The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
of Galápagos
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.   
Also, the males do not   
make fools of themselves   
chasing after the young   
ladies. Rather,
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them

a nest—an occasional   
Gaulois package,
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from   
a sailor’s suit. This   
replaces the need for   
dazzling plumage;   
in fact, in the past   
fifty million years
the male has grown
considerably duller,   
nor can he sing well.   
The female, though,

asks little of him—
the blue satisfies her   
completely, has   
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her   
a new shred of blue foil:   
for this she rewards him   
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them   
like the eyes of a mild savior.

  • James Tate, “The Blue Booby” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1991 by James Tate. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

  • Source: Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1991)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I did not expect to like Poetry Out Loud, truthfully. My first year, I did not want to compete at all.Somewhere along the line, I fell in love with the program and have learned so much about poetry, performing, and expression throughout the last three years."
Gabrielle Hunt
2017 NV POL Champion