Monday, March 30, 2015

15 poets read from SGVPQ 65

Below Sea Cliffs

New pools, new worlds,
left by receding waves. 

Cormorants fly by,
black shadows overhead,
as the gray sky grows.

As foam returns, rising, rising,
I sink into my tide-pool ocean. 
Limpets become boulders
and I scramble with the hermit crabs
for shelter.

      sudden storm—
      the words of our last
The Crucible of Our Love

In the crucible of our love –
                   the rendezvous of lost souls —
my pen earns it’s name;
        my kiss holds the totality of my skill-set.

But, how do I know what’s appropriate to articulate?

                                My genius — the fool.

You looked at me like maybe I was magic....
But, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
        Now, there is only space.

I do not reach for you when I open my eyes,
or whisper your name as I close them.

Without weapons, or war,
I can do my dishes in peace;
        rearrange my furniture.

Maybe, I’ll soak in the bath,
instead of taking a quick shower.
Maybe, time heals
and longer hair would look better on me, anyway.

I’ll speak in music –
                        speak in tongues –
        my mouth would get better with age….

You'll lose your charm....
You'll gain your peace....
You'll wipe the tears away.

Because Love.

And... because...

Totems flow like rivers run.
You, with your horses,
your hair in a bun.
Me, my hands, the river, the sun….
We were so hungry, we made bread from the crumbs
Lake of the Angels

Sunday morning
Exit Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro station
On corner of Wilshire and Alvarado, street preacher in staccato Spanish 
bullhorns concrete congregation to BEHOLD 
the lamb of God who takes away EL PECADO DEL MUNDO
Who died in your place to save you from the eternal flames 
of inferno once you accept JESUS CHRISTOS as your personal
lord and savior

At Intersection— 
Autos reving particles of carbon dioxide behind and upto skies
pass by
pedestrians walking between 99¢ Store and sidewalk vendors 
to gospel pitch

Enter park
Homeless guy on grass snores under classified section of LA Times 
displaying colored photos of shining new car models for sale
Upon MacArthur Lake in white sun glare, rest 
hundreds of seagulls poised like foreboding flock 
of Hitchcock birds

Near center 
underwater fountain sprays jets upward as in prayer for 
a thirsty California 

At northern edge 
marine green waters lap against cement bank while bright-eyed 
niƱo in fading Laker tee tosses tortilla bits to gray gosling 
web-peddling before mama

On grassy knoll
on western end, revolutionary Marxist group begins setting up tables for 
free food distribution

Walk across Parkview 
to UCLA Downtown Labor Center for study session, 
"Converging Storms 2014: The Crisis of Energy, 
Capitalism and Environment"
The Rectangle, People

On a round planet
With jagged edges
And irregular bodies
Of clouds and water

Beings with oval heads
And four sticks emanating
Evolve to build houses
Tables, chairs, beds, pools

Vehicles sporting wheels
Bats, balls, tennis rackets
Radios, record players, televisions,
Microwave ovens, computers
(utilizing dials, knobs, buttons, keys)

And now personal L7’s
To hold onto and look into
To fill lumpy, bulbous minds
Concentrate almond eyes

On numbers, letters,
Pictures, music,
Video, games featuring
Recorded voices and faces

Reminding us we are
Creations recreating
Recharging our selfies
Until inevitable recycling
Writing Poems

I turn to the next available blank page in my notebook
And stare at it, demanding a brilliant idea or line from it.
The blank page stares back. Selfish blank page,
All take and no give.
What can I do but to dress those bastards with
Beauteous, noble words?
Lines, circles, dots, and curves hang on their
unfitting bodies like priceless jewels on pigs.
Words are so beautiful on their own, unmarred by
reality and the sordid hearts of those bastards.
Yet words can also be empty and insufficient,
Like an evening dress hung on a plastic
headless mannequin.
So I alter my words to fit those fat, crooked bastards.
Then I glower at my creation and complain.
Why them and not truth, my preferred model
who befits words?
Then I realize that the talentless writer is no
better than her subjects.
I open my textbook to see examples of good poems.
Theodore Roethke is Ralph Lauren
and Alfred Lord Tennyson is Calvin Klein.
I am nobody.
I am an amateur writer trying to write poems.
Beyond Me

I see the homeless
As I walk or drive by.
Look away fast should their
glance meet my eye.
The pain that they live is beyond me.

I hear parts of the news
as I channel-surf.
I mute or tune out
for all that its worth
Those dramatic reports are beyond me.

My co-workers laid off
But for now, I am spared
I swallow back hard over
time that we shared.
Hope their lost of wage stays beyond me.

Someone poisoned the water
I hope “they” clean it up.
The problem is way over there
I shrug sipping my cup.
A mistake to think it’s beyond me.

