Sorry for failing you yesterday. What can I say? I reckon it’s not the first time a poet has left you hanging. And knowing myself as I do, I reckon it won’t be the last.
Here is one taken from last year’s Southampton Writers Conference. As you will see, it stems not so much from something Billy Collins said as from something I thought he said.
A fellow poet once suggested that poetry
heals all ills, which got me thinking—
wouldn’t it be nice if one of the benefits
of growing old as a poet, was that,
simply by writing of what ails you,
the symptoms would disappear?
And, let’s throw in for good measure,
the added benefit of the healing power
of poetry applying to the work itself,
taking mere doggerel
and turning it into
Pulled up lame legging out
a grounder to short? No problem,
just put it in a poem
and you’ll be back on your feet in no time,
and the poem will be
published in the New Yorker.
Strain your back while bending over
to pick up your pen, which fell
behind your desk in a moment
of deep reflection? Just get it onto the page,
and the pain immediately vanishes as the royalties
from the new book start to roll in.
Or, as happened to me earlier today,
while sipping wine and chatting with
the former Poet Laureate of the United States,
Billy Collins, mishear the subject of a poem
about a fish clock? Just excuse yourself,
ask the bartender to pour you a double,
and head into the air-conditioned lecture hall
to deliver your new masterpiece about a well-hung,
septuagenarian fish that, drunk on wine,
had tripped over his dick one night,
throwing out his hip and making a fool of himself
at the annual Fish out of Water Conference.