Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Calendar


The 2013 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Calendar features 28 laser-printed, 65lb textured-parchment pages of poems by these 22 poets:


Get your copy for just $5 by going to the backroom of the Santa Catalina Branch of the Pasadena Public Library on 999 E. Washington Blvd. this Saturday afternoon, December 29th, between 3 and 5pm... or, if you can't attend, you can still order copies via by selecting Send Money and directing payment of $7 (includes $2 for shipping) to, then just wait by the ol' mailbox for fast, first-class delivery.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

13 poets read from SGVPQ 56

Thelma Reyna

Blue is black before the sun awakes, black swirled with
silver as light sneaks through, not fooling gods or
men. Come do your job, Blue. Bring all your brushes, throw
your strokes above our heads and all around and show us
what you have.
Paul Newman eyes. Blue of talent and compassion, his
blueness giving fortunes to the hungry, heart-bursting jeans
blue sexy in a streetcar, hustler, cool hand luke blueness.
When he died, blue eyes turned black, as sapphire tears fizzled
out and he took his blueness to the clouds.
Ocean blue slicked black with gushes from the deep, blue
smirched with orange, red, churning, burning, billows
black, hearts blue, suffocated hearts, drowned riggers in gulf
blue, blue grief, pelicans blue-black from tar and death, blue eyes
weeping at BP greed.
Pool blue respite in the Bronx, wavy concrete aqua heat,
crystal blue splashes, spindly children in red, brown, blue swimsuits,
dark eyes, blue eyes blinking, squinting, little lips blue from cold,
watchful mothers under blue canopies, under a cloudless sky
blue smug in its iron grip.
Blue, blue, you never come alone. You drag red along, for heartbreak,
black for night, loss, death, and grief, and white for heat and
sky gloves blue white. Blue swirls with silver, never fooling god
or man, blueness swirling high, deep, dry, wet, vast, small, bin laden’s grave
and porcelain christ statue eyes.

Maria Arana

Earthquakes 2012

I can see the ruptured waves bring down the homes of children
like a bad case of GERD, earthquakes bring out the worst
great magnitudes of fractured faults beneath the earth show on maps
Earthquakes move, shake, and bounce while we go on with our lives
we pay no mind each hectic day until they shriek above 3.0
check out Beverly Hills 3.4, Yorba Linda 4.1, Brawley 5.3, Indonesia 6.6
I can see the frequent nightmares not known to begin or end
like the bop your spine makes after being inactive a long time
one loose part in this engine causes others to choke and burst
Earthquakes spill lava tears bitten chocolate covered ice cream bar breaks
like the cracks of marriage slamming seismic plates against each other
dry ice attaches to my hand and falls smashed near the table

Stephen Colley 

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

We’ve got Antitrust, BLM, CFPB,
and the DEA, EPA, FDIC,
FCC, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, plus the Fed
and the GSA running us into the red,
while the FDA, FTC, Homeland Security
(TSA too) and ICE guard our futurity.
Medicare, NLRB, NSA
redistribute and regulate, day after day,
helped by OSHA, the OMB, PBGC,
And a White House that every four years is re-leased
ensures all of bureaucracy’s wheels stay well greased
for directors, detectors, correctors, collectors.
So who will protect us from all our protectors?

Carribean Fragoza

Long Beach Pa’ la Niña

Now that the last bouts of autumn heat have surrendered to this winter’s dusk’s deepening cool breath, I begin to think I can warm up to Long Beach. And because I’m ardently from South El Monte –believe me, this is no small thing to say.

From the shadows cast by the furniture in the house I’m staying at for now and that is not mine and still new to me, I can tell it is near sunset. A loud call from down the street confirms the hour.

Tamales calientitos champurrado!

Para la cena, of course.

