Mapping the Valley. Poems by David J. Bauman and Micah James Bauman, selected by Ron Mohring as Number 12 in Volume 4 of our Editor’s Series.
Publication: February 27, 2021 [100 copies]
A collaborative project between a father and son, Mapping the Valley presents a rare series of poems in alternating voices: one, in and out of hospitals, trying to describe and connect to his world as much as his own self, and the other, digging deeper into the quandaries of fatherhood and responsibility, trying equally to connect and understand what is happening to his son. A unique glimpse into the shifting dynamic of care and caring, depression and recovery, tracked throughout with unflinching honesty.
[cover artwork by Michael B. McFarland]
David J. Bauman is the author of two previous poetry chapbooks: Angels & Adultery (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018) and Moons, Roads, and Rivers (Finishing Line Press, 2017). His poems have been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies, including New Ohio Review, Watershed Review, Citron Review, and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares and Rebels, 2019).
Micah James Bauman has had recent poems published in South 85, Sage Cigarettes, The Electric Rail, and The Blue Nib. He has read his poems at local art galleries, libraries and coffee shops. Micah’s first publishing experiences were with his local library, his hometown newspaper, and his blog at monkeyprodigy.wordpress.com.
Through the Dark
after William Stafford
I’d like a word with the white-tailed buck
whose eyes followed mine one night
from the edge of this woodland road.
You seemed so calm, so self-possessed
as I drove by too fast and you stood still.
Tonight, I plead with you, teach me how
to be both wary and serene. I have driven
this route so many times, I imagine you’re
familiar with my rolling thrum of tires,
though tonight I can’t recall whether fog
carries or deadens waves of sound. I know
these yellow lines go on, beyond this haze
of headlights. I’m trying to keep some form
of faith, and I’d like to put my trust in you.
My son resides in those rooms again, in the
ward between these woods and rows of corn
where I’ve seen your family graze at dusk.
It’s late, but you did not acquire those antlers
by being careless or unwise. There’s a gully
and a stream that can’t be seen below this
tangled wall of mountain laurel. I pulled over
in the dark once, rolled the window down, inhaled
the scents of forest, listened as water poured
over rocks that must be still as your dark eyes.
Is this your way? Sniff of air, flick of ear, steady
before you cross. No sudden step or swerving.
Hooves on blacktop–and into the wild.
–Thank you to The Citron Review for first publishing this poem by David.
Some of the patients had a few screws loose,
which is not to say they were broken forever.
They only required the right tools to put them back together.
A kind man came into the room each day for group therapy.
He taught us how to use tools in the real world.
He had a brilliant analogy for teaching us the tools:
“Think of a nail sticking out from a piece of wood.
If you tried to use a wrench to pull out the nail,
that may not be the best choice. On the other hand,
a hammer’s claw, now that would serve you well.
What kind of tools,” he asked, “do we have
at our disposal?” The man in the cowboy hat,
the one who when asked about his goals for the day
had answered that he wanted to watch football,
said he knew about tools. “I built a shed once.
We used a hammer to pound nails into the wood
and put her together. We had to use a screwdriver
to hang the hinges so the doors would swing.
Yeah, I got tools. Back home. Good tools and I know
how to use ’em. I can’t wait to get back and build
something again, something as beautiful as that shed.”