Sunday, March 4, 2012

22 poets read from SGVPQ 53

Joseph Gardner

One Of These Days

It’s been 3 years now
since you passed.
You'd've been 62 today...
We had always talked about doing it
for years upon years
and it was always one of these days.
And we sincerely meant it
a solemn vow between us
We talked about doing it
at Dennys; the morning I left for the Army
We talked about it
in the backyard the first time I got married
and it was still one of these days.
It was when going through my first divorce
you and I
took your little red Toyota pick up to the Kern River
fishing poles in back.
it was a hot July
not even the mosquitos were biting...
you taught me to drive a stick shift
we talked for hours under beautiful stars
passing smoke around the campfire...
and for one weekend
it was one of those days
we finally did it...
we were father and son.


Here Comes Gertrude Stein-

Queen of Pasadena Library’s Doo-Dah Parade--
in her “rose is a rose is a rose” float! Then Walt Whitman
before Redwood Chainsaw Massacre Marching Band
“Pioneers, O Pioneers...” Next--Cleopatra in front of Langston Hughes
“America...” from a Nile River gallery deck and a
Uncle Tom and Simon Legree pull oars before Bukowski
in four-wheel bathtub with Gregor Samsa metamorphosed as cockroach
on six legs behind the dirty old man! Fortunately Falstaff is
behind him with a mucous scooper and in front of Allen Ginsberg
the Beat Poets’ HOWL-e-lu-jah chorus followed by Emily Dickinson
out of her casket to swat the fly she hears
over her--Hey there’s Ezra Pound in cowboy suit
along over a broom horse with his fascist gun in the West and
blank verse bullets above a raft on the Mississippi
Jim, Huck and what’s this...? Langston Hughes again
“America...?” Look--Romeo’s at a balcony
Good golly--Mrs. Molly Bloom! Ah, Titania and amiable ass Bottom
in mad Midsummer Night’s Dream followed by Joseph Conrad
river boat deep into the Congo--Can you believe it? Langston Hughes
“America...” Does this guy know rivers or what? Here comes Moby Dick
Captain Ahab and Ishmael
banner, SAVE THE HUMANS! Omigod! J. Alfred Prufrock is
to disturb the universe


Denise Walsh


Of course my mother’s face is the mirror.
My father’s heart is an underwater cave.
A moray eel lives there. Needles
line his mouth. I am a clown fish, unaware.

Of course the field is mined with clover.
Stars explode in northern skies.
Lakes are the craters they leave.

Of course my words careen against planets.
My thoughts are the rings around Saturn.
My brother is my quasar,
my dead sun, my dark star.

after Nadia Tueni
1935 – 1983

Lori Wall-Holloway

Cyberspace Junk

Another chain e-mail
slows down my line.
Do I read?
Do I forward?
Do I even waste my time?

One promises fortune
if I forward to my friends.
Another predicts calamity
if I choose not to send.

One superstitious E-mail
creates fear through the air.
Then I open up a G-Mail
and find a request for prayer.

Other mail in my Inbox
may be full of spam.
So I need to be sure
it does not touch my RAM.

I don’t want to get ensnared
or caught up in some lies.
So, Click – Delete
in the trash you go.
I’m no longer preoccupied.

Maja Trochimczyk

The Hands of Mercy

The golden hands of Quan-yin
embrace the world, point to the subtle
meaning of wisdom, give us tools
for enlightenment – a jewel
to grant all wishes, a rope
to tie us to the rule of the law
– immutable, gentle, persistent –
a globe to remind us that
the Wheel of Fortune is spherical
– so many ways of falling off –
and a horn to call for help in distress
– wait, you are not alone –

Quan-yin smiles with approval.
There is still time for a shy gesture
of affection, reaching out to caress
the cheeks of the loved one
– you are real, you are here –

Light fills me to my fingertips,
circulates through my veins
dhyana mudra – anjali mudra
My palms open and close.
I smile like the Goddess
of Mercy with veiled eyes,
hands clasped in twin gestures
of meditation and prayer
open – closed – open –

NOTE: Quan-yin is a Buddhist deity (bodhisattva) of compassion, sometimes portrayed with multiple arms to represent her various attributes. Dhyana mudra is an open-palmed gesture of meditation, Anjali mudra is a gesture of touching hands in salutation, or benediction.

