This poem was originally written for my dad’s birthday in 2012. It was put to video and given to him as a modern “hand-made” gift. It went through a lot of reworking, editing, and polishing. Then the good folks at San Pedro River Review & Blue Horse Press published it in their Spring 2016 issue: The American Southwest.
I included it in my first chapbook: Moons, Roads, and Rivers, which was published in December of 2017 by Finishing Line Press and put it into my father’s hands in print.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. And thank you. You done good.
No, “old PUP friends” does not refer to some sort of senior citizen’s collar-and-leash fetish society. It’s a reference to a poetry reading series I used to attend in Lewisburg, PA at Faustina’s Art Gallery. Poetry Under the Paintings is the name of the group, and it perfectly describes what they do. They still gather every second Thursday to read poems, new and old, often original pieces, but frequently favorites by other poets whose work they adore.
This week they will collectively be the “guest reader” at another central Pennsylvania poetry group in Bloomsburg. The River Poets, who usually meet at the Bloomsburg Public Library on the first Thursday of each month, will be hosting the PUPs, and that always winds up being a wonderful evening. If you’re anywhere within driving distance you should go! More info on the River Poets at their site, www.riverpoets.com. And you can follow my peeps, I mean PUPs, on Facebook by clicking here.
More about the PUPs in a moment. If you missed my last post about all the poetry events that I am involved with from the end of May to the end of June, you know that Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library has launched its spring/summer edition for 2018. It’s the 15th since 2009 and the 5th that I have been involved in. Since my new job takes up more of my time these days, I’ll be stepping back into more of an advisory role, but I must say that I have been deeply honored and incredibly lucky to have been at the helm these last two years and to have seen that magazine blossom into something national and global in scope, all the while maintaining its local/regional heart. Check out info about the new issue, and order your copy of Word Fountain here.
Next on the poetry-reading agenda is my visit tomorrow to the historic Joseph Priestley Memorial Chapel in Northumberland, PA. Now, I’m not a religious guy, and my divinity school days are decades behind me, but not to worry, this is not a religious service. The first Sunday of each month the chapel holds a secular service of music and the spoken word. They host a musician and a writer, usually a poet, with local/regional connections. And even though I now live two hours away, they have once again kindly asked me to be the featured poet for June. So I’ll be waking up dull and blurry (as apposed to bright and early) to be there for the reading at 9:30 am.
The reason I brought up the Poetry Under the Paintings group is that there is a significant overlap in the Unitarian Universalist congregation members who help maintain the separate historic chapel, and the crowd of poets who read at the Lewisburg art gallery about 15 minutes down the road. And gosh, I miss those people! In many ways I still see the Lewisburg/Northumberland area as my home. Around sixteen or seventeen years of my adult life were spent in that region, and I love going back. I’ll get to see some of the familiar faces from the videos below while I am there.
Beneath the PUP video, you’ll see a clip from my reading at the chapel in 2012, where I shared a poem that has now been published in Moons, Roads, and Rivers, my chapbook from December, published by Finishing Line Press. And I am hoping against hope to receive in the mail today my first batch of author copies of my new chapbook Angels & Adultery, just released from Seven Kitchens Press. I know I will have some kind, supporting buyers tomorrow. I’ll be reading from both chaps in any case.
I’ll also be reading a couple of selections from the book that Micah and I are working on. Micah is my youngest son and we are doing a joint project that you’ll be hearing more about in coming months. And he’ll be reading with me at the end of June in Poems at the Pub. More info on that in the previous post also.
Finally, here are some clips and good memories from my community at the chapel and the art gallery. And yes, that’s my beautiful and brilliant partner Brian at the keyboard. Bonus clip at the end of Brian playing piano at the chapel four years ago.
Just to update you about some recent additions and edits to my Events page, here’s the rundown of what I’m up to the next thirty days:
Thursday, May 31:
Word Fountain’s Spring/Summer release party and reading at the Osterhout Free Library, 71 South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Though I won’t be reading my stuff, I will be reading a few pieces from the issue. Contributors reading from their work include Harold Jenkins, Jenica Lodde, Eric Chiles, and Laurel Radzieski.
This is a bitter-sweet event for me, as I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue as lead editor for Word Fountain now that I’ve moved on to a new library. I kept up the job on the side as a volunteer because I didn’t want to see it go into hiatus. When I managed the Plains branch of the Osterhout library, I could do some of the work on the job—was encouraged to, in fact. It was a wonderful gig. I remember one of my college professors from Bloomsburg University coming up to me at a reading and saying, “Don’t you feel like a kid in a candy store?” I think they can carry on without me, though. They’ve come such a long way, and I’m terrifically proud to have played a part in making the magazine what it is today.
