Rejection, Inventory & A Pantoum

I am collecting rejections again. Two in the last week. A third likely to come tomorrow. Wander around the online lit journal world and you read names you’ve never heard before. I want to see what a journal is likely to take. Even then, if I can guess that my writing might fit under their banner, it’s just luck. Maybe an editor is tired or hungover or hungry and they open some confessional essay I’ve written and want to throw up because everyone plays therapy session on the page now.

For the record:

2 essays rejected
2 fiction pieces rejected
1 fiction piece still out there, waving its arms, I hope

If I really want to publish, I need to launch a spam-ish attack on lit magazines of all caliber. I should do simultaneous submissions and quit being picky about the fonts sites choose. Also, not a fan of blue hyperlinks but maybe the magazine that finally publishes me likes blue hyperlinks and I should get over that minor, minor dislike.

So I am taking inventory again, of pieces ready to go and places to send them. I open my files and hope to find the essay I have in mind. Titles are misleading and I trail down documents called March Drafting and Revision Work looking for the short piece about landing in Colombia, the way Cali at night looks like gold glitter flung in the valley and up a mountainside. I don’t find that draft but I do find a poem I wrote during my last year teaching freshman and sophomore English in Wisconsin, when I had students write pantoums. My affection for this poem is in how I remember feeling clever about the sounds.

Diving

She wades, waiting to find words
When they come she scoops them into a net
Carries the shallow words to water’s edge,
Empties the catch on dry sand

When they come she scoops them into a net
Standing waist deep, water licking her ribs
Watching for the right word
Feeling their shape with her feet

Standing waist deep, water licking her ribs
Her steps stir the sand, wave water weeds
Until she is up to her neck holding her net
Swirling a pale arm through green waters

Her steps stir the sand, wave water weeds
When she kicks off to where she cannot touch
Swirling a pale arm through green waters
Reaching for words no one likes to find

When she kicks off to where she cannot touch
She dips her head under, cool and close
Reaching for words no one likes to find:
Sharp words strong words long words

2007

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