Charles Simic

(1938 / Belgrade)

The Stray - Poem by Charles Simic

One day, chasing my tail here and there,
I stopped to catch my breath
On some corner in New York,
While people hurried past me,
All determined to get somewhere,
Save a few adrift like lost children.

What ever became of my youth?
I wanted to stop a stranger and ask.
'It went into hiding,' said an old woman
Who'd read my mind.
'Swimming with sharks,' a drunk concurred,
Fixing me with one bloody eye.

It was summer, and then as quietly as a bird lands,
The sidewalks were dusted with snow
And I was shivering without a coat.
I had hopes we'd meet again, I told myself,
Have a drink and recall the nights
When we used to paint this town red.

I thought you'd be in a straightjacket by now,
You'd say to me,
Making funny faces at doctors and nurses.
Instead, here you are full of fleas,
Dodging cars and buses
To follow a pair of good-looking legs home.

'And you, Judas,' I summed the strength to shout,
'Will you be coming to my funeral?'
But he was gone already. It had gotten late in the day,
Very late—and since there was nothing
That could be done about it—
I thought I'd better toddle along myself.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, June 23, 2017

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