Nightclub

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by 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 surelycrossed 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 Hartmanwhose 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.

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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. Billy Collins

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