Poetry Friday: “Honesty” – and Billy Collins’ early birthday

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMy friend and fellow writer/blogger Heidi Mordhorst reminded me last week that former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, will turn 76 on March 22, and told me she was planning on a big shindig today to celebrate a little early. She invited a number of us to share a Billy Collins poem – or Billy Collins-inspired poem – which is precisely what I’m doing.

Collins wrote a poem titled “The Golden Years,” which begins:

All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.

The poem, which you can read in its entirety HERE, struck a chord with me, so I decided to write my own poem which expands upon some of what he writes about, but in a much different voice and context…


Someone once said
the definition of suburbia
is where they cut down all the trees
and then name streets after them.
Truth is, it’s worse than that.
Everything that was once
is dismissed, removed,
or chased away; trees are only
the beginning.

I knew a family
who lived on Deerhaven Road,
an oxymoron
for there were neither deer
nor was it a haven;
habitat destroyed, the animals
moved on. I’m guessing
they didn’t use the freshly-paved route
connecting a half-mile of houses
bearing their name.

Then there was Rattlesnake Hill which,
once it was suitably transformed
into every urbanite’s impression
of what rural life should be,
contained neither rattlesnake
nor hill.

This is why I much prefer the city
or the country to the soft,
doughy middle. Out in the boondocks
where the bears, deer, fox, and pheasants
have yet to be honored with pavement,
one can watch them wander across streets,
worn and dusty, into the neighbor’s
front yard. Likewise, in the city,
there are no turkeys, moose, or coyotes, and everyone
is fine with that; no one
has taken it upon themselves
to recognize the lack of wildlife
by naming a parkway after them.
City or country, there is no pretending
to be one thing or another; it is an honesty
with oneself, with nature, with the streets
that connect us.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Heidi is hosting Poetry Friday today, so you can visit the “All-Billy Birthday Extravanganza” – along with all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun – on her blog, My Juicy Little Universe!


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