Apr. 29, 2009

Letter of Resignation

by William Baer

Dear [blank]: After much deliberation,
without qualm, scruple, or further delay,
I hereby tender my formal resignation
as your lover and future fiancé.
The job provides too little satisfaction:
too many hours of unneeded duress,
a paucity of productive interaction,
uncertain working conditions, and endless stress.
Pay-wise, I'm undervalued and disenchanted:
advancement's slow, the bonus is routine,
my "on-call" overtime is taken for granted,
and benefits are few and far between.
This document, I'm hopeful, underscores
my deep regret. I'm very truly yours....

"Letter of Resignation" by William Baer from Bocage and Other Sonnets. © Texas Review Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of poet Yusef Komunyakaa, (Books by this author.) born in Bogalusa, Louisiana (1947). He grew up in the South just as the civil rights movement was gathering momentum. Then he went to Vietnam, serving as a war correspondent and editing the military newspaper. When he came back, he started writing poetry, and he self-published his first two collections. His third collection, Copacetic (1984), received some attention, and then he published a book of poems about the Vietnam War, and it made him famous: Dien Cai Dau (1988), which means in Vietnamese "This Crazy Head."

One of his best-known poems is "Facing It," about visiting the Vietnam Memorial. It ends:

Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

He said, "Poetry is a kind of distilled insinuation. It's a way of expanding and talking around an idea or a question. Sometimes, more actually gets said through such a technique than a full frontal assault."

It's the birthday of poet C.P. Cavafy, (Books by this author.) born in Alexandria, Egypt (1863). His parents were Greek, and he wrote his poetry in Greek, but he lived in Alexandria almost his entire life. He got a job as an unpaid clerk at the city's Irrigation Office, and he stayed there until he retired 30 years later. He lived with his mother until he was 36, in an apartment just above a brothel and across the street from a church and a hospital. Cavafy once said, "Where could I live better? Below, the brothel caters to the flesh. And there is the church which forgives sin. And there is the hospital where we die."

It's the birthday of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, born in San Francisco (1863). His father, George Hearst, was a millionaire who had made his fortune from the Gold Rush. George Hearst won a newspaper, The San Francisco Examiner, as payment for a gambling debt, and his son William took it over when he was still in his early twenties. Over the next few decades, he acquired nearly 30 newspapers across the country, in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
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