but I tell you, the feeling of opening that fucking return envelope, I swear, no matter how many times I do it, is a goddamn thrill. you look at the postmark if there is no return address, you remember the stamps you used (vintage Harleys, Ella Fitzgerald, omnipresent American flags), you feel its weight. the world compresses into one thin finger cutting along a gummed flap and the sound of paper tearing. inside, well, shit, who knows? I don't ask for my poems back, only a reply in my SASE (the postage is cheaper). maybe a tiny scrap of colored paper that reads SORRY. maybe a short note, maybe a contract signing over first North American serial rights. maybe a check, too. it is all part of the process, and when a poem lands for a total stranger, when the words hit them like they hit you, it's a fine thing indeed.
and when a mag like the New York Quarterly takes two of my poems, a mag that is legendary, and has endured much to remain active and publishing, it is a kind of affirmation that the process has merit, that the act of mailing poems out is a valid expenditure of precious time. that it is an important facet of writing the poems. that maybe the poems will help just one person understand some universal truth or ask a question of themselves or just wonder at the impossible miracle of our frail humanity. it lets me know that it is possible.
in the end it is the connection via a fucking poem to another living soul that continues to amaze me and keep me hunting for it, searching for it:
the mystery that is Art.