At first, I will admit, I was not sure about whether I should join the efforts. Many years ago I submitted a poem of mine to a poetry contest that I saw in the back of a writing magazine. Imagine how excited I was when I was notified that my poem, one that I had a special connection with, was selected for their anthology. As the time for publication drew near, I noticed that I was starting to receive a lot more promotional mail concerning things that I could buy from the company. After a while it really started to get ridiculous.
I can't remember how much I paid for the anthology, for the honor of seeing myself in print, but I think it was anywhere from 20-30 dollars. That was a lot for me back then. I cannot explain to you in words the agony I felt when the book finally arrived. The best I might offer you is an enraged howling or a demonstration of fingernails on a chalkboard. My poem had been mangled, severely. It was not done so in a manner of editorial improvement, something that I may have understood on some level. No, the edit was clearly to better fit it into the page as the book itself could be compared to a flimsy tin can teeming with sardines. And that was it, my poem, the bleeding of my heart, was turned into nothing more than a sardine.
This time around, I am receiving a contributor's copy for the donation of my story and any money earned beyond the cost of producing the book is to be distributed equally among the authors. Have I really come this far? Can I finally let go of that experience being burned so many years ago? Sometimes it seems like we want to hold on to the pain. Is it because it makes us remember our failures so that we do not repeat them? Is it because we have some kind of delusion that pain somehow makes us human or that it makes us better writers? I'm not sure, but I can tell you this, if ever I was a hoarder of anything, it would be my agony that I hold onto most.
So here's to a new day, a new beginning. In celebration of this event, I would like to share with you the poem that broke my heart. I was young, and so the writing may also seem young, but with it came my heart -- as unrefined as it may have been. As a bit of a warning, it was eight days before my 17th birthday when I wrote this:
Lives lived in simplicity
Are simply things we'll never see.
For a man will sow just what he reaps,
And in his heart those things he keeps.
So with heart in hand he walks to you
And gives those things in plainest view.
When he then does speak a word,
He's bruised and beaten and never heard.
After that he pulls away,
Even if you wish he'd stay.
For mortal wound his heart acquire,
And your hate becomes a blazing fire.
With head hung low he starts to leave,
And sees again he is naive.
But now he holds his broken heart,
So once again the healing starts.
-Brady Frost © 1997
Now, if you wouldn't mind, would you check out the book and at least consider if it is something you might be interested in? There is no obligation to buy, just take a look and comment back to offer your support. If you decide to buy a copy, make sure you do so because it's what you want to do and not because you feel like you need to buy one to make me happy. Just let me know you're proud of my accomplishment.
The story that I submitted is called "The Boy in the Window". It is a story about a boy who discovers that he is not alone and finds his path through hardship with the help of an old man on the other side of a window. Here's the link.