Billy Collins

Burial Arrangements
December 21, 2018 Collins Billy

Burial Arrangements

If I have to be buried at all,
make my final resting place
the front the local cemetery,
close to the road that runs into town.

That way, if I don’t like it there,
I can walk over to the shoulder,
stick out my thumb, if I still have one,
and get a ride to the Mohawk Diner,

where I plan to enjoy
a slice of warm apple pie
and a black coffee (no sugar)
more than any man or woman
who has ever walked the face of the earth.

But on second thought,
I’ve heard some scary stories
about people who pick up hitchhikers,
so let’s bury me in the rear of the cemetery,
back by that thick gathering of trees.

Then, if I happened to change my mind,
I would be near those lovely woods
where I could rejoice in private,

a chipmunk on a tree stump,
some birds among the leaves,
and maybe a spider and his fly

my only audience as I danced
and sang a song to life in my dark blue suit.

Billy Collins’ most recent book is Musical Tables. His poetry collections include Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001); Picnic, Lightning (1998); and The Art of Drowning (1995). In October 2004, Collins was the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry. His other awards and honors include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has served as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and is a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York, where he has taught for the past 40 years. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida and, as of 2015, an MFA faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 2016, Collins was elected into The American Academy of Arts and Letters.