When Great Trees Fall: Remix

Black and white image of a fallen tree on an i...

Lake Claremont, Western Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the beginning of June I had recorded a poem on SoundCloud in honor of Maya Angelou, and I wrote a about how her work had influenced me. I don’t really have anything new to add to that this evening, except to say that it was my friend Jody who brought the poem to my attention. And upon reading it, I knew I had to record it.

The poem paints an emotional picture of how the deaths of great people, ones whom we admire, affect us. I don’t think Dr. Angelou ever thought of this poem as something that would refer to her own self. But despite criticism and prejudice, great is exactly what she was.

You can find the entire text of the poem “When Great Trees Fall,” read the article, and listen to my original recording of it by clicking right here. But I would also like to share with you a remix done this week by my friend, the caretaker, the Hausmeister as he mysteriously calls himself. He has done me the honor before of laying down tracks with my voice, and I always enjoy his creations. It’s fascinating what emotions can be heightened and complimented when spoken word meets music and mixology.

What a joy and a privilege when ones love of an art inspires another in his or her own work. Thank you for letting me share this, my friend.

100,000 Hits and a Face Lift

A Small Milestone

A small but encouraging milestone.

It happened on the eve of my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I was waiting for it, but it was a pleasant birthday gift just the same. And my aversion to meta-blogging aside, I finally have time to tell you about it today.

So I am hoping my long-term readers will forgive my obvious self-absorption and extreme narcissism as I get this post out of my system.

My period of months of working two jobs is now about to settle into mostly one job and more time for my poems and projects, so this seems like a good springboard into the next phase of my blogging activity.

Luckily I managed, quite by luck, to catch the moment on the stats page when The Dad Poet hit the benchmark of 100,000 hits. Honestly, it took quite a while to get there, and I feel sheepish when I think about how I started this blog as a combination of exercise and therapy in September of 2008.

But then again, those first four years were little more than three to four thousand hits each. It wasn’t until I started blogging in earnest and sharing my videos for National Poetry Month in 2012 that the whole thing suddenly burst into blossom, bringing over six times more traffic than before. And it’s never returned to those early low numbers. .Not bad, I thought, for a part-time poetry blogger who throws in a bit of nature and a great deal about his family.

We focus too much on stats because they can be so utterly fascinating. Unfortunately they can also be puzzling. My best day ever was last September when search engines returned tons of hits for my review of Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem “One Today.” Odd thing was, the inauguration was not in September, and I’ve never been able to figure out why the spike happened that day.

A rise in views always happens in April when I’m posting readings of favorite poems every day, either on SoundCloud or YouTube. But this also happens around Valentine’s Day whether I post or not because folks are looking for love poems. It seems that love poetry is always a popular search, no matter the time of year.

top posts yesterday

This graphic shows the popularity of posts just yesterday, and right behind the main pages are posts from my series Love Poems You Wish You Had Written. This sort of thing is ALWAYS the case here on the blog.

No, seriously, every day. Usually, as yesterday, E. E. Cummings leads the pack with Walt Whitman gaining right behind. Sometimes old Walt passes his young protegé and often Wendy Cope, shown in third place here, cuts loose and breaks ahead of everyone.

There is also a graph where I can see who is searching for what, and what Bing-ing and Goog-ling leads readers to my blog. Although lately with many of Google’s search terms encrypted there is less information than there used to be.

Still along with the others I’ve mentioned, searches for Maya Angelou, Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman,” and the illustrations by Charles Keeping get tons of searches. A blogging hint: If you use illustrations, always include the hidden description of the image you upload. This helps you show up in image searches.

And while the list below is nicely representative, there are times when very strange search terms lead people to your site. That may be worth a meta-blog post of its own some day. The Laughing Housewife sometimes posts ones that bring quite a chuckle.

Search engine termsI’ve been thinking for sometime that the Dad Poet blog was in need of a face-lift and a more grown-up look. So in honor of the 1000,000 hit milestone I bring you this new theme. Many of the header images from now on will be nature shots from here in Pennsylvania, including the one above which is a view of my home town here where the rivers meet. It was taken by my good friend John Helwig and I am grateful for his permission to use it. I’ll incorporated more on sort of a random rotating basis in the future, but this one feels like home.

I also did quite a bit of tweaking and agonizing over the details in the header, footer and sidebar. They are of course not the most important aspects of this blog, but I want them to be relevant and useful. Cosmetically I am very pleased with the way it all looks now, though there is still some serious updating to do in the bio pages, particularly on the Poet page regarding recent publications and upcoming events.

