Tuesday, August 12, 2014
That Time I Published a Poem, 3
Okay, maybe this time I'll get around to writing about that one time I published a poem. Maybe I'll cut-and-paste a copy of that poem here; maybe I'll tell you the name of the journal that had the honor to publish such a masterwork ... maybe not. Let's see how it goes.
When I started working on this story (about my first/only published poem), I thought it would be a quick, one-day affair. (Guys are good at that.) But then I started checking my file cabinets, and the contents of some dusty folders reminded me that I had tried to publish poems at other times long, long ago. And as I looked through those folders, I once again realized what a blockhead I was (am?). Oh, the cluelessness--the arrogance--of youth (well, mine anyhow). And worse? I wasn't really all that young.
Okay, enough delay: Time for Full Embarrassment ...
The first poem, from the spring of 1982, I called "Resurrection." I see that I sent this masterwork to four little magazines: The Little Review ("We're sorry, but we cannot use it"), Pig Iron Press ("We regret that we cannot use your submissions"--note the plural: I sent only one poem), The Reaper ("we cannot accept it"), The Spoon River Poetry Press ("I am afraid they [another plural!] are not right for Spoon River").
What were those editors thinking?
Below are two scanned images of my masterwork, and I'm sure you'll agree with me: How on earth could they have been so dense?
Well, a little exegesis. I seem to have awakened one night with a dead arm--must have been sleeping on it. Notice the very subtle use of "Jesus Christ" in a poem about a resurrection. And how could anyone not love the "soup-into-crackers" simile? (Communion wafers? Was I thinking about them? Or am I just thinking so now?) And the masterful use of alliteration ("fluid fingerward," "ferocious forehand"). I think it's appropriate that they both involve a big fat F.
As I look at these words more than thirty years after I wrote them, I have a few questions (in no particular order): (1) Why did I think this was publishable? (I was 38 years old--shoulda known better.) (2) What was I trying to say? (3) Whom was I trying to fool? (4) Why are editors so kind? (Not one of them wrote to tell me that I might want to consider a different highway on my literary journey--or advise taking the exit ramp, quickly, from Poetry Turnpike.) (5) Why am I posting this here?
Well, I think a little self-immolation is good for the soul. So ... burn, baby, burn!
TO BE CONTINUED ...