This week I received an email from Heidi Mordhorst promoting a celebration of Billy Collins for this Poetry Friday roundup. Billy Collins’ birthday is March 22. He will be 76.
I’ve actually had the privilege to meet Billy Collins at the Dodge Poetry Festival in the fall of 2008. I took a picture with him that I cannot find. I remember his humor most of all. The tone of his voice, almost monotone, enhances the hilarity of his poems.
I’m not sure how many books I have of Billy Collins’ poetry, at least 5. At Christmas, I had a Barnes and Noble gift card, so I bought the latest The Rain in Portugal. I read about half of it and put it down after I heard an interview with him that made me mad.
I imagine all poets to be gentle, loving souls. If Billy Collins is being himself in interviews, and I would assume he is, he is quite arrogant. He insulted us amateur poets as if we shouldn’t even try to write. I decided to reject his opinion and continue to write poetry. In fact I’ve written a few poems “after Billy Collins.” So to appease my injured pride and to reject his lofty opinion, I am not posting his poetry, but my own.
after Billy Collins, Litany
We are all on this ship together
whether or not it sails.
We are side by side
like the freckles on your mother’s face.
We are closer
than the love bugs on the windshield.
You, and I, and he, and she.
We are not like the blown away balloons
at the 3 year old’s birthday party.
We are not the shavings of wood mulching the flower bed.
No, we are this way, that way,
you know what I mean,
intertwined like the vines of wisteria,
joined and connected, tumbling and reaching.
Give me your hand.
I will give you mine.
Let’s go on this voyage together.
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.
Burst into Spring
after Billy Collins, Today
If ever there was a spring day so perfect,
so stirred up by a cool crisp wind
that you wanted to breathe more often
to taste the wisteria blossoms,
and throw open all the doors,
lift them clear off the hinges,
a day so bright the pink azaleas
pop open like a birthday balloon bouquet,
seemed so delightful that you felt like
running naked among them,
released from all inhibitions taking flight
outstretched arms playing airplane,
so you could fly on steady wings
balanced for lift and drinking nectar,
yes, you can imagine it,
today is just that kind of day.
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved