“Advent.” A Poem by David J. Bauman

April is National Poetry Month. Typically, I celebrate by sharing poetry with my blog followers. If ambitious enough, I will be posting a new poem each day for the remainder of April. Whenever possible, I will provide a link to more poetry by the featured poet.

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David J. Bauman’s poems have appeared in San Pedro River Review, Contemporary American Voices, Blue Hour Magazine, and T(OUR), among other places. He has poems recently published or forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, and Watershed: A Journal of the Susquehanna. He’s a winner of the University Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and editor of Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library. He is a former co-worker of mine at the Priestley Forsyth Memorial Library in Northumberland, PA, and a good friend.

Weekday mornings on Bald Eagle Street
I waited for the bus. On winter days, I’d hide
by the dryer vent at the side of our house,
cupping warmth in woolen gloves, as inside
mom washed socks and jeans and sheets.

Saturdays I’d hide inside, close my eyes,
lean back against the machine. My feet tucked
into an empty laundry basket, I huddled up
to the hum and heat, soothed by the beat
of its rocking cycle, safe in my make-shift cave.

In those moments the world was my own,
and small enough to see—the narrow walk
between our house and Aunt Cindy’s, a slice
of the street, a glimpse of backyard promise—
even though the swing set was covered in ice.

There were tunnels through the snow
back there, for me to escape or defend.
Long white ledges lined with snowballs,
ammo, gradually amassed, a fortress to stand
against armies, or brothers, or any other foe.

By David J. Bauman

 

Advent

Weekday mornings on Bald Eagle Street
I waited for the bus. On winter days, I’d hide
by the dryer vent at the side of our house,
cupping warmth in woolen gloves, as inside
mom washed socks and jeans and sheets.

Saturdays I’d hide inside, close my eyes,
lean back against the machine. My feet tucked
into an empty laundry basket, I huddled up
to the hum and heat, soothed by the beat
of its rocking cycle, safe in my make-shift cave.

In those moments the world was my own,
and small enough to see—the narrow walk
between our house and Aunt Cindy’s, a slice
of the street, a glimpse of backyard promise—
even though the swing set was covered in ice.

There were tunnels through the snow
back there, for me to escape or defend.
Long white ledges lined with snowballs,
ammo, gradually amassed, a fortress to stand
against armies, or brothers, or any other foe.

By David J. Bauman

David’s poems have appeared in San Pedro River Review, Contemporary American Voices, Blue Hour Magazine, and T(OUR), among other places. He has poems recently published or forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, and Watershed: A Journal of the Susquehanna. He’s a winner of the University Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and editor of Word Fountain, the Literary Magazine of the Osterhout Free Library. He is a former co-worker of mine at the Priestley Forsyth Memorial Library and a good friend.

Swing

My good friend David J. Bauman has been a poet for longer than I know. I had the privilege of working with him at the Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library in Northumberland, PA for about a year before he took a position at the Plains Township Library. Seems I met David at the right time in my career (life?). He taught me a great deal about poetry and coached me in establishing and maintaining this blog of mine.

I’ve been writing poems since I was a teenager. Many of them never saw daylight. They remained closed up in old journals, existing but unrealized. Forgotten. (Several never even made the journey out of my imagination, down the pen and unto paper.) Meeting David, however, quickened something in me. Words and phrases that had suffered sequestration due to lack of rectitude somehow found a rebirth. I began to believe that my words had meaningfulness.

But this post is not about me. Rather, it is about showcasing a poem David wrote which has found a well-deserved home in Contemporary American Voices, a journal of poetry. June 1, 2014. I know you’ll enjoy it.

Swing

While I was waiting
for the bus, Miss Shaffer said
“Get off the gate!
It’s not for swinging.”

But I knew better.

Another, on the playground—
I don’t recall her name,
But she yanked
me by the arm, right off

the swing set, and screamed,
“Don’t call me ‘old Lady!’”
I was only trying to yodel
(Yodaladie, yodaladie…).

