I LONG TO HOLD THE POETRY EDITOR’S PENIS IN MY HAND
and tell him personally, I’m sorry, but I’m going
to have to pass on this.
Though your piece
held my attention through
the first few screenings,
I don’t feel it is a good fit
for me at this time.
Please know it received
my careful consideration.
I thank you for allowing
me to have a look,
and I wish you
the very best of luck
placing it elsewhere.
(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)
Francesca Bell’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals, including burntdistrict, North American Review, River Styx, Poetry Northwest, Crab Creek Review, and Tar River Poetry. She has been nominated six times for the Pushcart Prize. Her full-length manuscript was a finalist in the Poetry Foundation’s 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Award competition and a semi-finalist for the 2012 Philip Levine Poetry Prize.
Editor’s Note: Ha! That is really all that need be said regarding today’s poem. Ha! But I will say a bit more. That today’s poem is dedicated to all of my poet and writer friends, to everyone who has ever braved the submission process and the rejection inherent within it. We all thank you, Francesca Bell, for turning our collective suffering on its head and for giving us a way to laugh about it. I, for one, will never look at a rejection letter the same way again.
This short essay is the first of three posts in tribute to my father, Myron “Mickey” Unger, who would have turned 85 last month. Next month, I’ll post an essay on life and parenthood, which he wrote sometime after this photo was taken. The following month, I’ll post my own reflection on a father’s legacy.
I also want to acknowledge my mother, Lois Zussman, and my adoptive father, Milton Zussman, who remain active in my life today. I am blessed with a heritage from three parents, not just two.
In the photo I am plopped in a stroller and I am laughing, even giggling, probably because my daddy is kneeling on my left, tickling my shoulder, and he is laughing too. It is the fifties and I am wearing the baby Penn sweatshirt I got from my uncle, who would have been in college then. I am exuberant like a one-year-old taking his first stroller ride, and my chubby fingers are squeezed around my mommy’s hand as she kneels on my right, and I trust her, and so I can giggle. She also is laughing, and buoyant, because her son is giggling and her husband delighted, the man who told her the night they met that he would marry her, and she wasn’t too sure about that, but she waited while he served in the Pacific, and now they are married and laughing and they have this marvelous family. My uncle, visiting from Philly, is snapping the picture, and for all I know he is laughing too, but he holds the camera steady. Our laughter will last forever, preserved in living black and white more than fifty years later, and what could possibly go wrong?