Rosalee Thompson

October l959

I knew this guy from marvelous Mars
I tied him up in a red wodden Marcel Duchamp chair
handsome hands behind his broad back
Poured red rumba rum down his pretty little throat
Hardkissed him till he was plutonic rock granite hard
Zipped him up in an electric flying suit
Sent him back to marvelous Mars
with a bag of Grandma's chacha crunch chocolate chip crazy cookies
Out of this world
grass green fluid still wet between my legs

My heart is Alive
I stretch like the coolest kitty in the sun

Wanda VanHoy Smith

Wait A Minute

If you don't like southern California weather natives tell you “Wait a minute,”
It's a true rumor that the climate changes radically from minute to minute in the land of endless Summer..
Wear a sun-dress to a rap concert at Hollywood Bowl but also bring a wrap and a blanket.
When the sun goes down the goosebumps rise.
Why do you think Gidget and her surfer pals bring blankets to the beach?
For warmth not for X-rated scenes.
Yesterday, El Ninjo blew so hard it uprooted trees blew shingles off of condos, even smog dissipated.
The wind blew rain clear from Disneyland across Orange county into L.A where there wasn't a cloud in the azure sky.
A recent resident from Chicago asks “Where are those warm winter days I heard about. My feet are freezing.”
I say “Wait a minute.”
Tomorrow the promised land of oranges and avocados may be hot as jalapeƱos or cold as a divorce.
If the temperament of your man is tempestuous if his temperature is falling below zero and his words and touch are cold if he flirts with the pretty woman in the bar.
Wait a minute.
Don't rave.
When you get him alone in the car.
there could be a heat wave.

Thelma Reyna

Manicure Diva: Hong Hanh, Apricot Blossom

When they call her “diva,” she ducks her head, her thick black hair falling
like curtains to shield her cheeks.
Her head rises only to greet clients or reach for tools she wields with
grace and skill unmatched in that salon.

Hong Hanh: manicurist extraordinaire, epitome of modesty and
her clients rave.
They heap praise upon their diva, petite lady of amber eyes and
perfect teeth, artist who cuts and trims and swooshes and colors and
transforms the mundane to majestic.
They dip into Calvin Klein and Kate Spade bags for tips to stuff into
Hong’s flowered pockets or press into her hand.

But when doors are locked, and
Americans are gone, and
lamplight paints the sidewalks yellow, and
tall glass windows turn black and cold, and
Hong flips the OPEN sign around, and
sweeps the floor in urgent arcs,

A pall hangs in the shop. Specters float beside her at the sink, as she rinses
scissors and clippers and fruit for the shrine behind the counter.
Hong Hanh: tiny woman of Saigon fields, of brothers slain in wars and
sisters enslaved in beds.
Hong Hanh: aborter of two children from rapist monsters.
Hong Hanh: daughter of parents abandoned in a land lost in mist and

Her hands work magic by day, and pray by night.
Her head bows over hands by day, and bows on the ground by
night, tears staining photos and rugs and wooden floor.
Her heart lies calm and meek in the salon by day, and flails with grief by
each night,
her escape across oceans to freedom unable to free her soul.

