To My Patron
by Billy Collins
I do not require a ton of pink marble,
a hundred tubes of paint,
or an enormous skylit loft.
All I need is a pen,
a little blank notebook,
and a lamp with a seventy-five-watt bulb.
Of course, an oak desk would be nice,
maybe a chair of ergonomic design,
and a collie lying on an oval rug,
always ready to follow me anywhere
or just sniff my empty palm.
And I would not turn down a house
canopied by shade trees,
a swing suspended from a high limb,
flowering azaleas around the porch,
pink, red, and white.
I might as well add to the list
a constant supply of pills
that would allow me to stay awake all night
a cellar full of dusty bottles of Bordeaux,
a small radio––
nothing, I assure you, would go unappreciated.
Now if you wouldn’t mind
leaving me alone––
and please close the door behind you
so there won’t be such a draft
on my shoulders––
I will get back to work
on my long metrical poem,
the one I will recite to the cheering throng
prior to your impending beheading.
Thanks to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac
“To My Patron” by Billy Collins from Nine Horses. © Random House, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the best-selling poet Billy Collins, (books by this author) born in Queens, New York (1941). He thinks that too much modern poetry lacks humor. He said: “It’s the fault of the Romantics, who eliminated humor from poetry. Shakespeare’s hilarious, Chaucer’s hilarious. The Romantics killed off humor, and they also eliminated sex, things which were replaced by landscape. I thought that was a pretty bad trade-off, so I’m trying to write about humor and landscape, and occasionally sex.”
He was in his 40s when he published his first book, The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), and he has become one of the country’s most popular poets. His book Sailing Alone Around the Room (2000) has sold almost 200,000 copies, more than any other book of poetry in this century.
Other books of his include The Art of Drowning (1995), Nine Horses (2002), Horoscopes for the Dead (2011), Aimless Love (2013), and most recently, The Rain in Portugal (2016).