Jessica, the land of fire and ice.

I'm heading back to Iceland in a couple of weeks, and I've been telling everybody about it.  Unfortunately, the Swype keyboard on my phone (on which you drag your thumb quickly across the letters and it figures out what word you're trying to spell) always misreads "Iceland" as "Jessica."  Because of that, I've recently sent the following awkward and inadvertently erotic text messages:

  • "Jessica is gorgeous."
  • "I'm getting pretty excited for Jessica."
  • "I can't wait to be in Jessica again."
  • "Yeah, Jessica is expensive, but it's worth it."
  • "Jessica is always pretty wet, especially around now."
  • "Jessica might not be all that exotic, but the plumbing works perfectly."
  • "Jessica, here I come!"

I feel like this has to mean something... something other than that my phone hates me.  It reminds me that I recently told my students that if they're wrestling with a word in one of their poems, they should try replacing it with its opposite.  "Beautiful" becomes "hideous," "hard" becomes "simple" or "soft," "Iceland" becomes "Jessica."  I've heard this piece of advice attributed to John Ashbery, which explains a lot of his poetry, though it might lead one to wonder which words weren't replaced with their opposites.

Another bit of learned advice, spoken by every writing teacher ever, is to embrace the happy accidents, to be open to the unexpected and to see where it takes you.  So, on my phone's urging, I've decided that my next book will be a series of steamy sonnets about a complicated, capable, classy lady named Jessica: her seaside frolics and glacial adventures, the men and women in her hot tubs, her fish exports.  So mark your calendars for late 2015: Jessica is coming, and she will melt your Kindles.