peddlers all are we

They stand for hours in the blazing sun along highways with little cardboard signs that read “Please Help”, “Will Work For Food”, “My Family Has No Place To Live” and “My Family Lives in A Tent”. They are grubby and dirty, covered with soot and dust from passing vehicles. They are men and they are women, disheveled and tired looking. They have perfected the pathetic look and brazenly stare into your car as you sit trying not to make eye contact and waiting for the red light to turn green.

So they got me thinking: am I not one of these peddlers/beggars/panhandlers beseeching the literary world to give me a contract, a published article, a contest prize? I saw some striking similarities and felt compelled to write about them. I’d like to pen a poem about this phenomenon but I haven’t been able to yet. I passed a fellow today who had a week’s worth of beard, he was dirty and looked tired by the road today. I marveled that he had probably spent his entire day, standing on the off ramp of I -465 at Pendleton Pike South bound holding a sign portrayed a simple message in three sentences: “Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” As I looked at him I found I could not look away from this man with such arrogance and grit.

And I began to wonder about him. What was his name? Had he eaten anything today? Had he been in the hot, blazing sun all day without water or basics? The heat index climbed to 115 today, 110 in the shade (if you could find any, that is). It was really, really hot today and I wonder about this man. It’s crazy. But not so different from me.

I’d give anything to win a literary contest or get published or be recognized for my work these days.  I’m climbing walls surrounding by a swirl of manuscripts, submission guidelines, deadlines, website submission managers, etc. Week after tedious week, I squirrel myself off in a corner of Panera Bread or some other establishment here in town.

I’m the one who is usually in the back of the restaurant near the bathroom for convenience because of the six or seven cups of coffee I consume in the course of the time spent with my beloved art. I am there to devote a couple of hours of my life each day to revising a poem and/or getting a poem to a point where I would feel comfortable submitting it. A point where I don’t embarrass myself or my family.

 “Will Write For Food”

Most times I feel desperate to get some of my poems published. I want to see my thoughts in print. I am standing by the literary highway, covered with soot and dust from other writers who are successfully getting their material noticed. Still I stand staring in the reader’s car while they sit in traffic, trying not to make eye contact and eagerly waiting for the light to change from red to green.

 For now, my cardboard sign reads “Unpublished Author. Please Consider. Awaiting Reply. God Bless.”


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