Billy Collin's latest collection, "Picnic, Lightning" is a smart, funny, moving glimpse into everything from a Victoria's Secret catalog ("Victoria's Secret") to an encyclopedia ("What I Learned Today"), personal relationships ("Paradelle for Susan," which introduced me to a whole new poetic form) to the joy of jazz ("I Chop Parsley...", "Jazz and Nature"). Casual in tone, Collins' poems don't make the reader struggle with poetic diction or unfamiliar vocabulary. Like quiet conversation in a coffee house, they offer a friendly intimacy in their simplicity of subject, and yet challenge the reader with the unexpected leaps Collins makes in his imagery and ideas. "I Chop Parsley..." for example, starts out as a narrative about preparing a meal, becomes a meditation on jazz and a nursery rhyme, and all the while is an examination of how we try to hide our own emotional vulnerability even from ourselves. This poem (one of my favorites in the book) is a wonderful illustration of how willing Collins is to usher his readers into his interior world, observed with a wry self-knowledge and a refreshing gentleness. This is a collection written for readers in the late 20th century who value honesty, humor, razor-sharp observation, and hard-earned wisdom. I couldn't recommend it more highly.