Thursday, March 18, 2021

Billy Collins

He was the opening night speaker at the (virtual)Tucson Festival of Books this year.  I cleaned the kitchen as he spoke.  

I really wished that he could have been here in person.  His video was fuzzy and I couldn't watch his eyes crinkle as he laughed.  

He laughed a lot.  

He takes the mundane and madness it special.  His is not the poetry of inexplicable symbolism.  He's accessible on a first reading,  though more comes through the more times you posts the words. 

This is the poem he read to me ten years ago,  at a Literary Society luncheon.  It is exactly how I feel today. 

I couldn't say it better,  so I decided not to try. 


Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.

Just another Wednesday
you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday's saucer
without the slightest clink.

by Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-2003


  1. I have seen Billy Collins read in person two times, once at the University of Vermont and once in Sarasota, FL. Both times a special treat.

    1. He's so approachable, so deep beneath a friendly exterior. So glad you had the chance to hear him in person. It is a special treat, indeed.


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!