At this time of year, one is apt, whether advisable or not, to reflect upon the year gone past. As the 17th century Japanese poet Soin says in haiku:
yuku toshi ya
tsuredatsu mono wa
nani to nani
Well, if you’re like me & most Americans, then you really don’t know Japanese, despite tattoos to suggest otherwise, but you do know the only kind of analogies that make any kind of sense are sports analogies, so you’ll understand when I say that, in a way, the Cleveland Browns season mirrored 2014 for me. Believe it or not, the Browns were actually in first place in their division come mid-season & as November rolled around, their 7-4 record boded well for the playoffs. Similarly, I'd published a good number of poems throughout the first half of last year & things were looking up. Would this be the year that my “wonderfully witty,” “tightly-crafted,” “funny & smart” book manuscript, a finalist & semifinalist at several highfalutin presses, finally found a publisher?
Sadly, the Browns finished the season on a five game losing streak to once again sink to the bottom of the AFC North & my book, even though I received complimentary letters about my collection, ran into a virtual buzz-saw of rejections that made me question whether I’d made a huge mistake all those years ago when I'd dedicated my life to poetry. If so, at my age, it's far too late to change course now even if I wanted to. To be fair, it's not my view of poetry, but rather my opinion of certain other poets, who'll remain nameless here, that has changed & not in a good way.
However, just as the long-suffering Browns fan—is there any other kind?--will eventually evoke the names of Hall of Famers like the late Otto Graham & the great Jim Brown to summon hope, in December, Subprimal Poetry Art published “One Night,” a poem from my first book, Nearing Narcoma, as if to say, “Wait ‘til next year!”
2015 is off to a good start. On the very first day of the year, my team—THE Ohio State University—beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to earn the right to play for college football’s national championship. Ezekiel Elliot’s 85 yard run for a TD—which, I swear to fucking God, I called just seconds before—solidified the Buckeye victory.
An auspicious sign? Who knows? Maybe the Buckeyes will beat the Ducks & win their first national championship since 2003--the same year Nearing Narcoma won the Main Street Rag Poetry Prize. Maybe this will be THE year for me, too.
With thanks to the editors of not only these two magazines, but of each & every magazine that's published my work, as well as to those who in the future may, here’s hoping the new year is not like Ramasses III, enemy of the Sea Peoples, but rather Ramasses II, which is to say, great!