Billy Collins stands
meeting a line of fans
who file slowly past
with a sackful of questions.
He is taking his time,
courteous, as if he’s got
a constant supply
beneath his pullover,
or down inside his pockets.
He is so relaxed, it’s like he’s
seated in a chair in the Oyster Bar
Restaurant, at Grand Central Station
observing the afternoon rush-hour
as he runs a silver spoon
in a bowl of sea-food chowder.
So pleasing when he moves
the spoon from his lips
and my daughter listens
to his polite reply for what
she should do on her maiden trip
to New York city.
(for M. Riordan.)
I didn’t get where I am by complaining about bumpy
or the shortcomings of amateur referees.
Or by blaming the inclemencies of the weather.
Or by voting for Labour.
Or by saying he’s a nicer fellow than most, always good to see him.
Nor did I get where I am with the girl in a miniskirt
reading the Bible outside my window.
I didn’t get where I am with all the love I had which was not enough.
Nor did I get where I am by sinking the winning putt in the U.S. Open.
Or by using the comb-over.
Or because I picked six random numbers one Saturday night.
Or by talking to Van Morrison.
Nor did I get where I am whispering to the Virgin Mary.
Or because I went out into the hazel wood.
Or because I ate strawberries with cream watching Wimbledon.
Or because it was difficult to use the lavatory bowl in Harvard.
And I didn’t get where I am because your grandfather showed me where to go.
Nor did I get where I am on the wrong side of fifty,
by taking up jogging and joining the Jane Austen Book Club
or by learning to kiss like Clark Gable.
No, that’s not how I got where I am, my father said
licking his lips on mum’s Sunday’s apple crumble.
About the author
A native to Limerick, Ireland, Jim Burke embarked on an online Creative Writing MA Course at MMU three years ago and hasn't stopped writing…Read the full bio
Issue 17 · March 2013
Table of contents
- From the editors
- Three Poems by R L Swihart
- Saw Instrumental
- Two poems by Jim Burke
- The Pink Apartment
- An Evening in the Hamptons
- Two poems by Dalton Day
- On the way to Udhagamandalam II
- Eureka, California
- A Clip from Tomorrow
- Amsterdam II : Scarring the Plate
- Two poems by Maria Apichella
- Late Summer
- A Common Language
- Postcard Prose
- Travel Notes