Billy Collins' poetry makes one smile. It is the poetry of the moment- usually funny and surprising. . He may be writing on a very simple thing like missing a vacation, or a disquieting thing like the beginning of dementia, or on a profound philosophy of life, but each poem is treated in a unique way to make it interesting and funny.
Collins uses the metaphor of the car for English. He says, "It is enough to climb back into the car,/ as if .it were the great car of English itself" he consoles himself that he can "speed off down the road , that will never lead to Rome, not even to Bologna."
Shoveling Snow with Buddha is a poem with layers of meaning, and at the same time funny. "Sitting is more his speed", he says alluding to the usual pose of Buddha. He calls Buddha a "model of concentration". Using the imagery of the snow, Collins reflects how we "disappear and become lost to each other/ in these sudden clouds of our own making". The reader is taken aback when Buddha asks whether they can play cards.
In Forgetfulness, Collins writes about his own fear of dementia. In this funny and poignant poem, the poet imagines what happens to the victim of forgetfulness, which begins when he forgets the name of the author of the book he reads. He uses the imagery of the river when forgetfulness steadily progresses, till everything he wants to remember floats away "down a mythological river". He himself is "well on your way to oblivion."