The Hands of the Wind

I hold the hands of the wind and try to read its destiny, the lines
deep like the frown of dry river beds, the faint fragrance of

jasmine heating my senses. It could have been from a bride’s
nuptial bed or a funeral cortege, here the language for welcome

and departure is the same, the earth gives and takes back with moon
petals shimmering in its guts. The wind has a love line so long, it

ties every moment gone by to that evening in the coffee shop, when
you read ghazals aloud in the afternoon haze and a life line that

knew the mountains before they scattered into desert sand, the rain
when it was ripe in the throat of the fish, poems before there were

words to name flowers and silence simply went from weddings to
shallow graves smelling of nameless need. The wind shows me its circular

fate line, karma tied in a knot, what does it matter where it comes from,
if that is beginning or end. I hold the hands of the wind and we sing in

metered couplets, the words for love and life and fate are the same
and Hafez is only a fleeting swallow with a jasmine seed in his breast.

 

This poem was published in the Calamus Journal in December 2017. The Calamus Journal, though, shut shop in February 2018 and the original links to its website no longer work. I’m sure they had good reasons, a journal is a huge amount of work – but when I discovered that this poem was essentially homeless, I decided to bring it in from the cold.

I haven’t sent in any poems in several months and I’m wondering – do you submit poems for online publication? Why not? What has been your experience? Do share your submission stories here! 

 

42 thoughts on “The Hands of the Wind

  1. I believe our blogs serve as an archive for work that is left stranded somewhere else. It is a brilliant poem to bring back home. And Hafez happens to be one of my favourite poets. 🙂

    Regarding submissions, I made a note only this morning to work on submissions as soon as my winter break starts in two weeks. To be honest, I don’t submit much nowadays; a combination of being busy with other things that have nothing to do with creative writing and lack of motivation.

    With the latter, I had two incidences with different print journals that closed shop before they could publish my poems (a chapbook and a standalone respectively) they had accepted. That chapbook remains unpublished because it was sort of relevant with the events that were happening in South Africa at the time. I would have to revise some of the poems in order to publish it in the future.

    As you have put it, running a journal takes a lot and can be an expensive exercise. What I’m actually more interested in at this point is submitting to anthologies or anthology collaborations. That’s my long submission story. 🙂

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    1. Oh dear! I’ve had that happen as well, one journal had a change of editors and they didn’t follow through on an earlier acceptance. Am not sure how widely both journals and anthologies are read though and whether they bring any attention to poems that live only on one’s blog. My limited experience has been that smaller collections seem to have better engagement with readers.

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  2. I LOVE the extended metaphor of winds/hands, how you embrace it and then give Hafiz a place there, alive and well.

    And as for sending in poems–on my blog I have a tab for publications–from when I did send in my poems. Then I got busy, then lazy. I’ve sent a few to Poets/News, but haven’t been accepted. That’s all. I miss the excitement. However, except for the acceptance, I haven’t received any more valuable commentary than I do on my blog. My poetry exists in a kind of isolation. However, I will soon be pulling a new book together and will try again to find a publisher in that form. Last time I self published. Also, I have no illusions that my poetry fits into the more profound category of poems that I love reading. But I think there is also a place and a readership for plain-speech. My poems work especially well at readings where my passion comes across in simple words.

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    1. I think I agree with you, Susan – acceptance and publishing doesn’t really impact the readership pattern of the blog. So the blog does become an isolated space with its limited engagement with regular visitors – almost all of whom are poets themselves. And maybe that extends to books as well. I can’t decide whether to submit or hoard poems for a book! I’d love to be at one of your readings, but maybe you’ll record a poem sometimes for those on the other side of the world 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG! So glad you rescued this wonderful poem from oblivion. Every evocative phrase curls my toes and runs shivers down my spine.

    I almost never submit any more to print or digital journals or anthologies unless I am asked. (Some older Australian editors still remember me from my heyday decades ago.) I’m just too busy, and I do think the readership for my blog (if one looks under the dashboard at all the looks from visitors who never leave as comment) is actually larger than it would be for some obscure Australian paper literary journal. Perhaps online journals have a greater readership; I don’t know. I really think it’s all ephemeral anyway unless one is truly great, AND knows how to play the game. I never wanted, enough, to play the game … and I think the game has changed now, with the changes in the publishing world. In the old days you also had to ‘pay your dues’ and I did … but I didn’t keep cashing in on them as much as I might have; and again, everything has changed now.

    Some things are not so different. I’ve started doing spoken word again. It’s a good way to become more widely known. If I wasn’t already 80 and disinclined, I could make more of a name for myself all
    over again by going around the country or at least the State participating in more of them. To market books, self-published or otherwise, you need to already have a following – whether you get that from being published in journals etc, or reciting at spoken word events. Entering and winning competitions is good too. I don’t think having a blog works in the same way, a least not for me, because people can read everything there so why should they pay for a book? (Or maybe it’s just that I don’t promote my books well enough!)

    Your work is very, very good and deserves mainstream publication. You can believe me; I have been a teacher of poetry writing at tertiary level, an editor, and a publisher of (paper) poetry books, some of which won national awards. I think you should be entering major competitions: those with real literary status, not the ones that suck you into vanity publishing. If you can point to a sufficient number of acceptances by literary journals, a goodly number of readers for your blog and purchasers of your self-published books, and if you win a few prizes or get placed – then you might approach a mainstream publisher. The bad news is that these days they want you to do a lot of your own marketing anyway. Also they often skimp on editing, so you have to make sure your work is well edited before you submit a manuscript. (But yours is consistently flawless).

