Sunday, May 19, 2013

The West Wing and Rose Garden

The West Wing and Secret Poems

My brother and I have been watching episodes of the late, great, The West Wing with our Roku. We have gone from 1999 to mid-way through 2001. Drago and I try not to repeat our comments about life too often to each other, so I only say, “It’s all the same!” every other night. Not the personal dramas that the writers wove into the episodes, but the politics, are all the same. Foreign affairs, economics, healthcare, violence against women and equal pay for women, race, immigration, national security versus the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, crime and punishment, poverty, education, education, education. It’s not just that we were talking about these things enough to make them viable topics for a TV show 14 years ago, it’s that, in an almost unbearable way, people, depending on their party affiliation, were saying the same things. We haven’t seen an episode revolving around LGBT issues yet, but I’m sure that will come up soon. President Jed Bartlett is a hugely erudite man, with a background that includes a Nobel Prize for Economics. And guess what? He is accused of being an elitist and out of touch with average citizens. He makes determined efforts to be seen as “folksy” until his staff brings it home to him that he has a big league brain and that’s what the country needs. With the “scandals” of the past week in mind, if you can, watch some of The West Wing again. It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry.

I haven’t been posting on my blog as much as I used to and I realized I missed it. I’ve been writing more than ever, though. Poetry, mostly, but I’ve been keeping the poems fairly secret. Once you post a poem or piece of fiction on a blog, it is considered published and you can’t submit it to publications like The Dog-Eared Review, The Slapping Thigh Journal, The Poet’s Cornfield,  or The New Yorker. I’ve been the poetry editor for The Linnet’s Wings since 2007 (with two issues off; one because I had open-heart surgery that summer, ACK!, and this summer’s, because the wonderful poet Elizabeth Glixman is guest editing for me) and at TLWs we don’t object to previously published work. We want good work, and if it’s shown up elsewhere, too, the chances are VERY SMALL that the same readers will see it again and think, “Oh, how boring, I’ve read this already.” So, anyways, having had a collection of my poems turned into a book, One Day Tells its Tale to Another, (rude product placement there, but this is, after all, my blog) and sent it out into the world, I’ve decided to send new poems out into the world of literary journals and see if anything comes of it. That’s what I used to do with poems, before I started Augustine’s Confessions, then I decided it was much more likely that people would read my blog than The Palm Tree and the Clay Pot Journal. And I was right. As Bill Maher would say, “I kid.” There are stunning literary journals to be read, filled with remarkable writers who are not yet famous, but may become so one day. We keep it all afloat, don’t we? “It” being the marvelous, maddening, inborn drive to  put things we think down in writing.

Getting back to The West Wing, somewhat neatly, I think: My brother and I watched an episode the other night titled “The U.S. Poet Laureate.” Toward the end of the hour (which is only 43 minutes long when you don’t have to watch commercials) she, Tabitha Fortes, has just given a lecture at Georgetown University, and Toby Ziegler, President Bartlett’s Communications Director, asks a professor if there was any press at the lecture. The professor says, (I may not have the exact words, but here’s the gist) “Well, no. It was poetry.”