Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jack of too many trades...

So I started working on next week’s shoot-out. Things that start with “M”. Like my name -- Mark! But before you know it, my mind morphs madly into mentally meandering over many…

So I go out to the mailbox…the mmmmmailbox….and there is a beatup letter in there with the address handwritten in my own handwriting. One of those instantly recognizable SASE’s (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes) some of us include with submissions of things for publication to cover the postage of having the rejection slips sent back.

The only surprise here was that I haven’t submitted anything anywhere for almost a year. The other surprise was that is was not a standard rejection but a notification that the Rockhurst Review is going to publish a poem I wrote in 2005.

I’m pleased, of course. Acceptance always feels better than rejection. In fact, feeling accepted if probably the main reason poets spend money on postage – because there is no monetary reason – ooh. Money. Starts with “M”!

But also felt a little strange because after a few years of writing a lot of it, it has been on the back burner since last summer. Getting an acceptance made me feel somehow guilty. These guys think I’m a poet. But I’m more of a photographer. Or really a blogger. But I’ve been thinking I need to pull the banjo or the guitar out of the closet. Maybe I could try songwriting. And I’ve always wanted to act. Or do stand-up comedy (although Karen thinks I do that all the time unless I’m asleep). So many things to do in this world!!! It’s frustrating at times.

But I remind myself to be grateful for an overactive mind. It’s really ironic too. Because back in 1976 just before I started going to A.A. and stopped being drunk 24 hours a day, my biggest fear about sobriety was that I’d be bored. What could I do to fill all the hours of the day if I couldn’t drink and smoke pot? I had also fallen into the Jimi Hendrix Dylan Thomas Jackson Pollack myth that creativity stemmed from alcohol and drugs. What a joke.

So anyhow, here is the poem that Rockhurst Review liked. I actually had included it as a filler in the group of four poems I sent them. I liked the other three poems better, but what do I know? I had written in 2005, probably after a day of frustrating honey-do work around the house --

Folding Clothes

The clatter of buckles, snaps, and rivets

from the dryer’s rotating drum beats rhythm

behind us, as our hands dance together

in the soft warm pile of fabrics.

T-shirts laid flat, palms gently smoothing

resistant wrinkles before folding once again,

creasing the arms, then again. Quality control.

Knit shirts and pants hung still damp on hangers

the way your mother taught.

Towels and sheets in letter-fold packages

Socks matched up and folded once

Except for mine.

Some identity must be preserved;

I roll the elastic in the ankle down

securing them like soft grenades,

and I simply grab my briefs in wads,

even the one’s you’ve already folded

like napkins, stuffing them in their drawer.

And you have secrets, too,

the mysterious fabric outfits with frills

I’m not allowed to touch.

But mostly we work as one, laughing

at artifacts dug out of Brian’s pockets,

washed and dried notes with names and numbers

of girls we don’t know, gum wrappers,

and why, you ask, is there

a cigarette lighter in his cargo pants?

I sometimes wonder how much straighter

your creases were before my clothes joined yours,

and often I can’t understand

how I ever dressed at all.


  1. My friend Mark the poet.

    I knew him ...before he was truly famous.

  2. Mongratulations Mark the Moet. Marvelous how you captured monotony so miraculously. :D

  3. Hi Mark, from what we've heard with the trouser throwing episodes (RTTS- Repetitive Trouser Throwing Syndrome) you sometimes don't at all!

    Your poem had me standing there shaking out, folding, creasing, patting, and smoothing...there's something very cathartic about folding laundry - its an art and a meditation...

    Happy Days

  4. Congrats on your acceptance. If you do get bored you can try to turn your poem into a song. As a songwriter/musician who has recorded a 8 albums I would say that would be a challenge for me!

  5. Hearty congrats - and on the poem as well. It works very well, I think.

  6. Oddly enough I did a post on May 12 about folding clothes. Not nearly as poetic as was more a rant on how my husband could not fold clothes neatly even if he was promised an entire weekend of uninterrupted fishing. Your poem is much more touching! Congratulations on getting published as well, no small feat.

  7. Oh BB....that was wonderful, love all through it!

    I loved it Muchly


  8. I got a poem accepted once. I have only writen - mmmm - 5 or so, the two from elementary school english class probably don't count do they? - so I've written 3 and submitted them.... I got an acceptance letter, which said they would use the poems in their book and if I wanted to see it in print I had to pay $128.00 to buy the book. so they were collecting poems and would sell to only those who had poems in it.... I was (don't know can't think of an MMMM word) anyway I hope your experience is the real thing because I think you need the positive vibes to help you to come out of the closet and publish.... Natalie's comment is a riot!

  9. Congratulations! That is fantastic!
    I love the poem - you took a Mundane task and turned it into a love story of sorts. Good job BB!

  10. For Ginger V the word is MORTIFIED, followed by MAD.

    Loved your poem, Mark and we do the same thing and JP's socks must be turned like yours and his pants just grabbed and stuffed in drawers.Tee shirts don't need ironing if you press them flat and fold then press again. I too think it would make a good song.
    Congratulations on the publishing news.

  11. Thanks also for the kind words yesterday.x

  12. Pretty good. I never got beyond "There was a young girl from Nantucket", myself.

    So now, along with Butler, Bagman, and Mark, you have the monicker Jack, also. Which identity is Jack?

  13. I really enjoyed that. Congrats on publication. Now by posting it here, you're not violating any agreement with them are ya? Just wondering.

  14. I entered a few poetry contests, never won any but I got a phone call from the judges once to ask if I had ever spent anytime in prison. They also asked me if I knew this notorious ganster (not saying the name) personally. I stopped entering poetry contests after that.
    I like the rhythm of your poem and the experience of private laundry has a universal appeal. Thank you for sharing. Most memorable and maybe musical? Magnificent!

  15. Magnificent Mark..........
    I think that you excel at pretty much everything you do!! As Sarah Lulu says.......we can all say we knew you when can't we.
    Seriously dude.......I'm totally impressed!!

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  16. So you beat the mag in publishing your poem? I know. I know.

    Beautiful poem, Mark, and congrats!

    I have been so far behind. Only you can understand how a newspaper can drain you of energy and time. I have been going full speed for three weeks. Yesterday, I was supposed to have been off, but the phone rang, and off I went.

    I left a little early, as all good news people do, and saw one of those break-slamming photo ops. I stepped in a hole and sprained my ankle, but I made my shoot, although shoeless. Then I did another shoeless shoot last night, in agony. So today, I rest and catch up, and hope the phone does not ring.

    I'll bet you have enough wonderful poems to put together a whole book!