Review: Grief Is the Thing With Feathers

crow

DAD

My day-to-day work, see, is reading manuscripts, so you can see what put me on to publishing–my day job. By night I read Ted Hughes, my favorite poet, particularly his crow poems. The conjunction of bright idea (day) and Ted’s crows (night) put me on to this novella in verse…kinda, sorta verse.

BOYS

We got the tough job. We had to suspend our disbelief and pretend our mum was dead, and we were just little ones. Dad was a bit of a stereotypical bumbler. You know. Male of the species. Looks cute at our age, looks pathetic at his, but we got by. With a special helper, that is.

CROW

In this book I play antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and baby-sitter. I know because the inner flap tells me so. (Ted Hughes or no, crows aren’t all that clever.) Here I make KRAAH noises. No caws for concern. Strictly KRAAH. And I am as clever as a shaman, or would be if I knew what a shaman is. I’m a CROW, for godssake.

DAD

Sometimes I get a little tipsy with wine–OK, a lot–and pass out, but that sort of thing is cool if you have a crow in the wings.

CROW

Once he had a little missy over–you know, once he had observed a respectable amount of time grieving over his dead wife–and I got to mimic his noises after missy left. KRAAH!

DAD

What a smelly, oily voyeuristic nuisance! But he’s the book’s conceit, so I endured it.

BOYS

Boys will be boys. That’s all we had to do here. That and collect pity like Oliver collects alms. It was rather fun. We missed Mum, yes, but we had a wonderful time breaking rules and making a mess of the place. The crow looked the other way. Or said, “Carry-on, lads” like a proud Mary Poppins.

CROW

I allowed Sylvia Plath to be mentioned a few times, but I have my limits. Beyond that, only TED talk. Clever as hell. Unique. Not that wonderful, writing-wise, but different, and difference can take you a long way in the publishing world of Stepford novels. And Stepford poetry. Plus, it was Hughes’ idea, really.

DAD

I’m a likable guy.

CROW

“Krickle krackle, hop sniff and tackle, in with the bins, singing the hymns.” That’s one of my lines of poetry. You must admit it’s wonderful, mustn’t you?

DAD

I like the Russians and James Joyce. I read lots of books and was quiet growing up. I sound a lot like a Goodreads prototype, really, which is why my book is so appealing. Also, there’s that appeal to pity thing. So don’t start with the logical fallacies, will you? I have a crow and I’m not afraid to use it.

CROW

A fast read, gentle readers. And amusing. With some decent lines. And a wonderful conceit that builds on another poet’s wonderful conceit, which stars my favorite conceit! Me! Playing Grief personified (black, get it?)! With feathers! How could I not answer the casting call?

BOYS

We think we heard Dad say you should rent it at the library vs. buy it, but the crow said KRAAH really loudly so it wasn’t clear. Crows know things. About royalties, even.

CROW

Buy it. Everybody loves crows. And royalties. And the little guy. And widowers with two devilishly innocent boys. It’s as good as a puppy, methinks. Do you suppose I’d waste my time inside a book otherwise? Max Porter’s Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is recommended! Even for non-poets (of which there are a few, I hear). KRAAH!

Sophomore Slumps ~ Real or Old Husband’s Tales?

typewriterGetting a book of poetry accepted by a publisher can be a heady experience akin to euphoria (or maybe “me-phoria” is a better word). Is it any wonder that there might be a hangover, then?

I’m speaking of the sophomore slump, the term used for athletes, students, and artists who worry they will never match initial heights as they tackle new challenges and attempt to not only match but better their first success. Is this “slump” real, or is it just another old husband’s tale?

Oddly, when you get a book published and finish the hard work or working with an editor to get it ready for publication, you reward yourself with a writing vacation. Bad, bad, bad! This is not what writers do. They don’t wake up every day and say, “I don’t have to write today (or this month) because, look at that! I’ve got a shiny new book for the world to see!”

As the seasoned veterans will tell you, “Big deal. Writers write. So don’t make like Orpheus and look back now, start playing again.”

OK. Got it. But now you’re holding yourself to higher standards. Are these new poems better than the ones between the first book’s covers? And shouldn’t they be?

You see the problem. Suddenly the inner critic, already notoriously negative, becomes tougher still. And, as rejections from journals flow in from editors completely unimpressed with your cover letter citing a debut poetry collection, doubt begins to creep in and take hold.

“Was that it?” you wonder. “Am I one and done?”

