About the poet
Charles Simic (b. 1938) grew up in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, a childhood in which "Hitler...
I had a small, nonspeaking part
In a bloody epic. I was one of the
Bombed and fleeing humanity.
In the distance the great leader
Crowed like a rooster from a balcony,
Or was it a great actor
Impersonating the great leader?
That's me there, I said to the kiddies.
I'm squeezed between the man
With two bandaged hands raised
And the old woman with her mouth open
As if she were showing us a tooth
That hurts badly. The hundred times
I rewound the tape, not once
Could they catch sight of me
In that huge gray crowd,
That was like any other gray crowd.
Trot off to bed, I said finally.
I know I was there. One take
Is all they had time for.
We ran, and the planes grazed our hair,
And then they were no more
As we stood dazed in the burning city,
But, of course, they didn't film that.
From Selected Poems (Faber and Faber, 2004), copyright © Charles Simic 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.
Charles Simic Reading from his poems