Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Category: poetry

Today–the last day of National Poetry Month–is the final day you’ll be able to get my poetry collection Bite Your Lip & other poems free at Amazon for Kindle–whether that Kindle is your Paperwhite or your iPad or your Android phone or whatever you’re using these days to read. Bite Your Lip & other poems contains 16 different pieces, some of which I wrote way the hell back in my undergrad days but more that I wrote far more recently, and even includes poems about both Doctor Who and Barack Obama. You can get it here.

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This week’s free poetry collection celebrating National Poetry Month is Soliloquies & other poems. As I note within the text following the title poem, I got the phrase “I am but a poor player” lodged squarely in my head.

Which, of course, set me in pursuit of the Bard.

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As many readers probably already know, April is National Poetry Month. Wikipedia notes:

National Poetry Month was inspired by the success of Black History Month, held each February, and Women’s History Month, held in March.

Neglecting for the moment that conflating poetry, as a genre, to either race or gender seems a little, well, off, celebrating poetry seems like a great idea. Perhaps due to its brevity or the fact that quality within it varies so greatly and is arguably so subjective, poetry is a difficult beast. Lots of people write it with varying degrees of success.

Like me, for example.

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The desert
is all you can see.
Monochromatic, golden-brilliant:
the sun glares down on you so hard
your whole body squints.

You don’t remember how long you’ve been out here.
Your skin has leathered.
Your bones form odd angles and crevices beneath it.
It hurts to breathe.
The acrid air burns your lungs.

You mutter to yourself
under your breath.
You may be the only person
who has ever heard your voice.

Your lips are chapped,
broken and bled and scabbed over.
You would cry if you could remember
what moisture was.

You shuffle-shamble along.
Sometimes a burst of energy makes you sprint;
most times you are deliberate and going is slow.
Eventually you stop,
thinking you cannot go on.
But there is still much to say,
and so,
unable to find a stick with which to trace in the sand,
you gnaw into your wrist,
letting your blood.
You stain the world.
Whorls and swirls and symbols,
And you write:

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The town spreads out below us, looks up to us, admires,
Wishing that it could be where we are for a moment.
We’re on top of the world, blessed in our youth;
We’d better enjoy our positions while we can.
The stars look down on us without our condescension;
They all wonder what happened to God.
They see what we have done and are doing
But never realize that we can change.

The moon shines down on us its scornful eye;
We are uncomfortable though others are less moral.
It is only half there, but where the rest is I cannot say.
Perhaps it is with God, waning philosophic.
The wind moans against wood and our flesh,
The same sweet nothings we whispered earlier.
And when it howls like fury through the darkness,
It almost seems like it knows how we feel.

Moisture like morning dew beads blades of grass;
Tiny, clear jewels of dripping condensation.
The whole world smells primal and visceral,
And it glistens in what little light there is here.
There are sounds all around us, some loud and some not,
From furtive, unknown sources in the darkness.
They seem to be everywhere at once and yet nowhere at all,
And isn’t that exactly how we are sometimes?

There is night all around us, overhead, up above,
Silk and satin and dark to the touch.
It is almost oppressive but somehow refrains;
It shows more restraint than we did, earlier.
And so we stare down at the town with a smirk on our lips,
And look up at the stars and feel less than we are.
We throw an ‘up yours’ in a scream at the moon,
And whisper nothing in reply to the wind.
We let the moisture bead and then drip off our skin,
And the sounds gradually become unnerving.
But we live this night, my lady, on Inspiration Point,
Despite darkness’ trying to steal the only one we’ve got.


Yesterday, Lisa said:

That poem reminds me of countless nights I looked up at the stars with Chad. Times when we wanted so badly some recognition for our efforts, times when we both felt like it was an endless cycle of repetative days. Times I wanted to shout and scream at the moon, because I felt so damn tired. We both were looking for inspiration.

Which, I think, is pretty awesome.

It’s kind of amazing how you can try for one thing but achieve something else entirely.

To wit: I wrote “Inspiration Point” when I was a sophomore in college (which probably shows through in ways, I think), and its inspiration was “Thunder Road,” by Bruce Springsteen. My then roommate was a huge fan of the Boss, and he played “Thunder Road” one night, and, while I liked the song, my more visceral reaction was closer to, “Man, I want to do that.”

And so I tried (ain’t sayin’ I succeeded, mind you, just I tried. Then again: man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?).

Here’s some Bruce, because come on, nobody does it better:

It’s a bit crappy, video-wise, but I love the story (“This is the land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy.”). Also, hey, another Jersey boy doin’ it right (also, we see where I get my predilection for tank tops, though, admittedly, the Boss pulls it off better than I do). Unfortunately, I got no guitar, but sometimes I get my pen goin’.

And again: the poem is from my collection, the proceeds from which benefit the United Way NYC in honor of those we lost on September 11th, 2001, and in the days following. If you took advantage of the free download, now’s a good chance to help make a difference, and let’s not forget, it would make a great Christmas gift for the booklover you love.

I write to
And about
Will be someone.
Eventually, my lady, you
Will have a
A personality,
A face.
Eventually I will know
Just who you are,
You, about whom I have
Wondered for years.
Eventually I will not
Have to settle for a
Good time.
Eventually I will
Find you,
Know you when I
See you,
Hear you,
When your soft, light
Finally echo from my
Dreams to my floor.
Thank God I’m


One of six poems in the collection, and one of the earliest overall. I wrote it during college, which is also true of “Inspiration Point,” “This Ain’t Wonderland,” and “A New Drink.” This was, of course, at a time when I thought every line of a poem should be capitalized (I’m no longer sure, and I’d concede this one might look better without the capped lines). These and my other college poems were the ones that came closest to not making it into the collection, in fact, because I thought so much else seemed so much stronger, but one of the good things about doing it in the first place was recording those times.

I think every writer has early work that makes them cringe a little. I know I have a novel on the top shelf of the closet in my parents basement, which will, as far as I’m concerned, remain there forever (or at least until they move), a big, thick, hunk of a novel I thought it took nearly a ream of paper to tell. I’m pretty sure it’s up near 500 single-spaced pages.

Better I offer you the poems than that, I think. The poems, it’s fun to see how I’ve grown.

The novel you might just bludgeon me with were I to try to sell it to you.

As well you should.

It’s nice to know, as well as a little ironic, that a couple of you cited this and other poetry as your favorite. We are so rarely good at judging what of our work will appeal to others.


Like this? Remember to buy the book; it’s only available for a limited time, and all proceeds go to the United Way NYC as tribute to those we lost on September 11th, 2001.

Today’s post in honor of both Sunday and National Poetry Month.

Tim Minchin, performing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with Terry (Jerry?) Quinn:

And yes, it’s definitely poetry, because for those five minutes, Minchin and his partner made that small bar a church.

(for the record, Minchin was correct that Rufus Wainwright performed the song for the Shrek soundtrack; John Cale has covered it, though, as well–his appears on the Scrubs soundtrack)

Update, 5/20: thanks to Georgie, who notes Minchin’s duet partner as Geraldine Quinn.