To The One Upstairs, by Charles Simic

Boss of all bosses of the universe.
Mr. know-it-all, wheeler-dealer, wire-puller,
And whatever else you’re good at.
Go ahead, shuffle your zeros tonight.
Dip in ink the comets’ tails.
Staple the night with starlight.

You’d be better off reading coffee dregs,
Thumbing the pages of the Farmer’s Almanac.
But no! You love to put on airs,
And cultivate your famous serenity
While you sit behind your big desk
With zilch in your in-tray, zilch
In your out-tray,
And all of eternity spread around you.

Doesn’t it give you the creeps
To hear them begging you on their knees,
Sputtering endearments,
As if you were an inflatable, life-size doll?
Tell them to button up and go to bed.
Stop pretending you’re too busy to take notice.

Your hands are empty and so are your eyes.
There’s nothing to put your signature to,
Even if you knew your own name,
Or believed the ones I keep inventing,
As I scribble this note to you in the dark.

The White Room, by Charles Simic

The obvious is difficult

To prove. Many prefer

The hidden. I did, too.

I listened to the trees.


They had a secret

Which they were about to

Make known to me–

And then didn’t.


Summer came. Each tree

On my street had its own

Scheherazade. My nights

Were a part of their wild


Storytelling. We were

Entering dark houses,

Always more dark houses,

Hushed and abandoned.


There was someone with eyes closed

On the upper floors.

The fear of it, and the wonder,

Kept me sleepless.


The truth is bald and cold,

Said the woman

Who always wore white.

She didn’t leave her room.


The sun pointed to one or two

Things that had survived

The long night intact.

The simplest things,


Difficult in their obviousness.

They made no noise.

It was the kind of day

People described as “perfect.”


Gods disguising themselves

As black hairpins, a hand-mirror,

A comb with a tooth missing?

No! That wasn’t it.


Just things as they are,

Unblinking, lying mute

In that bright light–

And the trees waiting for the night.