Wishes sometimes have consequences

About the book

Wishes sometimes have consequences is my twelfth collection of poems.

Over a year in the making, this collection is available in two formats:

Hardcover 5.5 x 8.5 in., 496 pages
Alarm Cat Press ART 78
ISBN: 9780998878157
$40 retail
30 April 2019

Softcover 5.5 x 8.5 in., 496 pages
Alarm Cat Press ART 84
ISBN: 9780998878164
$25 retail
30 April 2019

(At present, I have not decided whether or not I will create an ebook edition.)

What the book is about

I’m beginning to think I say this with each new collection, but Wishes sometimes have consequences is my most ambitious collection to date. It has also travelled the most tortuous path to completion of any of my books.

I knew before it began that 2018 was likely to be a difficult year—and it more than delivered. I could easily devote several pages to describing how things went, but this is not the place. So here is a summary in bulleted list form:

  • The feast-or-famine cycle of freelancing contributes to some pretty serious financial straits.
  • My father, who was living in California, is hospitalized. Although he has never discussed with me what he would want me to do if I had to make medical decisions for him, the hospital is asking me what to do. (Fortunately, he gets better enough that they let him go home.)
  • I get my first non-freelance job in several years, as a fill-in copy editor at The Stranger. Sadly, it is only a three-day job.
  • I apply for SNAP benefits. They turn me down, basically because they want a note from my mommy. (That’s not an exaggeration.)
  • I get a six-week contract through one of the creative agencies—the first time in five years. For a few weeks, I get to live like a real person again.
  • In July, I begin compiling poems for possible inclusion in the book. Tentative title and theme: Straining Against the Margins.
  • In mid-August, the agency calls to tell me the company I worked for in May/June wants to hire me again, this time through June 2019. They send me the wrong description, but it still pays enough to cover the basics. I accept the job.
  • At the end of my first week, my father dies. I am able to arrange for cremation, but do not have money for burial. His ashes are still sitting on my mantel.
  • The weekend before Thanksgiving, my cat stops eating. She spends the rest of the week at the vet, diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, and problems with her liver, spleen, and pancreas. Three months to the day after my father died, I have her put to sleep.
  • The Friday before Xmas, I learn that my contract is to end in January—five months early.

Through all of this, I write. It proves to be the best way to cope with everything that is happening.

As the year progresses and new things keep happening, I keep adding to the stack of poems for possible inclusion in the book. At first, I arrange them in chronological order. Then I change my mind and arrange them into thematic sections. Then I decide to change the focus to chronicling the year, and put them back in chronological order.

Then there are the bookstore poems. Because they’re numbered, they will stay in that order. And I figure they should be a separate volume—so now I’m working on two books. But there is so much overlap that I eventually decided to include them as a separate section of the same book.

The final four or five weeks of my contract coincide with a larger-than-usual freelance editing project, so I am unable to return to the book until late January. I spend the next several weeks polishing, editing, proofreading, and doing design and layout. In mid-March, the book is done.

Here is my official description of the book (from the back flap of the hardcover dust jacket):

I went into the year determined that things would change. Be careful what you ask for. Some good things did happen—but it felt like they came at enormous cost.

The threads and themes that run through much of my work—love, memory, small moments, scenarios, living with depression, ekphrasis, and the occasional pop-culture reference—are also present in this collection, along with some of my typewriter poems and poems of loss.

This time, however, the poems are presented in mostly chronological order. Because, as they say, life is messy—
and that’s how I experienced it.

Bookstore Poems
After three years of experimenting with form and writing to prompts, for 2018 I chose to change where I wrote instead of how I wrote. The result is a series of poems, written at bookstores and libraries, that tread a parallel path through the year—touching upon many of the same themes, but with subtle differences in perspective and occasional references to my immediate surroundings.

Sample poems

Because I try to write and post new work every day, many of the poems in the book first appeared on my blog, albeit in unpolished form. Here are links to a few of them:

January 2018: Imaginary Place Poem: Lost and disjointed
(final version: Disjointed)

February 2018: Undarned

March 2018: Flash flood warning in effect until 6 p.m.

April 2018: Bookstore Poem #219. 88 and counting
(this is included in the 2018 section, without the Bookstore Poems appellation)

May 2018: Flowerhead

June 2018: Abstract: Cigarette-butt diagonals
(final version: Cigarette-butt diagonals)

July 2018: The viewing

August 2018: Interval

September 2018: Waiting Room Poem #68. Ash Wednesday

October 2018: Box of pictures

November 2018: Goodnight Trixie

December 2018: Floe

The 2018 section uses original sketches and images in place of the usual section markers. Most of them date from the first few weeks of 2019, since that is when I was laying out the interior pages.

Places to buy the book

Order from your local independent bookstore

Although this is a print-on-demand title, it is available through Ingram (the largest book distributor in the US), so any bookstore should be able to order copies for you. In the Seattle area, some of the better-known indie stores are:

Though technically not in the Seattle area:

  • Powell’s City of Books
    (This link goes to their listing for the hardcover edition, but they have a listing for the paperback edition as well.)

If you’re not sure what bookstores are in your area, you can look them up by ZIP code on Indiebound.org.

If you don’t live near a brick-and-mortar bookstore, or travelling is difficult, many indie stores have online ordering options (if not e-commerce, then email). Or, if they can’t order the book for some reason, you’ve always got Amazon and Barnes & Noble as options:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
    (As with the Powell’s link above, these go to the hardcover edition—but the page for the paperback is accessible from the same page.) (As of 4/30/19, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both hardcover and paperback editions discounted.)

(Created 30 April 2019)