The Eternal City

Jim Simmerman

Sometimes I picture your face on money.
But this isn’t Rome, where they know
what money’s worth, which is almost
the paper it’s printed on (a kind of art),
and where I stared what seemed eternity
into a guidebook, lost, side-skipping
pigeon past, motorbikes, and swarms
of gypsy tykes excavating the ruins
of tourists’ pockets, until I stumbled
onto the Temple of the Golden Arches-
McDonald’s!- and across the piazza,
the Pantheon.... Inside, third niche left,
alone a moment with the Ossa et cineres
of Raphael, I thought of you; “put it all
in the poem” was your advice so, okay,
here you are! – among the camcorders,
cell phones, retired gods, and a pair of
kings – rumpled, broke, and amused
as you were the Green Mountain morning
you asked: among us who was writing
for posterity?, and one of us knew. Bill,
I haven’t paid you your due, but need
another favor: could you please undie
so I can buy you the glass of good
rosso in the Eternal City I owe you?
               William Matthews, poet and teacher (1942 – 1997)
Copyright © 2005 Jim Simmerman. Used with permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Further Reading

Related Poems
SPAM's carbon footprint
by Craig Santos Perez
Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
Father Listens to the Artists
by David Petruzelli
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
by Tony Hoagland
Joey Awake Now
by Glyn Maxwell
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Michael's Wine
by Sandra Alcosser
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio
Poems About Work and Money
A Situation for Mrs. Biswas
by Prageeta Sharma
by Elizabeth Alexander
Coming Close
by Philip Levine
Engines Within the Throne
by Cathy Park Hong
Hay for the Horses
by Gary Snyder
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
i am witness to the threshing of the grain
by John Hoffman
Odd Jobs
by Jericho Brown
On Quitting
by Edgar Guest
One of the Monkeys
by Nicholas Johnson
by C. D. Wright
Po' Boy Blues
by Langston Hughes
by Randall Mann
Song of Myself
by John Canaday
Song of the Shirt
by Thomas Hood
by Carl Sandburg
The Dance
by Humberto Ak'Abal
The Debt
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Orange Bears
by Kenneth Patchen
The Telephonist
by Susan Yuzna
The Unknown Citizen
by W. H. Auden
The Whistle
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth
Thinking of Work
by James Shea
by Sandra Beasley