Saturday, October 17, 2009


I've just been introduced to the poetry of Billy Collins.  Maybe I'm the only one in North America who hasn't heard of him as he's apparently America's most popular poet.  I enjoy poetry although I'm only now starting to search some out after being introduced on various blogs.  In any case, this poem made me laugh--and cringe--at the same time.


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

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 watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised 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 even forgotten 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.


  1. Hmmm...I'll have to join you in your lonely place on the continent. I, too, have never heard of this poet. But he is certainly worth looking up. Well said. Well written.

  2. a very funny resonant poem but billy collins - nope never heard of him. but then i couldn't tell you who the popular singers are either . . . . or the name of the last book i read . . . or what i had for lunch today . . . oh well!! beautiful reflections in the top picture. steven

  3. Oh Steven, you are a funny guy!


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