By g emil reutter
Released in 2015 by Moonstone Press, Lost Autographs by Peter Baroth is slated for a second printing. Baroth is known for his irony, hipster meets beat and blunt realism. So seven years after its release why should you pick up a copy? First of all because you didn’t get the first edition. Secondly, Lost Autographs is 94 pages of excellent narrative poetry coupled with amazing character development.
Baroth a lawyer, artist, poet, musician, became a lawyer following in his Hungarian Grandfather’s foot steps. But tragedy is at the core of the poem, Grandfather:
Maybe I secretly wanted to become a lawyer
like my grandfather
with artists for friends,
a couple of aristocrats for clients,
and a governess for the children.
What apparently didn’t dawn on me quickly enough
was that into the eschatological vortex that was 1944
disappeared not only Marcel Baroth
and his Buddapest
but truly the whole of Mitteleuropa.
Baroth follows with the poem, The Plant, about his father’s transformation to an engineer that led to Baroth’s own transformation into the fabric of Philadelphia. Each and every time he arrives home from a trip, drives the interstate, he sees his father:
When I take I-95 to or from Philly,
I inevitably look for the Boeing Helicopter Plant,
the site of the last third of my father’s career.
It was engineers that they needed here,
so my father, educated as an industrial designer,
hustled to fit the scheme.
Baroth tackles the horror of dialysis in two poems that bring the reader into the process with striking realism:
From Dialysis Tedium, opening lines:
Old men. Mentally Challenged. Crack addicts. Me.
The ink-black hands of the clock move dirge-like
in the face of these four hour sessions.
Three times a week.
The techs here are like gods—glamourous as they seem
among all the bodies attached to machines.
They do their best to motivate. Inspire.
Like cornermen in some lost bout.
And again in the poem, The Bid D, opening lines:
Almost six years on dialysis.
Did the world leave me behind
or did I leave her behind?
My ego is big enough to ask.
So many years entwined, entrapped, a Prometheus of the Kidney.
People came, went—died.
And yet I had seemed to lose the flair for fire much earlier.
Trauma gave me trouble learning
Anything I didn’t already know.
In this collection we journey with Baroth from the Midwest to Philadelphia, Florida and beyond. His stark realism flows through the book, but tenderness is not lost such as these lines from Summer Smile:
A woman I’ve come here with
and will leave with as well,
will wade through the traffic with back to Philadelphia,
in whose eyes I will always see
the infinity of the sea,
the flight of the gulls,
and in whose arms
I will always feel the fine summery buzz of the Sun.
Yes, deep into February
I will look into her face and see the soughing dune grass
on the bright lip of a summer day
and I will smile like some wizened beach bum
who, in his day, has recovered his trove of pirate coins
from the shifting sands.
So what can you say about a second edition? Well just maybe the second time around with Peter Baroth is worth the shot.
You can find the book here: Lost Autographs-Peter Baroth – Moonstone Arts Center
g emil reutter is a writer of poems, stories and on occasion literary criticism. He can be found at: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/