Japan

Poem By Billy Collins

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

Comments about Japan

Small, small, small ideas, said with small, small, small language. Be soft, Billy- oh, so soft and easy! Don't dare challenge anyone with anything but soft and small and small and soft! Puke, puke, puke.
Wonderful flight of imagery coupled with fantasy. Thanks for sharing it here.
Lovely poem; I like the last part the best, It will waste away to nothing, nothing but stars in the sky, and I will have a few nights to myself, a little time to rest my jittery pen. Congrats on being poet of the day!
I read this poem over and over. I still can't feel like a bell or a moth even. Does that mean I am a dog? I know I bark a lot. Maybe I am Kafka's beetle. No I wouldnt want to be that. I think I'd rather stand by the window Pretending to be nothing.
lovely turning of the pieces


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Other poems of COLLINS

Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

Another Reason Why I Don'T Keep A Gun In The House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

Flames

Smokey the Bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.

Litany

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,