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Preface to Unfinished Poetry

In the nightstand next to my bed is a Ninja Turtles folder. Its edges have been reinforced with nylon tape and, for its age, it is in remarkably good shape. I bought it approximately fifteen years ago; long after the Ninja Turtles had gone out of style (before they came back in) and years after I was far too old to be keeping my homework in a Ninja Turtles folder. (Those facts were the main motivation in buying it.) I think I used it for AP American History that year and, since I had reinforced the edges, AP English the next. Fifteen years later, when my kids are getting old enough to appreciate the Ninja Turtles, it serves as my ďgraveyard of unfinished poetry.Ē

Sometimes a poem comes to you start-to-finish in a matter of minutes. Sometimes you carve it out word-by-word-by-word over a matter of days, weeks, months, or years. Sometimes you have a great idea or a couple of lines or simply a feeling and thatís as far as you get before life pushes you in a different direction. Itís those poems that I entrust to the safe-, nylon-tape-reinforced, keeping of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

The poems in this collection do not represent those from the graveyard. (A collection of four-word thoughts, half-finished stanzas, and random scribbles would constitute a poor literary effort.) But several of the poems here did spend time there before being resuscitated and eventually completed. Others, that were never put on hold long enough to be handed over to the heroes in a half-shell, have been tweaked, re-worked or overhauled years after initially being considered done. Some may yet evolve. In that sense, the poems here may be unfinished. (Iím only the poet. I canít know for sure, at least not one hundred percent.) But for now, thatís not the case.

The Ninja Turtles folder and its contents inspired the title poem. A myriad of other influences inspired the rest. I hope a few of the poems that follow will inspire you.