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Archive for May, 2008

Today’s rant is about editors of literary journals. Okay, okay…before you pelt me with leftover wine and cheese from one of your schmoozy parties, I guess I should learn to be more politically correct. Today’s rant is about crappy editors of literary journals. Not all editors are crappy. Some of my best friends are editors. There. Are you happy now?

I’m just a little annoyed with a few of the bigger dogs today (and a couple of the little ones). Currently, there are two dozen pieces of my work “on hold,” because of the crappiness of editors. Reject me, please! Let me get on with my life!

What is up with making me wait eight months to a year-and-a-half, and still there is no response from your highness? Have you never heard of e-mail? How about a spam e-mail? Dear Losers: Your poems and short stories are being held hostage. Do not complain, or your career will be shot. Do not think for a moment that this means you are being considered. Chances are, you’ll receive a form rejection note six months from now. Have a crappy day.

At least I would know you received my work!

Oh wait…that’s right. What was I thinking? That would mean acknowledging the fact that poets and writers are human beings who deserve the same professional courtesy you give anyone else. We can’t have that.

Some of you even insist on snail mail submissions!!!! Heaven forbid that we should save a tree or dip the ends of our toes into the twenty first century. And you refuse to let me submit elsewhere or even post MY OWN damned work on a blog, yet you make me wait endlessly for a simple response?

Why? Because you have the power. You know I would wet my drawers to be in your slick journal. Because it might help an idiot like me get some recognition, connections, and more publications that could maybe…possibly…perhaps lead to a little (gasp) money to buy some fancy wine and cheese of my own.

Meanwhile, my work…my life’s blood…is at your mercy. Did you receive it? Is it still in the slushpile? Under a dusty desk? Next to somebody’s toilet? In a bird cage? Did anybody even read it? I don’t know. You can’t be bothered to drop my self addressed, stamped reply postcard in the mail. And all I hear are crickets when I wait six months per your guidelines to politely inquire about the status of my submission.

You suck.

Yes, I know you are king pen of the world. You are the established machine. You are the academic literary world at its most snobby elite.

You can make or break peons like me. But would it be so difficult to recruit a few more freshmen interns on your staff (or monkeys…what the hell), so they can pin a rejection letter to my story and throw it back in the SASE I so carefully included with my submission? Is that too much to ask?

It wouldn’t be hard to train the monkeys to recognize three line stanzas or really witty foreign phrases. We all know your oh-so-progressive journal is “open to all styles and voices.” Yeah, right. But don’t get me started on that one today.

And I don’t care about your personal problems. Or the fact that your mother-in-law’s coming to visit. Or your ingrown toenail. Or how you receive “thousands of submissions” from us losers a day. Yeah, yeah…cry me a river (and see the monkey idea above).

Response times should be humane, regardless of what’s going on in your life, regardless of what you don’t get paid, regardless of the size of the slushpile. ‘Cause, honey. You signed up for it.

Yes, I’m just another annoying, crazy writer who thinks a three to six month response time is not too much to ask.

Gasp.

Stay tuned for Editor Rant Part II…when I will describe the worst editor to ever take up space on this beautiful planet.

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This is the story of a beautiful woman who struggled with depression. In this poem, I allude to Lot’s wife from the Old Testament. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at evil (probably with longing) as she was being rescued by God’s angels from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

However, the woman in this poem longed to look back at something she never had. She felt immobilized by her own mind, her circumstances, and her relationships. Her love had become the pillar of salt from which she needed to escape.

The real life setting for the poem was during a Southern summer drought, one of the worst ones I can ever remember. The heat was oppressive and felt like a living entity. The only things moving at high noon were the shimmers of heat coming up from the ground and thousands of locusts all over the yard, the trees, the porch, even inside the house. The constant sound of them pinging against the window screens was surreal. I have never experienced a “plague” like that again.

Thanks once more to Robert Edwards of Pemmican for publishing this one in the early 90′s.

Her Lot

By Julie Buffaloe-Yoder


Summer hanging between her fingers,
she lays heavy in an unmade bed
listening to the locusts
throw themselves against the house outside.
Friction might make them spark--
winged flames in the bright gloom of noon.
Everywhere they move brown blades of grass
skeletons.
 
She must get up, sweep them across wooden floors
into a moving pile, wait for a husband
to come home from the fields
tobacco eyed and stained with the sin of locusts.
 
Summer creaking in her cupboards
and she can feel hot drops of breath
he harvests for her to put in jars.
She must wipe the counters, free
the struggle of a locust in a honey puddle.
Outside, they breathe and breed
under feet, under tires,
fed by sweat and the pulse 
of spinning engines 
in the living dust.
 
She must get up and wash away locusts,
hang them with rows of stiff, wet clothes.
She must watch them fall
from the dryness of pines
like dying stars.
 
Summer clenched between her teeth
and she can taste the rusty nail.
The slaughtered lamb of generations,
she will glaze her sweet, thick skin
and lay across the supper table.
 
She must get up and open the door.
Not eaten alive, she will fill her mouth
with locusts, give them birth,
walk across the wave of wings
growing in the sandy rows, 
hanging in her unveiled hair.
 
She must look back
once more to see him
in the tractored dirt.
She must look back
for just a glance
to see him
unmoving,
turning to sweat.

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