Billy Collins on how no man is lonely while eating spaghetti


No man is lonely while eating spaghetti. — Christopher Morley

This time, I was at a corner table at Pasta Vivace!
on that side street next to the old music store.
The place was not at all crowded.
Just enough young men and women
were coming and going to keep me
occupied as I sipped my Campari and soda
and waited for the waiter to arrive with my pasta.

I imagined what the parents of all these people
were doing this evening,
then I thought of all of the diners as babies
with looks of amazement on their tiny faces.
Then as they kept arriving and departing,
holding the door for one another,
they turned into skeletons in their caskets,

each being carried by six husky pallbearers,
who would also be dead by now,
as I would be before too long,
for death is the magnetic north of poetry.

But first, I must insist on having the pleasure
of eating my linguini con vongole,
dipping chunks of crusty bread into the briny sauce.

for this is also a poem about happiness,
a celebration of the senses
and of all the men and women coming and going.
And if you turn your head a little this way,
you can see me at a corner table,
twirling the pasta with a fork and spoon
like an infant with a bib tucked under his chin.

Thanks to Joanna Goddard at