By Joseph Hesch
What would I ask him –
the poet Billy Collins I mean –
if I had the chance?
Hmm. I’d say,
may I call you Billy?
Well, Billy, how do you do?
How do you do what you do?
Do you set aside a time or place
to record those thoughts,
draft that verse,
clean up that pratfall puddle of
your own blood, sweat and/or tears
you dripped onto the page?”
“Or do you lay on your back
in the dark and let those voices
that keep you awake eventually
sing you to sleep,
hoping you can remember
their tune in the morning,
to scratch onto a pad
while you wait for your fool computer
to blink awake so you can write
the silly things you do for your day job?
You know, the ones you could do
in your sleep?”
My dear friend Helen Gionet Schmidling wrote to ask me what I would ask Billy Collins if I ever had the chance. Now, that's not the kind of thing you sit and ponder on a daily basis, so I came up with something lame to ask. The next day she wrote to say she had attended a reading and Q&A by Collins. This poem describes what I might ask him in a more private setting. It also describes what I do while waiting for my computer to boot every morning. Sometimes the writing expands past the time when the desktop photo casts its light on my face in this darkened room at 7:30 AM. And that's a VERY good thing, isn't it?