The Clocks of the Dead

The Clocks of the Dead

One night I went to keep the clock company.
It had a loud tick after midnight
As if it were uncommonly afraid.
It's like whistling past a graveyard,
I explained.
In any case, I told him I understood.

Once there were clocks like that
In every kitchen in America.
Now the factory's windows are all broken.
The old men on night shift are in Charon's boat.
The day you stop, I said to the clock,
The little wheels they keep in reserve
Will have rolled away
Into many hard-to-find places.

Just thinking about it, I forgot to wind the clock.
We woke up in the dark.
How quiet the city is, I said.
Like the clocks of the dead, my wife replied.
Grandmother on the wall,
I heard the snows of your childhood
Begin to fall.


From Selected Poems (Faber and Faber, 2004), copyright © Charles Simic 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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Recordings

Charles Simic

Charles Simic Reading from his poems

1Butcher Shop

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2Cockroach

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3Fork

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4The Partial Explanation

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5Prodigy

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6Shelley

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7Factory

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8Folk Songs

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9Country Fair

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10The Clocks of the Dead

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11Transport

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12Reading History

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13Cameo Appearance

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14Ghosts

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15At the Cookout

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16Club Midnight

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17Pastoral Harpsichord

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18The Soul Has Many Brides

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19Unmade Beds

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20The One To Worry About

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21Cherry Blossom Time

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22The Altar

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23My Father Attributed Immortality to Waiters

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24Views from a Train

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25Serving Time

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26Cabbage

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27Paradise

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28In the Library

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29The Tiger

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30Evening Walk

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31The Old World

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32Empires

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33The Tower

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34Late Call

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35Emily’s Theme

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36The Friends of Heraclitus

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Books by Charles Simic