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 “…why bother with the checkered lighthouse?

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…or…the bar of soap sliding around the ………. bathtub

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when we are really meant to be

banging away on the mystery

as hard as we can…”

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For more about Billy Collins¹ and one of his poems

use the DOOR…

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[MORE]

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   Perceiving, feelingthinking, and choosing how to sort things out are 4 fundamental behaviors of human existence that we’ve written about several times previously. And yes, we’ve done our share of generalizing and oversimplifying what others have explained in more detail. Further, the way we go about these behaviors is much more than an overwhelming number of molecular accidents that happened over many years resulting in human life.

   There hasn’t been enough time, however, for randomness to produce good poetry that reflects how many humans feel. Here’s Collins’s complete poem that we butchered in our opening lines:

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              No Things

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This love for everyday things

part natural from the wide eye of infancy,

part a literary calculation,

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this attention to the morning flower

and later to a fly strolling

along the rim of a wineglass–

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are we just avoiding our one true destiny

when we do that, averting our glance

from Philip Larkin² who waits for us in an undertaker’s coat?

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The leafless branches against the sky

will not save anyone from the void ahead,

nor will the sugar bowl or the sugar spoon on the table.

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So why bother with the checkered lighthouse?

Why waste time on the sparrow,

or the wildflowers along the roadside

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when we all should be alone in our rooms

throwing ourselves at the wall of life

and the opposite wall of death,

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the door locked behind us

as we hurl rocks at the question of meaning

and the enigma of our origins?

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What good is the firefly,

the droplet running along the green leaf,

or even the bar of soap sliding around the bathtub

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when we are really meant to be

banging away on the mystery

as hard as we can and to hell with the neighbors?

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banging away on nothingness itself,

some with their foreheads,

others with the maul of sense, the raised jawbone of poetry.

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   ¹ Billy Collins, Aimless Love:  New and Selected Poems (Random House, 2013, pp. 85-86). Collins (is author of 10 collections of poetry and was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006. In 1999 The New York Times called  Philip Collins “the most popular poet in America.”

   ² Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985) was an Oxford poet, novelist, and librarian highly regarded in England.