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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

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Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
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Done Dating DJs
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Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
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BILLY COLLINS

 

 

Billy Collins poem in Southword Journl

 

Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He is the author of several books of poetry, including Ballistics (2008); She Was Just Seventeen (2006); The Trouble with Poetry (2005); Nine Horses (2002); Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001); Picnic, Lightning (1998); The Art of Drowning (1995); Questions About Angels (1991), which was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series; The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988); Video Poems (1980); and Pokerface (1977). He was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. Billy Collins's ninth collection of poems is Horoscopes for the Dead (Random House, 2011).  

 

 

 

 

Photo © Steven Kovich

 

 

__________

 

The Walk

 

________

 

 

 

 

Lost in Paris

 

Of all the citizens to stop
it was Piet Mondrian whom I chose
to ask directions to Place de la Concorde.

In the time it took him to set up his board
I could have found one of those
kiosks that sell Gauloises and maps.

But he had already prepped
the whole canvas white
and painted the first of the straight lines blue.

Without their names, every rue
looked the same, and what did the bright
red and yellow zones represent?

No matter. Once I had said adieu
and turned left around a sharp corner,
there was no way to go wrong.

I zigzagged, canvas in hand,
and thanks to his geometrical gift,
ended up, as you can see, precisely at your door.

 

 

__________

 

The Walk

 

As much as these erratic clouds keep sweeping
this way and that over the roof
of this blue house bordered by hedges and fruit trees,

and as much the world continues to run
in all directions with its head in its hands,
there is one particular robin who appears

every morning on a section of lawn
by the front door with such regularity
he could be a lighthouse keeper or a clock maker.

He could be Kierkegaard were he not so small
and feathered, whom the Danes set their watches by
as he walked through town under a high crest of hair.

It takes a lot to startle this bird—
only a hand clap will make him rise
to one of the low branches of the nearby apple tree.

But I doubt if he would be so naive
to permit me to slip a small collar around his neck
and take him for a walk, first around the house

then later, when more trust had been established,
into town where we would pass the locals
with their children and unimaginative dogs in tow,

and I would hold the robin lightly by a string
as we waited to cross the street, then he would hop
off the curb and off we would go

not caring about what people were saying
even when we stopped at a store front
to admire our strange reflections in the window.

 

 

©2010 Billy Collins

 

 

 

 

Author Links

 

Billy Collins Homepage

Poetry Foundation resources on Collins

Collins's work at Random House

 

 

 

 

 

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