Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It's a gorgeous day outside, windy, wild, sunny. The irises are up. Jasmine is blooming. Figs getting fat and sweet on my tree.

Thirty-three students and teachers were gunned down at Virginiaq Tech yesterday (and where did that kid get his gun? Where did he get his fucking gun???) and I'm inside at my desk slogging through the poetry manuscript of See How We Almost Fly, re-copying individual poems by hand into the files of my still-new-to-me computer, finding the slack spots that can be trimmed, the words that are off-key, revising and reviewing and reworking.

This kid, the gunman, was apparantly an English major, who wrote rambling, disturbing plays. Oh, God. When someone does something crazy in the world these days, first thing I hope is that they are not Jewish, then I hope they're not Black, then that they're not Arab (I know, it's sick, but there you have it.) I never think about them being an English major! I think of his professors, who are probably tearing their hair out now. No one can predict which student is just writing weird stuff and which student is going to explode. The only thing we can do is get rid of the guns, get rid of the guns, get rid of the guns, godamnit.

Here in my house, this place of rumpled bed sheets and grapefruit in a bowl and sweet reminders of love's presence, I have a stack of poems and other writing to attend to. I was seriously disappointed when CSU Press rejected the manuscript for See How We Almost Fly for the umpteenth time and I am working to find the silver lining. I'd put heart and soul and more hours than I can count into these poems for seven years now. I feel like Jacob at the fucking well, laboring to win Rachel--was it Rachel he wanted? Or Leah? Anyway, I feel like that poor dupe, laboring away and then being told, "Sorry, you have to go back for more."

But the thing is, here's the lining: the poems are getting stronger. And stronger. And since I'm signed up for a lifetime of this writing business, it doesn't really matter when any particular book comes out (although it sure would be nice to have another one...right around NOW.) The poems need work, so I'll work them. As Lucille Clifton says, "because I am adam and his mother and these failures are my job."

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