One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.
Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.
Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
Why that dude’s older than Cheerios
the way they used to say
Why that’s as old as the hills,
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,
I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.
Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, has published a total of 10 collections of poetry. “Aimless Love” is his first collection of new and selected poems in 12 years and comprises over 50 new works and draws on poems from four previous books, “Nine Horses,” “The Trouble with Poetry,” “Ballistics” and “Horoscopes for The Dead.” Collins, who regularly appears in “The Best American Poetry” series, is also a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York and a distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College.