William James “Billy” Collins (born March 22, 1941) is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004 through 2006. He is (in 2015) a teacher in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself.
Collins has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts and has taught at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, and Lehman College, City University of New York, where he is a Distinguished Professor. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida, and a faculty member at the State University of New York-Stonybrook. (The Poetry Foundation)
I LOVE this poem for the simple reason I’m a horrible flyer! A real worst case scenario person! Felt like he was in my head when I read it the first time. Love this guy!
At the gate, I sit in a row of blue seats
with the possible company of my death,
this sprawling miscellany of people –
carry-on bags and paperbacks –
that could be gathered in a flash
into a band of pilgrims on the last open road.
Not that I think
if our plane crumpled into a mountain
we would all ascend together,
holding hands like a ring of sky divers,
into a sudden gasp of brightness,
or that there would be some common spot
for us to reunite to jubilize the moment,
some spaceless, pillarless Greece
where we could, at the count of three,
toss our ashes into the sunny air.
It’s just that the way that man has his briefcase
so carefully arranged,
the way that girl is cooling her tea,
and the flow of the comb that woman
passes through her daughter’s hair…
and when you consider the altitude,
the secret parts of the engines,
and all the hard water and the deep canyons below…
well, I just think it would be good if one of us
maybe stood up and said a few words,
or, so as not to involve the police,
at least quietly wrote something down.
Picture Credit: www.dinnerpartydownload.org