Resolute, understated, and sometimes sullen, the debut volume from New York City-based Fagan explores the poet's doubts about his vocation and his doubts about the worth of his art. A long poem set ""at Zebra Lounge in Chicago"" recalls, ""My beer was empty/ And I had nothing to say./ Who knows what to say?"" Another muses, ""No need for a poem/ To commemorate how inarticulate we are."" Other pages chronicle post-collegiate dejection, a young man's war on still-undeclared ambitions, or else attempt with measured irony to scale back the pretensions, and the inflated symbols, prior poets have tried to use. Children in ""Recall"" remain enraptured when adults grow bored and sad; a poem about waking up gets titled ""My Arrogance."" Though the title refers to the poet's tastes in underground rock and dance music, that music is little in evidence here; more evident is the self-mocking, saturnine temper of such precursors as Alan Dugan (from whom Fagan takes an appropriate epigraph) or even Howard Nemerov. Yet even these anti-lyrics and bedroom palinodes strive towards apt purposes: this poet so given to humble skepticism he still tries to believe that ""each thing we make/ Results from the wild permutations of love.""