Random Thoughts: August Edition


Yes, it’s time for some Random Thoughts (Copyright and Patent Pending) for the month of August, named after the formidably crowned Caesar Augustus:

  • Speaking of August, summer is fast running out of real estate, at least for teachers. It officially ends on September 23rd, yes, but for educators, it ends on the first day of school, whatever day that happens to be in your corner of the world.
  • That day, by the way, is a day of mourning for tanned teachers returning to the trenches and a day of joy for weary parents everywhere (who, as July and August can attest, have earned their joyous stripes by now).
  • For teachers, July and August are in no way equal. July is like Saturday on a weekend—as vast as the desert and school-thought-free—whereas Sunday is a patch of cricket-charged meadow, leg-scratching its warnings: “Tomorrow is Monday-read-September! Tomorrow is Monday-read-September!”
  • It’s OK, though. I just heard the loons calling my number from the lake. I don’t know why these birds have become borderline worshipped by the greater public, but I’m glad they have. I like their size, their red eyes, and their crazy-as-hell-make-that-our-world-today calls.
  • Did you know the bald eagle and the loon are sworn enemies? And that eagles often steal meals captured by hawks? And that Ben “My Main Man” Franklin wanted the wild turkey over the bald eagle as our national symbol because the eagle was such a lazy opportunist?
  • I think “lazy opportunist” might be a better symbol for a capitalist country, however. Sorry, Ben. I still like your hundred-dollar bills, though. We poets earn them all the time. Alas, the currency is always in the mail.
  • I am forever amused, when listening to the classical channel streaming on-line, to the serious way announcers pronounce good-ole Johann Sebastian’s last name: Baccchhhh. It’s like some classical thing has caught in their throats. Or like they are choking into the mic at the crucial moment.
  • Or maybe it’s just German.
  • I just finished Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient because the Booker people, in a successful bid to sell more books, labelled it the Booker to End All Bookers. Truth be told, I think it holds up better as an extended poem than a logical novel. Like the girl nursing the titular hero, I lost patience by the end. More than once! Thus, the plural. Of patients, you see.
  • (Note to self: If you’re working too hard for a joke, it’s not a very good joke.)
  • Fast approaching: September 1st, a day umpteen poetry markets (read: colleges) open. Ready, set… reading fee!
  • And yes, the non-reading fee market is shrinking like plastic wrap these days. You may well wonder who’s reading your work for all these fees. In many cases, it’s not the editors. In some cases, it’s no one at all. Slush-pile volunteers are a varied crew, many of them more intent on incoming texts than your poem.
  • I am now charging “rejection fees” to the tune of $3 each received in my new “for-pay-only” inbox. I call it The Empire Strikes Back! and it is a lucrative trade.
  • In other words, Pay is your Pal. Dot all-is-calm.
  •  In the New York Times Book Review, we get Boris Fishman reviewing Keith Gessen’s A Terrible Country (referring to a man’s return to his native land, Russia). Fishman mixes quote with paraphrase to give us this, “…yes, Putin was a coldblooded killer, but ‘he was our coldblooded killer,'” which could not help but remind me of another country, only one led by a coldblooded liar who is supported by people of similar logic (“…yes, he is a coldblooded liar, but he is our coldblooded liar”), Mr. Ten Guesses.
  • If you want further explanation of that “we know he’s a liar but we love him anyway” logic, this Emily Ogden piece is a must-read. In summary: “If he pisses off the people we want to piss off, we don’t much care. In fact, we love his shtick all the more!”
  • So much for the requisite political asides in our monthly Random Thoughts edition. It is a requirement of the Resistance, and I live too close to the Concord Bridge not to heed its call.
  • Spoiler Alert: In the end, the Minutepoets win.
  • In a nod to the King of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, I have adopted his line regarding my book, Lost Sherpa of Happiness.. Here it is: “Order Soon! Only 2 Remaining! More on the Way!”
  • Translation in Bezos-$peak: “Hurry, damn it! Those two will be worth money some day– more than a rejection fee, even!”
  • Happy Monday and Happy Fleeting Summer, people. Keep reading, and make sure that poetry collections are part of your regime.
  • As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, once said: “Read literature. Not too little. Mostly poems.”

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