the night making trips To the door, trying to hear him Breathe. At daybreak, I made tea and took it to him, But he was gone, leaving behind His hat. Surely not far, I figured, Walking out in my robe and slippers Into the snowy street, Peering into doorways as I went. The cup and the hat in my hands Made me seem even goofier, Entering an alley where two Of them slept. One stirred, Pocked his raw eyes out of his rags Puzzled. What did the other fellow Look like? I wondered, Backing out, distancing myself While recalling how years ago An elderly, well-dressed man Came up to me in the street And said I'm the spit image 32 · The Missouri Review Of his long dead brother. Well, what do you reply to that? I didn't. I just scrammed. Charles Simic The Missouri Review · 33 THE TUNNELING/Charles Simic Prisons secured for the night. Thousands lying awake out there, As we too lie awake, love. The blurry whiteness at the ceiling Of our darkened room Like a sheet thrown over a body In the ice cold morgue. Do you hear the one tunneling? So faint a sound, yet so close, It could be inside one of our walls. I bet, he's left behind in the pen A stand-in dummy or two propped up On the pillow, just the way we are, When the turnkey comes around. 34 · The Missouri Review MISS X/Charles Simic It's her I want, Who's got me In her scissors' hold, Down cold. And clips me Down to size Every time She bumps into me On the street, Veering On her high heels Still going clip, clip. The Missouri Review · 35 MADGE PUT ON YOUR TEA KETTLE/ Charles Simic We are being hoodwinked, That's pretty obvious. The blue sky, the apple trees in blossom, The lone sparrow Nonchalantly hopping back and forth In front of the tiger cat Sprawled on the new grass. There's nothing to worry about, The lazy afternoon says. Every shadow sits in silent study Of some empty spider web. Two ants hauling a dead cricket To a cricket cemetery Have stopped to take a long rest. Charles Simic is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose most recent collection isJackstrmvs. 36 · The Missouri Review ...


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