Although the penis enlargers may have given up on me—Oh, that guy, he doesn’t need out help—I still get my share of spam from the Nigerian con artists. (Perhaps in Cyberland my schlang seems more formidable than my brain.) After accessing AOL I skim the newmail subject lines to cull detritus, and then little remains to read except tedium from professional organizations. Not so yesterday, however, when I saw I had something from talkingriveretc headed “Letter of Rejection.” That grabbed me, though like many a foreign language phrase whose words may sound familiar their meaning didn’t compute. Perhaps I’d unwittingly rejected somebody who now was replying in high dudgeon.
Most literary journals caption their responses neutrally, as in “Your Submission: 5 Poems,” a formula which permits a breath and a mantra before clicking to open the probable turndown. But no, this talkingriver anomaly actually concerned my poetry, and when I confronted the text, from an unfamiliar magazine targeted by my submission service, the message itself was innocuous, just a bland kissoff. Maybe, as Mother asserted, I’m oversensitive, still a kid who won’t leap fearlessly into cold-looking water, who shrinks from reality. Poetry, as any half-civilized clod can tell you, isn’t for sissies.