The Drunken Submission Process
It was burning in my hands – my salvation – a poem I’d written after drinking much beer and several glasses of Spanish wine. I shoved it in an envelope with four other poems and tried to print legibly the P.O. Box of the magazine that was going to save me. I kept screwing up the numbers. The four kept looking like a nine and the seven a one, and there was something unbecoming about the blue cat’s paw sitting on the flap, so I trashed the envelope and began again. This time I spilled the Spanish over the whole thing and had to reprint all my poems. Then, scrawling the numbers – the seven, the five, remembering my fourth grade teacher singling me out in class and telling me she was denying me the privilege of using a number two pencil. She said I pressed down on it too hard, my handwriting was too bold; that you weren’t supposed to be able to see the engravings of the words on the underside of the paper. She subjected me to this fairy number twopointfive pencil that was made of a harder lead so the print was lighter and the letters pranced across the page faintly, like little dismembered insect legs. I didn’t like it at all. I remember crying about the whole degrading scenario at least once (I was always crying in class), but eventually I just adapted to it. My spiritual shortcoming. It was there on the envelope as I stuffed the poems in. My fingers, my nerves, nostrils and skin. It was all a part of me – my liver, my hair. I rushed down to the post office, fed the box and felt much better. Just getting it out and into the night made me feel like something was going on, but when I read the poem over the next day, sober, I saw it for what it was – a pisspoor error in judgment – pathetic!
I deleted about a third of it, gutted the rest, and after about an hour of sweating over it, a little hope leaked in. I spent some more time on it, changed the shape. Finally I printed it out, held it there in the light, and my hands started to feel the flame again.
I had to get it out there… My salvation. I folded it three times, slid it in a business-sized envelope and then the letters, the M-P-P-o-w-e-r-s, the boldprint psychoscript, my fourth grade teacher rearing her awful head high up in my imagination.
I mailed the poem along with a small throatclearing apology stating I’d somehow sent the “wrong version.” Somehow it got mixed in with the others, and somehow, someway, this change would make a difference.