Sunday, February 11, 2018

Politics & Plums

I intended to write a very serious blog post about protest poetry. In it, I was going to share my view on whether political poems are best when specific or when abstract. Recently, I read three books of poetry, two contained protest poems, one did not. Personally, I feel a poem is diminished by the name Trump appearing in it. Any synonym for demagogue seems preferable. Contemporary readers know exactly who the poet means, and future readers can apply the same poem to whatever soulless despot Providence asks their generation to endure. Presumably, mankind will not be perfected for several millennia.

Yes, it was going to be a very serious blog post indeed (excerpts, quotes, that sort of thing). Then something swell happened. In one day I saw my two favorite words, one in a newspaper article and the other in a magazine. It is not possible for me to keep from smiling when I see or hear the word "kerfuffle." Just saying kerfuffle makes me giggle. "Slivovitz," the name of plum brandy, has the same effect on me. Perhaps, even more so, as I'm especially fond of brandy - and of plums. I am very grateful for words like kerfuffle and slivovitz. They help me forget, momentarily, words like Trump. And the odd impulse to write "very serious" blog posts. I won't forget to vote in the November midterm elections. I hope you won't forget either.

Image: © Es75/

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Candy Canes & Apes

Archaeologists have discovered two teeth from 9.7 million years ago. The teeth belonged to a great ape (can’t a gentler appellation be found for a beings who took such marvelous care of their teeth?). The following is an archaeologist’s description of one of the teeth when asked what an almost 10-million-year-old tooth looks like. “It’s perfectly preserved. It actually looks like a new excellent tooth; however, it’s no longer white. It’s shining like amber.” I can almost imagine these teeth resting on dark velvet in Tiffany’s.

I could have enjoyed several world cruises with the money I’ve spent on dental work over the years – a cap for a tooth broken on a candy cane; several root canals; a bite guard to prevent teeth grinding (TMJ). The last two treated by an orthodontist. His office is the one with the Ferrari parked outside. Great apes didn’t munch candy canes, grind their teeth because of office supervisors or ex-spouses, or have money woes about dental bills but surely, they had other stresses. And yet, their “perfect” and “shining” teeth exist.

Americans spend over $100 billion dollars a year on dental care and we’re still losing our teeth. What dental hygiene secrets did the great apes possess? And more importantly, what toothpaste did they use?

Image: © Marietjie Opperman/

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rejecting Rejection Letters

I received two rejection letters this week, both for new poems of mine. Writers need to be able to take it on the chin and I do but that doesn't make rejection letters any easier. I've stopped reading past the "Thank you for your submission" as I know the rest of the letter is going to say how much the editors "enjoyed" reading my submission and how they hope I will "continue" to submit my poetry to their publication. If they enjoyed my poems so much why didn't they publish them and, why would I continue to send my poems to editors who clearly don't care for my work? I wish editors of small presses, journals, and magazines would come up with a synonym for "submission" as "submission guidelines," "submit here," and "thank for your submission," invoke a cartoon image of a timid wolf lying down and offering his throat to be bitten by the victorious meanie wolf. I am, after all, a poet not a canine. A software used by publishers to manage works under consideration is called "Submittable." Is submittable even a word? If it is, it shouldn't be.

"Congratulations" is how acceptance letters begin and I always read them, usually several times. Congratulations is a delighttable word and I cherish it on those occasions it is addressed to me. The congratulatory letter goes on to praise my poems and indicate when they will be published. My husband and my approximately three close friends (one can never be certain of relationships) often praise my poetry but compliments mean a tad more when they come from strangers, especially editors.

I like the idea of rejecting rejection letters. It eases their sting.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Poems and Sandwiches

Like the bus passengers described in "The Moose," I feel a sense of awe when I read this poem. I worked in the tax management department of a publishing house in Washington, DC. The work was extremely tedious. My cubicle happened to be near a large conference room and whenever it was empty I’d take a shortcut through it on the way to the xerox machine or the library. Each time I walked through the conference room I’d think this would be perfect for a poetry reading. I started a poetry group that met during lunch hour. The large number of people who turned up for the first meeting surprised me. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who needed a break from tax legislation. I distributed copies of “The Moose” at this meeting. The poem’s exquisite craftsmanship and mystery still thrill me but I can’t think of it without remembering that huge conference table surrounded with kindred spirits, poems and sandwiches.