On Selecting Optics, by David J. Bauman

cropped-cropped-dsc_07221.jpgI am sometimes asked why I don’t post more of my poems here, and I think I’ve answered that question on this blog’s Poet bio, but to put it succinctly, if I publish it myself, even here on this little blog, most literary magazines  will not want to publish it. Yes, works posted on blogs count as “previously published” material. Welcome to the internet age. You’ll find this rule in nearly every lit mag and journal’s submission guidelines. It’s not that I’m against self-publishing as a whole. It’s just that it’s not the right choice for me at this time. It doesn’t fit with my current goals, as I’m currently out to entice other people to publish me.

And even though I’ve tried to share links with you on that Poet page I mentioned, it’s really quite a hodge-podge. I did some initial updating, but I figure I should try to bring you some better links to my own works (sometime after someone else publishes them), ones where you don’t have to scroll down and down to find my poems. I’d love for you to read those publications, not just my own pieces. I want to honor the magazines who first published them, and provide you the link also, even if it requires a little searching. It’s a way of thanking them for printing my words. But for them, and especially for those magazines who are print-only, I will as always wait a good while before posting them here.

But after a little time has passed, perhaps my reprint here will inspire you to follow the link and get your own copy. San Pedro River Review has kindly published me twice in this past year, but if you only read my two poems you’ll miss the wealth of poets whom they also published, beautiful poets like Ciara Shuttleworth, Adrian C. Lewis, and   Naomi Shihab Nye.

Some background

Under a river of past issues . . .
Under a river of past issues . . .

Here’s one that got a bit buried in the blog here, along with a bit of video. I’ve never included the two together before, partly because I think I flubbed, totally missed a line in the delivery. This was recorded at a photography and art exhibition for the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership back in 2012 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The reason the poem was on my mind this weekend is that it’s one of two pieces of mine that were published by the previous editors of Word Fountain, the literary magazine where I now find myself the chief editor. I had no thoughts of moving away from central Pennsylvania in 2013 when they published these words, but here I am, more than an hour up river running a tiny library most of the week, filling in at the giant district hub part of the time, and along with a kick-ass team of editors, putting this publication back on the shelves.

Life can be delightfully weird. I think I have one of the last surviving print copies of that issue, in which Dawn Leas, whom we also published in this year’s summer issue, also makes an appearance.  Click here to scroll through an online version of the whole issue. The other poem is there too and will appear here on the blog with video and commentary this weekend.

Finally, the poem

You can imagine before buying a pair of binoculars or any expensive optics, one has a lot to consider beyond the price tag. I did a great deal of shopping and questioning before I got my hands on my Nikon Monarchs (Too bad they are not reimbursing me for this advert), and as I weighed all of the options and considerations, this piece developed as a pitch and a lesson from a salesman of my own imagination.

On Selecting Optics
by David J. Bauman

We’re talking birds of prey, right?
Migrants—so we’re talking distance;
you’ll need high power, but not too high.
What enlarges the image increases that shake;
your unsteady hand blurs the image. So buy

lightweight. You might consider a scope;
for those hawkish specks soaring far.
The tripod should be sturdy; it’s windy
on the ridge. Again, the shake, the blur.
And don’t let your eyes strain

to compensate for quality. Consider
the prisms, lens coatings, how much
you want to spend. Migration means
there’s so much sky to scan, so
choose a wider field of view. Tricky,

these contraptions—no matter how close
you feel, how crisp, how clear the image,
there will always be that bird you missed.
A Merlin on the wrong side of the ridge,
wings tucked into a glide, sails south and fast,

unconcerned about your careful records.
An east-strayed Swainson slips by, on long
pointed wings while, eyes turned west, you
are distracted by the glinting white head
of a Bald Eagle, perfectly framed in the glass.

©2013 by David J. Bauman, originally printed  in Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library, spring 2013, issue no. 8.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    Well since I take a picture or two…I did enjoy this verse…hope you and yours have a wonderful 4th.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Charles! I’m glad you liked. Have a fabulous weekend yourself.


  2. stuartporteous says:

    Thanks David…Savoured your poetic/practical distillation of the optics choice process and looking forward to the possibility of a 2016 live reading soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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