Alice Pero


When her thoughts are muddy
she goes to search for clams
down the long stretch of stinky sand,
oil-slicked to the sluice
where the clams hide their sour insides
around a hard shell

Her knife slices open to get the meat
and the mysterious hinge, how it holds
the life of it to keep it shut,
the more the life, the tighter the clamp,
as though its secret gave it license to
withhold itself from death

When the mind turns to muck
she looks for the hardest thing
to break open, to give sustenance
she walks softly down the long stretch
past the wheeze and itch of mind
digs deep to find hidden treasure,
a mollusk or lost purpose

Terry McCarty

Writer’s Block Explained—Version Three

Stare at the blinking cursor.
Watch it pulsate.
Count the number
of cursor blinks
in a sixty-second time period.
Retrieve stopwatch from desk drawer.
Count the number
of minutes it takes to stare
at the throbbing cursor
before self-hypnosis takes place
and you enter a land
where something surreal
may occur
to generate verse
filling in white space
on a computer screen
where a cursor flashes on-off-on-off
and waits patiently
for something to make it move.

Vanessa Marsot

Yankee Doodle All the Way

My mother told me I wasn’t big enough to hold his leash
But he looked so nice
I knew I could do it
When the grown ups weren’t looking
I went up to him and said nice doggie
Wanna go for a walk
He wagged his tail so I knew it was ok
I untied him from the tree
And we went walking
Him in his golden fleece
Me in my special dress
It lit up and sang Yankee Doodle when you pressed on it
Off we snuck down the street
We had such a nice time seeing all the birds in the trees
and the pretty lawns
All of a sudden a cat appeared
Doggie took off after that cat
I wouldn’t let go
Cuz I was a big girl
And I knew I could do it
He dragged me down the street
My knees scraping the sidewalk
As he chased that cat
And my dress sang Yankee Doodle all the way

Gary Imperial

A Thousand Whens

Oh to be a thousand whens,
with you my thousand wheres.
Together sigh a thousand whys
as the two of us lie bare.

And what of wintry days of fate,
what will all the Gods allow?
Of future days I cannot say,
just know I love you now.

Karineh Mahdessian


a boy of only six
with unruly onyx hair
& cherub-esque cheeks
seeks refuge
from parents who
shatter dreams
with indigo lips
purple eyes.

one knees,
he begs.

God has eavsdropped on his

"Tell me, this is storm before the calm, right?"



God responds.

breathe. just breathe.




go to your safe place

"Even if I have no where to go?"

Especially when you have no where to go.

just breathe.

This too shall pass.

Sharmagne Leland-St.John-Sylbert


speckled starling
seen through grate
perched upon
the garden gate

forsaking bough
branch or nest
on picket fence
he came to rest

fluffing feathers
as he preens
pinks and greens
framed by fuchsias

while hollyhocks
stand at ease
up the trellis
climb sweet peas

tendrils coil
and twine around
string we tied
above the ground

‘neath this
shady, leafy bower
butterfly flits
from flower to flower

along the furrow
near the berm
starling espies
a hapless worm

starling pulls
with all his might
elusive worm
slips out of sight

I turn to the room’s
grey walls
shelves stacked full
with antique dolls

cigar box with
cedar scent
house the letters
that he sent

writ with pen
in flowery hand
a ring that was
the cigar’s band

mailed so very
long ago
knotted tight
with ribbon’s bow

flowered stamps
from Saigon
I glance out the dormer
starling’s gone.

Claire Koehler

Coup of the Falling Star

Night sky blooms into wizard’s height
Holding out its stars like piccolo notes,
One ready to dance out of quiet formation
To sparkle and play in a new location.

Moon rises up to view the whole matter,
Warming up the darkness
of the crisp white winter
With her luminous face, not full, just a splinter.

The stars, ready now, allow the moon her choice
And fall into harmony, sparkling with no hue.
Moon settles easily without another thought,
Greets the stars as always, the coup now forgot.

lalo kikiriki

The Musician's Wife's Tale

Who says April is the cruelest month? – try August.

