{#npm: 25 – park}

We joke a lot about FOMO – fear of missing out – and that’s rarely been my problem, but oddly enough, I see it popping up now around me. Everyone assumes everyone else is doing something fun because they’re vaccinated. Nope. Most people seem to be delighting in simply being able to go to the park (and blast their music), with open windows.

Fremont 331
who fears missing out
when tunes are shared so widely?
faint returns birdsong

{#npm: 22 – joiner}

It’s not my first, nor my fifteenth thought to join a crowd. I generally stay to the edges, or turn in the opposing direction. It frustrates people. It sometimes frustrates me, but I am what I am, and habits of solitude are hard to break. That’s a bit of irony given the state of the world just now, wherein we have all been afflicted, to varying degrees, with the same thing. Now we are trying, in varying degrees, to fix it. To find our balance.

It feels strange, being part of the multitude.

in so small a pond
who can fail to notice? fish
flunking out of schools

{#npm: 21 – mercy}

Sense and nonsense. Awkward, sitting in a meeting Tuesday night, as people gushed about “The Verdict.” No one mentioned, less than an hour later, in another state, another life. A continuation of the racism so proudly “vanquished” as politicians did a victory lap. Elsewhere, without cameras or witnesses, is anything over?

Give and take. Attack and defend. Create and destroy. The world is made up of relational opposites, which sometimes – rarely – emerge as one and the same. Like Justice and mercy, aligned.

a crumb of justice
far too small to satiate
served as a full meal

{#npm: 20 – possible}

A little PSA:Many people are involved with the children’s lit grassroots book awards, The Cybils. If you didn’t know, the name is shorthand for The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and I like to think of it as the awards-before-the-awards. Many readers love the idea of reading free books, but not as many have the time or impetus for follow through. We’d love you to join us – yes, you! – and bring along a friend or two. We’re especially hoping to encourage more people from underrepresented groups. /PSA.

Like the Grecian sibyls of old, the Cybils take the pulse of the popular reading public and usually predict at least a little of what the ALA is going to announce early the following year. While nominations open each year in October, the Cybils is a labor of love well before time. Behind the scenes there are board meetings, where we chip away at inclusivity goals and transparency, publishing PR meetings, where we seek sponsors and track nominations. There’s working on digital campaigns, and basically beating the bushes for new volunteers. It’s work – but for love of books, we’re there for it.

Fremont 397
opening books is
something like sunrise: fresh, new

{#npm: 19 – silence}

Every once in a while I remember back in the early ’00’s when I asked a friend how she could bear to put her whole life on the internet. “But, it isn’t my whole life,” she explained. “It’s just the parts I’m sharing.” On MySpace, which I eventually understood could be renamed “My space for a mere echo of my actual self,” I learned that it was …tidier to keep some things back. It was… expected, and it made things neater.

It’s funny how much harder that is for me with poetry.

what we do not say
flutters up on pinioned wings
like moths seeking flame

{#npm: 18 – equilibrium}

The first words out of people’s mouths these days is, “Have you had your shot?” in lieu of greeting. I think it’s started embarrassing people to have me answer in the negative. I’ll get there. We’ll all get there (those interested, anyway). Waiting and fearing missing out is pushing so many of us into this restless state, like Seniors getting a whiff of freedom. But, are we really ready?

{#npm: 17 – verdant}

It continues to astound me that all one needs is ten days before evidence that life lives on in a seed emerges. These wee lettuces are less than a month old, and already they’re clearly and obviously recognizable as a varietal of romaine. They get big so fast! Now all I have to do is figure out how to harvest a leaf here or there without killing off the whole plant…

that first crunch calls me,
glowing fresh and verdant green,
to my salad days

{#npm: 16 – mob}

Unpopular opinion: social media is more a chore than a charm. I was pushed into it by my agent, despite his zero social media presence. It sells books he informed me, and I grumped and did what I was told. Of course, I didn’t know then about The Mob.

Much ink has been spilled about the infamous Twitter Mob that swoops daily down on the unsuspecting and cancels them. It’s a concept that’s always made me laugh; how on earth does this alleged mob meet or schedule meetings? If a group of people can’t even decide on the color of a stoplight, how can I believe some group of randoms somehow moves in coordinated lockstep to attack the unsuspecting? There is no singular mob, but there are, in fact, individuals who will question one’s statements, one’s authority, one’s abilities, and one’s position. And oh, how people of privilege do hate being called to account by those they assume are nobodies – thus the moniker of “mob.” (This of course is not to say that any social media is filled with people with whom Emily Post would be proud to converse – no. Manifold and varied are the mannerless boors. But, the mob threat is an empty boogeyman.)

What troubles me is the way that fear of the mythological mob strikes outsized terror into the hearts of otherwise intelligent people. I recently heard of an author whose book was dropped when his editor feared he wasn’t “own voices” enough for them to sell. She feared people’s reactions because she believed his identity didn’t match his character’s identity, and so pushed him into claiming publicly an identity he’d kept private his whole life. First of all, if we had ever actually listened to the originator of the phrase “own voices” we’d know it was meant to be a reader’s advisory, not a determiner of who was legitimate or allowed to write stories about whom. (Additionally, we don’t have to write solely what we know; this has been proven. There’s nuance in this, and the immediate dismissal of someone who doesn’t look/seem X writing an X character is deeply problematic.) And while I know it was his choice, regardless – it infuriates me. I wanted to be a writer so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone, is my go-to joke when I have to speak in public. It’s not a joke, though – I really did hope that I could keep my uninteresting, dull existence happily to myself, and just write books. Who knew we’d all be required to perform our humanity over and over, as public as a frog, allowing an officious public bog to pry and meddle into our private spaces?

Once thought vulgar, now confirmed.
(Yes, we Googled it.)


Poetry Friday is graciously hosted by the one and only Jama-j @ Alphabet Soup, who is always in a much less cranky frame of mind than I am. Pop on over!