…I’m back from the writer’s conference here in Seattle. Felt like I was gone forever.I’m not sure how valuable it was. Best part, of course, was pitching to agents. What a scary endeavor that is.
They herd a couple hundred of us into a waiting room. Then at the appropriate time, there’s a mad rush to another room and it’s a bit like waiting outside Walmart on Black Friday.
Next you find an agent, stand in line behind a string of blue tape that’s stuck on the floor.
You get four minutes to pitch your book. If they like it, they say send 10 or 50 or all pages. You hop up when the alarm goes off and get into another line.
I got seven “Sends” so it wasn’t a total waste. In years past, I’ve had a lot more “Sends” than seven and nothing ever came of it.
So we’ll see. Fingers crossed.
...While I was gone a copy of Common Ground Review came in the mail with my poem in it:
Men on New Year’s Eve
On our rural lake in the woods,houses are huddled close
the way men are cramped
around a dim fire next door,
out on the lawn shore-side,
tarry smoke lifting off damp planks of winter wood,
hardly enough heat for anyone on a sub-freezing night.
Yet they are drunk and laughing,
launching fireworks from a homemade tripod,
explosives that sound more like overseas warfare,
making the ground convulse, the waves tremble,
our windowpanes shudder.
After each rocket soars, the group titters and swears,
gazing up at the after-smears of charcoal,
catcalling so that their voices echo around the western cove,
birdless and barren now.
These are men my father would take to quickly,
hunters, fishers, mechanics,
roughhewn fellows who can fix things,
rip an engine apart and put it back together blindfolded,
men with calloused hands and dirty fingernails
the same as him.
I think about the patients I have,
the one who committed suicide under my watch,
the one who dreams of strangling his mother,
the one who scratches secret code into her wrist,
and I wonder what it is I can fix, wonder if my father was correct
when he called me soft and useless,
labeled me a hippie, a Flower Child.
Under the bed
our dog mewls and claws as
another rocket goes scheeeeerrzz outside the window,
exploding in a limp bouquet of scarlet and plum.
On the mattress my wife
rolls over for the fifth or sixth time.
“Those idiots,” she says, chuckling.
Then, taking my hand and pulling:
“Come here and spoon me.
Closer. Scoot closer.”