• Viola Ugolini

“Patti and Robert and Sam”

This poem was originally published on The Pittsburgher’s predecessor, The Dog Door Cultural.


When I lived in Chelsea I walked down to the hotel they once lived in

then I went to Gristede’s in search of the meat of the skeleton building


I think once he said Sam Shepard is a god

and I never learned not to take him seriously.

He studied playwriting by reading his plays

and I studied his face as he flipped through the pages.

I knew how it ends even before he told me

because he had two names and he played in a band.

Just too many kids there owned my favourite book

and I saw the cover through windows of bookstores.

It’s hard to share something you love to your bones

and just as hard to admit it has poisoned your flesh


We each kept our book on the nightstand and reread them religiously

but he also kept the Holy Bible and I had Patti Smith’s early poetry


He and I once took the subway to the Guggenheim museum

and I was so elated they were showing Robert Mapplethorpe.

Then you met us there and we walked up to the gallery

and escalated into the future of a business that destroys.

I knew how it ends even before you told me

because I knew you first and he liked me last.

Months later you said you had bought my favourite book

on the very day you went to see True West on the West End.

It’s hard to share something you love, and we both did

but since then you barely took pictures of me on your film


And I let you read less of my poems, so I guess we cannot be like Robert and Patti

I wonder when you read the book did you think about when you and I lived in Chelsea ▲


Viola Ugolini is graduating from King's College London in Liberal Arts with a major in Film Studies and a minor in English. She writes poems and songs, or turns songs into poems and poems into songs, to search for the better ending.