Sunday, March 21, 2010

23 poets perform at the SGVPQ #45 publication party

Photo by Jim Babwe depicting from left to right: (top row) Mina V. Kirby, Mira Mataric, Tony Peyser, Rona Garcia Pangilinan, Karen Audioun Klingman, Radomir Luza, Phil Turner; (bottom row) Don Kingfisher Campbell, Karineh Mahdessian, and Lisa Marie Sandoval.

Mina V. Kirby

I sit at the table
not moving
my hands on its surface
feeling its stillness

In front of me
is a plastic bottle
partially filled with water
the water
slightly sloshing
back and forth

Like my mind
which never stops moving
even when my body
is quiet

Perhaps my thoughts
are in synch
with that water
turning invisible ideas
into something
I can see

Mira Mataric

Expected to see a park like
Joy Land Prater or Tivoli
old carousel and ginger bread cookies
shaped like Dalarna horses
Djursgarden has a different beat
human creativity is hard to repeat

walking into the unknown
things are either closer or further away
never as expected
the grass is greener the water clearer
not quite right but fascinating
even getting lost has its charm
perpetual mystique like a shadow
attracting and being attracted

stopping for a uniquely shaped plant
or a tree with an unusual slant
a house with a thicket fence a child twirling in a trance
like the old dervish
a path leading into the shade where no one will invade
a moment of prayer or meditation
with no expectation
to stumble upon a shell an old medieval well
the sun reflecting on water
ripples whispering a lullaby
the mute language familiar
from early childhood even earlier

the birds teaching something
to their own not to be understood
by humans

little cues theirs or mine
a Hans and Gretel story
the labyrinth of life a pleasant strife
lost but shed no tear

this may be the Red Riding Hood story
and the Little Mermaid worry
the house with seven gables
housing dwarfs as a haven
who is tired will enter and willingly surrender

a bridge ahead pulled, pushed and lead
the little dam a waters bed
a déjà vu from before
in a land of nevermore

Jewish Theater and the Tower
Bus 69 from the Centralen
city of Stockholm exuding midnight fumes
Techniska Museet built with persistence
and Sjohistoriska long in existance
boats and yachts lulled into deep sleep
Villa Kalhagen lilac and ivy creep

Huge trees in green nightgowns ready for the night
Embassies and Beldwallhallen locked and inaccessible
even in sleep upright and tight

Old stables and antique homes
majestic facades on Strandwagen
moderato cantabile at the sunset
power and elegance not nouveau riche
a true democracy with a touch of socialist flavor
where everyone has a niche

on the left water and boats
ships and yachts and beautiful stores
each building is an ornate
cornucopia crate.

This culture has long strings
back to the Vikings
Now McDonalds
for an American in Stockholm not Paris
like the Gershwin's hero
but because the hamburgers
are juicy and priced next to zero
popular and lip smacking
the birds outside attacking
the greasy wrapping

a huge fountain on the square
Hamngatan Klaras Terragatan Sergels Torg
roller skating youth with ears and lips pierced
yellow green orange or purple hair
in the Kulturhuset pit
looking like LA punks together sit

touched with poetry they show their personality
roots and identity
raised like long time ago
by a Serbian mother
in a small East European country
the size of Sweden

analyzing my poetry brilliantly
thankful significantly
exchanging E mails and promises
to stay in touch
left with a hunch
Sweden is like the USA
the navel of the world

Tony Peyser
26 MINUS 2

In these tough financial times, I'm doing my part as a Human Resources hatchet man on behalf of the alphabet industry --- I'm terminating two underperforming letters. X (as many of you read on Facebook) has been pink-slipped. Intimate relations will no longer be “s-e-x” but the identically sounding “s-e-c-k-s.” I’m well aware that X launched a desperate campaign on YouTube to showcase his “Xtra” special qualities. However... his vindictive tone put a h-e-c-k-s on any return to his A-Z coworkers.

