It’s early, and admittedly I hate early,
so I fight the urge to retreat back
to bed, boil some water for tea
and, calm as a lake in its carafe, I pour
last night’s coffee down my throat then wait.
Clearly, this is not a Billy Collins poem,
but it doesn’t stop me from trying to find
a window, one with a view of rolling fields
or capable birds that enjoy early,
yet all I have is this panorama
of a darkened alley, a flickering streetligh
and a posse of masked raccoons sifting
through my neighbor’s garbage. Make no
mistake, Mr. Collins lives neither in this
poem nor on the other side of the alley.
The water is slow to boil but the burner
has scorched drippings of some long-forgotten
sauce, my smoke alarm now mimicking
the screech-chirp of some ancient, ill-fated
pterodactyl while I ponder if those raccoons
have just found a sack of rotten apples or
mealy potatoes, neither of which I can recall
making a cameo in a Collins poem. I want
to pick up an old rotary phone and dial
Mr. C, ask him how he does it
each morning, what, with all that silence,
the dew and the frost, all that tea and coffee
without a single mention of the latrine,
and the poem that rolls right out of bed
like the actress who needs no primping.
But he doesn’t make phone calls in his poems,
which is precisely why I am calling…clearly he’s
not planning to pick up in the poems of others either
This poem originally appeared in the sincere-yet-artfully-constructed Volume 6 of The Ampersand Review.
Thad DeVassie’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Poetry East, New York Quarterly, Sentence, Fifty-Two Stories,West Branch, NANO Fiction, and Sycamore Review among others. He runs a communications consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio.