Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael Simms: Only You

I woke this morning remembering our room in Paris which looked out on the Seine.

 But we’ve never been to Paris.

Oh, of course we have. We took long walks along the river, and there was that old man with thousands of used books lined up on tables, and you found me a copy of James Wright’s ‘Beautiful Ohio.’

Do you mean the poem? ‘Beautiful Ohio’ is a poem, not a book.

Actually, ‘Beautiful Ohio’ is a river. Perhaps I’m thinking of the time years ago when we had a room in Martin’s Ferry that looked out on the river, the beautiful Ohio River, and we took long walks in the crisp air. The maples were in their autumn glory, I remember.

Yes, you picked up a leaf from the ground, and on the back of the leaf you wrote a poem to me, something about leaves. There was also a dog in the poem. There’s always a dog in your poems.

You’re thinking of the Youghiogheny River. And it wasn’t you, it was someone else.

You walked along the Youghiogheny River with someone else?

Oh, no, it was you, always you, but you may have been someone else at the time. Someone who looked like you and wrote your poems.

Well, at least we’ll always have Paris. And the poems we wrote there.

Yes, we’ll always have Paris where Ella sang so beautifully about the springtime, and we’ll have other cities and other rivers where we’ve never been. And you and I will always sit on the grassy slope of the cemetery above Martin’s Ferry, Ohio and look down at the valley and the bridge to West Virginia where the mountains are steep and beautiful, and we’ll always love Appalachia in autumn.

That wasn’t me. You must have done those things with someone else,

No, it was you. It was always you. Only you.


Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His newest poetry collection is American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020).

Copyright 2021 Michael Simms

Eva, Michael and Josie (photo by Kate Daniels)

13 comments on “Michael Simms: Only You

  1. universalpantry
    June 28, 2021

    This piece will stay with me for quite awhile, Michael. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. allisonfine
    June 26, 2021

    Love this! So beautiful! Brightened my life’s day. Or was it someone else?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Susan Berlin
    June 26, 2021

    Love this! Well done, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara Huntington
    June 26, 2021

    I feel better. Married first time for 9 years, 2nd for 32, but sometimes I wonder. Which time in Europe?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rose Mary Boehm
    June 26, 2021

    Heartwarming.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. melpacker
    June 26, 2021

    Sooooo familiar….sounds like many conversations I’ve had. Loved it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Saleh Razzouk
    June 26, 2021

    Nice dialogue.
    Paris was necessity for many to flowerish like James Baldwin, Henry Miller among others.
    Irish literature found its identity in Paris.
    I recall an old man from Yemen i met in Paris incidentally. He was preaching on the history of his beloved devistated country carrying with him a dish, a cooking pot and few metal stainless steel spoons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      June 26, 2021

      Thanks, Saleh. Yes, Paris has been a place of refuge for many people from around the world, including many of my heroes.

      Liked by 2 people

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