There was a stretch during my high school years in which I churned out a ton of poetry.
It’s hard to believe, but yes, I did actually have a girlfriend or two while penning these ballads, limericks, villanelles, odes, and haikus.
And not all of it was prompted by teenage love and angst—it only feels that way re-reading my canon 10 years later. But what else was I going to write about at that time? I hadn’t done anything yet!
When I first started this blog, I published some baseball poetry that prompted my girlfriend at the time to tell me: “Please find something to write about so you can spare everyone your teenage poetry.”
Screw that! I’m going to ignore that advice, and eventually be embarrassed and shamed that I did.
Every Thursday, I’ll post a few poems and maybe some thoughts on how and why they came about. Throw on some Miles Davis, wear dark sunglasses in a poorly lit room, snap your fingers, and jam with me.
Jazz of the Week: Birth of the Cool
There’s no better soundtrack to a poetry reading than great jazz music. Each week, I’ll include my favorite jazz tunes for your listening pleasure (as well as make it part of the post’s headline). If you have any jazz favorites you want to send along, I’d be happy to share them.
This week is one of my favorites. Miles Davis’ “Moon Dreams” from his album “Birth of the Cool.” Obviously, I wasn’t birthing any kind of cool in high school, but this is one of the first jazz albums I ever listened to and it made me feel cool. This song in particular matched so many emotions I felt then—and now—so it felt natural to make it the soundtrack to this week’s selections.
The Tremble and the Wait
a tremble buries itself inside heathen trench,
devoid of the once potent stench of luck
the tremble lose the will to want,
the will to need and desire,
the will to feel the flower petal’s bloom
once the shiver of heavenly touch,
once the eagerness for rising sun,
the tremble is but an uneasy ache of madness
tired of the test of truth
tired of not seeing light
tired of the wait…
the tremble surges into awareness,
eeking its way down crowded quarters,
lusting to find the memory of a smiling face
nothing but the gloom…
nothing but eternity…
nothing but hushed spirits…
the tremble retreats into restless submission,
left to taste failures vapidness,
left to tingle no more,
left to wait…
I talk with you,
dead to my words,
complaining of simple hunger.
The table has not been set,
or laid out with bounty or bread,
and yet you make no effort to cook,
or clean the yellowing linens for your darling husband.
I dream of feasts,
you tease with treats.
You save your food for
the table of an estranged vagabond.
Twelve chimes I hear,
as my stomach growls,
pleading with you for just a
“No, no no, ‘tis late,” you say.
“No later than a fortnight ago,” I grumble,
thinking of the goodies
brought to midnight’s table.
“You have had your fill, be thankful for that,”
you say as you roll over and snore me away.
Alas, I choose not to
stay and wither away into my tight stomach.
I throw on my clothes
and brave out into
the frigid moonlight of
I shake my fist at his
and scour the dark for
anything to appease my appetite.
Through my neighbor’s open window,
my watering lips come
to view an untouched meal
laid upon his table.
tantalizingly sweet smelling,
just what my hungry eyes
hav been dreaming of.
All the while you sleep and sleep
and give the pleasures of your
dreams something to nibble.
I think not twice and squeeze through the pane
and trip past the drunken hounds
and sink my being into the goodies
upon my neighbor’s tale.
“What a waste, a meal left in haste,”
My stomach breathes again as I
return to my pillow and blanket,
you unaware of my whereabouts.
“Would you like a snack?
I can whip something up in no time at all,”
you whistle, surely to midnight your lover.
“No, no, no, ‘tis late,” I say.
“I’ve had my fill.”
I Know I Say
The Devil’s in my corner and he’s wearing polka dots.
He’s wearing a toupee and he’s knocking down shots.
An angel’s on his lap and she’s working him slow.
I know I say I love you, but I’m outta here now.
Inspiration’s fading fast and the monkey spits on me.
Coffee’s burning down my throat and I gotta take a pee.
The buzzard’s are circling ‘round my head, smelling up the joint.
I know I say I want to live, but I think I’ve made my point.
I’m seeing changes rolling fast as I try to make you cook.
The stew’s gone cold, the bacon’s burnt, you’re giving me a look.
The walls are closing in and the paint’s peeling off.
I know I say we’re gonna try, but you’re just too soft.
I’m holding onto luck as the highway’s driving by.
I stop in for a shot of rum and a piece of Maggie’s pie.
The screams are louder than the rhythm of the jukebox.
I know I say that the ground is good, but I think I’ll keep my locks.
The devil met me down in sunny Tennessee.
He’s dropped the angel’s toupee and now’s a real big tease.
I wrote down what he had to say but I think I lost it all.
I know I say we are good friends, but I’m trying my best to stall.
He took me to the desert where the bullets began to fly.
I watched the cold silence of the young boy’s dyin’.
The Devil took them all to Heaven’s gate to live some more.
I know I say blow ‘em all away, but get the hell out of war.
The blindfold masks the voices of the critic and the poet.
Nothing here is good, so don’t pretend to not know it.
It’s tough to see with sand running ‘round in my head.
I know I say all’s well, but that’s because I’m looking for my bed.
I’m only as important as the sleep you keep so patiently dear.
There’s no sense waking your eyes so I’ll just go down a lite beer.
The Devil’s brought me back to a home away from everywhere.
I know I say I am, but I’m nowhere here.