Sample Poetry Manuscript
          

This is a sample submission package of four poems. Your name and contact info should appear in the upper-left corner of each poem. Any line longer than the width of the page should continue to the next with a hanging indent. If a poem runs more than one page, each following page requires a header as shown.
William Shunn (he/him)
27 lines
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net
Memory Lane
She strains at the leash, Trying to turn the corner. “Not that way,” I say. But Ella insists, So I give in and follow. Not that big a deal. This short, narrow lane, It’s a valid path back home, Not such a detour. Along the sidewalk We rush, my arm stretched out straight, Not pausing to sniff. She stops at the porch, Looks at the door, looks at me, Not old now but young. We were gone six years, Back now in the neighborhood Not even six weeks. I wish we could knock, But our friends are not at home, Not now, not for years. They fled this city Even sooner than we did, Not fond of Gotham But fond of our dog, Who wags on their former stoop, Not fenced in by time.
William Shunn (he/him)
18 lines
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net
Salt Crusted on Automotive Glass
Between me, safe in my seat on this bus, And the decadent majesty of the salmon-red cliffs of eastern Utah, A ghost landscape stands sentinel, As if etched into the glass by a cadre of capering goblins. The residue of a hasty window washing-- Loops and whorls of dirt left untouched, uncleansed, Unrepentent, at the bottom of the glass on each fluid upstroke-- It sparkles, gritty and salt-sharp in the oblique sunlight, Like a series of pearly solar flares, Or a graph of the desert’s pulsebeat, Or spectral negatives of a washed-out sandstone arch, Photographed in stages over eons of time-- Snapshots from a child-god’s flip-book-- Frothing, leaping, peaking, then falling back into the ground Like fountains of earth, A time-lapse planetary signature That will melt and return to dust With the next unlikely rain.
William Shunn (he/him)
18 lines
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net
Road Trip, 1995
I-80 Wyoming night time snowstorm eastern slope Continental Divide 15-foot U-Haul truck 50 to 60 miles per hour girlfriend white-knuckled behind the big wheel swerving skidding on the downhill ice all our possessions rocking in back not quite overbalanced I pump my passenger brake of course to no effect snowflakes like hyperspatial streaks in the headlight beams I gently suggest slowing down or even pulling over to let me drive instead but not gently enough I’m an excellent driver she insists you should have seen that time I spun out in Texas and I didn’t even run off the road but I grew up driving in snow I tell her and you didn’t you have to slow down it’s the wrong thing to say and we
William Shunn Road Trip, page 2, continue stanza fishtail again one moment of terror in the long, slow slide from west coast to east coast one harrowing strobe-lit frame from the superslow-motion accident that is us
William Shunn (he/him)
67 lines
12 Courier Place Pica’s Font, NY 12012 (212) 555-1212 format@shunn.net
Passing
It’s getting harder these days to tell the crazy people from the sane, what with technology the way it is. It used to be that talking to yourself in public was a sure sign of instability, like wearing a sign that said, “Steer clear of me, I’m not quite right, I might be dangerous, if only to myself.” But now we all do it, carry with us an invisible chorus of voices in a magic Bluetooth cloud, insistent, demanding voices clamoring for attention, screening out the real world around us, making us each more dangerous than twenty actual crazy people, a more present threat to public safety than any potential suicide bomber. Or at least more annoying. Thorazine does nothing at all to fix it. The implications of eye contact have changed too. It used to be that when someone looked at you when they spoke, it meant they were talking to you. Not anymore. This morning as I was walking the dog, I heard the rasp of a window being shoved open, and a shrill voice saying, “I told you last time what was going to happen.” I looked up to see a head and shoulders push out a fourth-floor window, and the person was looking right at me. “What?” I called up, thinking that Ella and I had been mistaken for someone else, maybe someone who hadn’t cleaned up after a mess on the sidewalk. “Oh, I’m on the phone,” said the smiling head, pointing to its ear, and carried on talking in the same tone of voice, as if both conversations were one. And maybe they were. I still don’t know.
William Shunn Passing, page 2, begin new stanza Crazy, right? I’ll say! But I was talking about people’s voices. Not the ones they speak with, but the ones they hear in their heads, the ones no one else can hear. I don’t have a Bluetooth earpiece, but I still hear voices in my head. Often when I have something important I need to say to someone, I rehearse the conversation in my head, and sometimes, during my lines, I’ll slip and speak them out loud. Or more often, when I’m remembering an awkward interaction from earlier that day and thinking how I could have said something better, I’ll just say it that better way, it just pops out, and I might be driving, or walking down the street, or lying in bed with my wife, and I know I’ve just said something out loud, out of the blue, out of nowhere, out of left field. I’m busted. And my wife will put down her magazine and give me that look, you know the one, the one that’s half amused, half worried, the one that says, “Are you crazy, husband?” And maybe I am, I don’t know. No, of course not. I do it all the time too. But I was trying to talk about how hard it is to tell the sane people from the crazies these days. Personally I think cell phones are just an excuse. All this time most of us have just been passing, and now we don’t have to pretend anymore.
Last updated 22 March 2020

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