I’ve always been in awe of The New York Times, so it was thrilling to be interviewed by a Times reporter last Tuesday on New York’s primary day, and even more thrilling to find myself quoted in the next morning’s edition, and to discover that the reporter, Jesse McKinley, topped off his story with the title of my vampire soap opera novel, Hope Dawns Eternal. Here’s the poem I wrote to commemorate the occasion.
Hope Dawns in a Grungy Gun Club
Hope Dawns Eternal!
The New York Times, that great gray lady, gave me the last words
In the story “Voting at a Gun Club,”
Filed before the presidential primary was even over.
Inside, I’d traipsed the length of the grubby gray cinder-block building
At the Bailey Mountain Fish and Game Club,
Passed the yellowed illustrations of assorted guns,
Taped to the cheap pine paneled walls.
Passed the mounted deer heads, the sample ballots on collapsible tables,
Faced the row of portly aging men
Who smirked as I declared my party and signed the Democratic ledger.
They told me to remove the Women for Hillary button
Pinned to my dusty rose Old Navy fleece—no electioneering allowed
In this Inner Sanctum of democracy.
I blackened my chosen circles, fed my ballot into
The silvery maw of the machine,
Nostalgic for the heavy curtains, the leaden click of levers
Pushed down to reveal the red x’s of my choice.
When it was over, out in the sunlit clearing in the woods,
A blond young man in casual sports attire, reporter’s pad in hand,
Approached and asked if I could spare the time to talk.
Over his shoulder, a photographer snapped away
As I stumbled over half-baked opinions,
While my inner critic cursed my lack of originality,
Stringy hair and nearly nonexistent makeup.
When the questions wound down, I asked what paper he was with,
Thinking Schenectady or maybe Troy.
The New York Times, he said, in a near-apologetic mumble
Like the one I use when I say I’ve gone to Harvard and Columbia.
I told him of my father, managing editor of The Milwaukee Journal
Back in the fifties heyday of McCarthyism. He was suitably impressed.
Almost as an afterthought, I told him I was a novelist,
Rummaged in my purse, handed him a postcard for Hope Dawns Eternal,
My vampire soap opera novel.
That night I binged on TV primary returns, rejoiced for Hillary.
Woke Wednesday morning, guardedly hopeful,
But dubious I’d made the cut. He’d no doubt talked to lots of people,
And I’d said nothing especially quote-worthy,
Let alone worthy of The New York Times.
My ever tech-savvy husband grabbed his cell,
Googled my name and news, and said, “You made it.”
I commandeered the phone, scrolled down,
And there I was at the very end of the article,
Sounding surprisingly articulate.
When I reached the last lines, I shrieked:
“An amateur novelist, she pressed a pamphlet
For her vampire novel into a reporter’s hand.
Its title: Hope Dawns Eternal.”
He chose it as a closing metaphor, I’m sure,
But to me, such synchronicity feels like a blessing.
I’m not big on higher powers,
But maybe something somewhere is looking out for me
And success is in the stars.
Of course I’ll have to work my butt off,
But I can legitimately say,
“As featured in The New York Times.”
My parents, with their lost, unpublished novels,
Would be proud.
I premiered the poem yesterday at my women writers group and last night at POETS SPEAK LOUD, a monthly open mic at McGeary’s Tavern in Albany, where I was featured poet. I got a warm reception both times, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too, regardless of your political persuasion.
Here’s a direct link to the New York Times article: