Saturday, November 7, 2009


It’s Weekly Poem time again, & this week’s selection is one I first came across as an undergraduate in a now out-of-print anthology called The New Naked Poetry. As folks who’ve followed the blog for awhile probably know, I’ve hardly ever met a poem written in repetitive form that I didn’t like. I do believe that Charles’ Simic’s “Errata” was one of the first contemporary poems I read that made such use of repetition, & as such has probably been in the back of my poetical mind, especially when I was writing, for many years. I know the lines “Remove all periods/They are scars made by words” is one that flutters quite satisfactorily into my consciousness from time to time.

“Errata” comes from Simic’s 1971 Dismantling the Silence, also out-of-print (& as of November 6th, available used at Amazon for a mere $150—I mean, I like Simic a lot, but give me a break!) The poem is in his Selected Early Poems, however (published by George Braziller).

Hope you enjoy it!


Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle
Where it says table read horse
Where it says horse read my migrant's bundle
Apples are to remain apples
Each time a hat appears
think of Isaac Newton
reading the Old Testament
Remove all periods
They are scars made by words
I couldn't bring myself to say
Put a finger over each sunrise
it will blind you otherwise
That damn ant is still stirring
Will there be time left to list
all errors to replace
all hands guns owls plates
all cigars ponds woods and reach
that beer-bottle my greatest mistake
the word I allowed to be written
when I should have shouted
her name

Charles Simic


  1. I immediately recognized Charles Simic on the thumbnail in my blogroll and had to pop right over! I love this whole poem from the first cutting line to the last shout. I guess I should consider myself lucky it's in his Selected Early Poems. And thank god, it's one that wasn't butchered with the purple pen!

    Thanks for a pleasant start to my Saturday, John.

  2. Hi Willow: I thought you be over for C Simic, & yes thank goodness the purple pen reader didn't go nuts for this one!

  3. Hi Sandra:

    Yes, Mr Simic's a pretty snazzy poet, isn't he? Glad you liked it.

  4. Wonderful poem. I like it a lot. As for your love of the repetitive form, it must be the musician in you. You get such a sense of rhythm from reading it.


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