Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The name of a poet whose first or last name starts with O

In need of a little levity, I set out to find a good poem by that funny-ish poet I so enjoy, whose name I am forgetting. I'm sure I posted a poem here by him before, but as to be expected, I cannot find the post. His name is short like Oswald or Oscar, but not either of those. I waste far too much time doing Google searches for the name of a poet I cannot remember. I search alphabetical lists of poets, authors, quotes. In the infuriating process I come across this instead:

by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

From Questions About Angels. Copyright © 1999 by Billy Collins. 

•   •   •   •   •

And it comes to me later, when I'd walked away from my computer: Ogden Nash.

p o e t r y   w e d n e s d a y  }

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