I came here in my youth,
A wind toy on a string.
Saw a street in hell and one in paradise.
Saw a room with a light in it so ailing
It could’ve been leaning on a cane.
Saw an old man in a tailor shop
Kneel before a bride with pins between his lips.
Saw the President swear on the Bible
while snow fell around him.
Saw a pair of lovers kiss in an empty church
And a naked man run out of a building
waving a gun and sobbing.
Saw kids wearing Halloween masks
Jump from one roof to another at sunset.
Saw a van full of stray dogs look back at me.
Saw a homeless woman berating God
And a blind man with a guitar singing:
“Oh Lord remember me,
When these chains are broken set my body free.”
Charles Simic has been Poet Laureate of the United States. His most recent books are The Lunatic (poetry) and The Life of Images (prose).