Simic Reads at the University

Students listen with the same enthusiasm
you see at the DMV on a Saturday morning

Women professors drape themselves
in beige shawls, embroidered with folk-art flowers
illustrating the vinegary perfume they wear

Academician men look at him sideways
wondering why he made it and they didn’t
They seem to mistake his humility
for some kind of Zen precision clarity

I realize how far off they are
when they approach me to buy his collections,
hoping to warm themselves with his paperbacks
Quicker than I, they lacerate my small talk with cruel barbs
and clichéd jokes about their wallets and my prices
Of course, never realizing how short they’ve sold me

Feeling Clairvoyant at the Punk Show

In tune with ridiculous
new wave throwback nonsense,
she claps up high, above her
vintage painter’s cap-
the cherry on her homemade
XL t-shirt cake

Eyes like a trout on ice
crooked nose
no separation between chin and neck
Me, mesmerized by this prehistoric turtle dance
My vision all spirals like
Jimmy Stewart’s head in Vertigo

Through the mist
I began to see her good-enough haircut
her abusive common law boyfriend
her single-parent daughter living at home
her throbbing urge to vote Republican
late Social Security checks
botched hip surgeries

Who am I to fault her for dancing?

Chris Middleman is originally from Downingtown,
Pennsylvania. His work has appeared or is
forthcoming in several magazines including
The New York Quarterly, Zygote in My Coffee,
Pemmican, and the Orange Room Review.


© 2008 Underground Voices