Joseph A. Chelius

2000 Poet Laureate

Joseph A. Chelius works as a senior copy editor for a healthcare communications agency in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  He has a B.A. in English from LaSalle University and an M.A. in creative writing from Temple University.  Joe writes frequently about family, baseball, and the city and suburban neighborhoods in which he grew up.  A painstaking reviser of his work, he seeks through evocative imagery and metaphor to illuminate small moments of the common life.  He has published two chapbooks with Pudding House Publications: Taking Pitches (2006) and Row House Yards (2011).  His first full-length collection, The Art of Acquiescence, will be published by WordTech Communications in 2014.  Joe has been a featured reader at local schools and bookstores; the Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA); the Buckingham Peace Fair; the Wordsmith poetry series at Bucks County Community College; the Manayunk Art Center; and the Monday night poetry series at the Philadelphia Free Library.  He and his wife Patricia have lived in Bucks County since 1993.  They have two grown children, Sarah and Andrew.

 

Brief Guide to Playing Right Field

No need to bring a glove
when all the action is somewhere else.
Better to have a book on hand,
to bide your time by listing
the state birds or capitals,
or to stand like a weed
on the same sparse patch—
to sway at the faintest breeze.

Avoid dwelling on every error:
the bad hops and botched flies,
the admonishment of your coaches
to keep your head in the game.
Practice the gentle art of acquiescence.
Let the bossy middle infielders
shift you around the grass,
shade you shallow or deep.

Be alert for signs of munificence:
those rare moments the sun
slips behind clouds as if for a drink;
the chatter of your teammates,
like prayer or a chant for rain;
the overweight umpire’s coming out
between batters as if preparing for guests
as he whisks the plate of dust.

(from Row House Yards, Pudding House Publications, 2011)