In May, Another Easter

Somehow, it is May 16, 2019.

May 16 already.

Ten days ago, my cousin would have turned 38. His beagle, who is now my beagle, is whining in his crate. Beagles, if you don’t know, are beautiful and complicated and a little bit of mess. Beagles are like people when it all comes right down to it.

Last week I had a dream about my cousin. We were driving and catching up. We both knew that he had died. “Yeah,” I said, “but tell me. What’s it like?” I was pointing to the sky. I felt bad for asking, like I was violating some secret. It’s not that I needed certainty, but here I was, staring at it. Here I was, staring at Easter.

“Yeah,” I said, “but tell me. What’s it like?”

“You can’t even begin to imagine,” he said.

“Good,” I can picture myself saying. “Good,” I said. “I thought so.”

We Belong Among the Wildflowers

I planted wildflowers in my yard.

I know that sounds stupid. Wildflowers are supposed to be wild.

I don’t check them everyday, even though I know that botany, or whatever it is I’m doing, is not like physics. Plants don’t mind being observed, they don’t hide their position or speed. But still, there’s uncertainty. It shouldn’t feel so much like luck; it is, after all, some kind of science.

I think we often forget how big a part uncertainty plays in the math of the universe.

Biochemistry, for example. We don’t really know how all of that works. I don’t feel any need to check the progress of my wildflowers every day. That’s markedly different from the fights I’ve had with myself over wether or not the door is really locked, or if the handles on the faucets are actually clean.

I want them to grow, understand. I do what I’m supposed to do. But I don’t obsess about it. I’m not sure why. Maybe I know that sometimes, even when I’ve been as perfect as I can be, things can still go sideways. Maybe I’m willing to late nature — botany, physics, whatever — share some of the risk. Maybe I’m still mystified enough by the whole process of life to believe that I’m not the Prime Mover when it comes to the fate of these tiny lives.

There’s a lot to unpack there. In the meantime, enjoy this. There’s a lot to enjoy.

Why I’m Leaving Facebook, or, Weaning off The Feed (and Watching Finches)

I have been weaning off of social media. Yesterday, I deleted my Twitter account entirely. I’ve decided to be far less active on Facebook, except for sharing things with people who might be interested.

The Feed is was gets me. It’s too much. It’s too much all at once. I gave it a shot. I gave it ten years. I told it everything I liked and everything I didn’t. After ten years, it was all at once too much.

I don’t need all of those inputs.

I just need a few.

I don’t need to play emotional/mental/spiritual roulette, good news, bad news, red space, black. Hot takes, rants, yours and mine. Pictures of everything just so.

I don’t want all of those inputs. I want the sun, the rain, the seasons. Sometimes, I want Pennsylvania to be more like California, I think, though I’ve never been there.

I want to go there, though.

I want the inputs of voices and eyes and inflections. People stuttering and blushing. The rolled-up gum of sweat and dirt and effort in the creases of my hands.

The Feed is what gets me. It’s left me overweight and undernourished, it’s an anemic drip I’m done stabbing myself for.

Today is the first sunny day in Pennsylvania in what feels like a week. There are goldfinches outside my window, eating seed I put there just for them. They are common, people say. I have never really noticed.

Even so, they’re brilliant.

The Best Songs About Rain

It has been raining for a near-biblical period of time in Pennsylvania. Maybe not forty days, but certainly six.

This morning the sun is shining and it looks again like May. Today I will mow the lawn and pull some weeds. If I have (make) time, I’ll do some writing and revising, which is also like pulling weeds. There’s something very satisfying about these actions.

In honor of the passing rain, here is my current list of Best Songs About Rain, totally off the top of my head as I type:

“Who’ll Stop the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Purple Rain” – Prince

“Novemeber Rain” – Guns N’ Roses

“Live Forever” – Oasis

“No Rain” – Blind Mellon

What are yours?

Precious (Amazing)

One of the hardest things about writing poetry is not being too precious about it.

I try to strike all the preciousness away. And then I read the newest mags and journals or html broadsides, and find amazing work, and many precious lines I’d probably strike.

The word amazing is, itself, a little precious. A little over-used by adults.

The only people who really know what it means are children. They are almost always right about it.

How to Submit to Literary Journals

One of the harder things about writing (the business, not the craft) is all the time it takes to research all the markets that might want your work. Finding them, reading them, formatting your submission just so (every time). This takes time. Depending on where you’re at in your creative arcs and cycles, that might be time away from writing and revision.

I tend not to start submitting until I’m sick of a piece, until I’ve taken it as far as I can. A good rule of thumb might be not to submit something while you’re still in love with it. Wait until you fall in love with it again.

All of this is easier said than done.

A good click-bait title for this post would be “How to Submit to Literary Journals.”

There’s submission as in here, I’ve worked hard on this, as have the 9000 other poets and writers you’ve heard from this week this month this year. Maybe you’ll like it?

Then there’s submission as in okay fine I’ll just write what I think you want to publish.

This is not a racket for instant gratification, you know?