Review | Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins

Horoscopes for the DeadBilly Collins has long been one of my favorite modern poets. His poems are extremely accessible and yet also interesting and profound. I especially like the humor that can be found in Collins’ poetry.

Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems did not disappoint. I am often interested in an examination of the subject of death and how it affects us as humans. Collins investigates this through a number of poems in the book. But he also spends plenty of time with the living. A couple of my favorite poems from the book:

What She Said
When he told me he expected me to pay for dinner,
I was like give me a break.

I was not the exact equivalent to give me a break.
I was just similar to give me a break.

As I said, I was like give me a break.

I would love to tell you
how I was able to resemble give me a break
without actually being identical to give me a break,

but all I can say is that I sensed
a similarity between me and give me a break.

And that was close enough
at that point in the evening

even if it meant I would fall short
of standing up from the table and screaming
give me a break,

for God’s sake will you please give me a break?!

No, for that moment
with the rain streaking the restaurants windows
and the waiter approaching,

I felt the most I could be was like

to a certain degree

give me a break.


It was late, of course,
just the two of us still at the table
working on a second bottle of wine

when you speculated that maybe Eve came first
and Adam began as a rib
that leaped out of her side one paradisal afternoon.

Maybe, I remember saying,
because much was possible back then,
and I mentioned the talking snake
and the giraffes sticking their necks out of the ark,
their noses up in the pouring Old Testament rain.

I like a man with a flexible mind, you said then,
lifting your candlelit glass to me
and I raised mine to you and began to wonder

what life would be like as one of your ribs—
to be with you all the time,
riding under your blouse and skin,
caged under the soft weight of your breasts,

your favorite rib, I am assuming,
if you ever bothered to stop and count them

which is just what I did later that night
after you had fallen asleep
and we were fitted tightly back to front,
your long legs against the length of mine,
my fingers doing the crazy numbering that comes of love.


Collins has a new book of poetry releasing later this year. Aimless Love will be released on October 22, 2013 and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!


Overall Rating:   4 of 5 stars false