by Priscilla Barton
Let's talk about scams. Most of us already know the con, but for those beginners who hunger for publication, listen up! Never PAY to be published. Yes, you'll receive the official letter of acceptance from whatever poetry anthology, telling you they found your work to be brilliant, and have chosen your poem for publication. Your work will be in print with 2,000 other "great" poets. This will cost you nothing. However, (drum roll) if you would like to SEE your work in this lovely bound in leather book, kindly submit a check or money order for fifty dollars. And for another $17.50, you can have your work lacquered onto wooden plaques, applied to coffee mugs, or the keychain of your choice. One of these places even offered to print my poem on rolls of wallpaper. Wow! I could wallpaper the house with my poetry. What could be more tasteful or egotistical than that? Okay, so I fell for this. Hey, it was six years ago, and I was a beginner. I passed on the plaques, mugs, keychains and wallpaper, but I did order the book. And a lovely book it was! However, you have not known real shame until you have seen your work on the same page as "Why I Love My Cat, Kiko," written by the nine year old Ashley ____ of Idaho. And the gods laughed mightily. The book? Carted off to the dump by two very good-looking garbage men.
Let's move on to writer's block. I said to my poet friend, "I can't write. I have no words." He said, "Then write about having no words." I'm telling you, this guy is a genius! I gathered up all of the words I didn't have, and turned them into a poem. You CAN write about having no words. True, it takes words to explain this, but sometimes that heartless muse, sitting next to you with her arms crossed and her mouth shut tight, will dole out a few syllables to get you through the drought. She, who has already written your next twenty poems, can afford to be generous. We have a love/hate relationship, and there are times I believe her last job was with Hallmark. NOT that there's anything wrong with greeting card verse. People are actually PAID for them. This expert/poet gives you her creations for free. (whether you want them or not) Hey, I'm a bargain! I leave you a poem without words. Peace.
Loss Of Language
My vocabulary is disappearing, dwindling
down to one word. I have to point out objects
to others like a child who has not yet learned
to speak. Your name has become a synonym
for table, cup, water, air, tree and sky. I am
still able to say "please," but only in a
whisper. No one understands me, and there
are fewer conversations. Not very much can
be communicated with one word, and a whisper
that can't be heard. Yesterday, I pointed to
an item on the menu, and the waitress asked
how I would like it cooked. I thought "rare,"
but said your name. She refused to serve me.
I can still write words, but the idea of
passing notes to all is overwhelming. Every
word known to me sits in columns at the back
of my throat, refusing to be spoken. My language
is dead, but for one word and a whisper.