And one time I wasn’t doing anything,
so I was sent to the principal’s office.
That was when days were for doing
nothing when you could.

When swings were for singing
anything that came to mind.
Fences were just in the way
and every kid knew the truth;

gates do that for a reason,
and it goes against nature
not to swing them.

Once In A Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon. Now there’s a very compelling saying. A cliché, and yet much more than that. The phrase originally referred to the appearance of a second full moon within a calendar month, which actually happens about every thirty-two months. There have been five blue moons since November 21, 2010. Pretty rare, right?

That’s why the phrase is now used widely to mean “very rarely.” In my case, especially when it comes to making friends, in the past it has meant “not very likely.” As you might know from reading my blog and my About Page, I was in active addiction for thirty-seven years. I didn’t understand the meaning of friendship. I didn’t know what love meant, or how to respect others. I used people. I took from people. I manipulated people. I’ve been married twice, but I basically “took hostages” rather than wives. The depth of my selfishness was alarming.  I was able to quit drinking in 2008, but continued to abuse narcotic painkillers for some years. Even after getting off all mood-altering substances, learning how to be a true friend took a lot of hard work. (Still not one-hundred-percent there.)

If there’s one thing all of us are in need of, it is a few close friends. It is interesting to note how many people struggle in creating quality, long lasting friendships, and how difficult their lives can be because of that challenge. I remember having a small group of friends in high school who consistently put me down, made fun of me, and got their kicks from saying very mean things about people who were different from them. I was friends with them for years because I was afraid no one else would be my friend if I left them. I was also bullied a lot, so I was reluctant to reach out. I usually took the back allies home from school, some times having to run the last few blocks to my back yard. In addition, we moved around a lot. I went to three high schools in my senior year. So, yeah, forming good relationships was difficult.

Friendship for most people is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. The general traits of a friendship include similar interests, mutual respect and an attachment to each other, and in order to experience friendship, you need to have true friends. The emotional safety provided by friendship means not having to weigh your thoughts and measure your words. True friendship is when someone knows you better than yourself and takes a position in your best interests in a crisis. Friendship goes beyond just sharing time together, and it is long lasting. A true friend inspires you to live up to your best potential, not to indulge your basest drives.

It took a long time for me to understand that friendship is a two-way street. We need to treat others the way we would like to be treated. We can’t act as thought they’re above or below us, but rather are our equal. Our friends are allowed to have a different opinion to ours, which is what makes us all individuals. Disrespecting those opinions will destroy a friendship. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Follow through with it. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

A true friend is someone who has touched your heart and will stay there. Someone you care for, and who cares for you. Someone you can do the stupidest things around and always be forgiven. Someone you’ll instantly remember in ten years because they are in your heart and not just your mind. They have the ability to change you, even if they don’t. They will be etched in your memories forever. I have experienced this depth of friendship over the past eleven months. I started working part-time at the Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library in Northumberland, PA. One of my co-workers was David J. Bauman. We became instant friends. Despite our differences in politics and other matters, we have mutual respect and admiration for each other.

David has influenced me and encouraged me. He helped me learn how to navigate Word Press and set up this blog. His poetry is compelling. His ability to recite from memory freaks me out! I don’t even know my own poems by heart yet. David is one of those shining stars that cannot help grab the attention of others. He left our library last week to accept a position running the Plains Township Library, a branch of the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre. This is, of course, a great loss for us, but a wonderful find for the Plains Township Library.

So, unfortunately, we cannot always hold on to our friends. At least not physically. Geography, opportunity, contingency, happening, good fortune, stroke of luck, occasion, whatever you want to call it, will sometimes grab people away from you. All you can do is wish them bon fortuna and hold them dear to your heart. Thankfully, social media makes it quite easy to keep in touch. I miss David already, and it’s only been three days since he left. I told him in a Facebook comment a few weeks ago that the Plains Township Library better know how lucky they are that he accepted the job.

“If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” (Muhammad Ali)

David writes a wonderful blog which I recommend you check out at http://dadpoet.wordpress.com.