Burn Your Darlings

Cardboard box of old journals, notebooks
full of the ephemeral and the wannabe
profound, words I wrote for an audience—
the high school journal, read weekly by
Sister Seraphia, and later, words for my eyes only—
about unrequited love, loneliness after a breakup—

Dominique has two words of advice—
Burn them. She did, and found the fire Continue reading “Burn Your Darlings”

Gun Stories

This poem is reprinted from Damfino Press Journal, January 2016.

 

Outside the house the suitors line up,
a long queue of them, starting at dawn.
Each one with a gun.
I can see them from my bedroom window
—their handguns in holsters,
Or rifles slung over their shoulders
Like lawmen in my father’s tv westerns.

In town, the fire chief shot
His brains out with his service weapon.
It happened in his official car behind
The fire station on the main street.

I lost a friend over the guns her son
Brought back from the army, along with a crumpled
Marital history, and a taste for thebaine.

Once a black Luger was interposed
Between me and the hand that held it.
It was  pointed  at my father’s head, and then at me. The
Hand swept the gaze of the gun across the room.

The women have armed themselves, too.
Paper targets, then miscreants, then
intruders at the city gates
Overflowing into exurbia, the neighbors’ dogs–
Those go first, felled by your bullets. When there’s
No one left to shoot, your gun
Might be turned on you.

I know if I got my hands on one I’d drop
This embroidery, sneak out the back door,
go looking for a blacksmith.
I’d apprentice myself, I’d want
Nothing more than to hold the black gun
over the fire, pummel it.

You’d thank me for this.

 

 

 

Huge thanks to Danielle Georges, poet laureate of Boston, and the August 2015 poetry workshop participants, especially Martin Rodriguez, Francine Montemurro, Ellen Zelner and Chad Parenteau for critiquing an earlier version of this poem.  ~LV

New Year’s Day: Toward the Unknown

 

The year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
                                        ~ January First, Octavio Paz, trans. Elizabeth Bishop

 

This part of Cape Cod, past the elbow–but before the wrist joint—has yet to see a hard frost this winter. The arugula in our garden is green and edible, though most of it has bolted and  white flowers dot the tops of each green plant. Two intrepid calendula (pot marigold) bloom in the center of the garden—I find a tiny slug chewing away at one slender petal, flick him off, and bring the blooms inside to grace the dinner table. Leathery oak leaves the size of dinner plates line the crushed stone driveway and cluster around the stems of dead perennials: coreopsis, gaillardia,echinacea, rudbeckia. The pink heather blooms profusely on the hill behind the cottage. The calendar insists it’s early winter, but it looks more like early autumn on this  oddly warm year in new England. Continue reading “New Year’s Day: Toward the Unknown”

 Inclined Plane, Pulley, Wheel & Axle

For Mary Jane                                         

I studied the euthanasia coaster,
the Lithuanian artist’s drawings, the steep
first stage of the steel thing, the sharp
drop meant to cause hypoxia to the brain,
seven inversion loops, clothoids
designed to drive passengers into brain death.

At the end of the ride, said the
artist, they would unload—Unload!—the bodies Continue reading ” Inclined Plane, Pulley, Wheel & Axle”

Climate Change

 

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One Christmas, you broke in new roller skates
Soared down our  street’s white pavement
Flew onto a small front lawn to stop, because you had no brakes.

We took to the tennis courts at the park
In t shirts and shorts we worked on our serves, worked
up a sweat. It didn’t feel like Christmas.

Today’s like that, temperatures edging up to balmy,
roses in planters still blooming in the city– Continue reading “Climate Change”

The Stone in Your Chest

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I never want to walk through the black door you’ve negotiated,
Into the place where mothers bury their sons.
–You didn’t want to, either. You deserved years
of bonding, smiling at the way things turned out well after
the hard years, the impossible maze your adolescent traipsed.

No matter the cause, it’s the backwardness of it that
Makes no sense. It’s the years that knit us to the children, Continue reading “The Stone in Your Chest”

Boxing Day

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The very idea of servants had
faded altogether.
We stomped the cardboard shipping boxes that
arrived almost daily.

Sometimes I raced out to yell thanks
But the delivery van tore off down the street
I was left barefoot on the cold front porch
Feeling a bit foolish.

We stuffed the wrapping paper
and the twisted ribbon
into the metal trashbin in the garage,
forgot about it.

