On the Eve. It’s the name of a Turgenev novel, but I’m more attuned to the calendar than Russian Literature as Christmas cards blow like white drifts into the mailbox. Today we are on the Eve of the Eve, and my mind is scattered poetic and prosaic with holiday overload. Time to hit the release valve, in other words, with some random observations:
- The big thing this year is Christmas cards with pics on front AND back. Dogs (and, to a lesser degree, cats) have become members of the family recently. There they are, grinning in the line-up, their names listed along with Bobby’s and Suzy’s. Next we’ll be reading updates on their college careers and job promotions.
- Will the Christmas form letter never go away? We had a few that opened with and went on and on about the election, of all things. Do we want to read about the election in the holiday season? We do not. And to the letter, every electioneering form-letter jabberer has been a Trump voter cloaked in red and green false modesty. (“Both candidates were flawed, but one was more flawed in our opinion, so we had little choice but to go the way we did! Still, despite hard feelings in the family, we managed to make it through Thanksgiving!”) Given their obvious lack of sensitivity, I doubt they’ll be as lucky at Christmas. For starters, they can throw their exclamation points onto the Yuletide fire and rejoin the human race.
- Christmas Eve morning is the holiest of the year for me. Holy in a doughy kind of way. I rise around four a.m., turn on the infernal Christmas carols (about the only time I’ll endure them), and build my Christmas stollen alone in the kitchen with my four cups of coffee and predictable (by 7) acid stomach.
- Speaking of, all I want for Christmas is my 21-year-old stomach. Probably in a scrap metal shop along about now. Somewhere in the cast iron section.
- According to the new issue of Poets & Writers, these are salad days for black writers. The market is actively seeking good writers of color because, well, they are selling. About time, I say.
- The irony of a race renaissance in publishing during a dark time of renewed racism in public life is not lost on us. Apparently Trump voters are not the ones buying books. Or much reading them.
- Anyone submitting poetry to journals knows that these are salad days for LGBTQ writers, too. Dozens of submission guidelines now feature a pronounced desire to print more of their work.
- Where does the expression “salad days” come from? Shakespeare, of course. Antony & Cleopatra’s Act I, Scene 5: “My salad days, When I was green in judgment: cold in blood, To say as I said then!” (Cleo, pre-asp, speaking).
- I’ve read a lot of William Carlos Williams in my day, but only today came across his “Prelude to Winter”:
The moth under the eaves
with wings like
the bark of a tree, lies
symmetrically still —
And love is a curious
unmoving under the eaves
when the leaves fall.
- Old WCW must’ve known he’d hit on a good thing when he wrote “love is a curious / soft-winged thing” and then built a little poem around it. Sometimes the line comes first, then drives the poem.
- The term “glass ceiling,” a popular metaphor that gained greater currency in a presidential election where a woman came this close to winning, should be put out on loan for poets trying to break into major-league journals with names that like… well… names. Just as women have to try harder to just match a man who tries less, wannabe poets and writers have to try harder to match sub-standard work by bigger poet and writer names. Pass the Windex and pray for clear-seeing editors!
- For my 10-day holiday break, I’ve piled up a few books from interlibrary loan, including Patrick Modiano’s In the Café of Lost Youth (cool title, French setting, and short length) and a collection of Scottish poet Norman MacCaig’s work. He’s been on my list to check out for a while, and boy-howdy, is there a lot to check out. This man is a poetic Joyce Carol Oates!
- To all my readers (all five of you), have a very Merry and a Happy, resolution-free New, too!