Swapping Clothes with a Scarecrow

As we wind up a week in which some Flake or other decided to call for a fair (read: limited to a week or less) and open-minded (read: with rules and scope determined by the electoral college president and his Republican Senate lackeys) investigation of a completely impartial, dignified, and judicious nominee for the Used-To-Be-Supreme Court, I decided I’d finish with a flourish by making it a trifecta of Simic poems.

Ah, yes. Summer dawns. Days when one swaps clothes with a scarecrow. Days when one talks up the first cloud of a new day. I miss such simplicity already.

Still, typing poems you like is good practice for writers. It counts as “close reading” when you type word for word, punctuation for punctuation, and then reread for accuracy. You think things like, “When does this sentence end?” and “Shouldn’t there be a period and not a comma here?” and “Shoot. Wish I’d thought of that!”

You don’t think things like, “I like beer. I went to Yale. I can be spitting angry because I am a male and, unlike females, males do not pay for anger, they benefit from it.” Scarecrows, indeed. The fragrant straw in Washington D.C.’s Augean stables is growing and, citizens, we are decidedly downwind.

Let us hold our collective breath, then, and turn to Simic. A poet with a sense for the absurd. A poet from eastern Europe who would grimly appreciate the path we’re descending as a country. A poet who can still distinguish the difference between reality TV and summers at dawn:


Summer Dawn
by Charles Simic

Just as the day breaks, it may be time
To slip away on foot
Carrying no belongings,
Leaving even your shoes behind
In some rooming house,
Or wherever you’ve hidden yourself away

To look for another refuge,
Preferring at the moment
The open country, the interstate highway
Empty at this hour,
Or small-town cemeteries, where the birds
In the trees have fallen silent,

The minister has left the church unlocked.
You could enter and rest in its pews,
Or you could wade into a cornfield,
Swap clothes with a scarecrow,
Stretch out on the grass and have a long talk
With the first cloud of the new day.



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