Hardly. Take a look at the publishing histories of many poets and you’ll find that the arc from early poetry to more sophisticated later poetry is long and gradual. With the machete of words, you must hack your way through an Amazon forest of poems before discernible changes begin to appear.

Meaning? The sophomore slump is actually similar in nature to the work you produced as a freshman phenom. That you might produce worse is just another nagging falsehood you have to deal with as a writer. Rejection is part of the game and will remain so–even if you have four or five books of poetry to your credit.

Sure, once you make it to the Promised Land, where you have name recognition from summiting the toughest markets like Poetry and those august university magazines that are way past June and July and have been publishing verse since Frost was a school teacher, you can count on getting accepted more often even when you put out slightly sub-par stuff, but those days are so far away that you don’t even want to think about seeing them with the naked eye.

Instead, trust in yourself (who else will?), write and, most of all, revise, revise. In the almost words of the book/movie Field of Dreams, “If you write it, they will come–and they don’t care whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.”

Amen to that.

The Tricky Ethics of Goodreads Giveaway Program

gr

Everybody loves freebies and, if you’re a bibliophile like me, you especially love it when that freebie is a book. Welcome to the Goodreads Giveaway, a program where GR’s reading millions can get in on some free action by simply registering for the many, many books that site offers for free consumption.

Of course, giveaways are not a new concept. In the publishing industry, ARCs (advanced reading copies) have been provided to readers since the beginning of book-publishing time. The purpose? To generate buzz and provide fodder for reviews leading to sales.

Amazon, the new owners of Goodreads, has its own giveaway program called Amazon Vine. In the beginning, Vine members only had to write reviews for some of the free books they received. After a year or two, however, Amazon changed the rules. All free books had to be reviewed or else you were cut off. That’s right. Your vine would wither and fall off the Giving Tree just like that.

Some Vinesters were not wild about this change, but I saw some justice in it. Why? Because, in this day and age, some people run mini-businesses out of their homes. E-bay is only the best known of the many ways to do this. You get something for free (or at a reduced price) and then resell it on-line for personal profit. It’s the American way, no?

But wait a minute. At least most Vine books are imprinted with “Not for Resale” or “Advanced Reading Copy–Not for Resale” on them. This is often NOT the case with the Goodreads Giveaway program. Meaning? The books obtained for free look like any book you might buy at a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Thus, reselling is easy-peasey.

But is it ethical?

It depends on how you look at it. Some publishers and authors see the purpose of a giveaway as buzz, pure and simple. It gives the book attention. After all, hundreds (and sometimes over a thousand!) readers sign up for the free book. Can this be a bad thing?

Yes and no. If the buzz translates to sales, readers, and reviews, then no, it can’t be a bad thing. But in the case of Goodreads Giveaways, books people sign up for (by default, they  get put onto “to read” lists) are as likely not to be read as read. Even after they WIN the book against hefty odds and it shows up gratis in their mailbox, participants are under no obligation to read or review the book. Life is busy, after all, and as St. Frank of Zappa once said: “So many books, so little time.”

According to GR, excited publishers and authors have good reason to use the Giveaway program. Up to 60% of winners review the books they receive, Goodreads tells us, but this seems optimistic. A look at the stats of some Giveaway participants reveals why. Many posters sign up for free books in serial fashion. Each day dozens upon dozens of additional books accumulate on their “to-read” shelves until you see poster stats like “To-Read: 23,749” next to “Read: 0” or “Read: 7.”

Ouch. Will they ever return to the hopeful author’s “to-read” book in three months or even three years? With 23, 749 books on deck, probably not. Heck, even with 749 or 49 on deck, probably not. There are even Goodreads Giveaway groups, where posters can brag about the spoils of war and the blessings of Lady Luck. If it sounds like fun, it apparently is.

What can we conclude? That, at least in some of the cases, people use the program either for the thrill of the win (an innocent form of on-line gambling) or for the chance to sell books for personal profit. In the case of those who do choose to sell the book, the publisher loses on printing costs and the author loses on royalties.

You might call this a form of piracy, but it’s not. It is legal, after all, and publishers and authors put their books up knowingly, eyes wide open and hoping for the best. Which is really what the Goodreads Giveaway program amounts to from the writer-publisher point of view: Hoping for the best (and what is the publishing industry if not a metaphor for hope?).

