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  • Writer's pictureSam Baker

A handful of marbles...

How Billy Collins Writes a Poem

-Marjorie Wentworth

When you first wake up, notice

how your mother's voice, calling

you to breakfast, sounds like a fire alarm.

Watch the steam rising off your oatmeal

like tiny clouds and guess where it goes.

Pay attention to the smallest things:

a fly buzzing near the kitchen window,

bright rocks in the driveway,

the handful of marbles in your pocket--

the sound they make when you walk.

Imagine that the leaves spinning in the wind

on the walk to school are alien ships

and that barking dogs belong to a prince.

At night, when the stars seem close

reach up and grab some.

Our lives are made from these things,

and when you describe them,

you discover magic. It's the way

your pen becomes a wand in your hand,

and this may be the only thing you need to know.

Thank you Brad B. for sending me this poem (and Janet G. for giving poetry to Brad) and Marjorie of course for writing this and of double course Billy C.- the poet instigator.


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