22 July 2011

Two Poems by Billy Collins

From Collins' new book, horoscopes for the dead, here are two poems adjacent to each other, in the middle of the book, to give you some idea of how brilliant it is, even at random.

My Hero

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.


The Meatball Department

there is no such thing as a meatball department
as far as anyone knows.
No helpful clerk has ever answered the question
where do you keep your meatballs?
by pointing to the back of the store
and saying you'll find them over there in the meatball department.

We don't have to narrow it down
to Swedish and Italian meatballs to know
that meatballs are already too specific
to have an entire department named after them
unlike Produce, Appliances, or Ladies' Shoes.

It's like when you get angry at me
for reading in bed with the lights on
when you are trying to fall asleep,
I cannot find a department for that.

Like meatballs, it's too small a thing to have its own department
unlike Rudeness and Selfishness which are located
down various aisles of the store known as Marriage.

I should just turn off the light
but instead I have stopped in that vast store
and I will now climb into my cart,
clasp my knees against my chest and wait
for the manager or some other person of authority

to push me down to the police station
or just out to the parking lot,
otherwise known as the department of lost husbands,
or sometimes, as now, the department of dark and pouring rain.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

I don't think I've ever seen you post poetry before. You picked a good pair to start with- that's definitely a book I'm going to go looking for!