    Being in academia helps too, but is not absolutely essential.

    Oh my, how I do run on! But you did ask. 😀

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    1. Rosemary, thanks a ton for the encouragement and for your thoughts. I so greatly appreciate them. I’ve been thinking over the blog vs social media vs chapbooks/small collections option – trying to understand what works best. “The game” as you so rightly called it, seems quite beyond me. Right now, I’m pulling together a new collection without the faintest idea what I’m going to do, once the manuscript is ready. Maybe I’ll just hold it in my hand and grin wildly and do a little dance! The muse, meanwhile, is hibernating somewhere and will make an appearance soon, I hope. Do share videos of your poetry readings – I so want to watch them all!

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      1. My latest Wild Friday at Poets and Storytellers United is on video poetry, with some interesting links – and even one to a new video reading of my own.

        I am not usually videoed at spoken word events, but hope to make more videos myself (with help!).

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  4. Thank you for bringing your homeless poem in from the cold, Rajani. I particularly love the opening lines and
    ‘The wind has a love line so long, it
    ties every moment gone by to that evening in the coffee shop, when
    you read ghazals aloud in the afternoon haze…’

    I still submit poems regularly to Visual Verse, in which I’ve had a fair few published, and The Emma Press, and haiku to the Poetry Pea Podcast, as well as submitting to entering several magazines and poetry competitions in the UK.

    When I first started submitting poetry as a teenager, each rejection stung painfully. After a long hiatus, I started submitting again about five or six years ago, and I felt that sting again; it’s only recently, as a, dare I say, wiser woman, that I no longer feel the barbs of rejection, although it would be helpful if someone explained what was wrong with the poems.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kim. I’ve seen your poems on Visual Verse. I’ve had a few there as well, thought I haven’t submitted in the last few months. Don’t think most editors explain rejections, usually it’s a standard response! But that’s par for the course. But like Rosemary also mentioned, an acceptance does not always result in more readers.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your words (as is the norm) are so incredibly beautiful and drift easily into my soul, filling me up with the sheer delight of reading same.
    Yum words!
    Anna :o]

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  6. I like this poem!The karma, the fate, the love….Oh! what sweet love it is that brings two souls together forever….

    Regarding submission. I have a few poetry publications too. I keep on submitting poems, but many a times they get rejected. The acceptance time too varies, at times it is a few months and at times even a year!

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  7. My goodness this is good!💝 Especially love; “The wind has a love line so long, it ties every moment gone by to that evening in the coffee shop, when you read ghazals aloud in the afternoon haze and a life line that knew the mountains before they scattered into desert sand.” Wow!

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  8. “here the language for welcome / and departure is the same” both a hello and a goodbye. The meeting and parting, the wedding and the funeral. I love how you take the hand of the wind and it isn’t just held but “read” the love, life, and fate lines intersecting with that of the world.

    I had a couple poems published in an ebook, but I was unhappy that the structure and line breaks were changed for space. I find I’m happiest just publishing to my own blog as I feel I have the most control as to how my writing is presented. I may self-publish one day. But as to submissions, I haven’t had the energy or the impetus to try. I agree with Rosemary, it really comes down to self-marketing and cross-promotion through social media etc.

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    1. Thank you, Lori. Yes, I’ve had changes in structure made as well, that I was quite unhappy about. Good luck with the self-publishing, I think you’re right about the cross-promotion.

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  9. How I love the thought of poems always being present in the universe, even long before languages came into being. The poems will be here long after human chatter ceases too.

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  10. I have an image of trying to hold onto the wind with my hands, to change its direction or to bend it to my will. Thank you for putting that into my mind, Rajani.
    Thank you all for the comments as I also struggle for a wider audience. My wife took one of my short stories to her work and received very good reviews (it was a sentimental/sad story.) This encourages me that maybe, just maybe, there is something there.

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  11. I love the poem and love that it found a new home…. I have personally never submitted anything, as I believe in self-publishing… my blog is my journal…

    The poem contains so many great lines, but for me one that really stuck out was:

    poems before there were
    words to name flowers

    Made me think of defamiliarization and how naming the flower somehow lessens their beauty… which is the sole purpose of being poets I think…. to write without naming.

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    1. Thanks so much, Bjorn. I do hope your librarian series becomes a book, though! I love your thought that poets need to write without naming, let their words create the beauty and weave a brand new experience…

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  12. I am so glad that you published your poem here. It is beautiful. You are an incredibly talented poet and I hope you are discovered by the most prestigious and well circulated publication.
    I have no advice to give you. I’ve never attempted to publish my poetry to on-line or hard copy publications. Good luck to you.

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  13. Song birds abd circles, the mystery keepers of life’s yearnings.
    Happy Sunday Rajani

    Best Wishes for the New Year

    Much🌷❤🌷love

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  14. I love the thought of the wind having this powerfully long love line and our timeless interconnections. If we acted out of the belief that love, life and fate are but one, how would we be different? How would our world be changed?

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  15. Such a stunning piece! I am glad you bought it in from the cold. Your work deserves a wide audience so I hope you do send your pieces out for publication. I have just started doing that and it takes a lot of time–but I think it is a numbers game–you just have to keep sending them out.

    Like

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