You, Writer; An Act of Thievery

Dear Billy Collins,

It’s so often I’m hunting for
inspiration, and I search
through videos, perhaps an article,
or maybe even perchance for a live
concert of some local high school performing
a semi-watered down version of Mahler
listed in the News Paper.

And tonight is no different
as I sniff around your books
you seem to say everything
there is to be said about
nothing and in turn
everything: neighbors, dogs
barking, past cigarettes, Budapest, a trip
not taken, or even

those damn salt and pepper shakers
sitting on the kitchen table.

and Yes, Dr. Collins– may I call
you Billy (Probably not)– I
was jealous that you wrote
about those “shakers of
salt and pepper that
were standing side by side
on the place mat.” I had noticed
them too, but (as you wrote) you did
write about them first.
I guess jealousy and envy
can only go so far because
as I read you my mouth
slightly falls open dumbstruck,
and I realize I am no longer
searching for inspiration,
only ways to steal from you
the way aspiring poets
steal from everyone else;

even idea of thievery
was taken from your child-
hood and possibly adult days of copying
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and,
I believe

many others.

~just in case you’ve never read Billy Collins:


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