We reheated the casserole, Continue reading “Boxing Day”

We Called It Armistice Day

Reprinted from The Journal of Applied Poetics, December 2015

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WE CALLED IT ARMISTICE DAY

Until we didn’t—on parents day at school
Our teacher asked Does anyone know
the new name of this day–
I turned around and looked at
My father, sitting on a folding chair
leaning against his cane, he nodded to me– Continue reading “We Called It Armistice Day”

Christmas 1956

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My father opened his wallet to show me
a hundred dollar bill.
I thought he was rich, and said so.
Naw, he answered and carefully
slid the crisp paper back into its leather sleeve.
Christmas morning
my sister and I opened box after box.
Angora sweater, knee socks
Ricky Nelson LP for me,
roller skates for her.
My mother gave Dad pajamas,
socks, a hand warmer gadget
for Colt games at Memorial Stadium.

When it was all over
paper detritus littering rose-colored carpet,
Dad pointed to the back of the Christmas tree Continue reading “Christmas 1956”

Early Morning in Kresson

 

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“While the neighborhood overall retains integrity of location and design, it generally lacks integrity of setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.–Maryland Historical  Trust Review

 

In my mind’s eye I see it—the stub of a macadam road
Dead-ending into Blue Diamond Coal, its trucks
Lined up each morning for the long hauls.
To the left, the junkyard, heaps of metal and rubber, hard by
An Italianate house, rust-brown, coated with years
Of dust and cinder ash, facing the junkyard cranes instead
Of a lawn. A porch swing, always vacant even on summer
Evenings. Only the metal cranes noticed.
The folks who lived in the house, white haired, plainly dressed
Bespectacled, came and went together, but mostly stayed home.
My father’s tavern sat amongst these places, the last
In a row of houses. In its former life, the bar
Housed a bakery, we heard—and the baker’s family
Lived upstairs in the cramped rooms, their  kitchen
The bakery itself. I used to pretend I could smell
Bread baking, the sweet fragrance of airy
White loaves turning golden in the long-gone ovens.
I went along with my father there before dawn,
the half-light bathing the block in sepia.
I sat at a small table in the back bar reading comics—
my father rolled kegs of beer up from the dank cellar.
Up on the ragged sidewalk I stood peering down
As he slid the keg into a handtruck, up a plywood Continue reading “Early Morning in Kresson”

Felus Catus

Athena /Tina 1994-2015
Athena /Tina
1994-2015


There were never such green and wide
Catseyes as our cat’s eyes.
The hearing went. Those eyes
stayed big and wide, attentive. The ears
were dappled pink and black inside.
She loved it when you grabbed them gently,
Squeezed, then released them.
She’d shake her head, then come back for more.
She climbed on your lap each night
rubbed against your book, your laptop.
We joked she thought you were her mother.
She cried all the way to the animal clinic.
She couldn’t hear herself.
Her weight had fallen by another half-pound.
We could see her skeleton under her three-colored coat.
We remembered when she was plump,
when she deposited voles and small rabbits
on the back stoop, little presents.
Lately she slept, made a running start for the bed, Continue reading “Felus Catus”

Salad Days

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We lived at home, were always home for dinner.
We thought we dressed like women
when we peeled off the school uniforms and slid into
plaid kilts, blouses with Peter Pan collars and circle pins,
loafers, on Friday night, for a church hall dance.
We thought we knew everything, though we only
knew everything about the things we read in books
or heard on the bus, or the street. We read Continue reading “Salad Days”

Hotel Majestic

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Her hair was dark, dark brown,
her eyes even darker.
She took the big bed, I had the small cot.
We ate our breakfast in the coffee shop,
the two of us chatting our way through eggs and bacon.
Sometimes she looked off into the distance
and when she seemed to get lost there,
I’d ask, “What you looking at?”
“Nothing, just staring,” she’d say.
I knew nothing of staring,
refused to believe there wasn’t something
beyond the coffee shop’s peach colored walls
demanding her attention.
I heard the low buzz, the clink
of coffee cups meeting saucers.
The beach was wide and white,
our umbrella green and yellow striped.
We unwrapped our box lunch, sandwiches
nestled in thin waxed paper,
Milk for me, Coke for her.
Boys talked to us when we waded into the ocean, Continue reading “Hotel Majestic”

