by Billy Collins
Random House, 2013
261 pages (hardcover)
Source: Personal library
Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, is a favorite of many for his far-from-stuffy approach. His latest book, Aimless Love, which contains selected poems from four previous collections plus more than fifty new poems, continues his playful observations on the scholarly and the serendipitous. In “Heraclitus on Vacation,” he asserts that “It is possible to stick your foot / into the same swimming pool twice….” In “Cheerios,” he discovers that the breakfast cereal has also recently celebrated a seventieth birthday (“Already I could hear them whispering / behind my stooped and threadbare back, / Why that dude’s older than Cheerios / the way they used to say / Why that’s as old as the hills…”). He writes “Ode to a Desk Lamp” because “Has anyone been with me longer?” And in “I Love You,” he hesitates to overuse the phrase and “would prefer to save it / for special occasions, like shouting it out as I leaped / into the red mouth of a volcano / with you standing helplessly on the smoking rim….” Collins is a skillful painter of verse; like his previous collections, this one is a lively gallery of poetic still lifes, landscapes, and portraits in which readers will enjoy whiling away an afternoon.
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