I know that I can be a poet. Yes, I know it. Yes I can.
I know that I can do it. I’ll get to it. I’ve a plan.
Mr. Billy Collins says you have to read a lot.
Ten thousand hours maybe more, maybe more, but
That may seem,
A bit extreme,
He’s probably right.
So I’ll start my “Poet Reading Time’ right away tonight.
If I cut out TV, and read, say three
Or four hours every day,
Five or six days a week, I guess,
Fifty weeks a year, I’d say.
I can figure it out,
I guess it’s about,
It’s about, it’s about, oh dear,
That’s over ten years to get started
That’s not what I wanted to hear.
There’s got to be another way,
I say, that way, takes way too long,
Did Dylan read ten thousand hours
Before he wrote all his songs?
Did Whitman read ten thousand hours
Before he wrote ‘Leaves of Grass’?
Did Shakespeare? Well, I’ll never know, and
There’s no one I can ask.
Maybe I can take a night class,
At a College somewhere near,
The kind where after class you
Meet the teacher for a beer.
And he tells you how he wrote
A book of poems about his life,
And how he’d have had it published
If it wasn’t for his wife
See she wanted to get married
And she got pregnant right away
So he had to get a job, you know,
What else is there to say?
Or maybe there’s a contest
Which is only for beginners
A prize book will be published
Including all the winners,
And for fifty or a hundred bucks
You get a copy you can keep,
Put it on your nightstand, and
Read yourself to sleep.
Read all the other “winners”,
Who bought a slot upon your shelf,
What does it say about your poem?
What does it say about yourself?
I’ve lost hours as we speak,
To write a poem every week.
Read, then write,
Enjoy, then fight
With words upon blank page,
Tear it up,
Then, start again,
A lion king inside a cage.
Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic
Add the hours up.
Maybe by the end of life
I might have read enough,
Maybe too, I’ll write a poem, that
Maybe some will read.
Does a poet pricked not bleed?
Success, I guess,
The goal one sets in life.
To earn a million dollars,
To marry a wonderful wife,
To write a novel poem,
Or a novel, or
That starts the world singing
Join my chorus, sing along!
So Mr. Billy Collins,
I just bought a book,
A collection of your poems,
I just thought I’d take a look,
And before I laid it down to dream,
I must have read an hour or so
A wonderful start, it was, I thought,
Ninety nine hundred ninety-nine hours to go!
Phil Lindsey 12/30/16
anyone serious about poetry should be reading Billy Collins' poems, not mine! :-)