COMPETITION 14 -- Rejection
Rejection is obviously the most frequent event in a poet's life as a record number of entrants rushed to remind me -- and doubly so for those many of you who have clearly suffered harshly at the hands of both editors and undiscerning members of the opposite sex.
Those who most wrung my heartstrings appear below, with a special accolade for ingenuity and originality going to Mae Scanlan.
Sadly, a record entry leaves a record number of irate, bemused. vengeful, disbelieving, crushed and variously damaged refusés in a state of yet further rejection. Hopefully the rest of Issue 15 will cheer up all except for those who may have failed to appear there as well. Please do not abandon hope -- or Lighten Up Online.
J. Wilbur Cobb went in search of a job
At the circus, but got a surprise.
Said the barker, "Although we've a spot in the show,
I'm sorry, but you're the wrong size."
Cobb's spirits sank; but he went to a bank,
As he liked to be near legal tender;
"Might I be your teller?" The banker said "Feller,
I'm sorry, but you're the wrong gender."
His very next stop was an old blacksmith's shop:
"Might I help you with forging a shoe?"
The smithy drew closer; he frowned and said "No sir,
I'm sorry, but you're the wrong hue."
His brain filled with rancor, Cobb bludgeoned the banker,
The barker, and also the shoer.
Sighed the marshall who cuffed him, and in the van stuffed him,
"I'm sorry, but you're the wrongdoer."
It had undergone rigorous testing,
It was telling and taut, it had tang.
The opening lines were arresting,
The conclusion went off with a bang;
When the pages were typed to perfection
And a paper clip firmly attached
It was given a final inspection
Before being stamped and dispatched.
For months, it put up with exposure
To coffee-cups, children, and pets,
Until its return, plus enclosure,
The Editor thanks . . . but regrets . . .
How bloody! How brutal! How biting!-
Even more than receipt of that slip.
To reject such incomparable writing
And instead to accept the damned clip!
You were six and I was five.
You were the greatest thing alive.
I’ll be your friend through thick and thin
You said with your front-toothless grin.
And so it was, you stood by me,
When bullies struck, you set me free,
We were best mates until the day
You went to big school far away.
Then something changed. When you came home
On holidays, the metronome
That ruled your life was much more fast,
I was a shadow from your past.
You’re just a silly kid, you said,
The words that killed our friendship dead.
Of all rejections in my life
This one was worst, a turning knife.
Oh, yes – I have the vote, dear Mrs Pankhurst;
you went to lots of trouble, I can see,
for someone so respectable – alack! there’s no receptacle
that’s worth the vote which you obtained for me.
Yes, indeed I have the vote, dear Mrs Pankhurst,
but perhaps it isn’t quite what you foresaw –
there are hoards of politicians with their missions and renditions,
but there’s no-one worth the voting any more.
Oh, God – I have the vote, dear Mrs Pankhurst,
but I really wish I didn’t (quite a bit),
for the powerful are corrupt and their sins have grown and pupped,
till Justice hasn’t got a space to sit.
Oh, please take back my vote, dear Mrs Pankhurst!
You’ve no idea how little it now means;
though you hoped I’d be a sister, you’ve just made me anarchister –
like Socrates, I shun the voting beans.
McAndrews edits poetry for Bugger All Review,
A bellicose bimonthly that's as novel as it's new.
It's richly bound and printed, yet a cursory inspection
Reveals it's a compendium of letters of rejection.
Each manuscript received will get a letter in response
Wherein McAndrews curtly says it's nothing that he wants.
But not as though he'd break the news in private, no siree --
He publishes each letter so that everyone can see!
To some he gives encouragement, a cause for them to hope;
A few get vulgar epithets; some only get a "Nope."
Some well-known poets I could name have also sent submittals,
And earned rebuffs so cryptic you would think they're Buddhist riddles.
His standards are consistent, though, when taken all on balance
(And many current quarterlies could dearly use his talents).
I'll feel some disappointment should I ever hear the news
That someone's sent a verse in that McAndrews deigns to use.
Publisher, oh publisher, oh why have you rejected me?
My tale of horror is a gem – why have you not selected me?
Yea verily, your cruel words have thoroughly dejected me
and all your glib apologies have adversely affected me.
Seemingly, you do not want another Stephen King at all.
Your words of trite encouragement don’t have a truthful ring at all.
I bet you never even cut the parcel’s knotted string at all
for it is very clear you never read the bloody thing at all.
We thank you for considering our little magazine,
And recognize your standing in the literary scene.
Your submission has good meter and a clever use of rhyme;
Its composition clearly took you quite a lot of time.
Our staffers find your subject matter witty, and quite droll;
But presently we have too many other logs to roll*.
Our office rent is overdue, so we have made a deal
To print the landlord’s ballad, “On the Evilness of Veal”.
The Editor’s new concubine has made a small request
To add her latest villanelle; which she believes the best
Of poets on the Continent, can’t hold a candle to.
(He simply lacks the fortitude to tell her this ain’t true).
Our printer will forget about a portion of his bill,
If we run his sonnet sequence, “The Hog That Ate His Fill”.
Although we see your poem as a work of sheer perfection,
For reasons stated earlier, it’s doomed to our rejection.
* "Logrolling" is the Amarican equivalent of back-scratching. Ed.