“At the Crossroads,” a Poem by Dana Gioia

From the Collection Meet Me at the Lighthouse

February 6, 2023  By Dana Gioia

Here are the crossroads where old women come
Under the quarter moon to cast their spells,
And where young lovers meet to argue out
The secret terms of their surrender.

It is a place that each sees differently—
The salesman scouting, soldiers tramping home,
The scholar napping by the riverbank
While someone else’s fortune drifts downstream.

But if you stand at crossroads long enough,
Most of the eager world comes strutting by—
Businessmen, preachers, cats—all going somewhere,
Even the Devil striking up a deal.

I used to wonder if they ever got there.
Be careful here in choosing where to turn.
You learn a lot by staying in one place
But never how the story truly ends.


meet me at the lighthouse

Excerpt from Meet Me at the Lighthouse. Copyright © 2023 by Dana Gioia. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org

Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia is an award-winning poet and critic. He has published five celebrated volumes of poetry, including 99 Poems: New & Selected, and three critical collections. For six years he served as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He is now the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California. He is the Poet Laureate of California.

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