A Review of Billy Collins & Aimee Mann in Concert, Written in the Style of Billy Collins

with lines from his poetry and her lyrics

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Billy listens to her guitar

in respectful silence, leaning against his stool.

“Bridging the generational gap,” he calls their partnership—

she a spry fifty-five, he in his amiable seventies—

but you can tell that watching her sing,

reading glasses folded obediently in hand,

he is thinking about the future, that place

where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine.

 

He is, after all, older than Cheerios,

unlike many in the audience tonight

who are looking for advice

from those who have assailed the fortress of artistic merit

and returned weighed down with honors

like five-star generals—bearing the famous axe,

for the frozen sea within. Instead,

 

we find the two of them crouched

on the surface of the ice like arctic explorers,

tapping with gentle fingernails

listening very carefully for a response.

The small army of dogs invoked by their verse

howls and mutters beside them,

casting sweetest shadows on the snow.

 

Later they might light a fire,

turn the polar venture into a dinner party:

a simple night with two good friends we’ve known

since we were young.

 

So what if Aimee’s mic is too fuzzy

for us to hear most of her words,

and if three quarters of the way through the evening

some other piece of sound equipment begins

to chirp, at intervals, like a very persistent cricket?

One is the loneliest number you’ll ever do,

but hospitality is a song

whose drowsy bass feels good in your chest.

 

No wonder, at home, we rise in the middle of the night

to look up the verse that will lull us back to sleep.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to be singing:

let’s shine in the time we have remaining.

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