Shakin’ the Blues:
Well, it takes one foot first, doesn’t it. Do you recall the song from that Christmas show of childhood, with young red-headed Santa helping the Warlock King to put “One Foot in Front of the Other?” Sometimes that’s what it takes to shake the blues. When I do not have the energy to do anything, and when I don’t even know what I should do next if I did, I hear my mother’s voice. No. I do, and it freaks me out every time because she’s been gone for 26 years. Okay, so it’s not really a voice, but the memory of her voice saying, “Do the next thing.” Sounds too simple, but really, when I know I need to get momentum but don’t know where to start, it actually does help to look around and think okay, what’s the next thing?
So I started by finally responding to some of the many words of support from my post about Marla over four weeks ago. Sure, I did some recordings since then, and a re-blog or two, but I hadn’t actually written anything since. Thank you, my friends for your many kind and warm words. And as I would expect in this forum, there were none of those silly and insulting phrases one hears. As I heard quoted elsewhere this week, “I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel.” Thank you for knowing me and respecting me. You are the best.
Although a stray line or two got typed into a notepad document, or penned into one of my mole skin journals, the first actual poem in a very long time came yesterday morning. I woke up at 5:30 AM, and it wouldn’t let me go back to sleep. Not one journal was by the bedside where I used to keep pen and paper for times like this. The old tape recorder was there (if you’re old enough to remember what they are) but the battery was dead, so there was nothing for it but to get up, and go to the laptop to write it all down. It needs some polish, and maybe it’s not good at all.
Still, it was a good way of not only putting some structure to my feelings after this loss, but to imagine a bit of life after, not after the grief, because this one will always be felt. She was very close to us, one of Brian’s best friends–they went to the prom together back in high school before they came out to each other. There were plans, not only for the theater coming up in a few weeks, but for vacations at the beach in years to come, them and their spouses. . . growing old together as friends. Sure, it’s a loss to me, but to him, it’s a loss of an entire way of thinking about his future. And so my greatest grief is seeing that loss in his own eyes.
But the poem, the first, because I think there might be others hiding behind it, well it was a good exercise in not only in recovery, but in creating after a long period of editing, crafting my work from scratch again. And oddly enough, on some level that felt good. So I am grateful to my long-sleepy muse for that.
One of the re-blogs I mentioned was from The Blue Hour Magazine, a lovely independent journal which features artists, poets, photographers and writers each day. My poem “God, Dad and Cars” was their poem for Sunday, August 4th. Many thanks to the editors. Please give them a visit! Fellow blogger, poet and friend Jeremy Nathan Marks was recently featured there with his poem, “Sleep.” And in April they published a couple of Jeremy’s lovely photographs. I am honored to be in such good company on their pages.
In other news I found out recently that Watershed, a Journal of the Susquehanna, edited by poet and professor Jerry Wemple will be publishing (very shortly) two of my poems for their Summer Issue. They are “Local News” and “Crossroad Song.” I hear it through the grape vine that Watershed may be going to an online format, and so I hope to provide you some links very soon. Which reminds me, though it hasn’t been in print yet of course, I did read “Local News” on WITF radio out of Harrisburg, PA not long ago when they featured me on their Poet’s Corner Program. If you’d like an audio preview you could listen to that here.
Also the LGBT literary journal T(OUR), out of Seattle, Washington has notified me of the acceptance of my poem “Amish Fantasy” that was submitted for their “Secrets” issue. They are doing some restructuring and will be going to print by mid October, and I am just tickled to be a part of their new fall issue. Links and purchasing information will be forthcoming.
Not a bad start for my first forays into publishing since. . . oh, 2003. Ah hem. Yes, well, I was busy for a decade. Sorry. What can I say? Hopefully I’ll be able to share some more good news with you in the very near future, and here in the background I will continue toying with what pieces I to include in my first chapbook collection. Yes it’s about time. No I don’t have a publisher yet, but I’m considering some first chapbook contests at the end of the year. I’ll keep you informed.
I’ve been thinking, as much as I talk about poets and their poems here it would be fun to start reviewing some new books. In the news section above I mention my poem “Local News.” I find it delightful that one of my favorite poets, Marjorie Maddox has come out with a new collection called Local News from Someplace Else. I have had the pleasure of reading with Marjorie at a few events and so I got to hear a few of these pieces ahead of time, and I was looking forward to getting my hands on the book.
Now that I’ve read, re-read and breathed in these poems, I have to say this is one of the best collections of poetry that I’ve read in a long time, in terms of both artistry and emotional satisfaction, not that I’ve ever believed those two things were mutually exclusive. I’ll be posting a full review of the book within the next week or so, along with a few readings of some of my favorite poems from the collection. It’s going to be tough to choose only a few.
Marjorie was recently interviewed by Molly Spencer about the book in her blog The Stanza as part of the Next Big Thing. Read about it right here.
Coming up next:
I’ve made a few recordings of poems that I found that were nourishing for the soul these last few weeks. They are by poets both old and new, including one from Emily Dickinson that I didn’t even know, or at least had completely forgotten since high school. I know! And I thought I had done all my homework. That is coming up next.
For all the kind words in email, on Facebook and here on The Dad Poet, thank you for being such an incredibly supportive blogging community!
- I Would Totally Take my Panties off For The Right Poem, Part 3 (thepoeticsproject.com)
- We Drink Because We’re Poets (goldbot.wordpress.com)
- The Home of All the Poems (walkingwithpoets.wordpress.com)
- Roadside memorial for teen crash victim stolen (cbc.ca)