Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30: Poet of Holy Week, Billy Collins Again, "The Revenant"

For the first time in the history of this blog, I am bestowing the honor of Poet of the Week to a person who has already held the title:  Billy Collins.

Late last week, I was reminded of how much I really love Collins' poetry.  A student in my poetry workshop did a presentation on Collins' newest collection of poems, and I found myself moved, amused, and inspired.  So, Billy Collins, former U. S. Poet Laureate, is now the Poet of Holy Week.

The poem I've chosen tonight is for a friend who today found out that her little dog has cancer.  She's had Wishbone for 15 years, and the vet told my friend that Wish probably has about six or eight weeks left.

Saint Marty thinks Wish is going to outlive us all.

The Revenant

by:  Billy Collins

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you - not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and - greatest of insults - shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner -
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

Good boy!  Please don't bite my balls off!!

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