Bottom line: If I win a giveaway (and I haven’t among the few I’ve signed up for), I will read it and offer my honest opinion because, to me, that’s not only the purpose but the right thing to do. Could that be bad for the publisher or author? Sure. I could 2-star the book. Is that any worse than not reviewing the book at all and reselling it for personal profit? It’s an interesting question I’ll leave to the philosophers. At least until Goodreads Giveaways follows Amazon Vine’s lead.

 

Looking through The High Window

 

Unknown

The High Window, a new (as of March 2016) home for poetry, has appeared in the UK under the editorial guidance of David Cooke, Anthony Costello, and Natalie Rees. In addition to poetry, each quarterly issue of the e-zine will include an editorial, an essay, translations, and a review.

I’m pleased to be a part of Issue #3 of The High Window. The poem, “Happiness Bound,” was fun to write because of the word play, the stream-of-consciousness approach, and the quirky repetition. Some readers see it as an ode to happiness, others as a lament about unhappiness. All power to the reader, I say!

You can read “Happiness Bound” by following the link, clicking my name, and/or just scrolling down.

Dionysus or Apollo? Your choice, really. The inspiration for the work started with an essay by Tony Hoagland about the influences of these strange, godly bedfellows. Reading it inspired me to lighten up and let loose, to have fun with language, and to not always play conservative.

To see that kind of writing rewarded by the High Window editors is both refreshing and gratifying. I hope you’ll check out Issue #3!

What Are We Waiting For?

images

After careful consideration–wait for it!–I’ve decided that waiting is bad for me. Why am I always waiting? And why am I sometimes unaware of what exactly I’m waiting for?

As a poet, my waiting habit has been fed and nurtured. I write a first draft, second, third, and on up the abacus of practice until my poem looks like a many segmented caterpillar inching toward the promised land. Then I put it aside. Time will help, I insist.

Coming back to it weeks later, I slice it down to inchworm size. That bad. How did I miss it? And when is this great idea going to reach final fruition? Wait for it! I tell myself.

Often I send poems out to willing markets in batches of five or so. Then, instead of moving on to new work, I get lazy and wait. Surely today, I say a few weeks later. So I look at Submittable and see “Received” has changed to “In-Progress.” My waiting intensifies, though logic tells me one label is as meaningless as the other and the wait for “In-Progress” could be as long or longer than “Received.”

But that’s the essence of waiting.

Once I thought getting a book published was the final answer to waiting. I finished a manuscript, sent it out to multiple homes, and instead of starting another, waited for it. When the big event occurred and I was rewarded with acceptance, I felt all the waiting had been rewarded.

Alas, after the initial publishing euphoria, I just went back to waiting. But for what? For my book to be discovered, maybe. But by whom? God knows. And works in mysterious ways.

Speaking of, my waiting had almost evolved into a form of worship. I didn’t seem to realize that all this waiting amounted to time lost and days drained. I forgot that God numbers the days. It’s His bad habit. We all deserve one.

Some day, after another bout of great news, I’ll be asking myself, “Was this worth the wait? Is this any different? Is this the one?”

I’m almost sure the answer will be “no.” In the words of the prophet (Bono): “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for….”

And never will.

Resolution without the excuse of a new year: I’m going to get busy. Busy so I don’t notice all this furtive waiting I’m secretly engaged in. You know. The waiting I’m supposedly giving up as of today.

(End of post. I’ve got to check my e-mail. I’m waiting for something big. Because surely this is the day….)

The Rich Get Richer…

10dollar

Yes, it’s simple math. The rich get richer and the poor remain poor. Economics? Nah. Publishing and sales.

People publishing their first books are schooled in this hard, Adam Smith-like fact of life more than any other. Their novels, short story collections, poetry collections, or collected essays may be good. They may even be very good. But they aren’t going to sell much outside the demographic known as family and friends comma very comma very close.

Here’s why:

