1960 by Billy Collins

In the old joke,
the marriage counselor
tells the couple who never talks anymore
to go to a jazz club because at a jazz club
everyone talks during the bass solo

But of course, no one starts talking
just because of a bass solo
or any other solo for that matter.

The quieter bass solo just reveals
the people in the club
who have been talking all along,
the same ones you can hear
on some well-known recordings.

Bill Evans, for example,
who is opening a new door into the piano
while some guy chats up his date
at one of the little tables in the back.

I have listened to that album
so many times I an anticipate the moment
of his drunken laugh
as if it were a strange note in the tune.

And so, anonymous man,
you have become part of my listening,
your romance a romance lost in the past

and a reminder somehow
that each member of that trio has died since then
and maybe so have you and, sadly, maybe she.


This poem called to mind one of my favorite recordings (below) which has embedded in it some remarks/reaction and laughter from a lady in the audience which I feel is priceless and which I anticipate and enjoy hearing every time.  It really puts you there.  No, she wasn’t chatting up her date, but fully immersed in the experience she was having.  I especially love her laugh around the 4:18 mark, and again at the end.


If you wish to purchase the book this poem appears in, here is the link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rain-in-portugal-billy-collins/1123721806?ean=9780679644064



Four Minutes and a Fist Full of Water

Little Spud in the Big Apple

I used to count the seconds
between the time that the old dry feel hit my lips
and the time that my brain felt old and familiar again
cracked as an Idaho summer.

I would sit on the couch with the music on
Chopin maybe, I do like him,
He’s soothing and full of a complex disquiet,
something that I feel in myself,
whether it’s there or not, I can’t say.
the sound of the piano slowly crawling inside of me
as I waved my hand slowly and counted


waiting for the minutes to pass
I start a simple mathematical thought
1 fl.oz./min. for 6 min. but the hit happens @ 4
the last 2 min. feel softer
no butter undertones,
the toasted notes fade and the brain slips into
a familiar dull pattern of pulsing key strokes

Chopin seems to be playing his tune on…

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Little Spud in the Big Apple

We’re floating through it all, you know?

by “it all” I guess I mean some  scattered





We’re just a larger bit of condensed-ness



we think of our invulnerability

launching fire to the heavens

crushing great comets

preparing to bleed them dry

knowing that it would only come down

if it were close enough to us

If not, it will





it’s origin

an expelled seed

a cherry pit flung

toward some unknown target

And I sit and wonder if you think of the destination

as I do, as it does, as they did,

as the realization slowly grows within,

that home is an unattainable concept

ever in sight

ever out of reach.

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The Alien with the Orange Teapot

Little Spud in the Big Apple

It’s funny,
I’m sitting in some coffee shop in Santa Fe,
drinking a house brewed kombucha,
scolding myself for the hipster tendencies
that crawl beneath my skin
like so many sub-dermal potato bugs,
or an old cough that won’t go away,
the remnant descendants of this season’s
Rhinovirus clinging to the edges of my esophagus,

Thinking about how we laugh at the hipsters,
the free thinkers,
the trend setters,
the Beta love weirdos,
the coffee shop indies,
when they’re the ones who
blaze the trail.

And I’m surprised
surprised within myself to see
aliens in New Mexico,

It’s funny that it surprises me,
I laugh out loud,
it comes out of me like a burp,
possible that it is a burp
caused by a cultured natural effervescence,
the tall man with the orange teapot
and blue
(or purple, I can never tell)
teacup looks at me,
He knows…

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“Ars Poetica” [1]

Little Spud in the Big Apple

To be a poem
I would have to fold myself
I would first begin
a bending of the arm
a twisting of the wrist
then, after some strain,
the snapping of the ankle
the spaghetti noodle of each rib
pressing into a bend
pressing into an arc
pressing in two

one piece always flies off
into the distance

To be a poem
I would search and find
the string inside
pulling and stretching
tearing the root out from the socket
eventually asking for help
eventually asking for two
stronger hands
stronger arms

arms that could pull the thin
wet thread of a soul into something manageable

To be a poem
To set to work
to build a rope
stretch and fold
and stretch and fold
the endless return and return again
a soft snap
a cut
A tie a loop a slip knot

a lasso
a loop around the moon

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Little Spud in the Big Apple

Don’t y’u
Can’t y’u

gettin’ s’much
we’re takin’ th’
soun’righ’ out
outta ‘vrythin’
already “lol”

soon’r’r lat’r,
there’ll be nothin’ lef’
save a series o’ do”-n’-dash’s
n’we’ll st’ll-b

“I don’t-g’t-U M8”
“mA-B U 8[-t]n’t lis’n’n r8[-A+I]”

U nEd 2 do som’thin’

stan’ ↑ 4 sum’thin’
save lan’wage.

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