Sunday, September 05, 2004

the spectacle is disappointing?

Big-Time Wrestling

Something and Nothing battle here
One we never get to see at all,
The other we watch closely
Changing costumes and masks
In hope it'll add up to something.

Our hearts are spilled popcorn
Under the stomping boots
Of some blong angel indignant
At the slow pace of his own demise
In the arms of nothing-we-can-see.

The heavy silence presiding
Has the air of a bow-tied referee
Occasionally raising a false hand
The color of old ivory. The Exits
Are red with the hangman's curtains.

--Charles Simic, _Jackstraws_, 32

Well, mabye there isn't much in the canon of "Best American Poetry" that dares to be truly atheistic...Simic does have his moments, though. He was born in war-torn Belgrade, Yugoslavia before emigrating to North America (not Canada) in 1954. His poetry is marked by interruptions, 'postlost, humor, heartache, surrealism, sexuality, absurdly juxtaposed objects... Sort of the American Celan, if that isn't too much of a stretch.

Here is another poem of his:

School for Visionaries

The teacher sits with eyes closed.
When you play chess alone it's always your move.
I'm in the last row with a firefly in the palm of my hand.
The girl with red braids, who saw the girl with red braids?

Do you believe in something truer than truth?
Do you prick your ears even when you know damn well
no one is coming?
Does that explain the lines on your forehead?
Your invisible friend, what happened to her?

The rushing wind slides to a stop to listen.
The prisoner opens the thick dictionary lying on his knees.
The floor is cold and his feet are bare.
A chew-toy of the gods, is that him?

Do you stare and stare at every black windowpane
As if it were a photo of your unsmiling parents?
Are you homesick for the house of cards?
The sad late-night cough, is it yours?

--Charles Simic, _Jackstraws_ (1999)

No comments: