Watching the August days scroll past, I think about last spring when, a la Scarlett O’Hara, I vowed to write a mountain of poems, to start a website, to find a publisher for book #2, and to do some custodial work on behalf of poetry.
As this soggy and work-filled summer careens to its inglorious conclusions, I wonder where the hours went. Interestingly, a lot of them went to po-biz instead of to my own poems, or teaching-related work instead of my own poems, or family responsibilities instead of my own poems. But the poems kept coming, luckily, else I’d have to step down from some worth-while projects. This daffodil picture? Remember spring? Yeah, I had big plans, including to weed my garden daily.
Instead, I went out last week amid the reeking green of our sodden New England August and pulled up all my tomato vines, blighted, poisonous to all future generations. I bagged ’em and Steve hauled ’em to the dump. It reminded me of what it’s like to abandon a draft; begun in electric-eyed inspiration, that high all writers know, but somehow later evolved to a useless knob, maybe ugly, maybe embarrassing, maybe even dangerous. Such a flawed poem could drag down a manuscript, sour a magazine to your name, make your poet friends snicker behind your back. Well, that’s the fear, anyway.
So what have I accomplished this summer? The Washington Prize contest process is finished, the announcement of its winner sent off to Poets & Writers; the second book did find a publisher and is due out next spring; and maybe a hill (not the dreamed-of mountain) of poems managed to dig themselves up, shake themselves off, and turn themselves over to my custody. We’ll see if I can keep them corralled.