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2 Poems by Mary Oliver

In memory of Mary Oliver, I have posted these readings of Mary’s poems that I did this past year.

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New Published Poem, Stoplight

First of all, the poem below was recently published in the new online lit mag The Electric Rail. To read the whole issue click here.

Stoplight

I thought I’d never get to leave.
They said “in a few days.”
Then, “a few more days.”

This time it was my fault.
I had been on a yellow light.
Then I got in a fight
and I went red.

I was on the stoplight system,
used in the children’s ward
to influence kids’ behavior.

The day before, I was green.
I was going home
on the same day
as the kid I would attack.

I had told him this
a few days prior,
during a soccer game.
We kicked competitively.

I was eager to live
beyond the Valley again.
Once I exited that place,
I wouldn’t have to see him
or hear his grating voice,
speaking in high pitch tones,
mocking other patients.

He was dribbling
a deflated basketball
on the blacktop.
This, in retrospect,
does not sound like fun,
but he would not share.

Instead of turning
the other cheek, I dug
my fingernails into his.

Then the doctor told me
I could not go home.
You can’t go on red,
so I sat, unable to move.

When it was time for math,
I asked to go
to the bathroom twice.
I was told then
I was not allowed to color.
What a shame.

I stood in front of
the bathroom mirror and cried.
My fists hit the mirror
over and over again.

Later, I got a phone call
My mother sounded oddly happy.
I was ashamed of myself.

“I am sorry,” I said.
She didn’t ask.
Perhaps she didn’t know
She said “You’re coming home.”

I gave no explanation to
the kids, back at school,
who wondered where I was.

Was I suspended?
Was I thrown in jail?
Was I on vacation?

So I have learned two things.
Some hospitals use safety glass.
and sometimes we need to go
before the light turns green.

 

Okay, now you’ve read the poem. Now, I can give you some background. I haven’t mentioned it before, but I am working on a project with my dad and part of it has to do with a few stays of mine at psychiatric hospitals. The one in this particular poem takes place in the children’s ward. Compared to what I’ve had published so far, it will be a very personal collection of poems. I don’t want to reveal any more than that at this point. But I just wanted to get that out there. Please enjoy the poem and thank you.

Library, Chapel, Pub: Three Readings

Please if you can make it, go to the poetry at the pub event. I will be reading along with my dad and others in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. For details click the link and read at the bottom.

David J. Bauman

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…

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National Poetry Month 2018, Micah and David’s Project Review

National Poetry Month was started the same year I was born. But, arguably I am more popular out of the two.

Enough joking. Dad and I decided this year to do some poetry reading recordings. This is much like what we did last year.

We picked poets from different eras and recorded us reading poems by the poets. This time we stuck to poets we had not ever done this for before.

We also did a few YouTube videos. mostly I did, actually. We did plenty of extras in both playlists below.

This year’s sound playlist is a bit longer than last year. Maybe we just really felt we needed to read poetry this April. I can’t explain it.

I am really happy with this playlist and the YouTube videos. I hope you are too. If you are not, (and even if you are) explain to me what exactly you did for poetry month that was so exciting. I don’t know what else to say.

Bonus Poetry Month Footage

This was filmed a couple days ago. It was so lovely. I would like to do it again. Anyway, here is me doing readings of poems by Christina Rossetti, Eleanor Farjeon, Jacob Nibenegasabe, and Ogden Nash.

And below the first video is a hilarious blooper from one of the Ogden Nash poems.

Poetry Month: Week Four With Kaveh Akbar

This is the final week of poetry month. For the last week I recorded a poem by Kaveh Akbar. My father introduced me to his poetry this past year. His first book is titled Calling A Wolf A Wolf. Check it out!

A Boy Steps Into the Water by Kaveh Akbar

and of course he’s beautiful
goosebumps over his ribs
like tiny fists under a thin sheet the sheet
all mudwet and taste of walnut

and of course I’m afraid of him
of the way keeping him a secret will make him
inevitable I will do anything to avoid
getting carried away sleep nightly with coins

over my eyes set fire to an entire
zodiac mecca is a moth
chewing holes in a shirt I left
at a lover’s house a body loudly

consumes days and awaits the slow
fibrillation of its heart a lightning rod
sits in silence until finally the storm
now the boy is scooping up minnows

and swallowing them like a heron
I’m done trying to make sense
of any of this no one will believe anything
that comes out a mouth like mine

Happy National Haiku

To celebrate National Haiku Day here is a poem made of entirely haiku. It was written by my father and me. Read about it in Green Rune Anthology if you so wish.

Rust
Some bridges refuse
to burn but are swept away
by weight of water.

Others succumb to
decay and time. Like people
charred by our anger.

A sturdy friendship
can overcome disaster.
It’s the rust that kills.

Walk by the river
and you ask yourself, wasn’t
there a bridge here once?