Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some Days


     Okay, if you are not naturally inclined to poetry (or even if you are), just do yourself a favor and try reading this short poem out loud.  Try reading it at a measured pace (meaning not racing to get through it).  See what pictures come into your head.  Just try it.  It won't kill you.

    Some Days    

       by Billy Collins

Some days I put the people in their places at the table,
bend their legs at the knees,
if they come with that feature,
and fix them into tiny wooden chairs.

All afternoon they face one another,
the man in the brown suit,
the woman in the blue dress,
perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved.

But other days, I am the one
who is lifted up by the ribs,
then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse
to sit with the others at the long table.

Very funny,
but how would you like it
if you never knew from one day to the next
if you were going to spend it

striding around like a vivid god,
your shoulders in the clouds,
or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper,
staring straight ahead with your little plastic face?

      What do you think?  Is this not cool?  Do you get what he's talking about?  Some days I am on top of the world.  I have life nailed and I am doing it well and I am loving it.  And then there are all those other days.......with my little plastic face staring straight ahead.

    For another taste of Billy, go here


  1. This is one of my favorites. I love the images Collins presents, especially those in the last stanza.

    Happy Wednesday! This post makes me happy. :)

    1. YAY! You inspired me to get this poem up there, Dana! Thanks!

  2. This is a very unique poem. I am not familiar with Collins but now I am intrigued :)

    1. Keith, you HAVE to click on the link at the bottom then! You will love what you hear. Do it now!

  3. I like the sentiment, but...
    Well, I'll skip the poetry talk. I've already done that on my blog.

    1. Okay, so then I had to go back to your archives and find out what you wrote about poetry.... you make good points. I agree that structured poetry takes a lot of time and focus to write. I went o a rigorously academic high school (where, for example, I read The Odyssey three times, once in Latin) and was thoroughly exposed to the ancient and more modern poets. We spent very little time (if any) on the most contemporary poets and I still hold a strong affection for Poe, Frost, Sandburg, Keats, Whitman, Blake, Langston (love him), Dickinson and so many more). In college, although English was not my major I racked up so many units taking English classes for fun that I could have added it to my minors! I can easily agree thate free verse Postry is really lovely prose and , yeah, it means more people can access it. The comment about free verse doing for poetry what Picasso did for art - well, gotta say, I like both free verse and Picasso.....
      Isn't it a matter of personal preference then? So don't call free verse poetry. Call it prose. That's okay with me :) I like the way Billy Collins, for example, strings words together. I like the way the words sound and the images I get in my head when I read his stuff. Is it poetry? I don't really care. Do I like his use of words? Very much-
      Thanks for the three lessons on poetry, Andrew! I like the way you think and the way you make me think.

  4. Cool that you went and looked!
    See, that's what I was going to say: That's great prose and well written, but I wouldn't call it poetry.
    I think "poetry" is one of those words we throw around too easily these days, like "classic" and "awesome." It's lost it's meaning, because anything can be poetry these days just because we decide to call it that.
    And, well, I don't agree with that.
    So... my litmus test (in a general sense) is that if I can write it out as a paragraph and can't tell that it was "poetry," then it wasn't poetry; it was just prose written as verse.
    Which is what this is. Excellent prose written as verse.

    1. Of course I went and looked! With a tease like that, I had to!
      I'm good with excellent prose written as verse. I wonder if Billy is good with that.

    2. I wish more people were. I appreciate things being called what they are. It's often, to me, like trying to call a skunk a cat.

  5. Accurate for days when I was still with the school district... Not much of that these days. One advantage of getting old (your last post) is that you do not HAVE to go off to work everyday. :)

  6. I have a general rule that I do not like poetry unless it rhymes. That's what makes a poem a poem! Saying that a poem that doesn't rhyme is a poem is like saying a cake that isn't baked is a cake. Or something. I'm not sure the simile is apt. But the point is: there is a certain platonic ideal cake, and a certain platonic ideal poem. Probably. And true poems rhyme, or they are prose.

    Anyway, having dispensed with my usual rant, I really liked this... poem. Fine, it's a poem. But only because I'm not in charge. Yet. Someday, when I am Poetry Czar, I will decree that poems rhyme, prose does not, and this will be reclassified as an essay, or perhaps a short story. But until then, nice poem.

    (I sound more fierce on the subject than I mean to. I'm not really a jerk, except for when I am.)

  7. The poem gave me a smile.

    Just checking in with you and see you haven't posted in a while. Hope all is well with you.

    A Faraway View

  8. I really enjoyed this. I am forty-five and only just getting to the point where I am patient enough to read a poem the way you recommend. Except for the standards in my high school English textbooks (many of which I still hold dear), I've hardly ever read poetry on purpose until the past five or six years. The Sun has really made a huge difference in how I view poetry--the stuff they print often takes my breath away.