Sunday, December 13, 2009


It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.

--Billy Collins


Mister Earl said...

"Sometimes I Feel Like a Doormat When People Laugh at Me and Call Me Names When I'm Walking Down Mission Street or Just Posting on Facebook."

Dixie Jane said...

I consulted my Google source to find that there are hundreds of kinds of mats. Mister Earl, do not let the people on Mission Street or Facebook cause you to feel like a Doormat. Here, you are a Welcome Mat and I am always glad to see your comments. Your warmth and wit and insight brighten my day. Sometimes life can seem like a tangled mass, or a mat that we don't know how to deal with. We must not let this deter our optimism.

Mister Earl said...

Thank you for the kind words, DJ. I was just having a little fun with a poem title, as you should expect by now! ;-)

Dixie Jane said...

Yeah, Mister Earl. In retrospect I realize that you were comparing yourself to Rudolph and I could feel a bit foolish. However, I still stand by my words even if those people wouldn't let you join in any of their games.

Bellis said...

Two Daily Photo bloggers, trapped in by the rain, turn to poetry for inspiration.

Now I need to work on the rest of the poem.

Yakpate said...

Night when the moon has risen

Silence of wind

Silence of the black surface of the mountain
Silence of sea echos rising from the valley
Air over water, form over form
Earth turning under liquid skin
Silver under silent stars

Silence of cloud shadows
Drifting by moonlight to Africa

Pasadena Adjacent said...

You put this one up just for me huh?

hope the sisters living it up and drunk on nog

Ken Mac said...

straighten those up Laurie. I detest a mess!

Petrea said...

Just when I'm thinking, "This one's deep and I have to think about it," Mr. Earl welcomes me with clarification.

Laurie said...

Hey all,

You're all so funny, eloquent, deep, thoughtful and cool. I'm a lucky blogger. Til next time...