Billy Collins 2 US Poet Laureate 2001 2003 Jan 2016

brevity when HG Wells was asked to come forward to the microphone at a dinner and give a extemporaneous speech on the subject of sex and he came to the microphone and said it is my great pleasure so for you for all of us I'd like to read a poem called forgetfulness which is a meditation on that that afflicts us young and all the life forgetfulness the name of the author is the first to go followed immediately by the title the plot the heartbreaking conclusion the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read never even heard of it is as if one by one the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain to a little fishing village where there are no phones long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye and you watch the quadratic equation packets bag and even now as you memorize the order of the planets something else is slipping away a state flower perhaps the address of it uncle the capital of Paraguay whatever it is you are struggling to remember it is not boys on the tip of your tongue not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen it has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have forgotten even how to swim and how to ride a bicycle no wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war no wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart

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