A few days ago, my contributor copies of The South Carolina Review arrived. I've had a few poems published in there before, and I'm always impressed with that journal.
As I was reading it and enjoying the creative works, the book reviews, and the interviews, I wondered if I should subscribe. I believe in supporting literary journals and small presses with my money, not with just my creative offerings.
But I'm also always aware of the stacks of books that I haven't read yet and the stacks of journals that I'm beginning to suspect I will never read. I tell myself that I could try a new approach: I could take a quick look through each journal as it arrives in the mail. I'd read whatever grabbed me in that brief opportunity, and then pass the journal along. Would I still feel guilty over unread material if I had sent the journal on to someone else?
I suspect that I'll continue to wrestle with this issue for much of the rest of my life--unless the publishing industry collapses completely in the face of electronic challenges.
In the meantime, here's my poem that appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of The South Carolina Review:
Lying in State
On the day that Ronald Reagan dies,
in the shadow of the Interstate, I offer
a homeless man a loaf of banana bread
which he grabs, as if afraid
I’ll rescind my offer.
Reagan’s body flies across the continent
to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda,
that branch of government which made policies
he tried to evade.
I report to work, teach English to the children
of families who fled Reagan’s foreign
policies, Cold War containment and interference.
On the day of Reagan’s funeral, I plant
a tree and remember his claim
that creatures of this leafy clan cause pollution.
I think of ICBMs fertilizing far away fields
and Adam dead of AIDS these twenty years,
his bones blending into the earth.