Man in Space

by Billy Collins

All you have to do is listen to the way a man
sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people
and notice how intent he is on making his point
even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,
and you will know why the women in science
fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own
are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine
when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,
why they re always standing in a semicircle
with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,
their breasts protected by hard metal disks.

From The Art of Drowning, Billy Collins

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light—
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
But that is because you have forgotten
The perfect simplicity of being one
And the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
By drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
Watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
Against the side of my tree house,
And my bicycle never leaned against the garage
As it does today,
All the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
As I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
Time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
There was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

p. 49 – The Art of Drowning, Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate

I had a pug dog who died; I love this

Where did that dog
that used to be here go?
I thought about him
once again tonight
before I went to bed.
–Shimaki Akahiko

from the Hopi Elders 2001 via email to esther from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal, least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the world struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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