Tuesday, January 01, 2013

in with the new

I do not make new year resolutions.

But if I had made resolutions in 2012, one of them would have been to finish reading Billie Collins's latest collection of poems -- Horoscopes for the Dead.  It is just as well because, as much as I like his poetry, the Collins book remained unread.

Until this morning.  I spent a couple of hours in the bath tub as the poet took me on a journey through his world of magical twists amongst life's ordinary objects.  All with an economy of words that is the jeweler's eye of the trade.

And I discovered this gem.  A perfect New Year's poem.  Though it was certainly not written for that purpose.

Thank-You Notes

Under the vigilant eye of my mother
I had to demonstrate my best penmanship
by thanking Uncle Gerry for the toy soldiers --

little red members of the Coldstream Guards --
and thanking Aunt Helen for the pistol and holster,

but now I am writing other notes
alone at a small cherry desk
with a breeze coming in an open window,

thanking everyone I happened to see
on my long walk to the post office today

and anyone who ever gave me directions
or placed a hand on my shoulder,
or cut my hair or fixed my car.

And while I am at it,
thanks to everyone who happened to die
on the same day I was born.

Thank you for stepping aside to make room for me,
for giving up your seat,
getting out of the way, to be blunt.

I waited until midnight
on that day in March before I appeared,
all slimy and squirming, in order to leave time

for enough of the living
to drive off a bridge or collapse in a hallway
so that I could enter without causing a stir.

So I am writing now to thank everyone
who drifted off that day
like smoke from a row of blown-out candles --
for giving up your only flame.

One day, I will follow your example
and step politely out of the path
of an oncoming infant, but not right now

with the subtropical sun warming this page
and the winds stirring the fronds of the palmettos,

and me about to begin another note
on my very best stationery
to the ones who are making room today

for the daily host of babies,
descending like bees with their wings and stingers,
ready to get busy with all their earthly joys and tasks.


I hope that you will all experience a year of sharing your blessings and joy with others.


Felipe Zapata said...

I have no patience for reading poetry, never have. My kind of poetry would be gritty haiku, but I guess that's a contradiction in itself.

jennifer rose said...

I'm with Felipe on this count, except I find haiku just a shorter form of utter boredom.

Joanna said...

I love poetry, all kinds. Felipe, you used to quote Emily Dickinson and Jennifer, you are so creative... some of your designs are like poetry. Maybe the two of you should give poetry another try? I recommend Waldo Emmerson

Steve Cotton said...

I usually need to be in the right mood for poetry. But Collins always pulls me in.

Steve Cotton said...

And I must confess -- I even read the poetry in Tolkien.

Steve Cotton said...

One of the first rules of poetry is economy. Both Felipe and Jennifer are experts at the craft in prose. But there are often good reasons why some people do not care for the art. I was lucky enough to have a high school teacher who taught me the value of poetry.

Felipe Zapata said...

Which means, of course, I did not read 95 percent of this post. I just slipped to the bottom to leave a comment. I imagine Jennifer did the same.