In this scene, the main character stands on a busy sidewalk beside a slender tree. He looks down at the scattered ruins of a summer of expectations. “How should I have prepared for this?” he asks himself. “What do I do now?” He feels relief and that surprises him. This is a new beginning. A fresh start. Unlimited opportunities. However, this is also the first time in his adult life he is unemployed. And without an automobile. Adjusting the strap of his laptop attache, he walks up Lexington Avenue to catch a bus. The feeling of relief is quickly replaced with a deep, consuming despair. In this scene, the crowds of tourists walking down College Street talk loudly and trample the gathering leaves under their shoes as the main character weaves his way toward Pritchard Park. He doesn’t hear them, only hears the sound of his own boots on the sidewalk and wonders where will he be a year from now.
There’s a story behind this image that wants to be told. It’s a reminder that seasons and people transition. Loyalty tested against the panes of transparency. Everything goes sideways when turning the corner and down the street of uncertainty, when faith and doubt pressed up against a steamy autumn window and all they see is loss. It’s a story still worrying the line. Still blue enough, blue enough, still bluer than Ma Rainey singing “Bo Weevil Blues.” It’s a story where the clarinet sweeps back and forth, sweeps low and easy, sweeps in a song looking for a place to stay, sweeps in a song saying “don’t sing them blues no more…” Don’t tell me ’bout the job you lost. Don’t tell me ’bout your broken down car. Ma Rainey, Ma Rainey, “don’t sing them blues no more…”
With the market plunging, here’s two encouraging items to consider as a poet:
1) “The state’s jobless rate began the year at 4.9 percent and has steadily increased since then. It stood at 6.6 percent in July.” Link The unemployment rate in N.C. is presently 7 percent.
DO NOT try to make a living writing poetry. Keep your day job (and your night job, too).
2) In the Asheville area, almost $400,000 was donated to political campaigns.
NONE of that money was spent on your livelihood as a poet, buying your poetry books, or purchasing coffee and other goodies at your public poetry readings.