When I came across the stop-action photograph
of a bullet that had just passed through a book—
the pages bulging with the force—
I forgot all about the marvels of photography
and began to wonder which book
the photographer had selected for the shot.

Many novels sprang to mind
including those of Raymond Chandler
where an extra bullet would hardly be noticed.

Non-fiction offered too many choices—
a history of Scottish lighthouses,
a biography of Joan of Arc and so forth.

Or it could be an anthology of medieval literature,
the bullet having just beheaded Sir Gawain
and pierced the motley band of pilgrims.
But later, as I was drifting off to sleep,

I realized that the executed book
was a recent book of poems written
by someone of whom I was not fond

and that the bullet must have passed through
his writing with little resistance
and then through the author’s photograph,
through the beard, the round glasses,
and the special poet’s hat he likes to wear.

Billy Collins

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