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On Opening Old Books

"a visit planned but never paid"

Published onJan 21, 2024
On Opening Old Books

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood:

At times on the page of a book
that hasn’t been opened
for years, or decades,
I find a note, jotted in pencil,
that reminds me
of some unfinished business.
It could be the beginning of a letter,
a failed reconciliation,
a visit planned but never paid
for fear of strong emotions.
Today I press keys,
send emoticons,
post videos,
often while I do all other things.
I delude myself
that I can be ubiquitous,
but I am nowhere,
and hence I am nobody, to anybody.
I am purely counterfeit mes.
Even memories are just a memory,
erased by bits and screens.
Still, I happen to open dusty books,
they are the only ones
that speak to me for real.

Alessio Zanelli is an Italian poet who writes in English. His work has appeared in over 200 literary journals from 17 countries. His sixth collection, titled The Invisible, was published in 2023 by Greenwich Exchange (London). For more information please visit

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