My Mother, Approaching the Bridge: NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 28

Over the Mad River, maybe,
or the Miami, whichever
was between our house
and my volunteer job
at a nature center.

A certain bend of
green-brown water,
a certain terror

she couldn’t explain
and I couldn’t understand.
A pause, several deep breaths.
It’s possible, too, that she
talked herself through it:
Come on, Rosemary.

It’s possible, but I can’t ask her
about this or any other moment,
about this or anything else.
There are no more bridges
for us to cross

together.

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My First Chapbook Is Here!

 

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It’s sitting right next to me on the couch, in fact. Shouldn’t it be next to you — or in your hot little hands? Here are a few ways you can make that happen:

  1. Order it from the fabulous Evening Street Press (where you should also order some of the other chapbooks, and their Review),
  2. Order it from Amazon, or
  3. Email me here: marilyn [dot] cavicchia [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you go for option #3, I’ll even autograph it for you — for FREE. I’ll spring for the postage, too, and then at some point, you mail me $10.

What sort of poetry is in Secret Rivers? It’s made up of persona poems in which the speakers are either driving or riding in vehicles on a particular stretch of highway in Ohio. I didn’t start out with any particular intention, but because of the area I was describing, a narrative thread emerged that deals with fracking (hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas). My opinions of this practice are probably clear, but I tried to be balanced and respectful, and to let all my personas have their say — whether they agree with me or not.

I hope you’ll enjoy Secret Rivers. And if you happen to live in Chicago or Columbus, watch this space for news about upcoming readings.

 

 

 

 

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Big News: My First Chapbook Comes out This Summer

You might recall that from time to time over the past year or so, I’ve mentioned that I was having trouble cracking the chapbook nut. Last winter, I put together a manuscript that I really liked, and I kept entering it in various contests, and it kept getting turned down.

One evening in January of this year, I got a phone call. I expected it would be yet another robocall from my kids’ school about an emergency closing due to excessive cold. So I was only half-listening when Gordon Grigsby from Evening Street Press started leaving a message. Wait … what? This is not how rejections usually arrive. I’ve received plenty of rejections in plenty of ways — but never a rejection phone call. So …?

I leaped up, picked up the phone … and accidentally hung up on Gordon. Fortunately, he called right back — with news that my chapbook, Secret Rivers, was the 2013 winner of the Evening Street  Press Helen Kay Chapbook Prize.

The funny thing is, I had just reached a point where I was starting to reevaluate my approach with Secret Rivers. Instead of entering it in contests, should I just focus on trying to find a good publisher for it, even without a prize? I believe I vented about this both here and on Facebook — and I know that a couple of blogger friends said they felt like this would be my year, and a few Facebook friends offered encouragement, one of them saying she had her fingers crossed. And that’s when I got that call.

I waited a while to announce it here because I knew Evening Street Press had plans to announce it as well, and I didn’t want to step on those plans or catch any other entrants by surprise. But now they’ve announced it on their Facebook page and in an ad in the current issue of Poets & Writers, so I’m in the clear.

Seven of the poems will be in the upcoming spring issue of Evening Street Press Review, and the chapbook will be published sometime over the summer (I’ll keep you posted on that). I’m now lining up back-cover blurbs, considering whether I want to thank anyone (how do you choose?), trying to think of a good image for the cover, and steeling myself to have an author photo taken (my best photos are are all cellphone selfies). It’s all really exciting work, and I can’t believe this is happening.

Evening Street Press is such a great fit for Secret Rivers, for a number of reasons. First, it is known not only for its high-quality work and the great care with which it showcases it, but also for its focus on equal rights and social justice, and on spotlighting current barriers to those. When I started writing Secret Rivers, I didn’t intend for it to be a political piece, but the issue of fracking found its way in and then would not be denied.

Another thing I find really satisfying is the “home” connection. I live in Chicago, but I went to high school in a suburb of Columbus, and my dad still lives there. In back-and-forth during the submission process, it came out that Gordon and his wife (and managing editor) Barbara Bergmann live just up the road from my dad. I’ve probably driven right past their house.

Also, Secret Rivers is set in a lightly fictionalized version of Belmont County, Ohio, where fracking is now a huge issue of concern or opportunity — depending on whom you ask. Don’t get me wrong: Evening Street Press is limitless in its geographic scope. In fact, its 2012 Helen Kay prize went to Lynn Veach Sadler’s Mola … Person, which incorporates the anthropology and history of the San Blas islands off Colombia and Panama. Still, I find it so pleasing that my Ohio chapbook ended up coming home to Ohio to be published.

