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YOU'VE GOTTA READ THIS POEM! > Monday by Billy Collins

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Farrah The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.


They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.


The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.


The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.


Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlights of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.


The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.


By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.


Just think-
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.


And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.


I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman's heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.


Ruth | 4852 comments Delightful.

And it's my darn window I blame for all those poems I write about hawks and eucalyptus, sea and chaparral.


Farrah I just got a cd from the library of Billy Collins reading his poetry and I laughed when I heard this poem. So many times my husband has come into my office and watched me just staring out the window and asked, "What are you doing?" and I turned to him and said, "writing."


message 4: by Dan Simmons (last edited Jul 07, 2011 11:39AM) (new)

Dan Simmons | 952 comments Here is an interesting window reference by Raymond Carver.


Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In

You simply go out and shut the door
without thinking. And when you look back
at what you've done
it's too late. If this sounds
like the story of a life, okay.

It was raining. The neighbors who had
a key were away. I tried and tried
the lower windows. Stared
inside at the sofa, plants, the table
and chairs, the stereo set-up.
My coffee cup and ashtray waited for me
on the glass-topped table, and my heart
went out to them. I said, Hello, friends,
or something like that. After all,
this wasn't so bad.
Worse things had happened. This
was even a little funny. I found the ladder.
Took that and leaned it against the house.
Then climbed in the rain to the deck,
swung myself over the railing
and triedthe door. Which was locked,
of course. But I looked in just the same
at my desk, some papers, and my chair.
This was the window on the other side
of the desk where i'd raise my eyes
and stare out when I sat at that desk.
This is not like downstairs, I thought.
This is something else.

And it was something to look in like that, unseen,
from the deck. To be there, inside, and not be there.
I don't even think I can talk about it.
I brought my face close to the glass
and imagined myself inside,
sitting at the desk. Looking up
from my work now and again.
Thinking about some other place
and some other time.
The people I had loved then.

I stood there for a minute in the rain.
Considering myself to be the luckiest of men.
Even though a wave of grief passed through me.
Even though I felt violently ashamed
of the injury I'd done back then.
I bashed that beautiful window.
And stepped back in.


Farrah Wonderful poem Dan! I've been there, locked out and looking in. Observing my own life as an outsider.

Interesting that you posted this. I was thinking about the Collin's poem and about writing something from the perspective of someone looking through the window to the poet staring out.


message 6: by Naomi (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:34PM) (new)

Naomi  (thebrave) | 361 comments The whole "window-watching" thing in the BC poem reminds me of one time in English class. Our teacher was going through a poem with us. In her room there is one wall basically made out of windows. Suddenly a plastic bag flew past in the wind and everyone (including our teacher) turned to look at it. For some reason, it made us all laugh, this little white plastic bag.

Our teacher then told us about an occasion with one of her other classes, where they sat and watched a spider spin a perfect, symmetrical web. She said it was beautiful.

I like my English teacher. She's slightly eccentric and she notices things, but I digress...


Farrah Sounds like the perfect kind of teacher.


message 8: by Naomi (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:48PM) (new)

Naomi  (thebrave) | 361 comments Farrah wrote: "Sounds like the perfect kind of teacher."

Ha ha. Maybe.

They're rare to find.


Shelley | 65 comments I think Billy Collins and Kay Ryan should fly to Mars, mate, and produce a whole new generation of American poets.


Shelley
Rain: A Dust Bowl Story
http://dustbowlpoetry.wordpress.com


Julie Valin (JulesThePoet) | 3 comments I love the Billy Collins poem, and was surprised by the Raymond Carver poem. Such a wonderful, poignant poem. Plus, I don't think I knew Raymond Carver wrote poetry (only short stories, of which I'm a fan.) Well, I'm new to this forum and am very much liking the mood of it, the camaraderie of it, the non-pretentiousness of it, and the good taste in poetry! :-) Here's to stepping onto the other side of the window!


Ruth | 4852 comments A poetry lover from Nevada City? Do you know Molly Fisk?


Julie Valin (JulesThePoet) | 3 comments Ruth wrote: "A poetry lover from Nevada City? Do you know Molly Fisk?"

Not only do I know Molly and admire her work, but I consider her a friend :) How do you know Molly Fisk, Ruth? Hopefully she will be one of many recognizable poets from Nevada City :)


Ruth | 4852 comments I've taken Molly's online classes and one in-person workshop, and we're Facebook friends and Scrabble players. I really feel as if I can count her as a friend. She's delightful.


Nina | 1226 comments Molly is terrific-I discovered her through Ruth, bought some of her books, and have had a delightful e-mail correspondence with her. Thank you Ruth!!


Poppy | 1307 comments Farrah wrote: "I just got a cd from the library of Billy Collins reading his poetry and I laughed when I heard this poem. So many times my husband has come into my office and watched me just staring out the windo..."

One winter, while on sabbatical, I bought a big table and plunked it in front of a bank of windows overlooking the beach and sea. I bought notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers. I looked and looked. I thought and thought. I didn't write a word.


message 16: by Shirley (last edited Jul 09, 2011 07:22AM) (new)

Shirley (goodreadscomShirleyEC) | 609 comments "One winter, while on sabbatical, I bought a big table and plunked it in front of a bank of windows overlooking the beach and sea. I bought notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers. I looked and looked. I thought and thought. I didn't write a word."

Poppy,I love the picture this comment creates.


Ruth | 4852 comments I do too, Shirley. It's almost a poem in and of itself, isn't it?


Shirley (goodreadscomShirleyEC) | 609 comments Absolutely!
:)


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Windows...

When we go down alone to the sea
in slated gray or cerulian day-
light, whatever the sound as haunting
as crashes on a ski or struggling skiff
the night is ever in remembrance when
the stars shriek volumes of silence
among the black pits of other worlds
so lost and apart, or clouded over as if
they do not exist... and we think we are safe
inside this skin but fail to understand the
distance to infinity beginning even
in a thought, much less the number of the
sands, weeds, sighs we break... over and over
under the eternity. We know God.
And He watches.



(But what that has to do with Billy Collins
might be hard to say.)


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice going, Regis!


Poppy | 1307 comments Shirley wrote: ""One winter, while on sabbatical, I bought a big table and plunked it in front of a bank of windows overlooking the beach and sea. I bought notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers. I looked and looked. I..."

Maybe I will do something with it, Shirley. Thank you.


message 22: by Susan (last edited Jul 10, 2011 03:47PM) (new)

Susan | 3 comments While in my car today, I was thrilled to listen to Garrison Keillor interviewing Billy Collins. He is my favorite poet. I seem to share his sense of humor and I have never had to analyze anything he has written! As he says, "Sometimes a truck is just a truck."


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