“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

sharing is caring

Billy Collins is my favorite poet, as I am sure he is many an aspiring poets favorite. He is the master of the everyday minutiae of simply living life. Collins is a former Poet Laureate of the United States. I want to share a few poems from Ballistics 2008.

The Idea of Natural History at Key West

When I happened to notice myself
walking naked past a wall-length mirror

one spring morning
in a house by the water
where a friend was letting me stay,

I looked like one of those silhouettes
that illustrate the evolution of man,

but not exactly the most recent figure.
I seemed to represent a more primitive stage,
maybe not the round-shouldered ape

dragging his knuckles on the ground,
but neither the fully upright hominoid

ready to put on a suit and head for the office.
Was it something in the slope of my brow
or my slack belly?

Was this the beginning of the Great Regression
as the anthropologists of tomorrow would call it?

I was never the smartest monkey on the block,
I thought to myself in the shower,
but I was at least advanced enough to be standing

under a cascade of steaming water,
and I did have enough curiosity to wonder
what the next outline in the sequence might look like:

the man of the future stepping forward
like the others rising to their hind legs behind him,

only with a longer stride, a more ample cranium,
and maybe a set of talons,
or a pair of useless, cherubic wings.


Once, two spoons in bed,
now tined forks

across a granite table
and the knives they hired.

    The legendary Cang Jie was said to
    have invented writing after observing
    the tracks of birds

A light snow last night,
and now the earth falls open to a fresh page.

A highwind is breaking up the clouds,
children wait for the yellow bus in a huddle,

and under the feeder, some birds
are busy writing short stories,

poems and letters to their mothers.
A crow is working on an editorial.

That chickadee is etching a list,
and a robin walks back and forth

composing the opening to her autobiography.
All so prolific this morning,

these expressive little creatures,
and each with an alphabet of only two letters.

The Golden Years

All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and, last time I looked, no ridge.

I could drive over to Quail Falls
and spend the day there playing bridge,
but the lack of a falls and the absence of quail
would only remind me of Pheasant Ridge.

I knowawidow at Fox Run
and another with a condo at Smoky Ledge.
One of them smokes, and neither can run,
so I'll stick to the pledge I made to Midge.

Who frightened the fox and bulldozed the ledge?
I ask in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge.

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