Billy Collins
The Art Of Drowning by Billy Collins

The Art Of Drowning by Billy Collins

I wonder how it all got started, this business about seeing your life flash before your eyes while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence, could startle time into ...

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I Go Back To The House For A Book by Billy Collins

I Go Back To The House For A Book by Billy Collins

I turn around on the gravel and go back to the house for a book, something to read at the doctor’s office, and while I am inside, running the finger of inquisition along a ...

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Another Reason Why I Don’T Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins

Another Reason Why I Don’T Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.He is barking the same high, rhythmic barkthat he barks every time they leave the house.They must switch him on on their way out.The ...

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Litany by Billy Collins

Litany by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife, The crystal goblet and the wine... -Jacques CrickillonYou are the bread and the knife,the crystal goblet and the wine.You are the ...

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Invention by Billy Collins

Invention by Billy Collins

Tonight the moon is a cracker,with a bite out of itfloating in the night,and in a week or soaccording to the calendarit will probably looklike a silver football,and nine, maybe ...

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On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feellike I'm coming down with something,something worse than any stomach acheor the headaches I get from reading in bad light--a kind of measles of ...

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Reading An Anthology Of Chinese Poems Of The Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire The Length And Clarity Of Their Titles by Billy Collins

Reading An Anthology Of Chinese Poems Of The Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire The Length And Clarity Of Their Titles by Billy Collins

It seems these poets have nothingup their ample sleevesthey turn over so many cards so early,telling us before the first linewhether it is wet or dry,night or day, the season the ...

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Fishing On The Susquehanna In July by Billy Collins

Fishing On The Susquehanna In July by Billy Collins

I have never been fishing on the Susquehannaor on any river for that matterto be perfectly honest.Not in July or any monthhave I had the pleasure -- if it is a pleasure --of ...

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Embrace by Billy Collins

Embrace by Billy Collins

You know the parlor trick.wrap your arms around your own bodyand from the back it looks likesomeone is embracing youher hands grasping your shirther fingernails teasing your ...

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By A Swimming Pool Outside Syracusa by Billy Collins

By A Swimming Pool Outside Syracusa by Billy Collins

All afternoon I have been struggling to communicate in Italian with Roberto and Giuseppe, who have begun to resemble the two male characters in my Italian for Beginners, the ones ...

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Forgetfulness by Billy Collins

Forgetfulness by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to gofollowed obediently by the title, the plot,the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novelwhich suddenly becomes one you have never ...

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Flames by Billy Collins

Flames by Billy Collins

Smokey the Bear headsinto the autumn woodswith a red can of gasolineand a box of wooden matches.His ranger's hat is cockedat a disturbing angle.His brown fur gleamsunder the high ...

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I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey’s Version Of “Three Blind Mice” by Billy Collins

I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey’s Version Of “Three Blind Mice” by Billy Collins

And I start wondering how they came to be blind.If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,and I think of the poor motherbrooding over her sightless young triplets.Or ...

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Introduction To Poetry by Billy Collins

Introduction To Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poemand hold it up to the light like a color slideor press an ear against its hive.I say drop a mouse into a poemand watch him probe his way out,or walk ...

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Madmen by Billy Collins

Madmen by Billy Collins

They say you can jinx a poemif you talk about it before it is done.If you let it out too early, they warn,your poem will fly away,and this time they are absolutely right.Take the ...

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Child Development by Billy Collins

Child Development by Billy Collins

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legsand sauntered off the beaches into forestsworking up some irregular verbs for theirfirst conversation, so three-year-old childrenenter the ...

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I Ask You by Billy Collins

I Ask You by Billy Collins

What scene would I want to be enveloped inmore than this one,an ordinary night at the kitchen table,floral wallpaper pressing in,white cabinets full of glass,the telephone ...

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Japan by Billy Collins

Japan by Billy Collins

Today I pass the time readinga favorite haiku,saying the few words over and over.It feels like eatingthe same small, perfect grapeagain and again.I walk through the house reciting ...

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Tomes by Billy Collins

Tomes by Billy Collins

There is a section in my library for deathand another for Irish history,a few shelves for the poetry of China and Japan,and in the center a row of imperturbable reference ...

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Candle Hat by Billy Collins

Candle Hat by Billy Collins

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,Rembrant looks relieved ...

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Thesaurus by Billy Collins

Thesaurus by Billy Collins

It could be the name of a prehistoric beastthat roamed the Paleozoic earth, rising upon its hind legs to show off its large vocabulary,or some lover in a myth who is metamorphosed ...

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The Art Of Drowning by Billy Collins

The Art Of Drowning by Billy Collins

I wonder how it all got started, this businessabout seeing your life flash before your eyeswhile you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,could startle time into such ...

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Nightclub by Billy Collins

Nightclub by Billy Collins

You are so beautiful and I am a foolto be in love with youis a theme that keeps coming upin songs and poems.There seems to be no room for variation.I have never heard anyone singI ...

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Christmas Sparrow by Billy Collins

Christmas Sparrow by Billy Collins

The first thing I heard this morningwas a soft, insistent rustle,the rapid flapping of wingsagainst glass as it turned out,a small bird riotingin the frame of a high window,trying ...

