Poetry Once More

Tillie K. Fowler Park, Jacksonville, FL
The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of Explanation
Billy Collins

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --
to be perfectly honest for a moment --

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

I agree that poetry encourages the writing of more poetry. That’s why April has been such an inspirational month for me the past 9-10 years. I started out this past April with a bang, but life has a way changing as we all know. I wrote the following poem the day after we got the first news – the first inkling that things were about to change. I ended up keeping two volumes from the old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias. #1- Poems and Rhymes and #10 – Make and Do. The rest are gone, along with probably 1/2 of my household possessions. Sometimes you just have to keep the important stuff and let go of the rest. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Can't remember when I first felt inspired to write a poem myself
But I do remember some poems of my childhood
From Childcraft: The How and Why Library
Volume One
Poems and Rhymes
I laughed at the Purple Cow and the limericks
I met characters like little Tommy Tucker
And Polly who put the kettle on
And Mistress Mary who was quite contrary
I chanted Pease Porridge Hot and Jack Be Nimble
Was introduced to the joyous words of Robert Louis Stevenson 
And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Whose poem about the little girl with the little curl
Was one my father always quoted to me 
And I did the same for my curly headed daughter 
And now over fifty years later
I am packing those books up to carry with me once more
Because I just can’t bear to part with them


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