The Wolf Bulb
I was born the oldest of a family of five boys andthe youngest--one
girl. I never considered myself an alpha male because I lack the
violence and oppressive ego I associate with that. But, maybe it
happened. As I look back on it, I did whatever it took to stay on top.
I acquired a certain grace at it. By the time I was in eighth grade,
and was nominated, then voted, president of the school, I never thought
much about it. It seemed like the right thing for everybody to do.
Normal. I assumed it.
I never much felt like I had to prove anything to anybody. Internally, I assume I'm in charge.
I never sat in a classroom, for example, where I thought the teacher
was in charge of the room. That thought has never entered my mind.
By high school, I was captain of the varsity basketball team. I
graduated a National Merit Scholar, in the top two percent of the
Today, I'm vice president of a publishing and trade show company. My
office overlooks the Pacific Ocean. I'm one of the few poets I've ever
seen that actually earned their entire living by writing.
This school year, all three of my kids pulled off something unique: my
oldest son was President of the Senior Class; my daughter President of
the Sophomore Class; and my youngest son President of the Freshman
I never remember failing at anything, except baseball. Ever since the
experience of being purely awful in Little League, I've generally
stayed away from activities in which I'm lousy.
Then, I completed, and self-published a 252-page book of poems. No
literary publication would publish me, or even remotely encourage my
writing. No publisher would take on the book. No famous poet or
literary critic will even say they received the book, much less offer
words of encouragement or a blurb I could use in an advertisement.
So, I succeeded in everything except baseball at age 8, and poetry at age 49.
It doesn't make sense.
However, when I view the book strictly as a marketing exercise, I have to recognize the failure in step number one:
I created a product no one asked for, and no one wants.
I have no idea how that happened. I have no idea how I can calculate
life and people so well, then fail at something that I spent years
trying to accomplish. Anything else I set my mind to, I was great at.
If I couldn't be great, I didn't do it.
I was a father first. I was a poet second. I failed as a poet.
And now, I notice I have a problem. I can't turn the Wolf Bulb on.
One of my strengths over the years was my ability to move
fast…impulsively, perhaps, recklessly on occasion. Anger or depression
resulted in action. When I'm happy, I'm a goon. But, when I'm angry or
in a funk, I make sure action results
When I was angry or sad, the Wolf Bulb would click on, and I would act.
Now, I am trying to get over failing at poetry. My problem is twofold.
One, I have huge quantities of happiness in my life. Two, I dose myself
daily with a couple beers a night, or a couple glasses of wine, to keep
from being bored out of my skull.
A father first.
A family man must stay put.
If the boredom turns to anger or depression, it would be bad for my family.
The Wolf Bulb is located just on the other side of my skull, behind the
high-middle of my forehead. When angry or depressed, and before any
inkling of what the action will be, the Wolf Bulb comes on. It's the
red of alarm. When it's on, it releases heat. It doesn't blink. But it
won't turn off until I act. It doesn't stay on for long.
Now, that I've failed at poetry, I'm trying to refigure my life. This
is how I discovered the Wolf Bulb. I had to remember how I lived, how I
got here, how I turned to action.
Now, happy and dosed daily with alcohol, life is entirely sitting on a park bench on a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon.
Whether I'm painting a door, fixing the television cable, getting the
car fixed, or at work, I am sitting on a park bench on a beautiful
spring Sunday afternoon.
Life goes by. I watch people doing things. I'm happy for many of them. I feel a bit sorry for some. Some, I just stop watching.
Many places sail by me and my bench. I'm 49. And I can't get the Wolf Bulb to come on. One more time.
The Wolf Bulb also works for poetry. I wrote a lot of poems with the Wolf Bulb on. A poem turned it off.
You know, it doesn't seem right being ignored by Poetry World. It doesn't seem like me.
I don't appreciate it.
I dont like it.
It's not like me to just sit around and wait.
And it's positively excruciating to send a book of poems to someone who
doesn't remotely understand poetry in a contemporary context, knowing
that I can't hardly proceed until one of them validates me as a poet.
Man, it's like having a disease.
If the Wolf Bulb ever goes on again, the resulting action may have to do with my response to Poetry World.
To be honest, though, the Wolf Bulb rarely comes on for marketing.
Marketing is boring.
Only magic ever existed.