Charles Simic

Image by Philip Simic

The Clocks of the Dead

Charles Simic

The Clocks of the Dead

Charles Simic

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.


Charles Simic

Charles Simic Reading from his poems

1Butcher Shop



4The Partial Explanation




8Folk Songs

9Country Fair

10The Clocks of the Dead


12Reading History

13Cameo Appearance


15At the Cookout

16Club Midnight

17Pastoral Harpsichord

18The Soul Has Many Brides

19Unmade Beds

20The One To Worry About

21Cherry Blossom Time

22The Altar

23My Father Attributed Immortality to Waiters

24Views from a Train

25Serving Time



28In the Library

29The Tiger

30Evening Walk

31The Old World


33The Tower

34Late Call

35Emily’s Theme

36The Friends of Heraclitus

Books by Charles Simic