Thursday, October 27, 2005

I am not Billy Collins

Billy Collins does not live on my street
nor do his poems come to mind
when I hum a line from an Art Tatum solo
when getting the mail under whatever
the color the sky happens to be,

I would think he fears bills
and invitations
as I do, prefers tenor saxophone
to reedy alto flights,
finds solace in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
when his computer breaks down
as I do when things fail
and I scramble for a passage I copied to a business card
from a description I read of someone else’s review,

There is no house with picket fences
nor apartments set off from the street
by grand trees and high hedges,
there are only parked cars blocking
the sidewalk as they impose their tires
on the curb, tattooed monsters drinking beer
and girls sobbing into cell phones
about what they wore on their worst night ever,
and me, dressed to leave as if forever to be gone
but staring at the computer trying to
fill this page with words,

Instead of a house mate singing,
there leaf blowers roaring
up and down the walk
scattering clipped grass from one
door way to another,
there is only ginger ale for
vodka martini fatalist,

Billy Collins would
find some clever things
to write in the absence or presence
of anything interesting
occurring in the place where
his feet are actually planted,
some planet or star or
an old Movie Poster
would rouse from his
seat and send on a mission
to get some inane thing
done because so much of
Western Culture hinged
on his having yet more
epiphanies and eurekas
as he sorts his bills, licks stamps,
contemplates dinner
and how large the portions,
Mozart and Wallace Stevens
ride in his backseat
as he drives to the market
where he meets Charlie Parker
and Thomas Carlyle
in the desert line, eating snack samples
made of cheese and crackers
from a lady in a tunic red as roses
on the slipperiest anniversary,
and then it’ll be home, a poem,
a cool round of music
and settled bills,
a world at rest after a hard day of being.

At this moment my dog
would bark if
I had a dog
but my feet hurt
all the same
walking for blocks past
Radio Shacks and taco stands
dragging a plastic bag of used paper backs
and canned food
for what is another night
of Law and Order reruns
and a final thought
in passing that

I wish I was Billy Collins
for a half hour just to see

what it’s like to live
in a world where
every thing I do ends up

perfectly measured and clever
in the form of a sentence
in a perfectly poised poem
that makes me laugh
or cry and leaves me

somewhere in between
as if dumped on an empty highway
from a fast car after being wooed
by the sleaziest bastard in my little town.

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