Wednesday, April 18, 2012

and suddenly: National Poetry Month!

How have you been celebrating it?

I've mentioned Billy Collins before and how much I like his poetry -- here's one of my favorites of his! Though I don't like to say too much in my poem of the day posts, I love the juxtaposition of humor and insight into the human condition on this one: the need in all of us for a book-worthy plot in our mundane daily experience -- the desire for suspense and anticipation and excitement no matter where we live.

Tension -- Billy Collins
Never use the word suddenly just to create tension.
-Writing Fiction

Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
and suddenly I was in the study
looking up the word oligarchy for the thirty-seventh time.
When suddenly, without warning,
you planted the last petunia in the flat,
and I suddenly closed the dictionary
now that I was reminded of that vile form of governance.
A moment later, we found ourselves
standing suddenly in the kitchen
where you suddenly opened a can of cat food
and I just as suddenly watched you doing that.
I observed a window of leafy activity
and beyond that, a bird perched on the edge
of the stone birdbath
when suddenly you announced you were leaving
to pick up a few things at the market
and I stunned you by impulsively
pointing out that we were getting low on butter
and another case of wine would not be a bad idea.
Who could tell what the next moment would hold?
another drip from the faucet?
another little spasm of the second hand?
Would the painting of a bowl of pears continue
to hang on the wall from that nail?
Would the heavy anthologies remain on the shelves?
Would the stove hold its position?
Suddenly, it was anyone’s guess.
The sun rose ever higher in the sky.
The state capitals remained motionless on the wall map
when suddenly I found myself lying on a couch
where I closed my eyes and without any warning
began to picture the Andes, of all places,
and a path that led over the mountains to another country
with strange customs and eye-catching hats,
each one suddenly fringed with colorful little tassels.


  1. First of all, that might be the best party table layout I have ever seen!

    I love that poem...I'll have to break out some of my poetry books in honor of poetry month!

  2. Oh, he's great. I love Wendell Berry, too. And the oldies, like John Donne and those metaphysical poets. Good stuff.