Crabbing On Isle of Wight Bay

 At an old footbridge we set up  —
Tied the chunks of eel to twine, threw the lines
As far as we could, so the crabs
Might think they’d chanced on a choice breakfast.
Pull the lines gently, my father said, draw
The string in slow and steady. We stayed for hours,
Not much to do but test the lines, nibble sandwiches
A half at a time, drink grape soda from the can.
We gazed down at the current, saw
The lines drifting away from where we sat, Continue reading “Crabbing On Isle of Wight Bay”

The Place, Part 3

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There was a parade of  barmaids and bartenders over the years: Mr. Oscar, whom Dad inherited from the tavern’s previous owner; the aforementioned Miss Bea;  Miss Vi, a sweet, fortyish woman who moved to Florida after she got married;  Hilda, a short,wide-hipped  plain woman who wore glasses and had no sense of humor at all. I never saw her smile..She stuck around a long time, but when she quit, she just up and left—I never heard anyone speak of her after that. George Scout tended bar on some of his layovers from the railroad, and he bunked in one of the rooms upstairs, two beds on ancient iron frames with grey sheets, and night tables littered with cigarette ash and tattered paperbacks, mostly Mickey Spillane crime novels. Continue reading “The Place, Part 3”

The Place (part 2)

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The menu–never written, always spoken but only when anyone asked first– consisted of  breakfast, lunch or dinner at any time of day. Eggs, ham or bacon, toast and coffee. Often, a special of the day–baked ham, roast beef with  mashed potatoes and gravy, meatloaf, corned beef. Or  my father’s specialty—hearty soups—navy bean soup, split pea,  beef stew—and on occasion, Maryland crab soup.  When he had time and the price of backfin was good, he made up two or three dozen crabcakes, which disappeared fast from under the glass domed cakestand that sat on the bar near the Hotpoint grills. Continue reading “The Place (part 2)”

The Place

Part 1
In  1951, my father bought a tavern  in Highlandtown, at the corner of  the East Kresson and Fairmount, from a Mrs. Mary Menniger.  Before that, the building was,  a tavern, when first built in 1900,  a confectionery and a bakery during Prohibition, and by the late 1930’s, a tavern once again. Dad installed an orange and green neon sign outside, a very long arrow that surrounded the very long name, Spigelmire and the word BAR underneath.

imgres-2We lived a 20 minute drive west of Highlandtown, in the northmost part of  Hamilton. We called  the tavern  The Place. Continue reading “The Place”

“Pink Sky” in _The Lost Country: A Literary Journal of the Exiles_

This lovely print journal is available from Amazon.com and you can preview the biannual issue at inexsilio.com.Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 9.38.37 AM Continue reading ““Pink Sky” in _The Lost Country: A Literary Journal of the Exiles_”

Engineer: Poem for a Childhood Friend

This poem, which I wrote last year, is reprinted from Grey Sparrow Journal, Spring 2015, in memory of my childhood friend Dan Lawrence, whose memorial service takes place today in Baltimore, our hometown.

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Engineer

He was the boy who loved trains
of all kinds, and trolleys—back
when they still ran along the roads to
Carney and Towson, all the way
to the route’s end, Woodlawn or Windsor Hills Continue reading “Engineer: Poem for a Childhood Friend”

House Guests and the Writing Regime

We’ve had four in a row, first  a young couple from Baltimore who are planning their wedding for next fall, then an old friend from my teaching days in Connecticut—now she’s based in Portland, the  Oregon one—and my brother in-law, who drove down from the north, for a Joe Jackson concert in Boston, and stayed overnight.

Then last night, my husband’s Men’s Book Club convened to discuss The Lord of Misrule.

It’s been years since we had this many visitors in such a short time, and the washing machine has been busy every few days, with sheets, pillowcases, towels and blankets. The dishwasher, which we usually put into service every two days, has been going full speed, Continue reading “House Guests and the Writing Regime”

Lah-Di-Dah: Why You Should Go to Your High School Class Reunion

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If you have qualms about going to a high school reunion, I recommend that you stay away for a good 25 years or more, then  take the plunge. The older we get, the more we appreciate these gatherings, especially if you make sure your group of friends from those days are also along for the ride. As one friend said last week when we had a little post-mortem on our high school reunion of many years—let me say only that we and Hillary Clinton are of similar vintage—“Those who came to the reunion were the same as they were back in high school, only our sharp edges had been rounded off.” Girls who might have snubbed me in high school were now tolerant, seemed interested in chatting, hearing about my life and telling me about theirs. I hope I was more accepting, as well, this time around.

