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Poems

December 2010

Starting over

by Dana Gioia

“I’ll work harder this time,” you reply.
“I know I can start over.” Another venture failed.
Another lover gone in bitter recrimination.
The waiter clears the plates. You pour more wine,
your dark eyes gleaming.

Outside the streets fill up. We hear
the low, steady beat of music from the bars,
and the city’s unending nocturnal parade—
the lovers, the loners, and the lost,
all eager to touch someone.

You talk of her and her flagrant betrayals.
You lean forward and whisper about your own mistakes.
Tonight your remorse is exquisite and excessive,
the words already polished and refined
by many retellings.

You step outside to light a cigarette.
“I really don’t smoke, you know, but sometimes . . .”
You exhale with the studied elegance
of a film noir grifter as you expound
on your future ambitions.< ...

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Dana Gioia is the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.


more from this author

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 December 2010, on page 37

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Starting-over-6516

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