For 10 years I stopped writing. I still wrote as work required, but as for poetry: nada. Zip. During that time I'd sometimes run into a person from the old days, and they'd invariably ask, "How's the writing going?" I'd tell them it wasn't and they'd ask why not. I was never really sure what to say, so I developed an answer. "The hawk," I said, "has flown. Someday she might return. But she might not. In the meantime I'll leave my window open." That seemed to do it, both for them and for me. Truth is, I have no idea what happened. Looking at the dates, it would be easy to say Nine-Eleven. That is, I stopped writing in September 2001 and didn't start again until early 2011 (shortly before Osama bin Laden was killed). Problem is that, while those might be convenient mileposts, they have little (if anything) to do with my writing drought. The one small possible exception is that, after Nine-Eleven, it seemed that my gripes (and yes, my poetry consisted primarily of grievances) seemed vain and foolish in light of a true national catastrophe. I just couldn't see writing a poem about what a flaming douche-rocket the guy from the gas company is. So there's that.
And then there's my mid-life crisis. Unlike most heterosexual men, who simply buy a sports car and start playing 69 with their dental hygienist, I decided to chase trains. Freight trains mostly. With my camera. It was a second adolescence, and since my first one had been spent in celibacy, perhaps it only fair that my second should be its echo. So, like my pudgy tween self (tho not in plaid pants this time) I ran around snapping photos of locomotives. And it was fun. A true simple pleasure. I learned a lot about history, and got to hang out with others who shared my interest. I got to visit Steamtown in Scranton, and the revered Horseshoe Curve near Altoona.
And then one day, on my window sill, there was my hawk. Returned and refreshed. I hesitate to take credit for what happened next, because as other writers have said, the poems seemed not to be coming from me but through me. I am porous as limestone and they are water. I do not understand the process but I welcome it. I nurture and feed it. Because I do not know when it may decide again to depart.
So many thanks to all who have provided so much encouragement, validation, and support. To those who've reached out and helped my family when we struggled, to those who've published my work, to those who've bought the book. Thank you all.