Billy Collins is a fine, popular poet who served as U.S. Poet Laureate. His poems reflect American life with an interesting irony.
All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.
I could drive over to Quail Falls
and spend the day there playing bridge,
but the lack of a falls and the absence of quail
would only remind me of Pheasant Ridge.
I know a widow at Fox Run
and another with a condo at Smokey Ledge.
One of them smokes, and neither can run,
so I’ll stick to the pledge I made to Midge.
Who frightened the fox and bulldozed the ledge?
I ask in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge.
I ask them to take a poem
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
or walk inside the poem's room
I want them to waterski
But all they want to do
They begin beating it with a hose
The worst thing about death must be
Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,
but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set
then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,
a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.
This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.
The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.
Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me
into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,
and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose