What are you going to do with your life?  What is life?  Here we are.  This is it.  And that’s it.  What is it supposed to be?  IT IS.  It doesn’t equal anything.  Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States for 2001~2002, is the author of several books of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, and The Art of Drowning.  He lives in New York State.

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide


or press an ear against its hive.


I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,


or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.


I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.


But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.


They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.