Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: poetry

When I was 18 years old, I declared my college major even before I’d set foot in the first class. A lot of students hold off–and I knew many of my friends were–but at the time, there was only one thing I wanted to do with my life:

Be a doctor.

Looking back, I don’t know where the inspiration came from. I used to attribute it to having watched my grandfather lose a battle with prostate cancer when I was four years old, but I’m not so sure. It certainly sounds like a good story though, doesn’t it? Maybe even then I was telling them.

“Be a doctor” was what I told everyone I wanted to be when I grew up. Maybe I thought the question was more than just a thought experiment, and becoming a doctor was less about luck than, say, become a ball player or a firefighter–or even a writer. Becoming a doctor is one of those rare professions wherein you put in the time, dedication, and effort, and you emerge as what you set out to be. There’s no guarantee taking acting classes will make you a movie star (perhaps far from it); there’s no guarantee excelling on the college field is going to get you to the big leagues; there’s no guarantee that going to one of the most prestigious universities in the world to study the craft of writing is going to get you a publication contract with a giant conglomerate (trust me on that one).

But you go to college to study some science or other–often biology, which usually also requires semesters of chemistry (both general and organic), physics, and basic anatomy and physiology–and then you take the MCATs and go to medical school, and four years after that, you’ll be a doctor.

Well. A resident. Or a doctor. To be honest, I’m not sure how it all works. I never got that far.

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I.
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,
cracked,
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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I write to
And about
Will be someone.
Eventually, my lady, you
Will have a
Name,
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
Footsteps
Finally echo from my
Dreams to my floor.
Thank God I’m
Patient.

***

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.

My classes at Regis began this week, at the same time that I set in motion my departure from Lulu and wound up the assignment I’ve been guiding my students through.

The class, so far: meh. I don’t have a business background and, indeed, never took any such courses in college, even despite two degrees and graduate school. Which means that, though I’m currently attending Regis, I’m really doing a conditional acceptance sort of thing. I have to pass a couple of Foundations of Business or somesuchlike courses.

Which would be fine. I get that I need to know stuff like statistics. And I can’t wait to get to marketing.

But–

(you knew there was going to be a but, right? Which gives me an opportunity to try out this “more” function thingy I’ve been wanting to use)

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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.

Lots today at school, so, in honor of National Poetry Month, devotion to several-times-aforementioned Marty McConnell. A YouTube equivalent of a guest-post, because she.

Is.

Awesome.

That’s some poetry, right there.

I’ve been meaning to acknowledge April as National Poetry Month. Because it is.

Marty McConnell has been posting poems to her live journal every day. So far, this one is my favorite.

McConnell might well be my favorite poet ever. Few writers have ever hit me as hard as she does.

Enjoy.