Here's the poem inspired by Billy Collins's visit last week...
We'd Like to Thank The Ready-Mix Concrete Company
In the crowded auditorium
(with the professors
and the farmers
and the students
with tooled leather journals on their laps)
noticing the art nouveau flowers
on the recently renovated walls
I listen with appreciation
to the list of sponsors and donors
who made the event possible
and I look up in surprise at the last name mentioned
the company that created a foundation
on which to support the poet’s visit
who paved the way to bring him
to this former sugar beet town
who smoothed out the bumps
that rose along the way
and cemented the date in the minds
of all who were lucky enough
organized enough to get a ticket.
There is great hope for a civilization
where in a world of economic depressions
concrete companies bring
to stand on wooden platforms
in vintage theaters
to share their poetry
with the gathered people.
Thank you, Ready-Mix Concrete.