The Letter

By Dana Gioia b. 1950 Dana Gioia
And in the end, all that is really left
Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable—
That somehow we deserved something better.   
That somewhere along the line things
Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s   
In charge, which certainly would have set   
Everything straight between us and the world,
Never reached us. Got lost somewhere.   
Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.   
Or sent by mistake to an old address   
Whose new tenant put it on her dresser   
With the curlers and the hairspray forgetting   
To give it to the landlord to forward.   
And we still wait like children who have sent   
Two weeks’ allowance far away   
To answer an enticing advertisement   
From a crumbling, yellow magazine,
Watching through years as long as a childhood summer,   
Checking the postbox with impatient faith   
Even on days when mail is never brought.

Dana Gioia, “The Letter” from Daily Horoscope. Copyright © 1986 by Dana Gioia. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: Daily Horoscope: Poems (Graywolf Press, 1986)

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Poet Dana Gioia b. 1950


 Dana  Gioia


It seems almost a requirement for a poet to have an unconventional résumé, but Dana Gioia’s is perhaps notable for being so conventionally unpoetic. A graduate of Stanford Business School, Gioia claims to be “the only person, in history, who went to business school to be a poet.” He later rose to become a vice president at General Foods, where he marketed products such as Kool-Aid. These experiences in the corporate world, Gioia . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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