Charles Simic

(9 May 1938)

Private Eye


To find clues where there are none,
That's my job now, I said to the
Dictionary on my desk. The world beyond
My window has grown illegible,
And so has the clock on the wall.
I may strike a match to orient myself

In the meantime, there's the heart
Stopping hush as the building
Empties, the elevators stop running,
The grains of dust stay put.
Hours of quiescent sleuthing
Before the Madonna with the mop

Shuffles down the long corridor
Trying doorknobs, turning mine.
That's just little old me sweating
In the customer's chair, I'll say.
Keep your nose out of it.
I'm not closing up till he breaks.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie Bob Fish (8/4/2008 4:28:00 AM)

    To my mind, this is a poem about endeavoring to write poetry. The first stanza is a fairly comprehemsive model of the poet's vocation. The word dictinary is the clincher. What I find most intriguing is that the poet appears to be both the 'customer' and his interrogator. While he is grappling with the opacity of the world beyond his window, he is at the same time synonymous with it. Life's truths will only be disclosed through internal investigation. The ambition of this poem is slight, a rather straightforward metaphor, but its accuracy is quite profiound. (Report) Reply

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