Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rejection Slips and the Last Issue of "Hawaii Pacific Review"

For years, decades even, I've been sending poetry packets to Hawaii Pacific Review.  They'd come back, and often with an encouraging note written on the rejection slip.

Let us now consider the rejection note and why we keep sending out our poetry packets again and again, only to face certain rejection.  I have some journals to which I submit even though I know that the odds of success are almost non-existent; I know how many submissions that a journal like Poetry gets.  Yet I also know personally one poet who is not all that different from me who has had work accepted there, and so, even though I've gotten no encouraging notes, I keep submitting.

Last year, I finally got an acceptance from Hawaii Pacific Review.  And last week, my contributor copies of the journal arrived, along with a letter that explained that this issue would be the last paper edition.  I understand the economics that make this move necessary.  I know that online journals offer all sorts of possibilities that those committed to paper cannot afford or even accomplish if money was no object.  Still, I felt a bit sad at the news that an era had passed.

I also had the disconcerting feeling of scarcely remembering the poem of mine that appeared in the journal.  I remember a line or two.  I vaguely remember coming up with the first stanza after watching a Clint Eastwood movie.  But did that really happen or would it be the way that it happened if I was a character in a short story?  I can no longer tell you.

Once I could have told you the inspiration behind every poem I ever wrote, and for many of them, I could have told you exactly where and when I wrote it and what I was feeling.  Of course, once I was moving every few years and my circumstances changed and my writing settings also changed.  So it was easier to recall the specifics behind every poem.

Until this summer, I had written most of my poems of the past decade and a half in the same house, in the same room.  So, the process of composing poems hasn't changed, and therefore, I remember the particulars less and less.

Or maybe it's a function of getting older with a larger mass of poems created.

In any case, here's my poem that appeared in the last issue of Hawaii Pacific Review.

Sure Shot

I want to be that woman
who can aim a gun
while shifting through the sticky
gears of a tricky transmission
of a truck made in the year
before my birth.

I want to chop
off all my hair and not cry
over lost locks. I want to dress
in monochromes that haunt
my coloring with hints
of a sunnier day.
I want to practice yoga
every morning and drink
only weak tea for breakfast.

I want to swim submerged
in a distant sea.
I want to log long miles
running before dawn through the streets
of abandoned cities.

I want to snack
on melons and pineapples grown
on an exotic island.
I want to be that island
of volcanic ash baking
in the middle of a vast ocean.

I want to believe in you
the way I once did,
And so each morning, I tend
the flowers after kneading
the bread dough that rises
on the window sill.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

I'm sorry to hear about the Hawaii Pacific Review closing down print publication, too. They did beautiful work. I cherish my contributors' copies too.