The Unwritten Poem
by Louis Simpson

copyright © 2003 Louis Simpson

You will never write the poem about Italy.
What Socrates said about love
is true of poetry – where is it?
Not in beautiful faces and distant scenery
but the one who writes and loves.

In your life here, on this street
where the houses from the outside
are all alike, and so are the people.
Inside, the furniture is dreadful –
flock on the walls, and huge color television.

To love and write unrequited
is the poet’s fate. Here you’ll need
all your ardor and ingenuity.
This is the front and these are the heroes –
a life beginning with “Hi!” and ending with “So long!”

You must rise to the sound of the alarm
and march to catch the 6:20 –
watch as they ascend the station platform
and, grasping briefcases, pass beyond your gaze
and hurl themselves into the flames.