The Street of Martyrs

Charles Simic

Catherine, whose neck was broken
On a steering wheel of a Buick convertible
While milk gushed from her breasts.
Max the giant whose mouth is a black cavern
Since his tongue was amputated.
Barbara, whose father kept her in a closet
So no man could see her.
The All-American shortstop whose coffin,
He says, will be a matchbox.

They stop strangers on the street
To warn them about sick and injured bugs
They may be stepping on.
If they meet someone with large red ears
They try to hang their crutches on them.
When it snows, they walk in circles
Catching snowflakes on the tip of their tongues.

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:
October 1, 1996


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