New and Selected Poems NPR coverage of New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 by Charles Simic. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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New and Selected Poems


by Charles Simic

Hardcover, 355 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, List Price: $30 |


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Charles Simic

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Book Summary

This first-ever volume of new and selected poetry from Charles Simic collects close to 400 poems that draw inspiration from a vast array of topics including folktales, marriage, war, ordinary life and American blues.

Read an excerpt of this book


Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: New And Selected Poems


When I see a cockroach,
I don't grow violent like you.
I stop as if a friendly greeting
Had passed between us.
This roach is familiar to me.
We met here and there,
In the kitchen at midnight,
And now on my pillow.
I can see it has a couple
Of my black hairs
Sticking out of its head,
And who knows what else?
It carries a false passport?—?
Don't ask me how I know.
A false passport, yes,
With my baby picture.

Crazy About Her Shrimp

We don't even take time
To come up for air.
We keep our mouths full and busy
Eating bread and cheese
And smooching in between.

No sooner have we made love
Than we are back in the kitchen.
While I chop the hot peppers,
She wiggles her ass
And stirs the shrimp on the stove.

How good the wine tastes
That has run red
Out of a laughing mouth!
Down her chin
And onto her naked tits.

"I'm getting fat," she says,
Turning this way and that way
Before the mirror.
"I'm crazy about her shrimp!"
I shout to the gods above.

Relaxing in a Madhouse

They had already attached the evening's tears to the
The general was busy with the ant farm in his head.
The holy saints in their tombs were burning, all except
one who was a prisoner of a dark-haired movie star.
Moses wore a false beard and so did Lincoln.
X reproduced the Socratic method of interrogation by
demonstrating the ceiling's ignorance.
"They stole the secret of the musical matchbook from me,"
confided Adam.
"The world's biggest rooster was going to make me famous,"
said Eve.
Oh to run naked over the darkening meadow after the cold
In the white pavilion the nurse was turning water into wine.
Hurry home, dark cloud.

The Common Insects of America

Bumble Bee, Soldier Bug, Mormon Cricket,
They are all there somewhere
Behind Joe's Garage, in the tall weeds
By the snake handler's church,
On the fringe of a beaver pond.

Painted Beauty is barefoot and wears shades.
Clouded Wood Nymph has been sightseeing
And has caught a shiver. Book louse
Is reading a book about the battle of Gettysburg.
Chinese Mantid has climbed a leaf to pray.

Hermit Beetle and Rat Flea are feeling amorous
And are going to the a drive-in movie.
Widow Dragonfly doing splits in the yard
Could use some serious talking to by her children
Before she comes to a tragic end.

Unmade Beds

They like shady rooms,
Peeling wallpaper,
Cracks on the ceiling,
Flies on the pillow.

If you are tempted to lie down,
Don't be surprised,
You won't mind the dirty sheets,
The rasp of rusty springs
As you make yourself comfy.
The room is a darkened movie theater
Where a grainy
Black-and-white film is being shown.

A blur of disrobed bodies
In the moment of sweet indolence
That follows lovemaking,
When the meanest of hearts
Comes to believe
Happiness can last forever.