  1. A first published book is like a first drunk. It goes to your head. Quickly. You feel dizzy with unreasonable delight. Your delusions become grandeur. Just as you once, as an adolescent, assumed you might be Death’s exception (after all, this is me we’re talking!), you assume that somehow, someway, your baby, your beautiful book will find a way to top the charts. Or at least assault them. Or at least give them a good scare.
  2. You don’t realize how crowded this field is. The competition is akin to New York City’s population. There are that many you’s out there. And none of them are saying, “Here’s looking at you and your beautiful work, kid.” Nope. They’re just walking on by, heads forward, hearts pumping me, myself, and I just as yours does.
  3. Marketing is easier said than done. Even if you make it a full-time job. Really.
  4. Internet “friends” (or “followers”) will pledge like furniture polish, but very few will buy. Fewer still will read. And fewer still will write a review. Investing in them is like chasing last year’s hot stock. Celebrate the few who come through! Don’t have such high expectations. Imagine if you yourself bought and read every “friend’s” or “follower’s” work (especially if you have thousands, you “popular” person, you). Repeat after me: “Adam Smith, Adam Smith, Adam Smith.”
  5. As you watch your friends buying and reading established names like Stephen King, Alice Munro, and Billy Collins (and not you, you, or you), don’t hold it against them. Established names have earned their establishment through talent or moxie or something Rubik’s cube-like you haven’t figured out yet. Even if those names are living on past reputations, they’ve earned as much. If it bothers you that the rich get richer, maybe it’s because you’re not one of them. Smile about that.
  6. Your writing may be better than the rich’s writing. Chances are, it’s not. But it may be. And if it is, you only have time and discipline and work ahead of you. Life may eventually reward you, making you rich in publication and sales. Or the frustration of posthumous riches may visit upon you. Or, most likely, your talent may go hiding with you to the grave. Prepare for that contingency. Celebrate quietly as you write wonderfully. Be appreciated and famous to yourself. Not everyone’s work earns a fair hearing. Life is the ultimate kangaroo court.
  7. Resentment and hard feelings are detrimental. Work on. Create positive sweat. Believe that talent will out and riches will someday be yours. Or, if that sounds way too capitalistic, focus on art for art’s sake. Creative riches are capital, too, earning interest–yours, if no one else’s.

Keep on keeping on, fellow writers! Art and economics may make strange bedfellows, but four feet are sticking out from under the sheets, so live with it and carry on!

Rejection

thumbs down

Rejections. They’re part of the game when you’re a writer. You bundle up some poems, send them out, hope for the best.

But sometimes you feel confident. The reason? You do what you’re supposed to be doing. You heed the editors’ cries and actually read the poems they publish “to get an idea of what we like.” And sometimes you wonder about poems they like. Why on earth would an editor say “I do” to a poem like that? Why would she marry herself to such a lame excuse for poetry?

There are a few reasons. Sometimes, just as you want to promote your own poetry by getting it published, editors want to promote their journals by publishing known names they can splash on their covers, thus upping the “prestige factor” of their magazine. In that case, real estate is sucked up by writers who sometimes live on past reputations as much as present merit.

Or sometimes questionable poems just fit an editor’s personal quirks. He likes that style. He likes form poems. He likes rhyme in a free-verse world. He likes that topic.

The same holds for rejected poems that, by all accounts, seem as strong or stronger than what goes into the journal. It could be you’re not a known entity and thus, don’t even get a true hearing. Private country club-itis stops you at the door. End of story. Or it could be, as is true with students taking high-stakes tests in schools, the mood, health, or temperament of the editor that particular day worked against your poem.

Then again, it could be a numbers game. Many submissions are only partially read by readers helping an editor out. They may stop reading, mid-poem (or even four lines in) if, quite frankly, they don’t like how it starts. I dare say (but fear to say it), some submissions are rejected without being read at all. Is this really possible, you ask? Of course. Anything that’s possible can and will occur. Who knows, really?

Which is not to say I’m questioning the integrity of editors. The vast majority are overworked and dedicated to a cause we mutually deem important. I’m simply saying editors are human, and thus subject to human weaknesses.

To think of rejections this way can only be helpful to writers, who have to understand it as a numbers game being played in an existential world of organized (Submittable, anyone?) chaos. If your work is good–or certainly as good as work you’re seeing published–it will eventually take root somewhere. But it will not necessarily be automatic. Or quick.

The system does not work that way. Not until your name is Billy Collins or Mary Oliver.

Submittable, Reading Fees, Coffee, Et Cetera

submittable

If you traffic in poetry, by now you’ve registered with Submittable, the Portal of Hope. It used to be called “Submishmash,” I think, but that unfortunate name was retired by a blender. So the more common-sensical Submittable it is.

For those of us who need order in our disorderly lives, Submittable is a blessing. Of sorts. The good news? It keeps track of what poems went where when, because Odin knows I couldn’t, and my paper system is, to be kind, quixotic.

The bad news, you ask? Not all markets play ball with Submittable. Some stubborn sorts still demand their acronyms: USPS, SASE, P.S.: No email.

Yeah. Those “Last-of-the-Mohican” sorts.

