Did you hear about Gary?
His new book is supposed to be big.
People are already talking Badger Prize.
Maybe even the Bexley. That’s right, I said the Bexley.
Which is fine. I’m happy for him.
It’s just that I’m feeling a little blindsided here.
I mean, when we had breakfast last summer
I said, you know, how’s it going,
and he was kind of, oh, business as usual,
one foot in front of the other, that sort of thing.
I think he talked about getting his lawn aerated.
Nothing about a book. Nothing about something Big.
My point being,
this new book is supposed to be a game changer,
and for the last couple of years
he’s had this secret knowledge,
this private awareness of his Big Thing
while the rest of us were basically coasting,
thinking, Gary’s just out daydreaming on the deck
or texting his daughter or whatever.
And now we have this sense of
Life Having Been Frittered Away,
of being bit players in the Larger Drama Of Gary,
who may not be the most talented guy,
but admittedly he has a solid work ethic,
an ability to see things through,
however uninspired the work itself may be.
So yes, there is this feeling of betrayal,
like the rest of us let our guard down
while he was doing his Big Thing,
this sense of Why Are We Even Here
Except To Provide a Backdrop For Gary’s Triumph,
This Is So Not Why I Got My MFA.
—from Rattle #59, Spring 2018
George Bilgere: “Long, long ago, when I was a struggling biology major, I took an elective course in modern poetry just to give myself a break from chemistry and physiology. The first poem the professor showed us was James Wright’s great ‘Autumn Comes to Martins Ferry, Ohio.’ Boom! So much for chemistry and physiology. Thank you, James Wright, for leading me down the road (almost) not taken.” (web)