Winner of the 2009 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize

This book is a tribute to fathers everywhere, but especially to Danny's father, "The Man Who Loved Hummingbirds."

Father is avail
able from your local bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher.  Retail $15, softcover.

Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356

poems by Jeff Daniel Marion

One of my usual stops as I walked home from Rogersville Elementary School was the International Playing Card & Label Company, a hubbub of noise and activity. Here my father and two of my uncles worked. If I stopped in the Ink Room to see my father, he would let me sit at his oak roll-top desk and rummage through its many drawers, give me a notepad to draw on, let me watch Curt, his right hand man, mix the various inks to go upstairs for the giant five-color presses that printed labels for cans and boxes and packages such as Van Camp’s Beans, Donald Duck Orange Juice, Bugler Tobacco, Lucky Strike Cigarettes. On a good day I might get to watch him draw down a color proof of an especially difficult printing project on his Vandercook proof press. Either way, I was in the presence of the smells and subtle hues of color I had grown to love, a real artist’s palette of inks, solvents, paper.
At home with supper over, my father would announce to my mother that he and I were going to the “96” for a while. The “96” was his favorite “loafering” place, a combination gas station and country store, the gathering place for several of the men in the neighborhood. Always his excuse was we needed some bread or a dozen eggs. No matter if we had both, off we went — I to settle back on a drink case swigging on an ice-cold Pepsi and munching peanuts and my father to launch forth in the telling of some new tale, listen to the news of the day, swap jokes, linger in the camaraderie of men who had spent most of their lives together in Hawkins County except for war pulling them away to other countries, or in the case of my father, off to Detroit to find work. Their names are now emblems for me of another world — Zack, Jeeter, Chick, and Barlow. Listening to their stories and watching their faces dramatize the pleasures, angers, sorrows of their lives, I was being initiated into the rites of language, inducted into the mysteries of the word. Here I first learned that what held their world together, what bound them forever, was the brotherhood of talk. Words could charm, entice, evoke, haunt, provoke laughter or tears. A man was only as good as his word — and his word was his bond. Time and time again I was told by my parents — never say you’ll do something and then not do it. The word loomed large and listening to these men at the “96” spin their stories, hold an audience by the sheer glittering power of words, I wanted to be like them, wanted to tell my own stories with such dramatic force.
And so it was I followed in my father’s tracks all those years and still seek them now, nearly twenty years since his passing.

— Jeff Daniel Marion, “The Long Way Around,” Appal. Journal, 2004