Mad Business

Charles Simic

No lack of customers, I assure you.
We have Cain and his brother to rent.
The bloody knife is extra.
The soldiers from the siege of Stalingrad
Are still wrapped in rags.
We also carry matches that set fire to Atlanta.

It’s a long time since these holy martyrs
Have interested anybody.
That one with arrows sticking out of his chest
Comes at a discount.
Take one of them home, make him a pet.

For the giant ape you’ll want to construct
A screeching pulley. His eyes will roll.
His groans will delight you.
Dead cats, do we have dead cats? she asks.

Charles Simic was a Serbian-American poet and essayist. Born in Belgrade, he and his family immigrated to America when he was in high school. He won numerous prizes for his poetry, including the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, and served as the United States Poet Laureate.
Originally published:
July 1, 1993


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