Billy Collins: The Lanyard

Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego, by Marcelo Noah



The Lanyard by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

You can read the rest here.


Or here’s a video of Billy Collins reading it.


Last Friday, Linda Mitchell suggested we share our favorite Billy Collins’ poems today in honor of our former Poet Laureate’s birthday. It was, of course, very hard to choose, and I see our Friday Poetry host Heidi Mordhorst and I chose the same one! So there you have it Happy Birthday, Billy Collins and thank you, Heidi for hosting today.

Have a great weekend!


10 replies
  1. lindabaie
    lindabaie says:

    Of course I’ve read this before, and then at Heidi’s post, but it never gets old for mothers, does it, Liz? I have a blue lopsided pot from my son in (I think) 3rd grade, his name in block letters attached at the side. It pleases that it was made for me with his small hands, carefully attaching those letters, like braiding those strips! I’m glad you posted The Lanyard again.

  2. Heidi Mordhorst
    Heidi Mordhorst says:

    It bears repeated readings, doesn’t it, for sometimes we are the camper, laboring with divided attention over a gift for someone we love and have partly forgotten, and sometimes we are the mother, wondering if *this* is really all we’ll get in return, and sometimes we are the lanyard itself, mauled and twisted with authentic, unconscious gratitude. Glad to cross paths with you this weekend!

  3. Tabatha
    Tabatha says:

    What a beautiful comment from Heidi! I was just wondering about whether a gift like the lanyard could be used for Michelle’s latest ditty challenge.

  4. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    Ah, the power of the gift of a lanyard and a mother’s gratitude. Billy says it all, and then some. Thanks for sharing this poem, Liz, I needed to reread it today. =)


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