Getting Published



>1. it just occurred to me

I once told a nice young boy

hot and heavy to get into my college

and be the next Hemingway

(i was like that too, once)

who asked, “How do I get published?”


You know, writing isn’t about getting published;

writing is about community

>>2. Just the facts

anyway, this is how it happened:


last july, the unbearably hot one following

my 42nd birthday


i stopped by without thinking

the rack of cheap books

at 4 seasons

and bought a book of tanka by

some japanese monk you

never heard of


well, the form

was interesting



the book was only $4

so though I only had $10,

I bought it

>>3. West Virginia Weeds & the Muse



about a week later,

I was working in

our garden

pulling weeds and


i spaced out



that night I thought of the book

and how I’d wanted to write a poem about being in

West Virginia


and so I did

>>3. Pinch bugs

why is it digressions

are always so much more interesting

than the assigned topic?


whatever, it’s the reason

why we poets, like tom sawyer, are

always guilty of playing with pinch bugs

during the sermon

why we are

always caught playing hooky on that craggy


called parnassus

>>4. The Inside Track

so then there was that community

that fellowship of poets

that hobo convention

called bookends




I didn’t even have to send an envelope

they were interested


maybe it was because I’m always bitching about how hard it is

to get published (though, truth to tell, i’ve never tried

that hard) or


maybe it

was because they liked

me (or maybe it’s because i’m good—who knows?) whyever


it happened

>>5.  & yes, community

remember the japanese monk? hmmmm


he lived during the 14th century

rich people actually paid him to run

poetry storming seminars in their houses


imagine that


of course he had his problems:

came from the wrong family,

ran afoul of the local politics


THAT night

When his house burned TO ASH &




AND all he had for comfort

was a religion that embraces void


and silence, the void and silence that sent

Pascal (and, let’s face it, most of the rest of us)

shrieking into the arms of a god

who at least offers



what would he say if i told him

that 700 years later


some guy speaking a language he didn’t know

living on a continent he didn’t know about


would read him in translation


would find comfort in what he said


would turn his poems into something new

>>6. let be maybe be finale…

he’s gone

I will be too


and our words?


well, like Buddha


they are



the Rag Tree

copyright, 2011

(photo: WikiCommons; Sebastian Ritter; CC 2.5)

  1. January 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    You know, writing isn’t about getting published;
    writing is about community!

    • January 16, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      thanks, frizz: writing is about community is one of my oldest beliefs. RT

  2. January 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I absolutely love it! I have been trying a poem in that format but you really have the thread all the way through. So, a couple of questions: Do you think writing has always been about community, or is that a computer age thing? And, if writing isn’t about getting published, why not just write? [I’m not arguing…but as I am writing on this topic this Thursday, I am curious to have another point of view; that’s if you will allow me to bring you into the conversation.]

    • January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      thx as always for the enthusiasm, Margo–i’m thinking about the publishing vs. community question, and will get back w/ my thoughts. RT

  3. February 4, 2011 at 4:01 am

    margo: it’s gratifying to see a poem that i used to think was too long to get published receive this kind of attention. Thx! eric

  4. February 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    My pleasure. I love the poem.

  1. February 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm

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