Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Horoscopes for the Dead

I love getting lost in Billy Collins's poetry.  Every poem is accessible on the first reading but it's on the second and third readings when the layers peel back and and I say, "Ohhh, that's what he's really talking about."

His style is so simple and ordinary.  He's not interested in flowery phrases.  He just looks around and uses the everyday items he sees as the backdrop for his musings.

It's real life gathered together in stanzas.  Here's an example:
Good News

When the news came in over the phone
that you did not have cancer, as they first thought,

I was in the kitchen trying to follow a recipe,
glancing from cookbook to stove,
shifting my glasses from my nose to my forehead and back,

a recipe, as it turned out, for ratatouille,
a complicated vegetable dish
which you or any other dog would turn your nose at.

If you had been here, I imagine
you would have been curled up by the door
sleeping with your head resting on your tail.

And after I learned that you were not sick,
everything took on a different look
and appeared to be better than it usually is.

For example (and that's the first and last time
I will ever use those words in a poem),
I decided I should grate some cheese,

not even knowing if it was right for ratatouille,
and the sight of the cheese grater
with its red handle lying in the drawer

with all the other utensils made me marvel
at how this thing was so perfectly able and ready
to grate cheese just as you with your long smile

and your brown and white coat
are perfectly designed to be the dog you perfectly are.

1 comment:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I wrote about "The Lanyard" from another of his books. Maybe you saw it, but here's the link in case you didn't.