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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.

The Unwritten Poem

Louis Simpson

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