Japan Poem by Billy Collins


Rating: 3.7

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.

Kripa Gurung 20 September 2007

it is nice. yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyes

14 4 Reply
Maria Pataleto 13 January 2009

I love the comparison to 'the perfect grape'.

11 6 Reply
Dylan Da Man 04 June 2006

ohhhhhh yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

12 5 Reply
Joseph Pedulla 25 October 2016

Small, small, small ideas, said with small, small, small language. Be soft, Billy- oh, so soft and easy! Don't dare challenge anyone with anything but soft and small and small and soft! Puke, puke, puke.

0 12 Reply
Ratnakar Mandlik 24 August 2016

Wonderful flight of imagery coupled with fantasy. Thanks for sharing it here.

2 1 Reply
Jasbir Chatterjee 24 August 2016

Lovely poem; I like the last part the best, It will waste away to nothing, nothing but stars in the sky, and I will have a few nights to myself, a little time to rest my jittery pen. Congrats on being poet of the day!

1 1 Reply
Ian Fraser 20 July 2011

I read this poem over and over. I still can't feel like a bell or a moth even. Does that mean I am a dog? I know I bark a lot. Maybe I am Kafka's beetle. No I wouldnt want to be that. I think I'd rather stand by the window Pretending to be nothing.

16 9 Reply
Janet Hawtin 01 May 2011

lovely turning of the pieces

9 6 Reply
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