And don’t worry, I know many of you have expressed your fondness for photos of my sons and me. This will continue of course, but they are getting much bigger these days, and I’d like to grace the pages of the blog with some newer and better quality photos of them. I don’t want them to be merely background decorations.

To those who have been reading here for some time now, I am grateful. Thank you for your eyes, a tiny spot in your day that could be spent doing other things (especially when it comes to this sort of navel gazing post). And thank you for all the likes and the comments. I look forward to embarking on a period of my life now where I can once again be a little more involved in this WordPress world and the writers and readers here that bring me joy. Thank you!

Saturday Song with Puddles Pitty Party

puddlesLess than a half hour left in my Saturday and so I bring you a Saturday Song feature that needs little to no introduction. And to be honest, it’s more fun with next to no explanation. Maybe you’ve seen him already, but I just fell in love with this seven foot clown this week, and man, can he sing!

You can look up Puddles, the Sad Clown with the Golden Voice at PuddlesPityParty.com, like it says on his suit case, but the moment you watch one of the few videos on his YouTube channel, you will find scores of links to videos taken by fans, and unsuspecting strangers on their phones and cameras at various clubs from Seattle, Washington to Bethlehem, PA, including this sad moment in Atlanta. One of my favorites is a very serious, and apparently utterly spontaneous rendition of “Dancing Queen” at Joe’s Coffee Shop in Nashville.

This Saturday Song below was introduced to me by a friend on Facebook this week, and if you don’t recognize the original, you’ll have to look up Lorde’s version. But if you listen to the radio at all, even just in the store, you’ll recognize the lyrics quickly enough. And while Weird Al’s parody was priceless, THIS one, with Puddles and Postmodern Jukebox is undoubtedly my favorite cover of “Royals:”

 Bonus Clip–Puddles, Acapella:

“The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with…

David J. Bauman:

This is one I’d like to try. Funny, and frightening how true this is of people. I’ll have to put Wallace’s book on my reading list.

Originally posted on Words for the Year:

“The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know everybody’s always going around all the time with something wrong and believing they’re exerting great willpower and control to keep other people, for whom they think nothing’s ever wrong, from seeing it.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

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Thursday Love Poem Throw Back: “Cleaving”

love-picture-quotes_3019-1I know my UK friends are already on to Friday where they used to post Flashbacks, before the silly hashtag of #TBT. And while I think Throw Back Thursday was just a trick used to freshen up the classic Flashback Friday, the trick fails for me. As I’ve said before, if you are a fisherman in Pennsylvania (not that I am, but I come from a family of them), throw-backs are fish that were too small to keep, not enough meat in them, not material for digesting. Toss ‘em back and let them grow a while before reeling them in next year.

Still, it is Thursday, the day for the infamous Thursday Love Poem . But it’s only Thursday for a little while so maybe we are close enough to Flashback Friday for me to post a Thursday poem that I placed on these pages two and a half years ago. I guess in the poem I was the Throwback, not a keeper. So perhaps this fits all possible meanings of both hashtagged days.

You can read the post from two point five years ago here, and how my two youngest boys help me film, produce and edit, not only the film, but the poem itself. Read more about Thursday Love Poems and their origin as a regular feature by clicking here. These are not your grandmother’s love poems, as they are inspired by Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, entitled “Thursday.”

AND if I loved you Wednesday,
Well, what is that to you?
I do not love you Thursday–
So much is true.

And why you come complaining
Is more than I can see.
I loved you Wednesday–yes–but what
Is that to me?

The coolest thing for me about this piece wasn’t so much the story as the chance to play with a word that means two opposite things, what some call an autoantonym, or the word I am more familiar with, contronym. To cleave could mean to cling tightly to or to cut in two, as in the word cleaver, a rather scary image for me in this video.

Why not look up more contronyms and maybe try a poem exploring the tension between the two meanings of a word yourself?

Read more about Thursday Love Poems and their origin as a regular feature by clicking here.

Don’t Let Them Break the Internet


This is how websites will look, except not as cute, if big cable companies get their way and charge “fastlane” prices that little guy, indie and independent websites cannot afford.

Look, the net has been a great format for previously unheard voices from blogging to video to music. Bandcamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, WordPress and so many more formats exist that allow us some freedom in what we want to read, watch and listen to. I’m not prepared to allow the likes of Comcast to suck the beauty and crazy individuality of the internet.

Are you?

There are only a few days left for public comment to the FCC about this. Let’s make a ruckus, a virtual riot. Contact your lawmakers and tell them what you want.  Tell them if they side with corporate greed over their constituents, you’ll do more than respond at the polls in November.

Join the Battle for the Net and find out how you can get involved.