“Ars Poetica” by Linda Pastan

Ars Poetica
for Billy Collins

As I sit reading your book of poems,
page after page
of ordinary things
but with a twist– the kind of flavor
a twist of lime can give
a gin and tonic,

I wonder why I can’t
write poems like that, melancholy
but not sad exactly,
instead of writing the way
I always do
under a darkening cloud.

And so I take pencil to paper
and try to describe your book,
why it makes me happy.
But here comes that cloud again,
no larger at the moment
than a man’s hand.

Linda Pastan
from The Gettysburg Review, Summer 2015

9 thoughts on ““Ars Poetica” by Linda Pastan

  1. Here’s something interesting in today’s email: this poem on your blog, and the featured Poem-a-Day that comes from Poets.org also titled Ars Poetica but, by Leslie McGrath. Both lovely, but different. I slightly prefer this one, because Billy Collins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. I just read Leslie’s. I like it, the setting aside of certainty to hope to reach the unknowable within us, but I prefer Pastan too. Because Collins, but mainly because that darkening cloud that I know all too well myself.

      Now I’m curious if I’ve posted others of the same name. Or if that was at Weekend Words. I’ll check. (I think Myles had a good one?)


      1. Same here. I missed reading words, but hopeful part is that I can come back to read all my favorite pieces anytime and from anywhere. I hope you’re doing well, Christy. ❤️


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