more billy collins

 

Also from Horoscopes for the Dead, Genesis, another favorite

 

 

GENESIS

 

It was late, of course,
just the two of us still at the table
working on a second bottle of wine

when you speculated that maybe Eve came first
and Adam began as a rib
that leaped out of her side one paradisal afternoon.

Maybe, I remember saying,
because much was possible back then,
and I mentioned the talking snake
and the giraffes sticking their necks out of the ark,
their noses up in the pouring Old Testament rain.

I like a man with a flexible mind, you said then,
lifting your candlelit glass to me
and I raised mine to you and began to wonder

what life would be like as one of your ribs—
to be with you all the time,
riding under your blouse and skin,
caged under the soft weight of your breasts,

your favorite rib, I am assuming,
if you ever bothered to stop and count them

which is just what I did later that night
after you had fallen asleep
and we were fitted tightly back to front,
your long legs against the length of mine,
my fingers doing the crazy numbering that comes of love. – Billy Collins

 

photo credit: unknown

 

her

I first posted this work in January of 2016, a Billy Collins favorite of mine

 

 

HER

There is no noisier place than the suburbs,
someone once said to me
as we were walking along a fairway,
and every day is delighted to offer fresh evidence:

the chainsaw, the leaf-blower blowing
one leaf around an enormous house with columns,
on Mondays and Thursdays the garbage truck
equipped with air brakes, reverse beeper, and merciless grinder.

There’s dogs, hammers, backhoes
or serious earthmovers if today is not your day.
How can the birds get a peep
or a chirp in edgewise, I would like to know?

But this morning is different,
only a soft clicking sound
and the low talk of two workmen working
on the house next door, laying tile I am guessing.

Otherwise, all quiet for a change,
just the clicking of tiles being handled
and their talking back and forth in Spanish
then one of them asking in English

“What was her name?” and the silence of the other.  – Billy Collins, Horoscopes for the Dead

 

I will be an usher at the Billy Collins lecture, “Politics, Poetry and War,” at the upcoming Key West Literary Seminar. I am thrilled to be a part of this event.

 

art work: American Gardeners by Ramiro Gomez, a spin on David Hockney’s American Collectors

 

You, Reader

 

fred

 

You, Reader

I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you,

that it was I who got up early
to sit in the kitchen
and mention with a pen

the rain-soaked windows,
the ivy wall paper,
and the goldfish circling in its bowl.

Go ahead and turn aside,
bite your lip and tear out the page,
but, listen—it was just a matter of time

before one of us happened
to notice the unlit candles
and the clock humming on the wall.

Plus, nothing happened that morning—
a song on the radio,
a car whistling along the road outside—

and I was only thinking
about the shakers of salt and pepper
that were standing side by side on a place mat.

I wondered if they had become friends
after all these years
or if they were still strangers to one another

like you and I
who manage to be known and unknown
to each other at the same time–

me at this table with a bowl of pears,
you leaning in a doorway somewhere
near some blue hydrangeas, reading this.  — Billy Collins / The Trouble with Poetry

 

I recently submitted poetry for acceptance into a Billy Collins workshop in Key West. I did not get into the workshop and was obviously disappointed, but fortunately the disappointment did not last long. I am not a poet, I only play at poetry, and there are serious poets out there who are much more deserving of the space. This rejection in no way diminished my love for Billy Collins, in fact, I somehow feel closer to him knowing that I almost got into his workshop.

 

art work: Frederick C. Frieseke

 

boys and mothers

An awesome Billy Collins poem that was given to me by my awesome son. Read it if you have boys, read it if you have a mother. With another mother’s day post to follow, I didn’t realize that I had a “thing” for Mother’s Day but apparently I do.

 

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THE LANYARD

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past —
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift–not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even. – Billy Collins

 

photo credit: ondessonk.com