I attended a Sisters of Mercy, all-girls school in the ‘Sixties. We were mostly from working class or middle class families. There were no girls of color—no Asians, no African Americans. When we were sophomores a couple of Cuban girls—daughters of doctors or lawyers—showed up after Fidel Castro came into power and many of the middle class families fled to the U.S. Those few girls were the sum and total of diversity at Mercy High back in the day.

Today, the universe my school draws on is richer, more interesting, multicultural. Students come from a wider geographical area, and there’s a highly diverse student population. Their uniforms are more stylish than ours were, and they have an array of classes we never had access to, especially in science and the arts. The school once sat in a solid, stable middle class neighborhood. After several decades, the environment around the school has changed for the worse since my school  opened its doors in 1960. Baltimore has endured its share of problems, economic, social and political. Industries have died or left town. There is no more Bethlehem Steel, General Motors, no shipyards as before. The city has lost people—and much of the tax base. The 1968 civil disturbances after the assassination of Dr. King led to the burning or abandonment of many inner city blocks. The ever-increasing drug trade—as David Simon’s HBO series The Wire so vividly illustrated—has claimed block after block from East to West Baltimore—and has claimed many young lives as well. The dearth of jobs has siphoned off young men— and young women— from the community as they are sucked into the business of selling drugs. The public schools are often ineffectual, and middle class and affluent residents increasingly choose to send their children to private or parochial schools.

And the Baltimore uprising of spring 2015 has meant even  more erosion of citizens’ faith in the people who are sworn to serve and protect them. Many Baltimoreans have lost what little hope they had that the city would grow vital again.

There are pockets of hope: Marian House, which for thirty years has supported homeless women and their children, offering rehabilitative services and job training…. Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Southeast Baltimore. There are more initiatives like these. But we knew we were coming back to a city that faces  enormous challenges. We looked for the things that were then and remain, that we loved and still love so much: a walk through one of the city parks, a stroll on the Hopkins campus, a morning spent at the central Enoch Pratt Library.

So in this autumn of 2015, and the autumn of our years, almost a hundred Mercy girls from my class year gathered to celebrate, to reflect, and to take stock of our lives, to consider all that we learned when we were young and all the lessons we carried with us through these many years. Several of our former teachers, now in their seventies, joined us. There was laughter, sadness, stories of lost children, spouses who died too soon, marriages sanctioned by the state but not the church, small and great achievements, grandchildren, second and third careers.

One from our class traveled from Hawaii, where she has lived for four decades. She joined five of us in an air b and b house near the Hopkins Homewood campus. We hadn’t been in touch with her for ages until very recently, and a couple of us hadn’t even known her in our class, which numbered over 250. Our Hawaiian friend came bearing orchid and plumeria leis for each of us and Lion coffee, voted Hawaii’s best. She told us of her travels to Guam, Johnson Atoll, and Iraq, in the course of her many jobs. She spoke of losing her only son to an accident, and of helping raise his two small children.

The rest of us shared our stories, as well. When we disagreed about politics, we set it aside and stayed on common ground. Tales of divorce, of illness or death of spouses, worries over grown children, took precedence over Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

We drank wine, and one night, champagne, ate caramel popcorn one of us brought from Rehoboth Beach Delaware, wore fuzzy socks the Californian had tucked into gift bags –along with spice jars of Old Bay seasoning, mints, fancy emery boards, and miniatures of vodka—and laughed, talked, wept, talked some more, drank more wine.

For four days and nights, we told anecdotes from high school days, the college frat Halloween pajama party where three of us showed up in pajamas but fully dressed underneath, the first U.S Beatles concerts we attended, the year three of us decided to ride our bikes to school even though it was not a very cool thing to do in those days. The years fell away, and we were once more the same girls we were when we donned the brown skirts, white blouses, and taupe blazers, brown and white saddle shoes and white cotton socks.

The Reunion dinner at our old school ended with our singing the alma mater, a cappella, led by our former French teacher, now a theologian. A table of former basketball players followed up immediately, belting out an old basketball cheer. Everyone joined in: Those girls, they are the best, lah-di–dah, lah-di-dah, lah -di-dah-dah-dah.

