Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Billy Collins: Tiny Melodies



Billy Collins’ newest collection, “Musical Tables,” sings tiny melodies with perfect pitch.

“Small poems are drastic examples of poetry’s way of squeezing large content into tight spaces,” Collins writes in the afterward. “The small poem is a flash, a gesture, a gambit without the game that follows. There’s no room for landscape here, or easeful reflection, but there is the opportunity for humor and poignancy.”

Also for a few sharp digs.

Here are three of my favorites…


Even a branch on an evergreen
may take an unexpected turn
up, down, or sideways

and grow substantial
in some weird direction.

Image of Monkey puzzle tree from

ENG 243: The History of Egoism

You will notice, class,
that Wordsworth did not write

“Edward, the butcher’s son,
wandered lonely as a cloud.”

William Wordsworth, by Robert Hancock, 1798

Medieval Photography

Nothing came out very well.
People thought sitting still was odd.
Black and white had yet to be conceived,
Even though many days were grey
with low clouds and unpredictable rain.
You remembered someone by closing your eyes.

Image by Anna Gru on Unsplash


  1. I’m sorry to say that to me, the best part of Billy Collins new book of “poetry” is its cover!

  2. I am not a reader of poetry but became a fan of Billy Collins after hearing him at a Nashville Library event years ago. His sharp wit regarding life’s challenges (divorce, adolescence) turned me into an instant fan girl!

  3. Oh my goodness, I cannot wait to pick this up at a local bookstore. I love these snippets. They made me smile and laugh out loud. Billy Collins must have a great sense of the absurd!

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