And some take submissions strictly via email. You have the attached tribe and the body-of-the-email tribe.

Others still have their own little Submittable system. Try coming up with a password for each one. And tracking it with your paper system. You will soon become a disciple of the “Forgot Password?” deities.

The increasingly big deal now is reading fees. It’s spreading like kudzu, like peanut butter, like room-temperature butter on sourdough toast. I used to be 100% opposed to reading fees and refuse to submit to any “Evil Empire” that used them to gouge starving (for publication) writers. Now, I’m 90% opposed. For one, the money sometimes goes to paying writers. For their work. Can you imagine? And for another, there’s something to the argument that you used to always spend money anyway–both for the mailing and for the return SASE–so why are you griping now? (Hey, Zeus, but I hate logic in all its majesty.)

Bottom line: Sometimes I pay journals to reject my work (nice business–for them–if you can get it!), but for the most part, I still avoid these fee-fi-fo-fum sorts.

On Submittable, everybody’s favorite is the “Status” column. When you send it in, the light goes on saying “Received.” Good to know. In the old system, the occasional submission wound up behind some credenza at the Topeka Post Office and no status column in hell would tell you as much.

“Received” is a noncommittal blue font. Then there’s the dreaded “In-Progress” in purple. This torture device makes writers believe that there work is now (this very minute) the subject of extended editorial board (as opposed to “bored”) meetings. “Which of these five poems do we want? There’s something to be said for all of them. Now let’s take turns saying those ‘something to be saids.'” That sort of thing. Every day. Marathon sessions, all meaning your work is getting the old, Shakespeare line-by-line scrutiny and is someday destined for the SparkNotes treatment.

Then again, sometimes “In-Progress” is simply “Received” in sheep’s clothing. Meaning: The status could remain “In-Progress” for a full three trimesters, for all you know. A pregnant pause, so to speak.

“Prolonging,” meet “the agony.”

Finally, there are the stop-light status markers. The dreaded red “Declined” and the rare but relished “Accepted” (green relish, to be specific). If I could muster enough “Accepteds” it would give my status column a festive, Christmas look, but it has, over the years, taken on more of a Rudolph glow.

Admittedly, things are looking up of late. I have been making like St. Patrick, wearing more of the green (as long as we’re not talking money, I mean). Perhaps it is the cover letters with notice of other “Accepteds.” Editors are herd (not seen) animals. There’s nothing they like better than the comfort of other editors when it comes to saying, “Yes, this guy is new and good and we’re willing to say I was one of the first to discover him….”

But wait. I’m waxing delusional again (and wishing there was a status marker called “Dreaming”). When I should be writing poetry. To feed to Submittable, the Portal of Hope.

But first, another black coffee. HOT. (You actually have to say that when ordering a cup these days–another sign of the approaching Apocalypse!)

Playing Favorites with Your Own Poems

weathercock

As any parent knows, you don’t play favorites among your kids. You can HAVE a favorite, of course, but you take that scandalous secret to your grave. If you have a toothpick of common sense, that is.

For your children, circumspection is clearly called for, but what about your poems? Publish a book and people will inevitably ask, “So, which one is your favorite poem in the entire collection?” Sharing this knowledge will lead people to flip to that page and read that poem, so you hedge. What if they don’t like what you have crowned “the best” and think it’s so-so? They will assume the rest of the book is so much poetically-licensed garbage (see Jersey Turnpike, Exit 157), that’s what.

OK. Maybe I exaggerate. Slightly. In fact, although I’d rather know what my readers’ favorite poems are (which I don’t ask because it presumes they’ve read the book cover-to-cover–a healthy presumption), I will admit here that I do have favorites (plural, thank you). Having more than one is safer (the old “safety in numbers” adage). One of them is the second poem in the collection, “Barnstorming the Universe,” which first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Off the Coast, that estimable poetry journal from Maine.

Why do I like this poem so much? It’s playful. And it harbors a story (but then, most poems do, kind of like the “surprise inside” you expect from a box of Cracker Jacks). Here’s the poem. Ostensibly it’s about an old leaning barn in Maine. Ostensibly.

