And Words Are All I Have

And when he told her it was truly over this time
he looked at her like November light
flung long
across a porch.

Hannah Bonner

Desserts, Direct Strikes and Don'ts.

woman solitary
Consider this week's posting a stream of consciousness. A panoply, a melange of my current observations and musings. Or, perhaps my favourite descriptor, the exotic salmagundi. (Sounds like an ancient weapon of war.)

Rejection, the Sting of Same

I have just received (ok, barely survived) a rejection, a resoundingly disappointing one, of my latest poetry manuscript. Granted, it was a gracious letter and an encouraging one but I have since found myself squarely on the fence about something (while quietly sobbing):

Is a rubber stamped generic rejection letter from a publisher easier to swallow for a writer than one that laments the decision, itemizes the three reasons why your offering didn’t quite manage to make the cut, and closes by vigorously prompting you to continue writing?

Right now I am leaning toward the quickly ripped bandaid that goes something like this: "Dear Tricia. No thanks. Goodbye Forever."

The nettles of this particular renunciation remain deeply imbedded because it came from a publisher I have long admired, which boasts a stable of simply outstanding poets. I so wanted my words to have a home there.

Alas, tis not to be. But I move onwards, of course.

Just not quite yet...

To cheer myself up I wrote this:

What Not to Do at a Poetry Reading

I’ve been to far too many poetry readings over the years. And I have given several myself.

Granted, some of these presentations have been lovely, the author electrifying in his/her presentation. Indeed, I have been bereft when some of them came to an end.

Others, gotta tell ya, absolutely deadly. I can hear the droning voices delivering mind-numbing, seemingly endless prose even as I type. (Hopefully, my public offerings fall somewhere in between.)

Culled from the absolute worst of these, I offer to poets my advice of what they must never do at such events. N.B. Great personal sacrifice was involved here. (cough) Mine. And ... you're welcome.
  • Do not approach the podium clutching a six-inch thick manuscript of poems that you seem intent to share.
  • Do not mention your alma maters, your mentors, or who taught you English in Grade Two. No one cares. No one.
  • Do not forget to block all exit doors, not just with locks. With padlocks.
  • Do not quote the ancients. They aren't there and cannot defend themselves.
  • Do not charge admission.
  • Never ask for audience members to stand and share their own favourite poetry. They actually take you up on it. They do.
  • Do not read chapters from each of your four unpublished novels. There's a reason there are four of them.
And finally:
  • Do not serve Mexican.
Avoidance: The Art Form

If I am sleeping too much, baking too much, or marathoning old Get Smart episodes until four a.m. it invariably means I am avoiding writing with every fibre I possess. Maybe I am uninspired, depressed, or cutting through it, just plain lazy.

This is a poem that came out of that awareness.

Half Baked

The deeper I bury what I need to say
the loftier my cakes become.
The icing atop them getting sweeter, thicker,
the longer I wait to excavate.
When my freezer is filled with
homemade cookies
my words in turn remain unwritten,
a direct correlation traceable
in powdered sugar.
My rhubarb cobbler oozes yet more succulent fruit
with every feeling that goes unrecorded.
Those famous toffee bars overflowing with caramel,
no end to the secrets they could

photo for poem half baked

This is a poem that sprung from a captivating story I read in a small town Kentucky newspaper about a group of people who were survivors of lightning strikes and who met regularly at their local coffee shop …
direct strike

Ours is a fickle universe. As Henry Miller memorably put it:

It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually:
all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.

Writing today, I am thinking about how we simply everything changes, inexorably, in all the worlds we inhabit. The pandemic has shifted the earth on its very axis and asked us all to step back from the lives we knew; to change, adapt, regroup, in order to be able to move forward.

There can only be time stamps of who we are, fleeting impressions that change from one minute to the next. Nothing is static. Or promised. Or forever.

To wit. did you know certain ticks carry bacteria that can fog your brain? You take a jog on a nature trail thinking you’re crushing it and a few days later you can’t remember your birth date.

I laugh when I see alerts pop up on my laptop warning me thusly: Get Life Lock. Your personal information could be exposed. These warnings are usually accompanied by neon blazes and menacing graphics.

Little do they know I reveal acutely personal information in almost every poem. It offends me when these so-called watchdogs ladle out such earnest advice when they know nothing about me worth knowing. So, sorry to tell you, Life Lock, move along. That ship sailed.

I'll close with yet another conundrum:

What we’re most frightened of disclosing,
we must of course disclose.
We lock away,
through shame and fear of judgment,
all our hurt and pain, our beautiful flaws,
that which makes us most human,
able to connect.
Blithely we ignore the untapped power within us,
our very own magic vanishing into ether alongside us,
unshared, forevermore.

wkinter sunrise
Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory?
They are so, and we are so,
and they and we
go very well together.

George Santayana
pencil drawing red heart
I am here, listening. Share your own stories with me, gentle reader.
tricia handwritten signature

It is a choice she has never regretted. The thing about being a writer is
you never have to ask “Am I doing something that’s worthwhile?'
Because even if you fail at it
you know that it’s worth doing.

Michelle Green

Recent Post


Simply too good not to share.. Bioluminescence There’s a dark so deep beneath the sea the creatures beget their own light. This feat, this fact of adaptation, I could say, is beautiful though the creatures are hideous. Lanternfish. Hatchetfish. Viperfish. I, not unlike them, forfeited beauty to glimpse the world hidden by eternal darkness. I subsisted on falling matter, unaware …
Jello 🌊
woman solitary

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The Music of Leaving - Tricia McCallum

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