The Wages of Art

I’ve been in a strange sort of fall and winter. I started my blog twelve years ago and have written—quite a bit. The blog continues to be well read, I can’t complain, but it’s an odd sort of success that butters no parsnips. I just received another rejection from another agent: Sorry for the form letter; but form letter; at this time; volume of submissions; “project described”; list; doesn’t fit; good luck. Meanwhile, authors are encouraged to tenderly and exquisitely tailor their queries to each individual agent—please enclose perfumed rose petals. Also, if you need help writing your queries, I notice now that agents and editors are offering courses (VISA and MASTERCARD accepted).

I also find myself in the odd position of being treated like the rich uncle. There are many writers, poets and websites who, suddenly my best friends, write me glowing comments, telling me they’ve always loved my website, only to end with a request that I review their poem/book/website. Can you spare a dime brother? This happens a lot. I remember one poet—published, successful and nicely ensconced in academia—who, after I reviewed their book, asked if there were local venues where they could read their poetry, as if I might be their pro bono outreach coördinator. Not long after that they sent me another book to review. Did they ever mention me or my poetry? Did they acknowledge my writing? That other poets and authors ask for reviews or to be mentioned on my blog is okay. That’s called self-promotion. I get it. What rubs me the wrong way is when none of these individuals offer to return the favor—and that doesn’t take much. They don’t mention my blog on their own sites and never comment on my poetry because, of course, they’ve never read it and apparently have no interest in doing so.

As far as blogging goes, I’m struggling to feel motivated. For three straight years I wrote a post a day. That’s a lot. Writing this post is maybe an effort to motivate myself.

If any of you wish that I’d discuss this or that, let me know. I haven’t been posting much if only to avoid being repetitive. Presently, I’m working on more poems and still developing ideas around my next novel. I’ve written the opening pages but am already thinking of all the many ways I can make it unsalable—including poetry, stories within stories, the blurring of genres upmarket/YA/women’s/erotic/magical realism/literary etc… It’s what I do. I write meter and rhyme when the rest of the world writes prose. I write, apparently, what (so far) nobody wants to read or publish. This may simply be a reality I need to accept.

There’s also the possibility that I’m a poor judge of my own art. History is littered with mediocre talent unable to recognize its own limitations. I don’t think that’s the case, but of course I would say that. It’s possible that my writing is universally rejected because I’m just too mediocre and daft to recognize it. I see it in other poets, writers and artists every day. There’s no reason why the same shouldn’t afflict me.

What do we do in life when nothing works out the way we expected? Don’t ask me. I’ll just write a poem or story about it. Once one has decided to paddle across the ocean, quitting mid way probably isn’t going to end well.

    mid-
        field in February's snow—the inexplicable
            crow

            February 8th 2022

three haiku for the start of December


    early
        winter's moonlight—the bones
            shine

    94 November 25th 

    leaves
        in the sidewalk's ice—walking
            alone

    95 November 29th 2021 

    one
        crow after another and another—night
            falling

    96 December 2nd 2021 | bottlecap

And a little something for a moment’s meditation:

For blockprints: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitchenTablePrinter

And for more reels: https://www.instagram.com/kitchentableprinter/

four haiku for late November…


    snow
        falls whispering into the whispering
            brook

    90 November 11th

    under
        her umbrella—evening folds into 
            night

    91 November 15th
    un-
        wanted—her doll's button-eyes still
            shine

    92 November 18th

    still
        leaning sunward—the withered wild-
            flowers

    93 November 22nd 2021 | bottlecap

haiku for the close of October

    children
        gone to bed—a jack-o-lantern's grin flickers
            out

    86: October 28th

As I was walking along minding my own business, a couple neighbors startled me. They’d snuck under the electric fence (which, to folk like them, is a mere formality).

    apples
        rotting under the tree—for two pigs?
            perfection.

    87: November 1st 2021 | bottlecap

a little journey to the north & four haiku

We went up to Burlington over the week-end. The city was beautiful, as always. We visited our daughter at UVM and hiked along the bike trail skirting Lake Champlain. We also visited an outdoor market in the South End.


    both
        the pumpkin's and the little girl's bottom—
            muddy

    82: October 14th

There’s been a good deal of work done on Burlington’s waterfront during the last thirty years. I remember it’s being scruffy and overgrown but now there’s a waterfront park, museum, a rail trial that can be walked, biked or run with a beach and a skate park along the way. The trail goes to the north. To the south, warehouses have turned into antique stores, bookstores, cafés and restaurants without seeming gentrified. Many of the old railroad tracks are still around, embedded in the roads, yards and parking lots—reminding me of Berlin. A little closer to the lake, the trains still keep busy.


    frost
        at midnight—the moth's colorless
            wings

    83: October 18th

We visited Rockpoint, an outcropping of cliffs and rocky beaches and sand. Just a small walk to the north. Whereas the rest of Vermont has surrendered its green to the pines and firs of the mountains, Rock Point still keeps its summer—warmed by the lake’s waters and long sunsets. The Adirondacks are the saw-tooth ridge across the waters.