Sonorous, la señora tamalera makes her rounds down the streets of this Long Beach neighborhood. A car follows very slowly behind her, a rust-red hatchback exposing a two giant silvery ollas de tamales y champurrado. It reminds me of the call of the eloteros that once honked down every street of my neighborhood, joining the broken-music-box dissonance of ice cream truck It’s a Small World and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star remixes. I realize just now that you don’t hear the eloteros anymore and the ice cream jams are occasional, except in the summer. I’m not sure why.

As the evening progresses, darkening and hushing, I begin to notice that the piercing screams of a baby in tantrum or pain have not stopped. Somehow, I find this endearing. Through the flurry of sobs, I begin to discern a rich sing songy voice,

The voice, -at first I can’t tell the language of its song  -undulates in the night, traverses backyard fences, iron window bars and grows corpulent as the baby gradually ceases its cries. It is a man’s voice, I imagine by his timbre, not too old.

Ay que chula que linda esta niña mas preciosa del mundo esta niña mas preciosa mia.

Before long, the baby is silent.

Cinco cinco cinco, cinco los deditos..

The man continues, now inventing new songs about little fingers,

Una una una, una narizita

And little noses

And muchos muchos muchos, doggies and gatitos

The baby begins to squeal intermittently, responding to the song perhaps an improvised dance or new tactile choreography. I think la niña is laughing, with her father, both still warm from the day in their home, something cooking perhaps in a pot in the kitchen. Que niña mas linda, mas preciosa.

La niña continues to squeal. And squeal. And scream. And cry and scream again. The father continues to invent songs about no llores no llores porque porque llora la niña porque. The nina, of course, no déjà de llorar.

The sweetness of the moment is over. I’m ready for the kid to stop crying.

But for once, I begin, just barely, to think that I could find something familiar enough to be comforting and homelike in a place that is not my home. I think that perhaps, it’s in the intimacy of language and familiarity of sound, the simple assonance of a song that I can recognize glimpses of a life I think I remember.  Certainly one I can imagine having.

Joe Gardner


I remember
On the roofs
On the wires
Along the fences
And the street signs
Every limb and branch
All rustle black
With these heralds
Of the One Eyed Father
Murders of crows
All of Lakewood
Silently watched
By obsidian eyes
As if from some mysterious
As one the great cawing
Choir of carrion eaters
Would take to wing
A great blackened storm cloud
Of beak and talon and feather

Alexandra Hohmann


I’m in trouble. Again.
My acid mouth spews sandpaper sentences,
controlled by a brazen brain.
But the real culprit is
the heart,
perfectly healthy save for a button-sized rough spot
caged behind the ribs,
calloused and scabbed over
like a wound that never properly heals.
So every time you say
“I can’t make any promises.”
“We’ll see.”
“I don’t know.”
the scab falls off
and the heart aches
and the brain commands
my vile mouth and biting tongue.
My body is the real trouble-maker.
It’s really not my fault.

Sandra Irwin

War Games

Pomegranates are better than baseballs
for throwing. They sting and stain,
burst open like grenades, split in two
or three; some seeds scatter, while others
cling like crimson cells inside white,
intestine-like membranes. The scattered seeds
of pomegranates splatter skin and clothes
with thin blood.
We stole our ammunition from a tree.
We ran hard, ducked fast, and hid well behind
boulders and trees, deep inside ditches, all
the while armed with pomegranates in our
pockets, an ambush under each armpit,
another in every hand.
Mere children, we mimicked our world.
First published in Cold Mountain Review, Summer, 2011

