Poem – Nightclub – Billy Collins

You are so beautiful and I am a fool to be in love with you 

is a theme that keeps coming up 

in songs and poems. 

There seems to be no room for variation. 

I have never heard anyone sing 

I am so beautiful 

and you are a fool to be in love with me, 

even though this notion has surely 

crossed the minds of women and men alike. 

You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool 

is another one you don’t hear. 

Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful. 

That one you will never hear, guaranteed. 
For no particular reason this afternoon 

I am listening to Johnny Hartman 

whose dark voice can curl around 

the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness 

like no one else’s can. 

It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette 

someone left burning on a baby grand piano 

around three o’clock in the morning; 

smoke that billows up into the bright lights 

while out there in the darkness 

some of the beautiful fools have gathered 

around little tables to listen, 

some with their eyes closed, 

others leaning forward into the music 

as if it were holding them up, 

or twirling the loose ice in a glass, 

slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream. 
Yes, there is all this foolish beauty, 

borne beyond midnight, 

that has no desire to go home, 

especially now when everyone in the room 

is watching the large man with the tenor sax 

that hangs from his neck like a golden fish. 

He moves forward to the edge of the stage 

and hands the instrument down to me 

and nods that I should play. 

So I put the mouthpiece to my lips 

and blow into it with all my living breath. 

We are all so foolish, 

my long bebop solo begins by saying, 

so damn foolish 

we have become beautiful without even knowing it.

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