* * *

The other alphabet casualty at this time is the letter Q. His drama k-w-e-e-n theatrics --- “I must be followed by a U!” --- were his demise. His hissy fit after being fired resulted in a call to Security who soon escorted him from the premises. Contrary to reports posted on his Twitter account, I didn’t lay a hand on Q --- and I have U as a witness.

* * *

This is the e-c-k-s-t-e-n-t of the letter layoffs for now. But W might want to update his resume on After all, he can easily be replaced by two younger versions of the letter U for an entry level salary and no medical benefits.

Rona Garcia Pangilinan

Float white light
Drift in the forest
Show each fine line
Omit colors

Karen Audioun Klingman

I stand on the edge for the third time
the first was a water tower
when I was afraid to be touched
the second was a train track
back in Baltimore before he was born

now it’s St. Mathews steeple
the bell tolls six times
I grab on
swing with it till I’m high enough
to fly
I lift off into happiness
for the first time

Radomir Luza

cinema is not film
cinema has no actors braying like rabbits for background work

all those performers looking for vouchers and membership in the
screen actors guild so many mouths at the trough

the tender red blanket of black daisies suicidal steps and cold knuckles

the cinema i know is more
cinema you haughty toidy toy you live in the transparent galaxy
film noir paintings bridget bardot sliced wrists and at times a great contradiction

heroine reversed the sky and hand grenated wedding rings and picasso paintings

please saint film do not come to me with dying agitators using to use to
get a point across or a movement or a silly silly catholic kaballah vegetable soup

or actors studio or est or no money down or even scientology buying time on screen
to hype everything but film

saliva on sale
and engagements rings cut like steak on a gurney below hell

cinema lets the autumn leaves take care of themselves
film turns them into wet pillows with no halos

film turns thanksgiving day piles into nasty memories of studios and electric shock of garland taylor and monroe and how they slowly faded into 20 foot faces and one inch hearts into the morning rain

Phil Turner

White steel tiger climbs
Blue moon swimming night’s black pool
As stars cry on wind.

Yagyu’s peerless sword
Hunts beauty’s fallen pine needles
Clothed in blue moon glow
Whispering the sands of time
Back to chanting Zen masters.

Trees rain down their lives
Too fast for his lightning sword--
Death’s river flows on,
Not even stars impede it--
The Sword of Life cut shadows

Around nature’s Fall,
As moon drinks blue seas, ever
Waters Bonzai trees.

Don Kingfisher Campbell

on a sunny winter morning
strewn left to right

over a concrete planter
in sixth street alley

a rectangular faded empty
flamingo chime container

a wooden botanical flower
press case with green straps

four upside down laminated
plastic bird portrait placemats

a rainbow of christmas
bulbs still in box bottom

a valentine heart pillow
framed in frilly lace

a black L.A. Kings tee shirt
a white slip, faded blue sweats

black women's dress
shoes and flats

a whirlpool of jackets and tops
atop a sodden trash bag

skuffed white stuffed
teddy bear on its side

clay rabbit planter framed
on two sides by cardboard

an envelope thick with
multiple printed photos

at the curb lip a handmade
doll festooned in royal cape

and on the asphalt a little
pastel orange Hallmark

book titled "why do people
like you have to get sick?"

Karineh Mahdessian

almond eyes roll so far back
in search of shadows
tracing outlines of track-marked thighs
with stained fingertips of last night's
later than late explosion,
she lost to world

as olive skin bares witness
to secretly stashed spoonfulls of
stickiest black tar
injected into black vein streams.

unashamedly, she high, too grown to chase,
she rides dragon
until sun blue

Lisa Marie Sandoval

I cannot eat
I do not sleep
I only wait
for the mist of the moon
to move through my mind
and fog into my future.

I only eat
I live to sleep
I stop waiting
for the strength of the sun
to heat my heart
and blaze meaning into beauty.

I try to stop—not eat
I attempt to catch my dreams
I long to wait
for a savior to spring
into my falling frame
and take away all winter.