Sunday, June 3:
I will be the featured Poet in Northumberland, Pennsylvania at the historic Joseph Priestley Memorial Chapel’s first-Monday, monthly service of music and the spoken word. The service starts at 9:30 am, but I’m planning a rowdy brunch after with a bunch of old, dear, beautiful friends of mine from the Norry and Lewisburg area.
This is always such an honor to attend and be featured. There will be local music on the old John Wind pipe organ and the hammer dulcimer. This is a secular service, run at the historic old chapel by the Unitarian Universalists, some of the kindest religious folks you could ever meet. I liked attending their church (briefly and infrequently) because they didn’t care what I believed, they just wanted my help in making the world a better place. They cared about feeding children, helping the needy, standing up for other local worshipers at the mosque and temple nearby. Just good, good people. Plus, many of them still attend the Poetry Under the Paintings reading series in nearby Lewisburg. If you are ever in central PA, check this place out, where the west and north branches of the mighty Susquehanna river meet. My home town for many years, and I do miss it.
Tuesday, June 26:
Poetry at the Pub! 7 to 9 pm at Dugan’s Irish Pub in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Reading and drinks to celebrate the release of Angels & Adultery and Moons, Roads, and Rivers. Special guest readers will be Erin L. Delaney, Joel Showalter, and Micah James Bauman. Here’s a link to the event details on Facebook. You can feel free to click and share that invitation, especially if you are in the NEPA region and can attend!
I mentioned my friends, Joel Showalter, Erin L. Delaney, and my son Micah James Bauman. They will each be reading a set of poems from their own fine work first. Here’s some info about each of these beautiful, dear people:
Erin’s poems have been published in Down the Dog Hole, 11 Poets on Northeast Pennsylvania, Paper Kite Press, and with Poetry in Transit, and Word Fountain. She has an MFA in nonfiction and poetry at Wilkes, and I love hearing her read. She’s good, dang it, she’s good! Her husband and my hubby-to-be have been friends since grade school, so it’s only natural that we would hit it off as poetry accomplices.
Joel has had poems recently published in Christian Century, Mud Season Review, Delmarva Review, and Third Wednesday. But I remember one of his first public readings back in college at Indiana Wesleyan University in a year that shall not be named. He passed out printed copies of a few of the poems. Class act! Joel is the editorial director at a marketing company in Columbus Ohio where I will be traveling just a couple of weeks after this event to celebrate his wedding!
Micah has been published in Word Fountain, the Green Rune Anthology, and other places, including the local newspaper. He has read his poems at coffee shops, art galleries, and libraries around central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Micah has a gift for wordplay that surprises with sharp insight and imagery. He’s been keeping me on my toes as we work on our upcoming father-son collection. We’ll both read some selections from that to give you a preview of what’s to come!
The idea is for this event to be exactly what it sounds like, a pub reading, casual, with a server taking drink, burger, and wing orders in between sets. We’ll be in their upstairs room. You can’t see it in this photo, but around the corner on the left is a curved old beautiful wooden bar. I’ll try to get some pictures in person before the event. Back in the corner there’s an antique barber’s chair from the old Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre. I doubt we’ll use that pool table for anything, except maybe a place to lay out books for sale.
But more important than buying a chapbook or two is that people buy a drink and order some food and tip the server. The wings, burgers, and pizzas are all pretty fantastic. And if we take care of the person waiting on us, I think the owner will see it as a successful venture, and “Poems at the Pub” could become a regular feature at Dugan’s! I’m starting to feel at home here after two and a half years. I hope you’ll come visit soon.
And here it is. It’s officially released out into the world today. I’d be honored if you would follow the links to learn more about it. You, my friends have been a vital part of it; thanks for the encouragement, and for cheering me on to chapbook number two.
“Still Life with Mackerel, Lemon and Tomato” By Vincent Van Gogh (1886)
Fishing for Trey Platoo
By Bunkong Tuon
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth post in a series of poems about the immigrant experience in America. Our late Managing Editor, Okla Elliott, featured Bunkong Tuon’s work on As It Ought To Be back in January of 2017. Okla was particularly concerned about the anti-immigration rhetoric heating up in America and he hoped to showcase the voices of immigrants on our site. In honor of Okla’s memory, Tuon has allowed us to feature more of his poetry about his experience as an immigrant from Cambodia in the United States.
Fishing for Trey Platoo You might have seen them fishing on the shores of the Cape Cod Canal: My uncle in his fisherman’s hat pulling in a one-foot scup, my aunt in her pajama-like pants walking backward up the…