Dad Libs: Throwback Thursday

My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.

My son Jonathan and I trying not to lose it.

This has been a scary week, the first week of a certain presidency that pushes my family and me way past the uneasy mark. But rather than give that blowhard, narcissistic, buffoon any more press today, we’re going to jump back to some old Dad Libs, our twist on the classic Mad Libs game.

Micah is spending the week with the old man here and he mentioned to me that he’d like to record some new versions of these, so as we warm up for new Dad Libs episodes, here are three of our favorites from over the years. The first is from 2010 when we recorded the very first Dad Lib on my old Acer laptop, so pardon the poor quality. The next two are just, well just favorite examples of the most fun a family can have indoors without alcohol.

Oh, and we seem to have a thing for butchering Robert Frost poems and great political speeches.

Here’s How We’ll Unite Again After Trump’s Election

trump-obamaTrump voters, you’re upset. I hear you. Let’s start there.

You don’t like all the fuss Hillary Clinton voters like me are making over your guy’s victory. You wish we could just accept things and move on, like good American citizens. We’re all one country, so why can’t we just come together for the sake of unity?

Well, I get it. I don’t think you’re all bigots. You’re not all bad people. And you’re not all stupid.

But let me make one thing very clear: you made a colossal mistake.

That guy you elected? He scares the shit out of some of us. He’s said hateful things about us. I don’t mean privately, in an email he never intended for anybody else to see. I mean openly, in his campaign speeches. In his party’s platform. And then he refused to apologize for them. He didn’t misspeak. He wasn’t taken out…

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Where the Pickle Confuses, Celebrating Shel Silverstein

From my collection.

From my collection.

I have been rearranging the living room, and in the process of organizing the shelves discovered that I seem to be missing a few books by birthday boy, Shel Silverstein. Hopefully, they are at my boys’ house.  You may not be aware that Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, was his first children’s story, published in 1963. It was a gift to me after my coming out, from a dear and intimate friend, a reminder that others, on all sides of the sexuality spectrum, would try to shape me into what they saw me as, an identity created by them to match their own stories. I think he wanted me to be aware of the danger, and to encourage me to continue to be brave, to write my own character, my own story, my own life.

Despite the enormous influence he’s had in our family’s reading time, and my own autonomy, I haven’t  recorded much of his work. It’s hard to compete with his many recordings, his playful voice and guitar.  But in celebration of his birthday this September 25th, here are a few videos for the occasion. Continue reading

A Ritual to Read to Each Other, by William Stafford

Poems for Stuart, Part 3

stuart and davidI mentioned in the previous two parts of this series that my dear friend Stuart came to America this summer to visit with his son. What a blessing to me that on the way to Frank Lloyd Wight’s “Falling Water,” they took the time to divert slightly north and meet me at a restaurant in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. There we had a lovely time over food and drink in an outdoor cafe on the sidewalk. It wasn’t part of the original plan to meet at a restaurant where I once worked, but such are the serendipities of life.

After dinner, we went to the river to fulfill a small side-goal of the visit. Stu had asked if during our time together this day, he could record me reading a poem that was meaningful to this period of my life, and so I came “prepared.” As it’s difficult for me to choose a favorite among the many poems that have spoken to me of late , I came with several possibilities in mind. Finally, I decided on this one.  Continue reading

Bio Updates

Ricketts Glen, a place I visited alone on Christmas day this year. The photo was taken in the summer, the last time I had been there, over a decade ago.

And by that title, I mean biography, not biology, of course. I’ve been trying to update my biology, but age and a bad knee are making for slow progress.

As you have possibly seen in recent posts, this year I became the adopted father of a bouncing baby literary magazine. Actually, it’s no longer a baby, having been born in 2009. But I had the honor, along with my team, of leading her out of hiatus and back into the world. Holy lit mags, Batman! I had no idea what I was getting into, but gee wiz (as the young Boy Wonder might say), I’m so happy about it. You can learn all the details on Word Fountain’s page.

Along the way, the submission tracking service that I already use for my own writing,, somehow found us online, and contacted me to let me know they had added us to their database, and would I please double check our listing there to make sure the information was correct? In the call for submissions at WF I had already asked for writers to let us know how they had heard about us. I started noticing many emails stating that they found our listing on Duotrope.

