The Breather

By Billy Collins b. 1941 Billy Collins
Just as in the horror movies
when someone discovers that the phone calls
are coming from inside the house

so too, I realized   
that our tender overlapping
has been taking place only inside me.

All that sweetness, the love and desire—
it’s just been me dialing myself
then following the ringing to another room

to find no one on the line,
well, sometimes a little breathing
but more often than not, nothing.

To think that all this time—
which would include the boat rides,
the airport embraces, and all the drinks—

it’s been only me and the two telephones,
the one on the wall in the kitchen
and the extension in the darkened guest room upstairs.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2008
 Billy  Collins

Biography

Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself. John Updike praised Collins for writing “lovely poems...Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Desire, Unrequited Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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