Nature's Editor

October, 2015


    — for Sid Dominitz

a misplaced comma
a hastily chosen word
there goes your favorite beach

it matters that much

I used to refer to him as Sid the Knife. Not that he needed a knife, or
even the red pen. He did it with words. Added words. Revised words.
Deleted words. Now you hear it. Now you understand it. Like a
magician, an editor shows you the cards you were holding.

the news flows from wild nature
the morning edition at your doorstep with the sun
in the evening you read it on the beach
it rarely gets into print

He and John Ross got into huge arguments about articles John
submitted to ECONEWS.  John would go through hell for a byline, and
sometimes that became the story. He was a jazz poet and a pamphleteer, and like many of us he learned at the ECONEWS to be a reporter. Your editor is your dear friend.

accuracy is learned from nature
every word exactly where it’s supposed to go
every sharp tooth, every eye
looking out for strays

When my five-year-old granddaughter was visiting I introduced her to Sid. She was still talking baby talk, not ready to give up infancy. The family was letting her grow out of it. But he mercilessly made fun of her r’s that sounded like w’s, mimicked her till she had to laugh. Next time I saw her she was talking like the rest of us. Your editor is the crazy uncle who can say things no one else will tell you.

an unreported wolf or mountain
is a dead wolf, a treeless mountain
in the ECONEWS
they at least had half a chance

it matters that much

He and John were the last prophets, wandering in the land of the lumberjacks. They had an editorial comment for every rock and tree and bird. Sid’s jokes were  often puns, some real groaners. When he heard a juice bar had opened in Arcata, “At last,” he said, “a place of our own.” An editor knows the absurdity of language. It’s all made up. Every word gets deleted.
Every day is a rewrite.

in a wilderness not of our devising
we live by compassion and wit and accurate reporting

One September afternoon I followed the obits from the Trinidad cemetery along Stagecoach Road and down to the beach. From there I floated out to the downstream end of the world, where they say the news is always good. Food and card games and dancing. I was long past deadline and way over on my word count. Sid was already there. Your editor is the first person you meet in heaven.
                            — Jerry Martien