Our founding editor told me that it had been her hope to eventually have us listed with Poets & Writers. Now I’m going to be honest here, because that is what I hope you have come to expect from me. I hate the name. I’ve always hated the name. Poets & Writers. What marketing genius came up with that? Poets AND Writers? Are poets not writers? Isn’t the name “Poets and Writers” a bit like saying “Dachshunds and Dogs?” To be fair, maybe prose was an afterthought. Maybe they were first into poets, and later it just sounded too clumsy to say “Poets & Other Writers,” and admittedly “Poetry and Prose Writers” sounds clumsy, and “Poets and Prosers” just can’t be done. Or maybe P&W was founded by the former student of Billy Collins who said, “Poetry is harder than writing.”

But I must confess, much as I wish they had named themselves more eloquently, P&W is indeed an excellent organization, dedicated to promoting literary magazines, and to helping poets and fiction writers find the best homes for their work. The lot of us are better for their existence. So yes, I submitted our site there too. Then after they rejected us for admittedly reasonable reasons that were easily cleared up on the About page, they happily accepted us the next day and even tweeted about us. I’ve already been contacted by writers who saw our link there, more than two weeks ahead of the official opening of our submissions window for the winter issue.

And now I’ve submitted our listing to New Pages. I’ll let you know how that goes.

So what’s all of this got to do with my bio, or as I said, bios? Well, I thought it was important as the Editor-in-chief, to be completely transparent, and make my name in the Masthead clickable, leading people here, or more specifically, to the part of my three-pronged bio under the heading of Poet. That’s when I realized there was a lot of updating to do. So I adapted the bio written for me by a dear friend who has a green pen, and I spiffed things up a bit. (Thank you, Joel).

That’s when I remembered the other two pages. Father and Birder needed serious updating as well. With the Father page, it was mostly photos I added. Heck, I’ve been writing about those three guys all along the way, especially in poems. But I had neglected the Birder page. A lot. Mostly because I had been neglecting my own mental health. That probably started with the physical–the blow-out of my knee three years back, while I was still working two jobs, and waiting tables. It hurt to walk, but walking is what made it better. I didn’t realize that I was sinking into depression, or that my health, my career, or lack thereof, were just some of the reasons for that.

So this year, as I said in the recent post, “Spring Birding,” I have been making more time for peace of mind. It started in the fall, on a warm day after a meeting with an old friend, the therapist who first helped me deal with the aftermath of coming out. It was an “official” meeting. I was worried about my son’s health, and I was not taking good care of my own. I sought him out and found he was still in practice these 19 years later. I knew that I couldn’t be a help to my son without taking good care of myself. Doctor Craig said a lot of helpful things that meeting, and he went over our time by about a half an hour, such was his earnestness for me to “get it.”

English: Picnic Area in Haugh Woods Such a lov...

Picnic Area in Haugh Woods. Not where I stopped, but it looks much like this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the way home, I stopped and parked the car at a picnic area by the road, got out, notebook and pen in hand. But something about the pine trees . . . I walked right past the picnic table, dropping the notebook and pen as I went. I didn’t even lock the car. I marched right into the woods.

Stunning, if a person can be soothingly stunned; the scent of pine, the aroma of the moist ground beneath my shoes; the gentle crackling, how had I forgotten that? The sound the dead and dying needles breaking, releasing more of their gentle perfume.

It was an hour or more away from the pine trees of the Black Forest Trail of North Central Pennsylvania, yet immediately I was back there, and 17-years-old, watching my first Red-tailed Hawk make circles over our watering hole near Slate Run. Later, in the Spring, my son and I, each well on the way to recovery, getting lost, but enjoying it, found the dirt road leading through a forest carpeted with ferns. And I was 9-years-old, marching along the path of Ferny Run, north of Farandsville, the ancient, broken stone wall on my left, the occasional rise of grown-over logging grades to my right. Again, recently near the waterfall at Hickory Run, Vincent, Amy and I among the Rhododendrons, like the ones that made that magical jungle of my childhood, up the old grassy road behind the cabin.

Why, I asked myself, when these are the sights and smells that remind me most of myself, this the air, the quality of light through branches overhead, the coolness beneath the trees on the hottest of days, why had I stopped coming to these places, to myself?

I remember now, when I started this blog, at the end of a dying relationship in 2008. I needed to write, to keep up the practice of writing, and I needed to write about the three things that “brought me the most joy:” being a dad, reading and writing poems, and walking in the forest, birds in the trees, or overhead, heard and sought. And so there you have it. Things updated, and things that had gone askew now set a bit more right. And me, home in my skin again.

Thank you, friend, for being kind today, and reading about it.