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The Poems of OthersBilly Collins
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Vol. 31 No. 24 · 17 December 2009
Poem

The Poems of Others

Billy Collins

236 words

Is there no end to it
the way they keep popping up in magazines
then congregate in the drafty orphanage of a book?

You would think the elm would speak up,
but like the dawn it only inspires – then more of them appear.
Not even the government can put a stop to it.

Just this morning, one approached me like a possum,
snout twitching, impossible to ignore.
Another looked out of the water at me like an otter.

How can anyone dismiss them
when they dangle from the eaves of houses
and throw themselves in our paths?

Perhaps I am being harsh, even ridiculous.
It could have been the day at the zoo
that put me this way – all the children by the cages –

as if only my poems had the right to exist
and people would come down from the hills
in the evening to view them in rooms of white marble.

So I will take the advice of the mentors
and put this in a drawer for a week
maybe even a year or two and then have a calmer look at it –

but for now I am going to take a walk
through this nearly silent neighbourhood
that is my winter resting place, my hibernaculum,

and get my mind off the poems of others
even as they peer down from the trees
or bark at my passing in the guise of local dogs.

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