Sculpture paid little better than a hobby this last year, and the writing bought me a lunch or two. Fifty bucks here, five bucks there. Not enough to keep it up if I didn't love it. The poetry paid off in other ways though. This year brought three nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and the year before paid off in one nomination.
I'll try to put that in perspective; once a poem or piece is accepted in a journal or review, that's a bit of an award all its own. It means I got through the slush piles to acceptance, which means I became one of the few to be published in that issue. Maybe I was in the one percent to three percent. Then, out of the hundreds of poems published in that journal during the year, that poem was chosen to represent the review as a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Each publication sends six nominees. Six.
The nominations are their own reward; to actually be included in the prize book is further winnowing of many entries. Sort of a pipe dream, but it could happen.
This poem was one of the six that the editor of Shot Glass Journal/Muse Pie Press sent this year. It's an introspective little poem that just popped out the day after my sister's funeral, when I was winterizing, titled Time to Think
Turn the pots over so they don't freeze and break.
Cold season again, each year the big flower pots of
concrete and glazed clay get heavier. The season got
heavier yesterday when my sister was buried, frigid
day, it snowed a bit just a shot across the bow, a
warning from the slate gray frigate bearing down.
Time to put the stock tank heaters out. Time to
think about time. Not so much of it left I think.
The following day an email informed me that No Tokens had submitted "Grapette" as one of their six nominations. It, too, deals with age, and my sister, though from a lighter angle.
I pour grape juice into an old bottle
one I've cleaned and judged suitable
for pretending the contents are Grapette
and I'm a small boy in Louisiana
I drink and see pecan trees and the
edge of the bayou where I ventured to
find a dead cow, legs up, vultures
busying about looking like old men in
feathery overcoats the smell overpowering
and I ran home chased by swamp things
like The Heap, a comic book I allowed
into my fears and troubled dreams
then, the sunshine again. Some safety by
the front stoop, a dog that would guard me,
my annoying sister who told me I was
in trouble, but she always told me that.
The only thing missing is the fizz that
made me belch when I drank too fast and
and then I see the satellite dish in the
farmyard on a post and I'm old again.
The poem that Ramingo's Porch sent is dystopian, much longer, practically an epic poem titled The Undefeatist, and rather than reproduce it here, I'll just provide this link. You can access it if you wish. (It first appeared in Longshot Island as a set of poems titled Thunderbolt Poems—it’s the second poem down.)
Other things happened on the writing front. I submitted some guest blogs that were accepted, and some articles. I made a foray into film with an article that Stage 32 liked enough to publish. Click here for that one.
I'm happy to say I made it into Rattle twice in one year, no small accomplishment for me as I've been trying to crack that ceiling for a couple of years. The latest attempt won Editor's Choice in their monthly Ekphrastic Challenge where you pair up a poem with a supplied piece of art. Its title is Locked Brakes on Blacktop, and both the poem and the artwork can be found here.
The downside? 314 rejections. That can get old, especially in an unbroken string week after week. But it's like mining, I guess. You just keep chipping away--the vein might be a few feet ahead in the dark tunnel. You can't stop now. And with each written word, hopefully, you're getting better at the game. Who knows, that next novel might be what I need to strike it middle class.