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Nostalgia by Billy Collins

Nostalgia by Billy Collins

Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,the ...

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Pinup by Billy Collins

Pinup by Billy Collins

The murkiness of the local garage is not so densethat you cannot make out the calendar of pinupdrawings on the wall above a bench of tools.Your ears are ringing with the sound ...

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Neither Snow by Billy Collins

Neither Snow by Billy Collins

When all of a sudden the city air filled with snow,the distinguishable flakesblowing sideways,looked like krillfleeing the maw of an advancing whale.At least they looked that way ...

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Consolation by Billy Collins

Consolation by Billy Collins

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,fully ...

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The Best Cigarette by Billy Collins

The Best Cigarette by Billy Collins

There are many that I misshaving sent my last one out a car windowsparking along the road one night, years ago.The heralded one, of course:after sex, the two glowing tipsnow the ...

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Dear Reader by Billy Collins

Dear Reader by Billy Collins

Baudelaire considers you his brother, and Fielding calls out to you every few paragraphs as if to make sure you have not closed the book, and now I am summoning you up again, ...

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For Bartleby The Scrivener by Billy Collins

For Bartleby The Scrivener by Billy Collins

"Every time we get a big gale around here some people just refuse to batten down."we estimate thatice skating into a sixtymile an hour wind, fully exertingthe legs and ...

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Snow Day by Billy Collins

Snow Day by Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,its white flag waving over everything,the landscape vanished,not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,and beyond these windowsthe ...

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Marginalia by Billy Collins

Marginalia by Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,skirmishes against the authorraging along the borders of every pagein tiny black script.If I could just get my hands on you,Kierkegaard, or Conor ...

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Shoveling Snow With Buddha by Billy Collins

Shoveling Snow With Buddha by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wokyou would never see him doing such a thing,tossing the dry snow over a mountainof his bare, round shoulder,his hair tied in ...

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The Iron Bridge by Billy Collins

The Iron Bridge by Billy Collins

I am standing on a disused iron bridgethat was erected in 1902,according to the iron plaque bolted into a beam,the year my mother turned one.Imagine--a mother in her infancy,and ...

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Today by Billy Collins

Today by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

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The Only Day In Existence by Billy Collins

The Only Day In Existence by Billy Collins

The early sun is so pale and shadowy,I could be looking up at a ghostin the shape of a window,a tall, rectangular spiritlooking down at me in bed,about to demand that I avengethe ...

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The First Dream by Billy Collins

The First Dream by Billy Collins

The Wind is ghosting around the house tonightand as I lean against the door of sleepI begin to think about the first person to dream,how quiet he must have seemed the next ...

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Workshop by Billy Collins

Workshop by Billy Collins

I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title. It gets me right away because I'm in a workshop now so immediately the poem has my attention, like the Ancient Mariner ...

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Some Days by Billy Collins

Some Days by Billy Collins

Some days I put the people in their places at the table,bend their legs at the knees,if they come with that feature,and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs.All afternoon they ...

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The Death of Allegory by Billy Collins

The Death of Allegory by Billy Collins

I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractionsthat used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintingsand parade about on the pages of the Renaissancedisplaying their ...

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Silence by Billy Collins

Silence by Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowdabove a player not moving on the field,and the silence of the orchid.The silence of the falling vasebefore it strikes the ?oor,the silence ...

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Night Golf by Billy Collins

Night Golf by Billy Collins

I remember the night I discovered,lying in bed in the dark,that a few imagined holes of golfworked much better than a thousand sheep,that the local links,not the cloudy pasture ...

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The Lanyard by Billy Collins

The Lanyard by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowlyoff the blue walls of this roombouncing from typewriter to pianofrom bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,I found myself in the 'L' ...

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Man in Space by Billy Collins

Man in Space by Billy Collins

All you have to do is listen to the way a mansometimes talks to his wife at a table of peopleand notice how intent he is on making his pointeven though her lower lip is beginning ...

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The Names by Billy Collins

The Names by Billy Collins

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,I started with A, with Ackerman, as it ...

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Man Listening To Disc by Billy Collins

Man Listening To Disc by Billy Collins

This is not bad --ambling along 44th Streetwith Sonny Rollins for company,his music flowing through the soft calipersof these earphones,as if he were right beside meon this clear ...

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Study In Orange And White by Billy Collins

Study In Orange And White by Billy Collins

I knew that James Whistler was part of the Paris scene,but I was still surprised when I found the paintingof his mother at the Musee d'Orsayamong all the colored dots and mobile ...

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Walking Across The Atlantic by Billy Collins

Walking Across The Atlantic by Billy Collins

I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beachbefore stepping onto the first wave.Soon I am walking across the Atlanticthinking about Spain,checking for whales, waterspouts.I ...

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Writing In The Afterlife by Billy Collins

Writing In The Afterlife by Billy Collins

I imagined the atmosphere would be clear,shot with pristine light,not this sulphurous haze,the air ionized as before a thunderstorm.Many have pictured a river here,but no one ...

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