Parched, I go to the fridge
to score a Seagram's cooler
(I relish those sweet red drinks they call
though they're neither)
and there's not even one left!
You've drunk them all or served them to your
derelict musician friends and,
in their place,
(as if I wouldn't notice)
have stocked
a bitter dark ale
or something equally vile.
At first I'm pissed,
then I remember
my secret stash
in the downstairs icebox,
behind the drywall and the plywood sheets
you never managed to turn into
a studio,
and that reminds me to get pissed again.
But I move aside the building materials,
open the icebox door, and DAMN!
you've got to those drinks, too,
and replaced them
with a rancid goat's head
you've been saving
from the last cabrita feast
for your album cover.
I head for the knife drawer…
Then I hear your Harley
roar into the drive…
"Hey, babe come see what I gotcha!"
and there's that ruby glint
at the top of the stairs.
I grab the fourpack, thinking,
"you just saved your life,"
"Hi boys" I smile,
as the rest of the band
files by.

Karen Audioun Klingman

Do you remember?

late fall
sometime before your 4th birthday
sun low in the sky
hanging there

just hanging on
as if deciding whether
or not to settle
into bruised sunset

did you smell
scarlet smoke of dried leaves
burning from a basket-like urn
into afternoon light

did you see
me looking out from
the kitchen window
through the pussy willow tree

at you, barely holding
Zip against your chest
your winter coat open on such
a warm autumn day

did you feel
his body wiggle
fur slip through
your grasp

did you hear
the pain
a whimper
before the quiet

that lasted decades

Sandra Irwin

me without you

the microphone groaning
long after the speaker
abandoned the podium

the one thing
on the discarded grocery list
not crossed off

the adapter left curled
exhaling vampire electricity
yearning after
its disconnected device

the collateral damage civilian
massaging what’s left of her thigh
trying to uncross the crossed toes
at the end of her amputated leg

Susanna Gutierrez

And then- there will be heat

My throat is irritated in a red hot mess.
My legs immovable, like there were 10 clinched fists in my thighs.
My stomach feels like there is a huge fisherman’s knot protruding from the insides of my abdominal wall.
My eyes ready to close, but this poem won’t let me; the dark sagging flesh underneath them reveals all my carousing with the vampire dream killer.
I’m cursing at the wind 10 times
Over these cold winter mornings.
In an icicle cave, I’m like a hangman with a rope around my neck and my tongue won’t go back in; all the while my body remains twisted like a pretzel.
(poet will perform a raspberry noise with the tongue while reading the last line)
This “Sunshine” State blows!

Lorenzo Demery

No Light Through the Grey Clouds

Broken Ebony lives
Pushing ivory rocks
A ghetto Entrepreneur
With Money stuffed socks
In this grey jungle
Below the concrete canopy

The People are Mad
The desperation is thick
Our choices lack Variety
Our children are sick
In this grey jungle
Below the concrete canopy

A Life lacking Details
An Essence so Complex
Wanting more than to simply Dwell
Is The Source of hope in the projects
In this grey jungle
Below the concrete canopy

The Hustler with Time to Spin
Looking for a Glamour girl
These Two Mundos chopped by a Blender
Violence is Vogue, watch the Revolver swirl
In this grey jungle
Below the concrete canopy

Views of grand advertisements
Listen as the Billboards sing
To Allure your dreams close
And to choke what hope they bring
In this grey jungle
Below the concrete canopy

Don Kingfisher Campbell

Prose Poem Inspired By Perfection

inside a library backroom painted guacamole green
containing three hard styrofoam folding tables
laid end to end down the center enrectangled by
twelve chrome-framed black plastic square chairs
filled with warm posteriors of funkily dressed poets
sporting heavily used notebooks and askew folders
of poetic paper in front of their slightly lined
fingers that reach for inexpensive ball-point
pens instructed by mostly spectacled eyes which
have seen poems through deeply wrinkled brains
cherishing related experience while ragged hearts
internally beat rhythm as they somewhat audaciously
expose what was freshly composed within a half hour

Maria A. Arana (no photo available)

Veils on my Eyes

Veils abound
Your gift
Of juggling
Them both

One flutters
Troublesome bars
Of discontent

The other
Unknown itchiness
The outdoor kempt
Of visualization

Veils surround my eyes
By your gift
Once again