The Lunatic

An autumnal gust blows through Charles Simic’s latest collection, a book preoccupied with questions of mortality, childhood, and the wonders of the natural world:

     One of my thoughts
     Eloped with a leaf
     The wind blew off a tree,
     With two crows
     Setting forth from another
     In hot pursuit
     Across the bleak landscape,
     Like a frantic father
     With a minister in tow.

Savoring the hues and textures of landscape like a “Recovering puff pastry and almond cookie addict,” Simic offers brief lyrical considerations of stray cats, snowflakes, or passersby, treating all with a plaintive curiosity: “Small store, is it only cobwebs / And shadows you sell?” Aside from the old-world, candle-flickering charm, there’s a dead-on psychological accuracy in Simic’s style of observation; there are also occasional flights of surreal narrative wherein Death might lure an old woman out of bed with a request to please sew his button. Simic continues to be empathetic to the world he observes, and finds wonder and pleasure within it despite also knowing its severity and indifference.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2015.