Thursday, April 14, 2011

Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems

I don't actually read a lot of poetry (I had a bad time with it in school.), but there are a couple of poets these days who always make me smile: Mary Oliver and Billy Collins. Mr. Collins' new collection, Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems, is one I'm looking forward to. I heard Garrison Keillor read one of the poems, and want to share it. Reading this poem silently is OK. But read it aloud, too, please. It's National Poetry Month, and they're best when read aloud.

"What She Said"
by Billy Collins

When he told me he expected me to pay for dinner,
I was like give me a break.

I was not the exact equivalent of give me a break.
I was just similar to give me a break.

As I said, I was like give me a break.

I would love to tell you
how I was able to resemble give me a break
without actually being identical to give me a break,

but all I can say is that I sensed
a similarity between me and give me a break.

And that was close enough
at that point in the evening

even if it meant I would fall short
of standing up from the table and screaming
give me a break,

for God's sake will you please give me a break?!

No, for that moment
with the rain streaking the restaurant windows
and the waiter approaching,

I felt the most I could be was like

to a certain degree

give me a break.

"What She Said" by Billy Collins, from Horoscopes for the Dead. © Random
House, 2011.

A reviewer in The New York Review of Books wrote, "It is difficult not to be charmed by Collins, and that in itself is a remarkable literary accomplishment."

By the way, The New York Review of Books is different from The New York Times Book Review section. You will find good reading there -- more than just book reviews.

Happy Poetry Month!

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