Never and a never never when the never speaks whole rude rigid light, your eyes:
tell me
is it now and so
the lie you told
hear me shout
the light out of your eyes
A Very Good Year

My seventeenth year was a very good year I kissed Helen on Hope Street and she thought it was Grand

This hometown isn't physical but mental with plenty of there there

With tapestry grids that live in time and mind

I remember when I  rescued the woman kicked out of a car by her husband how  she thanked me and said that she would make me a star and asked me for two hundred bucks the next day

I remember when on this block the front desk clerk subtly sprayed pepper spray ambiently so I would leave

Now I am pursued down every street by memory
knowing that someday memories will leave me alone

With just the city

Leftovers from yesterday
spill seeds of dread
into today’s garden. 
Pollen from the past
carried on time’s breath
get deposited in the brain. 
Window in Blue

He is chosen for the smallest desk,
the one with the wobbly front leg
that taps the floor
as his crayon touches the paper,
a thin line, each square precise
as it arches into the roof.  His houses
are always blue, the people
drawn with weighty heads, legs taller
than the bodies and smiles
which cut across the circles
with nonexistent noses.
He watches the snow gather
in the corners of the window pane
and carefully re-buttons his denim jacket.
The last wall is a thread,
the playground empty except for a few
kindergartners who tumble outdoors, scarves flying.
There is no one to climb the rocket ship.
Its bars, coated in ice,
attract no hanging bodies, no boys
to shove him under the door.
His knees scrape the cement and his hands
slide against broken glass.  The sky is white,
whiter than the teacher’s blouse.
“Sit still, Tommy.”  His crayon rips the paper,
leaves the last wall dangling,
piercing a yellow cloud.  He draws a few spokes,
pine trees on the hill following deer tracks
away from the house, away from the classroom
with its long division and turning pages.

Then she went to the window.
House sunk into silence.
No light under the
bedroom door.

All breath swallowed
by velvet dark she
went, tiptoeing
barefoot. Then

she stared at the
building invisible.
Blisters wounding
the surface.

How she loved those golden
peepholes! Grown-ups
there did things
she had no name for.

She saw cutouts
of the inscrutable maze
from her vantage
point. But

seeing was all she
wanted. Dark building
pierced yellow. Games
she couldn’t unscramble.
Birthday Girl

three today, hello kitty
bows bundling auburn curls,
eyes round with sun, plump legs
rushing to cousins
cavorting in her backyard pool.

three today, glorious day,
april breezes swathing jacaranda
and crepe myrtles, wisteria twining
round pergola posts where parents
lounge and dine nearby with friends.

three today.
my brother called to say his angel’s
gone gone in a sigh, the
time it took to hug a niece and offer
wine to neighbors coming late.

three today.
his angel sank from clouds to
azure tiles, past splashes, shouts,
past eyes and hands and parents
lounging, murmuring with friends.

three today.
my brother wept and said his angel’s
gone gone in a turn of
head, a blink of eye, a toast, a
cake wheeled in, a loving word.
Class Pet

First day of my 7th year in special ed.

As I enter the classroom,
I glance to my left and see a large glass terrarium with a heat lamp
glaring down on  a reptile who stares up at me with circular eyes,
wide-opened. He reads me as if I am one of the assigned books.

I notice that his head is surrounded by a crown of spikes.
I find out that he is of a royal line of bearded dragons.

One day, the final bell rings. I linger. A boy has come in.
The teacher lets him hold Puff. I want a turn.

This no more than 8-inch lizard is passed to me.
I gently place him like a new born on my left shoulder.
As I softly rub his back, his miniaturized clawed hands
massage me, like purring cat’s paws.
His leathery body nestles in, his eyes narrow sleepily.
Our breath and heartbeats synchronize.

I glance down to observe him and wonder if
all creatures enjoy a warm breast to cuddle into.
BRIAN THORPE (read above by Jonathan Vos Post)
The Days that Follow Mirth

Christmas trees lie discarded on parkways, tossed into dumpsters, left to moulder
on heaps of compost.
Joyful lights and gold paper stars adorned them just a few weeks ago
They glowed in a panoply of foyers, living rooms and frosted windows.
Their embracing warmth was rich and welcome promising merriment, surprise,
a bounty of gifts for expectant children, eggnog toasts to good health and fair
fortune, voices lifted in songs of harbinger angels, and
perhaps another chance at redemption.

Now, the so-called evergreens turn grey and brown in the wake of exalted days.
They rest on their sides like the casualties of some nameless battle.
Clinging wistfully to their brittle branches are strands of tenacious tinsel
set fluttering by the occasional breeze, as if in reminiscence of happier,
more hopeful hours.

Lying beside them, no less forlorn, are the remains of holiday wreaths.
While the trees held court, they held sway, greeting us cheerily from coffered doorways
as we juggled gifts with one hand and rang chiming doorbells with the other.
Now they seem funereal with drooping red bows hanging from their orbs like the frowns
of mournful faces.

In time, of course they'll be swept up to make way for spring, for
summer and the heady distractions of each.
The saddening images will be forgotten in the sun-drenched hues
of tumbling, fertile days,
and their fleeting reminders of brief mortality will vanish
along with their lessons.

Then the world will turn over, and once again, to the crackle of Yule logs,
fresh trees will stand tall and festive.
The scarlet bowed wreaths will warmly welcome new visitors bearing
The poignancies of aftermath, the long evasive hope of
salvation and the tenuous threads of faith will melt like ice in a multitude
of punch bowls and toddies.

And so it will be until the somber hand of late winter beckons.
The trees will lie naked and dry once more on a host of curbside parkways,
Desolate and speechless, deprived of eulogy, and sparsely adorned
with meager strands of tinsel the days that follow mirth.
Beautiful Mum

enhanced with lavender
around edges of petals
frame a deep purple
spot in middle that makes 
blossoms stand out
amongst dark colored

every time I look
at your loveliness
my heart fills with joy
and my depression

if you uplift
me, then you will
bless someone else’s
day with hope