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It's finally here! My new poetry book, The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement, arrived several days ago. I won't bore you with the details, but this was supposed to have been out last summer. Many delays and aggravations, but now all is back on track. I'm very happy with the cover done by artist Brian Rumbolo who also did the covers for my earlier three books. I love how he uses size and color. I hope you'll like the poems inside.
Many people have asked what the title means. To somewhat answer that question and to whet your appetite (I hope), here is the poem from which the book's title is taken:
When Karen told my father I’d pulled off
my rabbit’s tail, he asked, Did you? And I
said, Yes, though in truth it was Karen
who’d grabbed the tail and tugged and tugged
until it came loose in her hand. My father
slapped me hard, then said I’d been cruel,
and asked why I’d done it. I confessed I didn’t
know and took the strap for Karen’s crime.
In the days and weeks that followed, I never
questioned or accused Karen, and she never
acknowledged what she’d done or apologized.
We did not speak of her lie, or mine.
One morning at summer’s end I found my rabbit
dead in her pen. Her sweet body, already stiff,
lay among the uneaten carrots of atonement,
and where the tail had been, a small red circle,
an accusing eye, reminded me of my deception.
I wondered then and wonder still why I took
the blame for hurting the pet I’d loved. I only know
that once Karen said I’d done it and my father
looked at me as if I had, I was guilty,
as guilty as those unbaptized babies
in Purgatory. I must have understood even then
that I’d been born bad and the only reason
I hadn’t yanked off my rabbit’s tail was because
Karen got it first. Some part of me, the part
already destined for Hell, had wanted
that soft talisman that promised luck, wanted it
in my own hand, and wished I’d moved faster.
That poem won the 2012 First Place Prize in the Naugatuck River Review contest, selected by poet Pam Uschuk, a poet I admire. I rarely enter contests; therefore, I rarely win. But it was really nice to win that prize.
So that's one carrot from the book. You should, of course, consume the entire bunch. As everyone knows, carrots are good for your eyes.