Rejection, Dementia, and a Really Bad Breakup

I took the month of July off (more or less) because I needed a break, a vacation. If God took the seventh day off, couldn't I practice his character by taking the seventh month off? Okay, that's a stretch. I ain't that holy.

I'm scratching out words again today, but it's really just a toe-back-in-the-water attempt to break my mini-sabbatical. I'm here to draw you in, to lure you to follow me elsewhere.

I wrote a poem a while back, a poem for my friend John Ray. I submitted that poem, "Dementia," to a poetry contest for a magazine which shall not be named because I did not win, and if I'd dead honest, I'm still feeling as if I were just dumped by my crazy ex-girlfriend. Sure she's nuts. We all knew it. My friends tried to warn me. But she was so pretty and artistic and promising and how could she dump me? 

This is the wretched and regular feeling so many of us in the writing world feel. Rejection: it hacks our egos into tiny, buriable pieces.

I was lamenting how my poem managed to swindle a rejection letter from that magazine which shall not be named with my friend and fellow writer John Blase. He liked the poem, I suppose, and posted it on his site of stupendous poetry. (You really should spend some time there.) So today, I'm here to ask you to go there. And if you need a bit of a foretaste of my non-award winning poetry, read on:



He asked for the third time who organized this dinner,

who scheduled its courses of salad, the pizza

with whole basil leaves; who’d ever seen pizza

with whole leaves of basil? This He asked

for the third time.


His thumb and forefinger held a tremoring fork;

the back of his hand shivered, even in the blanket

of April’s warm humidity. Skin thin as purple onion peel

stretched over bird bones, everything forgetful of youth—

this is the way all men grow into dust.


To continue reading "Dementia," visit John's place.


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Poetry Contest Loser (And 2 Poems)

The Poetry of Losing.

Poetry contests entice. Half-narcissistic humans stumble upon internet ads looking for a few good poets, said ads promising publication, glory, a place among the mighty men of anthologies. Self-acclaimed poetical sorts set about to crafting, build line upon line until it their best stab at a losing poem is finished.

Tens of poets enter, each carrying vainglory to the finish; tens upon tens upon tens receive letters of apology. (I've received rejections from contests not entered.) See us there, the losers suffering from bouts of rejections? For a few days we climb into bottles or credit card spending sprees to soothe our egos. "Yes, a nice pair of Ray Bans might fit my face just fine," I once said after losing a poetry contest.

Here is the tone of a rejection notification. We're sorry--they're always so polite--but your work was not quite up to snuff. Here's the silver lining: your entry fee has purchased a year-long subscription to the magazine your poem was not quite good enough for. Fantastic, I think. Each quarter, I'll receive a mailed memorial of a snuffless poem. And did you see how the editors ended their sentence with a preposition? Folksy amateurs.

Poetry contests are like secret mistresses--over promise; under-deliver. Or perhaps, I am the mistress. Either way, I'm snuffless.

**A Recent Loser**

Today, I'm sharing my most recent losing poem. Why not? Enjoy. (And I'm not bitter. Really. It's all in good fun.)

Sister Christy

Before Sister Christy joined the nunnery she was a Miss. Methodism waning, catechesis catching, the immolating convert passed salt water taffy to fourth grade boys hailing Mary, full of grace, or something.

Over protestant hands she paused—me, the unchristened Baptist boy who’d yet learned the way of schoolhouse prayers—and like the mingy-graced ghost of Lazarus, she passed, whispering “maybe next week.”

We genuflect toward same crucifix now, she with head bowed in the loud humility of blackest habit. Silhouette haloed, she raises fleshy palms for broken body, presses pursed lips to chalice in puckered kiss, sighs in rapt union.

Retreating to pew, satisfied in Sunday’s glory, she kneels where neither memory nor remorse haunt.


Cover.FrancisThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. In the first of edition of the July newsletter, I'm discussing growing young. I'm also giving away Chapter 3 of Dear Little Brothers, a serial eBook. Sign up in the box below to receive Chapter 1 and look for the July Tiny Letter in your inbox to download the other chapters!

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