Dear Subscriptions:

The way I packaged and sold it to myself 
was that I came down with a case of writer's 
block, making it sound like a common cold—
accidental, blameless, and convenient—
which was a convenient line of shit. The truth 

is that I was hiding in my vagina (no offense 
to vaginas) with narcotic notions of Being a 
Writer, and not writing, and I had to kick it— 
so there was an order form and I thought it 
might help, but after reading my first issue 

of your magazine for poets and writers, I have 
learned to my surprise that I don't understand 
what poets and writers are. You'd think by now 
that I knew a thing or two about sitting at a 
keyboard, bleeding and all that—I mean, 

despite my confessed evasion—bleeding, 
editing, sending it out, getting back postcards
produced in bulk… “After careful reading and
consideration, we regret...” then lather, rinse,
repeat. But here you've got me wondering 

if poets and writers are just an elevated class
of mannequins on display in literary salons 
with badges stamped “Poets and Writers,”
and fearing (as I quickly shutter the blinds) 
that my ignorance of such a critical distinction 

might expose me as an Unbranded Amateur, 
a title easily substantiated by some other titles 
previously held by someone of my subservient 
caste: Dishwasher, Busboy, Waiter, Bartender, 
Enlistment Contract, Unemployment Insurance,

Notice of Default, Homeless, etc. My doubts 
became apparent as I tore out perforated ads like
weeds for scores of academic writing programs
(combined to make one thing abundantly clear:
There's no business like the MFA business): 

What would I do in a graduate workshop, 
sit with my face in the corner wearing a dunce’s 
cap? I might be invited to a publisher’s party 
as long as I’m serving a tray of cosmopolitans? 
And poetry fellowships, writing vacations—

was that a fucking misprint? Writing is a vacation?
Or is it more like smashing rocks in a quarry  
so the tenured literary masters of the universe
can deliver their lectures on granite podiums?
But misprints aside, I'm afraid the scope of your 

publication exceeds my somewhat limited grasp. 
I’ve enclosed my check as agreed, but not as a 
payment for subsequent issues: it's a payment
for you to stop sending them. I’m aware
of the fact that you don’t publish poems.

This one isn’t a submission or a gag.
Kindly cancel my subscription at once.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I 
ordered it. By rights, I’m barely functioning... 
but I found another magazine for writers with a 

column on how to re-purpose my rejection slips
as litter box liners, use them to wallpaper my  
bathroom à la Ford Madox Ford, plus other useful 
guides like planning an effective oven suicide.
I suppose I'll keep that subscription instead.
A version of this poem originally appeared in Issue #5 of In-flight Literary Magazine 
published in October 2015 by the Paper Plane Pilots. Tell 'em I sent you.
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2 thoughts on “Dear Subscriptions:

  1. So much to love with this one.
    Along with writing, I make collage/mixed media art. Basically, I cut stuff out of magazines. Out of context and matched with other stuff, it can (arguably) be funny. Or offensive. I’m good with either. Recently, I’ve hit the part of my magazine pile with “Writer” and “Writer’s Digest.” I had to pull on boots to wade through the desperation and insecurity, the shi-shi, precious mystique of writing. Gack! I remember being the target audience for those articles. Now I know better. It’s just work.

    Liked by 1 person

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