To Evening Street Press, and to anyone who has shared words of encouragement as Secret Rivers struggled to find its home: Thank you! And for anyone else who is trying to place a chapbook and is hanging in there despite rejections: I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and may this be your year, too.

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Sofia Elena, Driver, Nissan Altima

My mother told me it is cold here.
I thought Ohio is near West Virginia
and West Virginia is near Virginia,
and this is in the south of the country.
But now there is snow. I have called
the woman at the real estate office,
the woman who showed me the
apartment in the fall. I have said
that I don’t know how to drive
in the snow, and also that I
do not have the clothes
for cold weather.

She has told me nothing,
this woman. I think that she
and I will not be friends. Her
voice says to me, Why did not
my husband get this job? Why
are you coming here? Her voice
laughs at me because of
these questions.

I think that this is not my fault,
that the company believes
an engineering degree is
necessary in order to
schedule the workers.
I have this degree.

If I am not coming here, I am
working at the dam in Brasil. 
My mother prefers that. It is
closer. She thinks that I will
fall in love, stay here, even
when eight months is over.

I do not see anything to love.
I know there is shale under the
snow, and gas inside the shale,
and money to keep me here
for eight months.

That is all.

 

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

 

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Shawna, Driver, Toyota Corolla

I’ve been thinking a lot about how everything is connected.
One time in geometry class, we had a sub who talked to us
about Fibonacci numbers, fractals. A lot of people were like,
whatever, but I took notes, looked it all up later, at home.
Sometimes I talk about it with Ben, on the way to and from
school. That’s one reason I rescued him from the bus—
because I knew he was someone I could talk to like that.
I know things about Ben that he doesn’t even know yet,
because he’s younger than me, but also because that’s
how I am. It’s not always so great, because I can’t
turn it off, and there are times when I would like to.
It would be nice to just go to the football game
like everyone else, you know? Not think so much.
Just be a kid, I guess. I don’t know what I am now;
I just turned 18, and a couple girls in my class have
babies already, and I swear, one of them has like
a 5-year-old. But do I feel like I could move out today,
get a job, be a real person yet? Probably not. It’s hard
to imagine being somewhere else next year, either
a couple of hours away or more like seven. We’ll see
how it all works out. My mom is still pushing hard for
Belmont Tech or OU-Zanesville, living at home, how
So-and-So found that they saved a ton of money,
it still felt like being at college, and then they didn’t
have all those loans. She and I both know that’s
not going to be me. I do think about Ben, what will
happen when I’m not here to give him rides, keep him
from getting picked on. But at least there’s Skype, or
we both got iPads for Christmas—still not sure how we
managed that—so now we have FaceTime, too. I think,
even though it’s not like we’ll ever get married or anything
(we don’t like each other like that), that Ben and I will
always be in touch somehow. It’s like how I’ve read that
in the ground, under all the rock and stuff, there are
secret rivers, and that’s where our water comes from.
We’re like that. Two secret rivers, side by side.

 

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. (Please sample some of the other fine poems, too.)

 

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Nancy, Driver, Toyota Avalon

I used to carry a paper bag
with me, to breathe into.
It’s true. I kept it right here
beside me, and I used it
at red lights, to keep
the panic down. I had

a whole system of
back roads and no
left turns, or at least
none without arrows.

I was hypnotized a few times,
laid out in a recliner, told that
my car was a sanctuary, a place
of great peace. I drifted along

on that idea, and then
went back to back roads
and paper bags. One day,

I got on this interstate, I-70,
by accident, merged onto it
while I was thinking about
something else. And that’s

what did it, I guess. No bag
since then, and I can pretty much
drive anywhere, make left turns
whenever I want. Sometimes

I imagine we’re all white blood cells,
platelets, I don’t know—something
in the blood—moved by a great

muscle, a heart I can’t see
but can feel. Shift into drive,
foot on the gas, breathe once,
drop into the bloodstream.

Go.

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

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Joan, Front Seat Passenger, Honda Civic

I don’t know why we have to go to Gratiot
to visit his mother. She doesn’t even know us
anymore—and when she did, she never liked
me, or even the children. It’s all about him.
Always. The number one son, quarterback,
love of her life, because Donny never
amounted to anything, left her—

after he died—in a broken house
clinging to a broken mountainside.
Everything here will collapse
sooner or later. That’s what will come
of all this fracking, though everyone
is so happy, now, to get that check.
Mineral rights. Trucks outside
the Super 8, new motels
going up every day.

New money. New everything,
where everything used to be

so old.

I can’t even see the trees anymore,
snow-covered and sheltering
horses, or cows, some
warm-blooded thing that
has no need to know
the score, no notion

of who’s winning
or what’s on the line.

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets

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