Written in—and to be performed in—the style,
or an approximation of the style, of Billy Collins
Before the canvas, he brushes words.
Blue sky, red bandana, green boat, a thin pole
to fish the Susquehanna in July. Although,
he admits, he’s never fished the Susquehanna;
perhaps, doesn’t even like fish, July,
or red bandanas. I like Billy Collins. Actually,
not the man Billy Collins whom I’ve never met
except on YouTube with his balding head,
half-smile wit, and perfect words pointing
to themselves and, sometimes, to other things.
Nor the Billy Collins who can mesmerize an audience
with verbal acrobatics and flying twists
that make me want to cry, How does he do this?
in his drab suit-coat, no tie, and black glasses
he yo-yo’s from podium to nose.
Rather, it’s the poet who urges me to stand
at my window each sunrise—although the sun
doesn’t really rise in my backyard.
It staggers through stands of Douglas fir,
55 minutes after the newspaper says it should.
It hesitates, then shyly appears. Anyway,
as I was saying when sun popped in,
he wants me to ensure the neighbor’s cat
has not made its presence smelt
in flower beds near my back fence;
and that someone is sitting at my table
waiting to listen to my poetry
over cereal bowls—or, in my house,
over spelt bread spread with coconut oil,
a healthy alternative to corn syrup
and other suspect things corporations hide
on well-stocked shelves. Which is not to say,
raw milk wouldn’t sit on his table
near a bowl of organic berries cultivated
on the banks of the Susquehanna
by fishermen’s wives, particularly
those who hate fishy red bandanas
and slime-green boats—while they wait
for men with thin poles to row a sunset home.
by Carolyn Martin
Previously published in Carolyn Martin, Finding Compass (Portland, OR: Queen of Wands Press, 2011). Used with permission of the author.
Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes and plays with creative friends. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” she is still amazed she continues to write. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Stirring, Persimmon Tree, Antiphon, and Naugatuck River Review. Her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released in February 2015 by The Poetry Box, Portland, OR.
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