Noted poet Paul Muldoon’s rock music infused “Sadie and the Sadists” and regional poet Steve Nolan’s searching “Base Camp” were among the books of poetry that arrived at U.S. 1 in early 2020 and provide the opportunity to present two works related to music — one a playful use of words in lyrics, the other a meditation on the creative effort.

Repeat Offender

It takes one card overspent
Or missing one month’s rent
To put you on the street
One trip to Nepal
Was a clarion call
That I should beat a retreat
It takes one raincloud
To cast a shroud
Over the Fourth of July
One sidelong look
Was all it took
For you to catch my eye
Once is enough to have anything to do
With guys who pretend to be tender
But when it comes to loving you
I’m a repeat . . . I’m a repeat . . .
I’m a repeat offender

That one chord thrown down
At the top of ‘Brown
Sugar’ gets me on my feet
I raise one eyebrow
When I ponder how
To retweet my own tweets
It takes one shot
In a parking lot
To get hepatitis B
That one left hook
Was all it took
For Frazier to stop Ali
Once is more than enough to eat Irish stew
In South Bend after a bender
But when it comes to loving you
I’m a repeat . . . I’m a repeat . . .
I’m a repeat offender


Last night I saw your name on a marquee
On the outskirts of Lonely
I hate to think of your appearance might be
One time only


It takes one idea to float
A paper boat
Or the Seventh Fleet
One twit talking tosh
Can put the kibosh
On a royal meet and greet
It takes one near
Death experience to hear
A wee small voice
That one last book
Was all it took
To put me off James Joyce
My chances of returning to Kathmandu
Are slender . . . slender . . . slender
But when it comes to loving you
I’m a repeat . . . I’m a repeat . . .
I’m a repeat offender

— Paul Muldoon

“Sadie and the Sadists,” special edition accompanying album of same name, $10.99 64 pages, Eyewear Publishing.

One Puff of a Smoke Signal

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha,
Yahweh, Yahweh, Yahweh, Yahweh,
Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah,
Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva,
I push the zebra keys of the piano
one at a time, again and again.
I push the foot pedals to adjust volume,
I close my eyes.
Black Elk walks through the room,
pauses, smiles at me, speaks:
“Learn the chords, Steve,
Learn an introduction,
listen to another instrument,
there is more than one beat to a drum,
one puff of a smoke signal
says nothing.”

— Steve Nolan

“Base Camp,” $15, 104 pages, Ragged Sky Press (Princeton).

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