I’m working on rewriting kids books. Because some of them just need it and some of them are just fun to rewrite.
I’ve always hated Goodnight Moon, which seems wrong to me, as it’s basically an ode to OCD and anxiety which are kind of my jams.
But I’ve never been so acutely aware of just how tightly crafted it was.
Now, I’ve never been good at poetry. Even though Phil Terman, my first writing teacher, told me I would kick poetry’s ass, I’ve never understood it. I get imagery and how to stir a reader’s senses. I’m familiar with precision and it being crucial when it comes to word choice. But line breaks and structure stress me right the hell out.
Again, counterintuitive, given how…given…I am to prefer things (a) planned and (b) executed according to that plan.
Goodnight Moon is so short, and on the surface it’s incredibly simple.
But once you print it out and start making notes, deconstructing it and trying to reconstruct it to your purpose – the story of a mother celebrating moonshine – it’s a resilient and altogether tough little bastard to do much with.
For me. A poet could probably rearrange it brilliantly in a moment’s time. I’ve been wrestling with it for two weeks.
I really wanted to write a column called Goodnight Moonshine. But I can’t seem to get a humorous column out of Goodnight Moon. I did, however, get this little poem, and while I don’t mean to imply that I think it carries any literary merit whatsoever, I worked God damn hard on it and someone’s going to read it, I tell you.
Here’s the nasty little thing I’ve been trying to grow for two weeks. I’m throwing it out the window and into the ether and leaving it for dead. I almost kind of like it, but I also really hate it.
Team Ambivalence! Represent!
By STACEY GROSS
In the Chumley’s barroom,
there is a telephone
that the copper platoon
calls to say “we’ll be over soon.”
And there’s F. Scott Fitzgerald,
and no windows on the first floor,
and a great, black, bar-windowed door,
which the patrons head for to escape onto Bedford while good times and Temperance are at war.
and the empty saloon.
Death of the jazz age you’ll herald.
Goodnight, windowless floor.
Goodnight bar-windowed door.
And goodnight, Mary Pickford.
Goodnight, homemade liquor.
And goodnight, blotto authors.
Goodnight, giggle water.
Goodnight Daisy. ‘Night Gatsby.
Your story doesn’t end happily.
And goodnight, prohibition.
You failed at your mission.
There will always be wine.
But for now, goodnight moonshine.