New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012

by Charles Simic

The first ever volume of new and selected poetry from one of our most celebrated and acclaimed poets, Charles Simic.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547928289
  • ISBN-10: 0547928289
  • Pages: 384
  • Publication Date: 03/26/2013
  • Carton Quantity: 12

About the book

“It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic’s work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight.” -Los Angeles Times

For over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He has been awarded nearly every major literary prize for his poetry, including a Pulitzer and a MacArthur grant, in addition to serving as the poet laureate of the United States in 2007 and 2008.

In this new volume, he distills his life’s work, combining for the first time the best of his early poems with his later works—including nearly three dozen revisions—along with seventeen new, never-before-published poems. Simic’s body of work draws inspiration from a range of topics, from the inscrutability of ordinary life to American blues, from folktales to marriage and war.

Consistently exciting and unexpected, the nearly four hundred poems in this volume represent the best of one of America’s most distinguished and original poets.

About the author
Charles Simic

CHARLES SIMIC was born in Belgrade and emigrated to the United States in 1954. He is the author of many books of poetry and prose. Among other honors, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and served as the Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007–2008.



When I see a cockroach,

I don’t grow violent like you.

I stop as if a friendly greeting

Had passed between us.


This roach is familiar to me.

We met here and there,

In the kitchen at midnight,

And now on my pillow.


I can see it has a couple

Of my black hairs

Sticking out of its head,

And who knows what else?


It carries a false passport — 

Don’t ask me how I know.

A false passport, yes,

With my baby picture.

Crazy About Her Shrimp

We don’t even take time

To come up for air.

We keep our mouths full and busy

Eating bread and cheese

And smooching in between.

No sooner have we made love

Than we are back in the kitchen.

While I chop the hot peppers,

She wiggles her ass

And stirs the shrimp on the stove.

How good the wine tastes

That has run red

Out of a laughing mouth!

Down her chin

And onto her naked tits.

“I’m getting fat,” she says,

Turning this way and that way

Before the mirror.

“I’m crazy about her shrimp!”

I shout to the gods above.

Relaxing in a Madhouse

   They had already attached the evening’s tears to the


   The general was busy with the ant farm in his head.

   The holy saints in their tombs were burning, all except

one who was a prisoner of a dark-haired movie star.

   Moses wore a false beard and so did Lincoln.

   X reproduced the Socratic method of interrogation by

demonstrating the ceiling’s ignorance.

   “They stole the secret of the musical matchbook from me,”

confided Adam.

   “The world’s biggest rooster was going to make me famous,”

said Eve.

   Oh to run naked over the darkening meadow after the cold


   In the white pavilion the nurse was turning water into wine.

   Hurry home, dark cloud.

The Common Insects of America

Bumble Bee, Soldier Bug, Mormon Cricket,

They are all there somewhere

Behind Joe’s Garage, in the tall weeds

By the snake handler’s church,

On the fringe of a beaver pond.

Painted Beauty is barefoot and wears shades.

Clouded Wood Nymph has been sightseeing

And has caught a shiver. Book louse

Is reading a book about the battle of Gettysburg.

Chinese Mantid has climbed a leaf to pray.

Hermit Beetle and Rat Flea are feeling amorous

And are going to the a drive-in movie.

Widow Dragonfly doing splits in the yard

Could use some serious talking to by her children

Before she comes to a tragic end.

Unmade Beds

They like shady rooms,

Peeling wallpaper,

Cracks on the ceiling,

Flies on the pillow.

If you are tempted to lie down,

Don’t be surprised,

You won’t mind the dirty sheets,

The rasp of rusty springs

As you make yourself comfy.

The room is a darkened movie theater

Where a grainy

Black-and-white film is being shown.

A blur of disrobed bodies

In the moment of sweet indolence

That follows lovemaking,

When the meanest of hearts

Comes to believe

Happiness can last forever.

"[New and Selected] offers readers the chance to experience and reassess one of the more unique voices in contemporary literature. . . Wandering the tangled byways of [Simic’s] imagination, we discover in our own workaday streets a phantasmagoria of the ordinary. . . Playful, sly [and] thrilling."—Washington Post