I cannot stop my eating
I do not try to sleep
I only wait
for day—as it drops
into night and makes me
relive my horrors in the morning.

I long to eat
I yearn to sleep
I cannot wait
for my cracked vision to change
into rain that repels despair
and pools into hope.

I cannot eat
I cannot sleep
I do not want
feeling better
to come into my head
and change the chart of my soul.

I smile and eat
I finally sleep
I choose to wait
for tomorrow I change
into dust and ashes
and will no longer feel the seasons of death.

Karine Armen

May we have peace
on earth
in our countries
with our colleagues
with our neighbors
in our families
with our relatives
within us

May we have
healthy bodies for a good life
the wisdom for a fulfilling life
the power to empower the weak
the strength to handle crisis
the wisdom to choose correctly
the self-esteem to guide others
the self love to love others

Free from ego
may we be
strong enough to bring

Jim Babwe, CaLokie, and Barbara Cogswell

Jim Babwe

two types of hammers
ten flowers
a corner arabesque
and a horseshoe
stand above mortared broken glass,
thumbnail-sized rocks,
bits of tile
collected by a man
who walked a trail
parallel to the railroad tracks.

his slightly stooped-at-the-waist walk--
arms hanging heavy as he trudges
past my grandparents' house,
carrying a twisted length of re-bar
and a paint bucket.

mayor sent bulldozers
to level his work,
but he taught
the mayor
a lesson about the strength
of objects held together
by will and wet dirt cured by sun.

Heavy machinery retreated--
defeated by part of a coffee saucer
(blue ink windmills on a pale white background),
defeated by fragments of clear glass
painted with most of a dairy's name,
defeated by jagged green fragments and the number 7
(with a U and some of the other two letters)
defeated by stucco and steel spiraled toward the sky,
defeated by bottle caps,
bed springs,
pieces of a toaster,
and the impression
of clearly visible initials
above the date.


All around our tiny planet in a tiny galaxy is empty space.
I have to take a crap after making bet for first race.
In relation to the infinite I am nothing.
In relation to the nothing, I am everything.
As if the very searchlight of God was focused on me,
I picked up my racing form and began reading it.

By reason I seek to comprehend the infinity of things beyond it.
I’ve found this place... you should see the air, light and space.
The endless enormity of an impersonal universe engulfs me.
Rush to bar for shot of scotch after second race.
Miss the love shadows-- When she left, she took almost everything.

What was before and will be after, I know nothing.

How can all there is come from nothing?
Unless it bursts from your soul like a rocket, don’t do it.
Like Einstein or Hawking I want an explanation for everything.
With heart not reason, I’ll soar throughout space.
I pass gold poppies by Seabiscuit’s statue during third race.
It’s so sad: the flowers are still trying to please me.

If I wager on God’s existence what will happen to me?
If God is, I win all. If he isn’t, I lose nothing.
I haven’t won shit as we come to the fourth race.
As stars move through space they dent or warp it,
They say deep in earth live Creatures from Outer Space.
At a black hole entrance, I come to the end of everything

but through its exit, I may come to the beginning of everything.
A crazy alcoholic woman once threw Pound’s Cantos at me.
What we think is gravity is the strong curvature of space.
Wild: my body being there and filled with nothing.
It’s still miraculous whether the beginning is from a thou or it.
Can’t get my ass off barstool and miss fifth race.

I break my losing streak in the sixth race.

From the precipice I leap into the void or everything.
I told that tough motherfucker, “You can make it!”
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me.
Yet like the universe I have come into being out of nothing.
Nothing but space between us... care to close that space?

After the seventh race, Blaise says to me,
“Chinaski, you have everything to gain but will lose nothing.”
“I wish it were that simple,” I tell this fucking space ball.

