Saturday, February 26, 2011

"The Student," a poem by Billy Collins, from The Trouble With Poetry:

My poetry instruction book,
which I bought at an outdoor stall along the river,

contains many rules
about what to avoid and what to follow.

More than two people in a poem
is a crowd, is one.

Mention what clothes you are wearing
as you compose, is another.

Avoid the word vortex,
the word velvety, and the word cicada.

When at a loss for an ending,
have some brown hens standing in the rain.

Never admit that you revise.
And—always keep your poem in one season.

I try to be mindful,
but in these last days of summer

whenever I look up from my page
and see a burn-mark of yellow leaves,

I think of the icy winds
that will soon be knifing through my jacket.