Lah-di-dah, indeed.

I say, go to your reunion. Put on your red dress and your high-heeled sneakers, and your wig hat on your head, if that makes you feel better. Your mature self will become reacquainted with your teenaged self, and you will be astounded at how much better you feel now than you did then, and how much easier it is to talk to the people you sat next to for four years.

And, you never know—you may even be presented with an orchid-and-plumeria lei,fuzzy slipper socks, and caramel popcorn from the ocean, hon.

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Photo credit: Gay White

An edited version of this essay appeared in the Baltimore Sun, October 13, 2015.

Crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay

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November 14, 2 PM, Southeast Anchor Library, Auditorium 3601 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224

Baltimore friends and family–Please join me at this event featuring Baltimore author Rafael Alvarez, where I will be reading one of my poems that is part of the chapbook, Callinectes Sapidus (ed. Rafael Alvarez) and telling a story,  Moth-style, about my father’s bar in Highlandtown!

Southeast Anchor Library, Auditorium 3601 Eastern Avenue Baltimore, MD 21224

Baltimore screenwriter and author Rafael Alvarez reads an essay about the current state of crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay. His essay, as well as my poem and writings of others appear in a new  chapbook, whose publication is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Pratt Library.

Free chapbooks — which include a discussion of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Beautiful Swimmers — will be available to all who attend.

Committing to Memory

images-3By the time I was in elementary school in Baltimore, the old, early twentieth century method of instruction, memorization and recitation in class, had been replaced by a more kid-friendly approach that combined reading, class discussion, writing answers, and even doing projects connected with our studies, whether they were in science, geography, history, arithmetic, literature, or the arts. Continue reading “Committing to Memory”

Summer’s End 2015: Winding Down? Or Un-winding?

IMG_2101In this outer Cape Cod town the week before Labor Day, the locals like to say, “Things are winding down.” The city people arrive in high summer, tense and stressed, not loving the long line for croissants at the boulangerie, or the wait at the small seaside theatre, general admission in a house that seats no more than a hundred patrons. With so many visitors in such small spaces,  we’ve been all wound up since mid-July. Now is the time to unwind, not “wind down.” In yoga, unwinding usually comes after a strong twist, turning from the lower belly and the low spine repeatedly, till it’s possible to look out over the shoulder and turn the gaze almost past that shoulder. Breathing in, then slowly unwinding comes last, and then, the yoga teacher might advise students, “Close your eyes, and notice how you feel. “ Continue reading “Summer’s End 2015: Winding Down? Or Un-winding?”

Music and Poetry: a Complicated Combination …

 

Kathy KirbyThe Song Is, an   online music and poetry journal,  has just   published three of my poems that center on music and emotion–Diva (republished from Foliate Oak),  I Can’t Get No,  and Harp Music.  Click here to read them.

 

 

Ode to Our First Tomato of the Season

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Up here in New England, our weather’s not hot

So one ripe tomato is all that we’ve got.

We’ll slice it and give it an arugula bed,

A salad of deep green with one speck of red.

It’s mid-August now, and we promise, no  gripin’,

But let’s hope that the rest, all the  green ones will ripen.

 

Dry Days in the Garden

imgresWhile the Cape Cod garden has been benefitting from daily watering by means of the irrigation hoses in the vegetable patch and hand watering for the flowers and herbs in terra cotta pots, the home garden has been enduring days without a steady rain. The perennials are putting up a brave front, but the hostas look bedraggled, with yellow or brown leaves appearing around the edges. The day lilies’ leaves are yellowing or browning as well, and the monarda leaves droop– and their blooms don’t last very long. Continue reading “Dry Days in the Garden”

Day 6: Espresso and Street Life in the Comune di Isnello, Sicily

IMG_2565We rise early to start our last day of the walk from Enna to the sea, after a quick breakfast at our Madonie ski lodge. The silent man in the light grey suit–the lodge owner? manager? kitchen boss?–appears once again, pacing along the far wall of the dining room, hands clasped behind his back, overseeing every detail, as he has for both our dinners and breakfasts. We have our suitcases ready  at the top of the stairs by  7:45 a.m. for Martina to pack them in the van. Continue reading “Day 6: Espresso and Street Life in the Comune di Isnello, Sicily”

