Thursday, August 6, 2009


"Rubato" comes from Italian, and is used as a musical term to roughly mean "robbed time." It's something felt, rarely written; regardless of time signature, regardless of notation, you steal the space in between the notes to create another dimension there. The listener suspends her breath. 


One wandering eye flits

to tepid milk sitting out. I’d

forgotten. He is in it, as he is in

every vaporous toccata whirling

lost inside the radio. Questionnez,

rubato. I cannot tell which eye is my

enemy. I eye with love, with loathing,

any tool to scoop it out. But which simply

sees? Which connects dizzyingly out of a grab

bag of images, its open-mouth socket a noiseless vacuum?


1. The other in bed sings as if


12. A house clicks

and shudders in southeast wind.


5. Long curtain shadows twitch

in powdered light.



With each forced closure, I lose

a whole dimension.



For relatively new writers, it comes less often than Christmas, and is over just as quickly. It's come, for me, in the forms of: wait-listing, a lengthy and beautiful and encouraging letter from a lit mag co-editor, and nudging brilliant writer-professors. Most recently, I got this rejection letter from Gulf Coast...

Piss-off auto-generated rejection:

"Dear Fellow Writer,

Thank you for your submission to Gulf Coast. We're very sorry that your work doesn't fit out needs at this time. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to comment on individual submissions, but we look forward to reading your work in the future and wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.

The Editors
Blow us hard."

I invented that last part. 

But then there's this, handwritten, a little further down the letter...

"Jamie, We really liked "Rubato," even if it didn't make the final cut. Please send again! -SB"

That's from Sean Bishop, Managing Editor. 

Christmas explosion.

It's almost better than an acceptance into a magazine, because it's a personal acknowledgment. Yes, these are people, not litera-robo-prototypes, reading your poems. And, yes, they like them. And, yes, you should keep writing.