Dear Mr. Billy Collins


How did you graduate

from lyrical dabbler to laureate?


When did you emerge from what I assume

was your bedreadlocked, beatnik, bohemian chrysalis

as a brilliant butterfly of starving artistry?


At what point did the poetical powers-that-be

arrive at your doorstep to say “Congrats!

You’re the new poet laureate!”


Did they give you laurels?

Did you rest on them?


How in the name of iambic pentameter

did you ascend from the quagmire of words

and potential where your brethren wait,

writing and bellowing, hoping that someone

will hear our unique barbaric yawp

over everyone else’s?


Were you simply the loudest yawper?


Need I mention that you managed, somehow,

to scale the mountain of poetic prowess

without a single rhyme for a grappling hook?

Instead you only seem to string together clever—

very clever—sentences into bungee cord stanzas that

launch you upward, up, up beyond the clouds of

coffee-house fame we mere dabblers aspire to, so high that

the rest of us can only look up in open-mouthed awe.


How in the name of Shakespeare and Byron and

Our Lady Dickenson can you get away with

breaking all known poetic law while the rest of us

sweat in wastelands of paper, swinging between

die-hard originality and the sincerest form of flattery,

envy dripping from our fountain pens?


By what sorcery did you become

what the rest of us can only dream of being

as we sit across tables from our bedraggled,

underpaid muses, exchanging despondent glances

over cracked cups of cheap coffee?

Yet what else can we do

but write?


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