I wanted to write about
enormous untouchable glorious skies,
and bluebell music echoing over
mossy green canyon valleys,
The crackling fires we built in the woods,
my boy running through the river with the neighbor’s dog,
and sloshing in warm January mud,
happy to be sinking deeper and deeper
Where the snails of last summer were buried.
But none of that was going anywhere.
It was just an ordinary Monday and
I was breathing sooty train station air
Elbowing my way through revolving doors,
Plugging overtired brain into sales reports.
The well-dressed man in the elevator
Filled each space between the 24 floors
Perfecting his visibly perfect scarf
He leaned so close into the glossy steel
I got nervous he’d fall in.
I cannot not write any of this, I mumbled madly.
So I grabbed a plastic bowl for lunch
And sat by the Chicago river with my spicy rice.
Billy came by and plopped next to me.
Those countless paths around his eyes
Some pointing to the skies, some to the earth
Yet all beautifully converging in one vision.
We leaned our heads against the rusty railing
Looking up seven cement overhangs
As the shimmering river danced on each one.
I cannot write about this, Billy, I blurted out,
Maybe it is just something in me, composting,
And the molds still have enough food to chew on
So they do not spread the spores
In the wind, and I have to wait
for this composting to be done
For the process to play itself out…
Look!, said Billy, pointing at
The security man slowly dragging
yellow warning cone and dropping it
on a wobbly sidewalk block.
No, I cannot write this, I continued,
This poetry on the buses
And this poetry on billboards
Or about being as old as cheerios
And the girls giggling on the corner
Or what a homeless cat thinks
And buildings with faces blown off…
Billy lifted his foot
Twisted his shoe to the left and to the right
adoring the shadows and brightness of the sun,
Clapped his hands on his knees, rising,
Bugs Bunny is my muse, he said.
And walked away to feed the pigeons.
Inspired by Billy Collins and his poems put to cartoons