For the Very Soul of Me by Charles Simic

Charles Simic is one of my favorite poets and this, taken from his fantastic collection Night Picnic, is one of his most beautiful poems:


At the close of a sweltering night,
I found him at the entrance
Of a tower made of dark blue glass,
Crumpled on his side, naked,
Shielding his crotch with both hands,
His rags rolled up into a pillow.

The missing one, missed by no one,
Bruised and crusted with dirt,
As all the truly destitute are
Who make their bed on the bare pavement.
His mouth open as in death,
Or in memory of some debauchery.

The city at this hour tiptoe-quiet,
A lone yellow cab idling at the light,
The sleep-woozy driver taking a breath
Of the passing breeze,
Cool and smelling of the sea.

Insomnia and heat drove me out early,
Made me turn down one black
And not another, as if running
With a hot cinder in my eye,
And see him lying there unclothed,
One leg quivering now and then.

I thought, What if the cops find him?
So I looked up and down the avenue
All the way to where the pyre
Of the sunrise had turned the sky red,
For something to cover him with.


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