It was desperate times, you know? A woman with three kids under the age of 7 and a husband who spends all his time trying to be a poet, rhyming words like he, she, we, pee, what else could I do? I mean poetry is, you know, one of those things that makes people think you’re smart and sensitive and have to be coddled or you might put your head in an oven. I don’t mind putting a plump chicken or a nice roast into the oven with some potatoes and onions on the side, but my kids, his kids, need their dad. When they run into the bedroom every morning to kiss and hug him before they go off to school, he’s sitting at the window saying things like, “Autumn is red and autumn is brown and what I wouldn’t give to get you to frown.”
After all these years, he still thinks he was born to poet just because his English teacher in the 9th grade gave him an “A” on a poem he wrote and told him he just might grow up to be the next Robert Snow or Rime or Frost or some other such kind of wintery-named poet, it’s been tough on all of us, especially the damn dog. The dog adores my husband, worships the feet he walks on, but guess who has to take him out every day, pick up his poop? It’s not Mr. Longfellow sitting over by his window with his little papers all over floor and piles of damp Kleenex. And how much does he cry? My “Genius at Work” cries all the time, morning, noon, and night.
I once told him he should go drive a truck, for God’s sake, and get one of those 1152-Hour Micro Voice-Activated Recorders, you know, and he can “poet” all he wants, and then when he comes home, he can type it up and send it off to The New Yorker. That wouldn’t give him more kid-time, but at least he’d be doing something we could all understand. Plus the money, not to put too fine of a point on it. Truck drivers make big bucks, and he’d be on the road, hour after hour, looking at nature and trees and desert, the effing mountains, plus rain, snow, sleet, smog, you name it, and that’s what he likes to write about. He’s got one called “Ode to Cactus,” a prickly pear, for heaven’s sake, and he wanted me to use the fruit to make jelly, like I want to get stuck all over with those needle things when I can bring home a perfectly good grape jelly to eat. Welch’s, it’s the best, and besides, why does he have to get me involved in the whole thing? I’m not the artist. I don’t know the first thing about rhyming shit, and I don’t understand why anybody wants to even do it. Especially him. He’s not even the sensitive type about anything but those damn verses. AT ALL. AT ALL.
I couldn’t take the drama anymore, him wailing he’s got no talent, and getting mad at me when he couldn’t think of a rhyme. I had to do something, otherwise the kids, the dog, me, we’d have to leave, and I really didn’t want to. I’ve gotten used to him staring out that window, scribbling in his little notebook.
So I had a little money set by from when my uncle died, and I figured, I just might be able to pull something off.
I gathered all his work and paid the English teacher who lives next door to put them in some kind of order and sent his little poemsoff to one of those self-publishing houses, the kind you pay to have them print it up and slap a cover on it. Once I had a copy of “Looking out the Bedroom Window” by hubby-dear in my hands, I presented it to him and like one of his own rhyme-y lines, his eyes teared up like “rain on the window pane.” Next, I showed him his Amazon author page. This was done by the English teacher’s nerdy teenager. Then, I clicked on his new PayPal account where I’d put in the little inheritance I had from my uncle and told him it was from the publisher. I felt a little guilty when I saw the fat tears dripping down his cheeks.
He takes the fact that only three copies have sold since all this happened with good cheer because, well, someone liked his work enough to publish it. I guess I won’t ever tell him that someone was me.
Gay Degani has received nominations and honors for her work including Pushcart consideration. She’s published a chapbook, Pomegranate, a full-length collection, Rattle of Want, and a suspense novel, What Came Before. She occasionally blogs at Words in Place.