 

“Barnstorming the Universe”

The big barn must have landed
overnight, the jolt of its descent
crippling one side so the whole
structure leans south. The white
paint, curly from reentry, looks
foolish as a washed cat.
The roof, too, shows evidence
of atmospheric stress, the mottled
landscape of its green top—tar
paper from missing shingles
probably scattered from Pittsburgh
to Poughkeepsie—having the look
of some moody old bass lurking
in the shallows, scales flaked and
grated at the speed of light.
Incredibly, atop the cupola, a rusted
and outraged weathercock still claws
the ridge. His wattle and comb hang
sideways, one eye searching for
intergalactic beetles, black-backed
fugitives from Andromeda or the
Crab Nebula. A sliding door is ajar,
exhaling the stench of stardust,
of Saturnine ring particulate, of dead
Martians matted on rotted hay.
In the side window, a single shard
of glass clings to the sash. If only
the barn could speak of the yawning
silences, of the teeming nothingness
that peered inside as it hurtled
its way home to this Maine field.

–Ken Craft, The Indifferent World (Future Cycle Press, 2016)

 

In the summer, I run 5-8 miles most every morning, and when I do, I pass this barn on the top of Mayberry Hill. It is, in fact, nowhere near as bad as this poem says it is, but the roof! The roof was the image that inspired this poem. Some shingles are there and others are missing, giving it a mottled green and black look and reminding me of the scales on an old fish that has been through the wars. Atop that roof is a tilting weathercock which no longer abides by orders, the wind’s or God’s.

From those two visuals, I imagined a leaning, disheveled barn that landed overnight in the middle of a Maine field–a barn that had witnessed things that NASA’s astronauts had not even seen.

Barns with a history like that belong on the endangered structures list. I don’t care what condition they’re in. Thus we get the shingles “scattered from Pittsburgh/to Poughkeepsie,” the “rusted/and outraged weathercock” clawing the ridge, and–my favorite–the “stench of stardust,/of Saturnine ring particulate, of dead/Martians matted on rotted hay.”

If you’ve ever wondered how runners pass the time as they jog along country roads, wonder no more! Their bodies may be on automatic pilot, but their minds? God only knows. Some planet the Starship Enterprise sailed past, maybe. All the poet has to do is make his entry in the Captain’s log when he gets home and downs his chocolate milk. Sometimes that leads to favorite poems, even.

Just don’t tell anyone. Because it’s only one of them. Honest.

Tracking My Book Frontiersman-Like

davy crockett

Today I bumped into an excited colleague. “Hey, I got your book yesterday. So exciting! I’m just bummed I forgot to bring it in for you to sign!”

“My book? You held a copy of my book? In your hands?”

Her smile shifted a little. “Ye-e-es,” she said slowly. “You know: The Indifferent World? Some 80 poems or so?”

I had to shake my head to clear it. “Uh, no. Not to worry. It’s just… I haven’t seen my book. Er. Other than pretty online pictures, I mean.”

“What? How?” She reached out and touched my sleeve. My sleeve appreciated it.

“You see, my wife got carried away and ordered a gross of the things. Maybe she thinks our families are bigger than they are. Maybe she thinks we’re Mormon or good Catholics or something. So I’m afraid the size of this delivery is slowing it down. You know how delivery services are allergic to bulk.”

She laughed. “Ah, well, maybe this weekend.” The bell rang. Kids streamed into the hallway. “Gotta go!” she said. “Maybe I’ll read a few this weekend!”

So cool and casual. So happy. So has-my-book-harbored-in-her-house-and-shows-it.

I decided then and there. I’m going Natty Bumppo. Or Dan’l Boone, maybe. I put on my coonskin hat (wait… Davy Crockett, is it?) and decided to track this baby down, frontiersman-like. It’s unfair, after all, that people are holding my book before I get to. It’s like having a baby, seeing it whisked away, then hearing stories of nurses passing it around to coo at. Surely this is against the Geneva Convention or something! The Articles of Confederation? How about the Federalist Papers? I was against them when I was in school.

I got to work: On the computer, I saw that my book delivery had cleared Amish Country. As you’ll recall from yesterday, it was last seen there with a big GODOT stamp on it. Some twisted Amish-type thought it’d be funny to give it the horse and buggy treatment or something.

But now it was in Knickerbocker, NY. That’s one state away from Massachusetts! I had half a mind to drive the Mass Pike myself, Boston to Stockbridge (a reverse James Taylor). But no… deep breaths…stay calm. I already know what’s in this book. Every blessed poem. So what’s the big deal? What’s the rush?

Bottom line: I’m distracting myself. And as UPS hasn’t swung by yet, wondering maybe if Big Brown will put me out of my misery. This is Friday, after all! Genesis of the weekend! Give me reason to celebrate, people! Stop being so… INDIFFERENT!

(Stay tuned.)