Good Poems: “Wire Hangers,” by Charles Simic

Before I wrote poetry, I wrote short stories. The compression of poetry was simply more appealing.

The catharsis (or lack thereof) always seemed to take ten to twenty pages of prose, whereas, poetry could take the top of my head off in eight lines or less.

Take this little poem called “Wire Hangers,” by legendary poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic. It’s taken from his collection That Little Something in 2008.

Wire Hangers

All they need
Is one little red dress
To start swaying
In that empty closet

For the rest of them
To nudge each other,
Clicking like knitting needles
Or disapproving tongues.

Simic’s metaphor is clear and simple.  Wire hangers = a group of catty women.

You can almost hear them gossiping now.

Simic varies his stresses between two and four per line, which is often what you see in short, free verse lines that are not enjambed.

But it’s the last line I particularly like–perfectly iambic, which adds weight and and gravity to the metaphor.

It’s also something to try in your own poetry when you want to achieve the same impact.



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