Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A New Cast of Characters

I've decided to start reading one non-poetry book and one poetry book per week. So far, with starting a new job, I've only really gotten through the one poetry book. It was Walking the Black Cat by Charles Simic. I liked it but didn't love it, although his poems are about eerie and strange characters and wandering the streets and insomnia, which are all pretty interesting.

I guess they're also themes I know a lot about, in some way or another. I'm in a place that's relatively new to me (I've experienced the college side of where I live, not so much the town side) and now that I'm working in a local business and heading downtown everyday, I start to recognize the same strange cast of characters. People missing teeth, people who talk loudly about their sex lives, people who sit stone-faced on benches with only their eyes moving on the other passerbys-- people that I might have known for years had a grown up here; people that might not be so intriguing if I was from the area. Some of them talk to me about past jobs or overdoses or their various ailments while I work, and they're just these adult wanderers heading through a little city, and they're young in their unsettledness and old in their age all at the same time. And they're fascinating.

There is something about the odd cast of characters that come with every town, and I feel like that's what Simic captures in Black Cat. It's like a journey through a strange place, and I'm beginning my journey in a strange place, wandering through the streets to and from work and the grocery store, as one of the new girls in the town's ever-developing story.

Dark Corners
By Charles Simic

So, how'd you find me?
Ordinarily, I act deaf and dumb, but with you
It's different. Darting in and out
Of doorways, prowling after me
Like a black cat.

Just look at the suckers, I kept
Shouting at the world. It was no use.
They just stepped over me holding on to their hats,
Or lifting their skirts a little
On the way to hell.

He must be crazy, sprawled there
On the sidewalk, his fly unzipped.
His eyes closing. Only you came back
To see how I'm doing,
Only you peeked into every dark corner.

I'm a bird fluttering in flight.
Find me a nice, large cage with the door open.
Back me out of here with your kisses.
My shoes and laces.
My pants need your fingers to hold them up.

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