Barbara Cogswell

Many uses have been found for a length of rope
Take the one hanging tight in the campanile
It brings to life an object of brass
What metal sounds better for a bell?
The bell ringer hangs loose with his bong
It’s what goes in it that rings his chimes

Now this ringer of chimes
Has no need for a rope
Or anything else but his bong
While he hunkers down in the campanile
The rest of us must wait to hear the bell
For the ringer to polish the brass

He simply doesn’t remember to burnish the brass
But composes a ballad, influenced by chimes
Just too much energy needed to ring the bell
You’ve got to stand up and pull on the rope!
Why is the ceiling so high, in this campanile?
For something useful to do, he loads up his bong

He’ll sing the ballad about his bong
Make plans for polishing the brass
He’ll spend the night in this warm campanile
Hope he doesn’t run out of smoke for chimes
He tried swinging from wall to wall on the rope
Inadvertently ringing the bell

Which was nice, but he said “to hell with the bell”
As the ballad turned sad, about his bong
It dropped and broke while swinging on the rope
He’ll have to replace it, if he can come up with the brass
To live happily ever after, he needs those chimes
For these lonely hours in the campanile

This bell ringer earned his PHD and left, no harm done to the campanile
The sun reflects each day off the brilliant bell
Gaffito on the wall reads “different times ring different chimes”
Of course nobody has forgotten “bong”
Which once meant the sound induced by striking a bell made of brass
By nothing more than pulling on a rope

Every campus has a campanile and hears at least one bong
If it’s lucky, from a bell made of polished brass
And somebody rings their chimes while swinging on the rope

Photo by Jim Babwe depicting from left to right: Jon Epstein, Helen Graziano, Jeffry Jensen, Perry Duane Brenner, Eli Goitein, William Goldstein, Toti O'Brien, and (seated) Margaret Elgin.

Jon Epstein

I'm no expert on sex. I just know I like it, and want more than I get. For the longest time, I wanted a larger penis. I don't know why, it's been adequate for creating two fantastic kids, and it seems every woman I've ever been with is more interested in my tongue anyway. But being a semi observant Jew, it all makes sense. You probably didn’t know there's actually 613 commandments, that's 603 more than the ten that get press. At least one or two, and probably more have to do with sex. They’re rather explicit too.
One says it's a man's duty to satisfy the woman first during intimacy; that might have been the clincher in my Episcopalian wife's conversion. The one I like is that Jews are supposed to have weekly relations, preferably on Saturday, our Sabbath; comes under the heading of “Be fruitful and multiply.” Now, I wouldn't say my wife and I are on the same page libido wise, but on a good day, were definitely at the same restaurant.

Helen Graziano

Mud Pot
Pagan ritual
Bright, blazing, phallic
I steal fire—I grab the moment

Fire pot ignites
Rekindles blazing youth
Incendiary, Uplifting
Torch song

Fire pot
Druid delight
Fluttering, flickering flame
I burn the candle at both ends

Defy gods
Fire pot sparkles
Cautious youth, bold freedom
“Let the fire fall” in Yosemite

My mind
Is my own church
Questing, Asking, Seeking
Altar fires burn-- inspiring
My muse

Jeffry Jensen

I’m the Milky Way on the upper
lip of the work day with crossed
legs looking vacant as a feather.
As always, work was saturated with
the gravity of chocolate and melting into
the teeth of a forgotten childhood that
was burned in sugar and as
modern as pure desert salsa.
The city sweltered in the abstract
enslavement of bartered purity, sick of the
exchange rate that slices fish out of
the torso of fragrant seduction.
A demented concrete river choked on
the essence of a slimy mythology.
I gut out the vinyl philosophy of sweating
up to my corporate gills as another
mushrooming neon night crushes all feeling.
Masked in the mud of distain, I shuffle
down a broken outline of outrageous fortune.
As veins of dusty carnage crisscross the horizon,
a swollen sweet potato halo hovers over
a loose bed of tainted language.
My blistered tongue is no longer backed
by the coin of any breathing realm.
Brick becomes bomb becomes a city
bus ready to be detonated by the kiss of
a destination that is ready to go up in smoke.

