Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Madmen


They say you can jinx a poem
if you talk about it before it is done.
If you let it out too early, they warn,
your poem will fly away,
and this time they are absolutely right.

Take the night I mentioned to you
I wanted to write about the madmen,
as the newspapers so blithely call them,
who attack art, not in reviews,
but with breadknives and hammers
in the quiet museums of Prague and Amsterdam.

Actually, they are the real artists,
you said, spinning the ice in your glass.
The screwdriver is their brush.
The real vandals are the restorers,
you went on, slowly turning me upside-down,
the ones in the white doctor's smocks
who close the wound in the landscape,
and thus ruin the true art of the mad.

I watched my poem fly down to the front
of the bar and hover there
until the next customer walked in--
then I watched it fly out the open door into the night
and sail away, I could only imagine,
over the dark tenements of the city.

All I had wished to say
was that art was also short,
as a razor can teach with a slash or two,
that it only seems long compared to life,
but that night, I drove home alone
with nothing swinging in the cage of my heart
except the faint hope that I might
catch a glimpse of the thing
in the fan of my headlights,
maybe perched on a road sign or a street lamp,
poor unwritten bird, its wings folded,
staring down at me with tiny illuminated eyes.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
2 person liked.
1 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: poem, city, night, hope, home, alone, dark, warning, wind

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Madmen by Billy Collins )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 3 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  4. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  5. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  6. The Saddest Poem, Pablo Neruda
  7. A Moment Of Happiness, Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
  8. A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
  9. And The Moon And The Stars And The World, Charles Bukowski
  10. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe

Poem of the Day

poet Henry David Thoreau

Whate'er we leave to God, God does,
And blesses us;
The work we choose should be our own,
God leaves alone.

If with light head erect I sing,
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. Is God both Interventionist and non-inte.., Merton Lee
  2. Fitina Mai Sand'a, Ibrahim Lawal Soro
  3. Grandma's Attic...(Prose), Frank James Ryan Jr...FjR
  4. Diana's Pool, Julyn Pride
  5. For My Pen, Ibrahim Lawal Soro
  6. Villanelle: When countries slaughter mai.., T (no first name) Wignesan
  7. Coywolf, Julyn Pride
  8. December Walk, Julyn Pride
  9. Conundrums Consequence..., Frank James Ryan Jr...FjR
  10. Whats and Whats, Ibrahim Lawal Soro
[Hata Bildir]