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Ode to Charles Simic

by Bray McDonald


You were diagnosed through the gnawed indentions

that read like runes on your bones.

The deep bloodless teeth marks of time.


Recognized immediately

you clawed upward spitting honey flowered venom

between the eyes of roaches and the chariots of the Hittites.


You became a turnip growing inside out

between the tenement houses and the prison.

You feared the salad of the Emperor awaited you.


And once you were realized

there was nowhere to bury

and no time to hide those ragged bones.


You sighed as witnesses turned to ghosts

and you took the bloody chicken claw

and scrawled the sad mad poems


that were the peregrine blue

of where you had been

and the patulous green of how you grew.