Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

On Turning Ten

Poem by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.


Comments about On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

  • Bigpoo (5/13/2020 2:59:00 PM)

    Honestly this sucksAlready ReportedReply

    2 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • chubg (4/27/2020 12:30:00 PM)

    this sucks lololololollolololololAlready ReportedReply

    anonymous(5/8/2020 1:57:00 PM)

    you at everything

    1 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • cat 3 (4/15/2020 10:16:00 PM)

    i love this poem and i was hoping yall would behave in the comments but maybe thats too much to ask(Report)Reply

    Limabeams(5/22/2020 2:53:00 PM)

    What did you expect?

    7 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Scamers be like.. (2/19/2020 11:04:00 AM)

    mAy i pLz GeT YoUr cRedIt CaRd InfoRmAtIon and PiN NuMbEr? ?Already ReportedReply

    4 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • That one guy. (2/19/2020 11:00:00 AM)

    you guys dumb asAlready ReportedReply

    1 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Trashman (2/12/2020 6:33:00 PM)

    I'm getting the vibe that everyone who comes to this cite is either a middle/high schooler who has a poetry assignment or a sad grandma(Report)Reply

    19 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • ur mom (2/5/2020 1:31:00 PM)

    yall are so funny... hahahaahahhahaAlready ReportedReply

    1 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Big bAng 69 (2/4/2020 1:46:00 PM)

    This poem is poopy hehehej



    Ps: dont tell my mommy # savageAlready ReportedReply

    1 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • Probably one of the few sane people here (2/1/2020 2:29:00 PM)

    Is...everyone on here high? Or just plain idiotic, no seriously I have never seen such cringey comments(Report)Reply

    14 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • seventeen (1/29/2020 3:09:00 PM)

    you guys are really comedians, huh?(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Everyone in the comment section is a bit retarded (1/28/2020 10:46:00 AM)

    you all are dumbAlready ReportedReply

    3 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • screw boomers (12/17/2019 8:12:00 PM)

    ok boomer lmaooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooAlready ReportedReply

    3 person liked.
    15 person did not like.
  • I hate boomers (12/16/2019 4:48:00 PM)

    🚨 BOOMER ALERT BOOMER ALERT 🚨Already ReportedReply

    3 person liked.
    14 person did not like.
  • Moe Lester (12/13/2019 3:58:00 PM)

    Ok zoomer ok zoomer ok zoomerAlready ReportedReply

    5 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • bruh u ruined my life (12/13/2019 2:29:00 PM)

    I’m depressed know because of this flipping thing(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • Harry Balzac (12/13/2019 2:27:00 PM)

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    6 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • Bye b (12/13/2019 2:27:00 PM)

    Danica and Chloe we like ✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • Bye b (12/13/2019 2:27:00 PM)

    Danica and Chloe we like ✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿✌🏿(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Hue G. Recktion (12/13/2019 2:26:00 PM)

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    5 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • Hue G. Recktion (12/13/2019 2:26:00 PM)

    OK BOOMER OK BOOMER OK BOOMER OK BOOMER OK BOOMER OK BOOAlready ReportedReply

    3 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
Read all 166 comments »




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Read poems about / on: soldier, believe, today, light, remember, beautiful, house, tree, dark, time, friend



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003