Four poems from Billy Collins – 2/7/2015



it's great that a Prairie Home Companion has made a place for poetry especially my poetry so I'm gonna read a few poems some of you know my poetry know that I'm a dog person basically and I've written extensively on the subject but a cat has gotten into our house and shows no signs of leaving and she came from Catelyn door I don't know where but she has also made her way into a few poems so here is one about that and it's called lucky cat it's a law as immutable as the ones governing bodies and motion and bodies at rest that a cat picked up will never stay in the place where you choose to set it down I bet you'd be happy on the sofa or on this Hasek or this knitted throw pillow are a few examples of bets you are bound to lose the secret of winning I have found is never to bet against the cat but on the cat preferably with another human being who unlike the cat is likely to be carrying money and I cannot think of a better time to thank our cat for her obedience to that law thus turning me into a consistent winner she's a pure black one quite impossible to photograph and prone to disappearing into the night or even to the thin shadows of noon such an amorphous blob of blackness is she the only way to tell she is approaching is to notice the two little yellow circles of her eyes then only one circle when she is walking away with with her with her tail raised high something like the lantern signals of Paul Revere American silversmith galloping patriot so that's her Audrey is their name and case you want to call her up sometime and this poem is simply titled 1960 in the old joke the marriage counselor tells the couple who never talks anymore to go to a jazz club because at a jazz club everyone talks during the bass solo but of course no one starts talking just because of a bass solo or any other solo for that matter the quieter bass solo just reveals the people in the club who have been talking all along the same ones you can hear on some well-known recordings Bill Evans for example who is opening a new door on the piano while some guy chats up his date at one of the little tables in the back I have listened to that album so many times I can anticipate the moment of his drunken laugh as if it were a strange note in the tune and so anonymous man you have become part of my listening your romance a romance lost in the past and a reminder somehow that each member of that trio has died since then and maybe so have you and sadly maybe she it's funny it's funny and sad at the same time so we're aiming for here here's something that poets get all the time other writers never get this but poets are subject to this stuff and you'll quickly see even from the title you might know what it is it's called the suggestion box it all began fairly early in the day at the coffee shop as it turned out when the usual waitress said I'll bet you're gonna write a poem about this after she had knocked a cup of coffee into my lab then later in the morning I was told by a student that I should write a poem about the fire drill that was going on as we all stood on the lawn outside our building in the afternoon a woman I barely knew said you could write a poem about that pointing to a dirigible that was passing overhead and if all that were not enough a friend turned to me as we walked past a man whose face was covered with tattoos and said I see a poem coming why is everyone being so helpful I wondered that evening by the shore of a lake maybe I should write a poem about all the people who think they know what I should be writing poems about it was just then in the fading light that I spotted a pair of ducks emerging from a cluster of reeds to paddle out to open water the female glancing back over her russet shoulder just in time to see me searching my pockets for a pen I knew it she cracked with a bit of a brogue but who can blame you for following your heart she went on now go write a lovely poem about me in the mr. that's what we do come up with talking ducks right here's a poem last poem in this sequence sequence that is tackles or faces a rather big thorny subject and that is the subject of adolescence and it's dedicated to someone who is committing that crime of being one at some point and it's called – my favorite 17-year old high school girl do you realize that if you had started billing the Parthenon on the day you were born you would be all done in only one more year of course you couldn't have done that alone so never mind you're fine just as you are you are loved for simply being yourself but did you know that at your age Judy Garland was pulling down 150,000 dollars a picture Joan of Arc was leading the French army to victory and Blaise Pascal had cleaned up his room no wait I mean he had invented the calculator of course there will be time for all that later in your life after you come out of your room and begin to blossom or at least pick up all your socks for some reason I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England when she was only 15 but then she was beheaded so never mind her as a role model but a few centuries later when he was your age franz schubert was doing the dishes for his family but that did not keep him from composing to symphonies for operas and to complete masses as a youngster but of course that was in Austria at the height of romantic lyricism not here in the suburbs of Cleveland frankly who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15 or of Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17 we think you are special by just being you playing with your food and staring into space by the way I lied about Schubert doing the dishes but that doesn't mean he never helped out around the house ladies and gentlemen the one and only Billy Collins

3 thoughts on “Four poems from Billy Collins – 2/7/2015

  1. Hello,
    I am Vietnamese but I know little about English. And I also know you are an American poet and I know the following poem is the poem that I wrote for you to read and comment on.
    If not, then do not neglect.
    Thank you for reading this poetry line wish you and your family happy.

    Poem Just A Memory.
    The rain outside the rain still falling
    Quiet space only one person
    Obviously remembered little girl.
    Now just me alone with me!
    From one school to another
    I entered your pedagogy in life
    Every year, I thought I was happy
    Accidentally meet again your fall!
    I miss the old school I miss me
    How many memories of the twenties
    Brilliant innocence in love!
    Everybody jokes we match.
    I cried so much in front of me
    The towel wiped lightly
    I wandered in sadness
    I stand silently to play with!
    The rain came to wake me up
    I miss you a little bit
    I hope you live in happiness
    Leave the night not to remember me!

    Authors: Dam Cong Thanh.

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