Clifton Park

I demanded that my mother
take me back to the park
with three swimming pools.
Summer was so much hotter then.
At night fans cooled us down.
In the days we moved slowly,
drank ice tea or Kool-Aid—
Again, I asked her
to take me to the city park
with the three pools
all concrete-bottomed, concrete-sided.
The baby pool, the pool for grownups
the middle pool.
I waded cautiously in to the shallow end,
watched boys dive in,
swim like fish through cold water,
yell and splash.
Their skin was dark,
their hair cut close to their heads,
dark whorls in perfect patterns—
I pestered my mother to take me back.
She shook her head.
Why, I asked. Why not?
All summer I contemplated
the park, the pools, the boys
calling out challenges,
shoving, laughing, scrambling
onto the pool’s concrete edges.
Why, I kept asking. Why
don’t we go back there?
Polio, she said,
too many city people.
I understood polio.
But the rest of it confused me.
What could be better than
to be near those boys,
their skin glistening,
their shouts, name-calling, bragging
in the park, in the city that belonged
to all of us?
                                 ~Lynne Viti
Reprinted from Topology magazine. February 9, 2016

Higher Math

for Roger

If topoi means the place, and logos means the study,
then topology means the thing you studied,
the evidence of which was, among other things
the scraps of paper strewn around the apartment,
on the glass coffee table, kitchen counter, sometimes
next to the soap dish on the bathroom sink,
notes with x and y and symbols that confounded us.

It was Greek to me—All I knew
was it involved sets, like a set of points
and a set of neighborhoods from each point.
You might have explained once or twice
you studied a mathematical space that allowed for
continuity, connectedness, convergence.
Those, I understood.

You said a neighborhood of a point is a set
containing the point where one can
move that point without leaving the set.

You said, if x equals a topological space,
and p equals a point in that space we might call x,
then a neighborhood of p is a subset—
call it V—of x that includes
an open set U containing p.

I was so out of my element—chagrined at how little
I knew about points, sets and neighborhoods.

Here’s what I know:
You are and were continuous, you’re connected to
The rest of us, you converge, in a number of spaces, with us.
You know your neighborhood, like your
neighborhoods of past and future
containing you, you know the points to which
you can move points
without leaving the set of family, friends.

You’re the central unifying notion
of this convergence of us who in one way or
another rely on you—you help us map
the deepest, most human things.

 

Reprinted from  Work to a Calm literary magazine, February 2016

Removing the Dashes, Inserting the Quotation Marks, and Reconciling the Names: Getting Ready for the Betas

Three nights ago I wrote the last chapter—for now—of my novel. This is the full first draft of something I’d been working on, intermittently,  for two years, and for the past three months, every day except Christmas. It’s in need of a rigorous edit, the next stage of the project, but I felt an endorphin high for a day after I put the period at the end of the last sentence.

Congratulations, friends acquaintances, and relatives wrote on my social media pages. I heard from fellow writers, former students (including one man, who as a silly sixteen year old, was a student in the  creative writing class I taught decades ago, at Westhill High School in Stamford Connecticut), cousins, my former pastor, the respective fiancées of my two nephews, colleagues, and one of my grown children.

And I loved that.

But congratulating a writer who has merely produced the messy first draft is like congratulating a woman who has announced her pregnancy. Good news, but–

The truly hard work, the pain, the challenging process of finishing the work lies ahead.

I’m starting on all that today: the adding of quotation marks to replace the Joyce-esque dashes I used for dialogue when I began the draft months ago; the correction of typos, “form” for “from” and the like. The search for consistency in the names I gave minor characters. Was that guy called Charlie or Gene? Was the father’s business partner Dan or Dickie?

Did the bachelor uncle from Pittsburgh ever marry, or did he stay single?

Then I’ll print the 500 –plus word behemoth out, mail it to my beta readers, and work on other projects—a short story, a poetry collection—while I wait for their critiques. Then, the real work begins–tweaking the plot, rewriting whole sections, cutting extraneous things even though I loved them. Excision. Trashing. Pruning. Polishing.

Recalling my first pregnancy, I remember a friend who had two daughters saying, ”You’re going to like being pregnant a lot more than having the baby.” I liked it best after I had the baby, my dear, firstborn, now thirty-year old son.

I think this may be the case with my latest baby, my as-yet-untitled novel.

Now, for me, it’s back to inserting double quotation marks and deleting those Joycean dashes.