Jeffry Jensen 


too too too intimate for even murder, foul play, or scandal of the highest order
it could could could have been anybody, even a relative, a neighbor, a street vendor with
everyday values and everyday parts, rich halves for the taking taking taking
pluck pluck pluck went the people right off the platform of death, Heaven, Hell,
anywhere with ice cream for Jesus and a dose of dust dust dust for the day laborers who
want statues to take take take vacations for them, a hero with a drinking problem
wreckage of a generation, shrinking in a pool, longer than a libretto trampled, absorbed,
sewn into the fabric of war war war where dentists take up finger painting
I am not a footprint, a rabbit, a cheerleader with dimples, I am not a crowd crowd crowd
looking for an organic pavement to have a personal moment on lawns lawns lawns going
heavy on pomp and circumstance, raise a black hole to the floating librarian in the room
who cares for the scraps scraps scraps of paper in the pockets of porn stars
flesh flesh flesh is so homemade and very communal in a London drizzle, don’t let the
beasts beasts beasts put bandages on Darwin’s forehead before I trace my own lungs for
posterity find charm charm charm in the subconscious astronauts who smell the flowers
where forests once stood tall and are flustered flustered flustered  by jazz riffs and cell
phone messages that were generated by the children children children who wobble out of focus

Mina Kirby
Peace on Earth
In front of bright colored lights
of the Christmas tree
and ignoring Joy to the World
playing on the radio
my children
squabble over a coveted toy
They play tug of war
yanking and jerking
shouting mean words
at each other
each twisting to make the other
let go
I watch from the kitchen
wondering when to intervene
Finally they come to blows
my son reaching out
and slapping his sister
while still holding on to the toy
She lets go
and begins to cry
giving up the fight
leaving him the perfect chance
to grab the wonderful plaything
and run
I start toward them
But he
sets the toy on the floor
and gathers up his sister in his arms
soothing her hair
crooning loving words
It is at this moment
hearing the Christmas carols
watching my beloved children
I think that maybe
there just might be hope
for peace on earth

Karineh Mahdessian 

old man
wrapped in white sheets
at dawn's break
while i
in too old a toyota, 
with missing hubcaps
enough scars
to be considered broken, 
cruise by
listening to nina's wails
of southern fruit trees

David Morck 


Relive the moments of
a vinyl erosion studied in a Sunday robe.
Incredible, wiping away the haze.
Upon us all sit the layers:
Silurian, to Devonian.
So goes the detritus
of all we know.
An ache, a suppuration –
Read, or seen: itches are the mildest
form of pain.  What we feel without
language, within.  Hearing the rattle.
Scratch away the layers, peel back
surfaces, to learn to tie the knots
that never come loose,
a language made
without human intervention.

Raquel Reyes-Lopez
Food for Thought
Dear Wal-Mart consumer
who calls themselves a pet owner.
How dare you mock me,
be so ignorant, not glance
at my history, or take note
of my hundred thousand
years of existence on this world.

I am a feline; I have thrived
off of mice, bugs, and birds.
Yet you have the nerve
to feed me dry food
Red 40, Blue 3, Yellow 5
that’s slowly riddling me with disease.

Each scoop you pour
in my petty fish shaped bowl
is the growth of a tumor,
the mutation of my cells,
or damage to my genetic structure.

You play with my emotions
a fish shaped bowl with no fish
just Hell’s dry food.

I blame you.

For trying to take care of me
when you can’t take care of yourself.
Plastered in front of a T.V. screen,
cracking open your midnight beers,
damaging your organs,
but bringing me down with you
as you make mine suffer.

I am hungry!
Hungry to evolve
back to what I used to be,
but you and your poison
has kept me stunted.

I condemn you to yourself
as I sit next to you
watching as you spiral yourself through
Netflix oblivion of Halloween films,
with your T.V. dinners,
right next to your never ending list
of resolutions you never achieved
in your 20’s, and sure as hell
won’t accomplish in your 40’s.

So put a cape on me and laugh
at how allegedly cute I look in this.
Hand misinformed children
candy bars that’ll lead to diabetes.

I’ll have the last laugh
when you kill yourself from alcohol poisoning.

Lori Wall-Holloway
Teacup Tercets
“Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
 (Philippians 4:8b NLT)
“A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.” John Keats
Purple violets painted
on vintage cup creates
delightful indulgence
Teacup’s Wonderland
garden image offers
peaceful escape
Floral china teacups
whisk away worry
with caffeine