Perry Duane Brenner

No Hallelujah for the absurd dine and dash.
Religious molestation: Godly spiders moving about the world-

wide web of their deceit. The church of sinful greatest hits; Thou shalt
not steal: tithe runs to Colombia to double your pesos in a dope deal gone

blasphemoso. Call Dog the Bounty Hunter to prey for us and track
the tithe, only to get arrested for indecent haircuts in a public

place. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors daughter! But Preacher
spins a new tail to chase. Momma and Daddy thinks she’s being

sanctified, I suppose she will see the light. I reckon
she’ll learn the meaning of The Bible Belt.

Eli Goitein

All day it’s down to the shreds
to where all that’s left at quit-time
is a gorge carved out of the ribs
And wires tight in the legs
Holding out for the weekend

days on the worksite
Command a steely view;
a frugal regimen beating a tattoo
on stretches of tautened skin
sets the tempo of our
putting up and fitting in the pieces

Screw together, then muscle and
manoeuver steel wall-frames into place and
Shot-bolt to the concrete is what we do
Before the next crew comes in
To span and hang sheetrock,
Spackle and sand and smooth to
miles of powder-wall finish

But the job wears on,
rolling costs, a running clock
exact a toll/ momentum falters, work
grinds slow grit into the gears
no way forward, no return;
parties retreat behind barricades,
alter forms, write off promises made.
I sigh and sign away domains in Jericho
suspend the term of contract.

Crowds and markets shudder and lurch
through an age of aftershocks.
On the scaffold-rig
We see the new construction pickup man
talking into his phone.
We peer, barely a glimpse to be had
Through the debris, of
Motive moving under the bone but
the job will get done
no one wants to go it alone; The kingdom
will come, on earth
though maybe not
as it is in heaven

William Goldstein

Handwriting takes the place of psychological insight.
Never reading the diary was a brilliant decision
despite the lengthy proceedings now ensuing.

I maintain credibility
with the accused
by farting everyday in the shower.
I cough to signify displeasure.

Exhuming the field report I discover
the formalist etchings of a lich
with which a settlement may be procured.

Returning to the Bat Cave
I find my wigs in disarray.

As Jews
our natural enemy
is constipation.

Pull up your pants,
walk off into the sunset
like a man.

Toti O’Brien

Like when I was ten
and wore clogs
still the one
of my steps
is my favorite

I adore when the heels
wear out and
(although treading on
is more dangerous)

the tick tock of my
and right
finds the


Oh I guess I
remember then
country paths at sunset
streets of my land or roman
cobblestones may be

But in fact I also
love flip flops, sandals
soft dance pumps
fit like gloves
cowboy boots and elegant
satin slippers

As well as I appreciate
in terms of support
carpets, sand beaches and
grass where I delight
bare foot


Thank you
mother earth
for letting me step on
you with myriads of
clicking sounds
or mute touches

Thank you, for each
time that you
let me fall
Thanks, whenever I slip
for stopping my fall

Margaret Elgin

Visions and lies.
Fill my skies
Keep your lies to yourself.
You don't need me to sort them out.
And I won't do it,--
I survive, -- to try to maintain.
I'm not quite sure what I'm striving for.

Swiftly--take away--
my purpose.

My reason
for continuing to try.
So that I can fall,--
from the sky.
Actually,--don't take
it away.

Breathe in,--an excess
of needs.
I don't know what I'm
mad at.
I'm trying to run,--when I can't walk
at all.
Without falling.

Charles Harmon

River conjures change
Rapids, shallows, waterfalls
Harness the power.

Tonight Devil’s night;
Tomorrow All Saints Day.
Such a quandary.

Power must corrupt
Absolute power enslaves
Also the tyrants.

Cosmic wheel revolves
Revolution and reform
Destruction creates.

Learning how to steer
‘Tween Scylla and Charybdis—
Helmsman now awake.

Our near ancestors
We would call barbarians.
And our descendants?

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