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Billy Collins's haiku
William J. ("Billy") Collins (born March 22, 1941)

A collection of his haiku, titled She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press (Box 68, Lincoln, IL 62526) in fall 2006, 32 pages.

Heavy rain all night—
with closed eyes I see
the orchard, the dripping leaves.

If I write spring moon
or mountain, is that
haiku plagiarism?

From my bed, bright stars.
The doctor will phone today.
But for now just winter stars.

High cry of a hawk,
cracking ice across the lake—
enough of my talk.

Mid-winter evening,
alone at a sushi bar—
just me and this eel.

Awake in the dark—
so that is how rain sounds
on a magnolia.

Haiku makes you fail,
fail, fail, and fail some more—
then for once not fail.

Travel tomorrow,
so much I must leave behind—
this lake, this morning.

Street lights in the dark
city where I walk—
a man with many shadows.

Black hearse rushes by—
blue chickory on the roadside
swaying in its wake.

Moon in the window—
the same as it was before
there was a window.

* * *


Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It's the one about the one-ton temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it at the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

* * *