cover image The World Doesn't End

The World Doesn't End

Charles Simic. Mariner Books, $13 (88pp) ISBN 978-0-15-698350-1

A master of the absurd and the unexpected, Simic ( Unending Blues ) presents a collection of prose poems that will not fail to amuse and delight. Writing in a series of ``short-take'' lyrical sentences, he builds observation upon observation to create paragraphs that startle through the juxtaposition of images and gratify through the freshness of his vision. Never one to shy away from the bizarre or the prosaic, Simic carries his poems to their logical--or illogical--extremes: ``The dead man steps down from the scaffold. He holds his bloody head under his arm . . . he takes a seat at one of the tables at the tavern and orders two beers, one for him and one for his head.'' The poems move seamlessly between the ordinary and the extraordinary, and, although one often puzzles to draw conclusions from his fantastic verse, readers will not lose interest or the sense of pleasant surprise at the end of each work. The poem quoted in part above, for example, concludes powerfully: ``It's so quiet in the world. One can hear the old river, which in its confusion sometimes forgets and flows backwards.'' (Mar.)