The walk back took us along the beach. A handful of seagulls, having nothing much to say, paid no mind.


    late
        October—each day the scarecrow's shadow
            taller

    84: October 21st

 


    bending
        with the weather-vane—the Milky
            Way

    85: October 25th 2021 | bottlecap

4 haiku for the first week of October

  • A few images from New England this weekend. The last is from Katahdin.

    behind
        the tree's unleafing, the wide-eyed
            moon

    78 September

    carrying
        a pumpkin in her shirt's belly—fall
            harvest

    79: October 4th
    

    as
        far as October's winds—the owl's 
            cry

    80 October 7th

 


 
   dreams
        in a yellow field—the tractor at mid-
             night

    81 October 11th | by bottlecap

Haiku for the end of September…

A devil's paintbrush come very late to the party.



I've been awfully busy with carpentry since returning 
from Halifax, replacing windows, doors and rotten sills. 
My back has been in bad shape but hasn't prevented me from 
working—if I'm careful. Still no frost in Vermont. By this 
time last year we'd had three or four killing frosts.


    
    after
        rainfall—her toes among bobbing crab-
            apples

    75 September 2oth

The rains have been warm. The crab apples 
took to floating in the puddles after a good and 
drenching shower.



    leaping
        from the paper, a cricket's exclamation
            point!

    76 September 23rd


The best September days have only just now shown up. 
The breezes are cool and the sun is warm, but not hot. The
humidity has gone out of the air. The hillsides are still green
but the sap is going out of the leaves. They rattle and fall
with each gust.

    doors
        and windows closed before nightfall—
             autumn

77 September 27th ~ Bottlecap


A freshly baked loaf of bread for the evening's meal.


Three Haiku & a trip to Halifax

Because of border complications arising from Covid, I drove one of my three daughters to Halifax (rather than fly her)—and that was an 11 1/2 hour drive with no stops. If she had flown, she would have been forced to quarantine for 12 days at a hotel in Halifax, and there were no direct flights to Halifax from the US. So, living in Vermont, why not drive? I’d never driven much beyond Mount Desert Isle. The road in Vermont starts with White Pines, Maple, Birch, Oak, Poplar and as one drives across Maine, the deciduous trees gradually give way to evergreens until, by the time one is driving through New Brunswick, the forests are given almost fully over to evergreens—Red Spruce, Balsam Fir and Eastern Hemlock. The landscape smooths into a gradual, rolling, rising and falling with views of wooded expanses and sky. The bay of Fundy gleams to the south. Just past Moncton, the highway rounds the northern tip of the bay and heads south until it crosses a broad flat into Nova Scotia. There are half a dozen towering wind turbines that turn on the Nova Scotia side.

The video was taken behind the Nova Scotia visitor center.

After that, there was another two to three hours rolling through evergreen forests and fields before we landed in Halifax.


    slowly
        through the wind-turbine's blades—the Milky
            Way

    69 August 30th 2021

I always expect Canadian cities to be more European: That is, I expect a city that’s lived in rather than a 9 to 5 white collar business district; and a hope for a café culture that invites sidewalks filled with drink and conversation rather than the snarling of impatient automobiles and delivery trucks, but in the end Canadian cities are mostly like their North American counterparts in the US. Halifax does seem as though it’s going through a transition. While the old city center is filled with “For Lease” signs, is treeless, cold and uninviting, a new city center, Spring Garden Road, is being gussied up. The power lines, a tangled mess of wires draping nearly every street, strung from telephone poles that are bent with strain, some broken, are finally and properly being buried. Spring Garden street is being narrowed to make it a semi-pedestrian zone. They should simply make it a pedestrian zone and kick out the cars.


    wedged
        between the lovers' bicycles, the red, shiny
            tricycle

    70 September 2nd 2021

We stayed four nights, then left our daughter and her green backpack at Dahlhausie. That was rough. The last two of my three daughters have left at the same time (though two years apart in age.) I live in a house without the sound of children or teenagers. I’ve always loved children and the sudden emptiness makes me question, all the more forcefully, what to do with the remainder of my life. In a sense, we live for our children while they’re with us; and when they leave some of us, I guess, aren’t quite sure what we’re living for.


    cries
        of seagulls as the tide recedes—autumn
            answers

    71 September 6th 2021