SHANN PALMER

 

When Billy Collins Reads

ladies swivel sideways in their seats,
smile across the aisle at friends
who know what they mean in a glance.

Each one bites a lip -- some to the side,
some full on, wondering whether
they should have worn red instead

of dismal black. They know the words
by heart, try to catch his attention,
many brought a book to be signed.

Pressing thighs together, they squeeze
inside his words imagining the poet
putting pen aside to touch dark places,

write all the letters of the alphabet
with his tongue. He has made them wet
for his music, they come to poetry.