Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eileen Martinez

UNTITLED

Life is what it’s meant to be I say,

We emerge from the womb of our dear mothers

Put out and tested in this world of dreams

To make our way and try to survive the realities of what we awake to each day

Trying to catch a glimpse of the sunrises, the sunsets and all the creations that were made for us to value

Do we value them, do we value ourselves I say,

We make up our lives as we go along and we are to blame for whatever we encounter

There are no promises of the day, of tomorrow, of the future

Cherish and value what is present and offered to you

And abolish all things unnecessary and enjoy the gift of your life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lori Wall-Holloway

WIND THROUGH THE EYES OF A TWO YEAR OLD

(For Robert)

Puffs of air blow
on my face,
my arms
and my legs,
but I still want to stay
outside and play.
The puffs get
stronger and stronger,
until suddenly the trees
become giant monsters
waving their huge tree arms.

Afraid, I run into the house
with the wind chasing me,
pushing me from behind.
A loud sound makes me stop
and turn in the doorway.
The monsters are shaking
their large green hands
at each other and look
like they’re fighting.
They make loud noises,
and their big brown bodies
bend so far to the ground,
they look like they will break.

I hurry inside and slam
the door against the wind
so I can watch the fight
from the window.
The monster trees scare me.
They can’t get me inside the house.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lori Wall-Holloway

WORD DANCE

Lord, please let my words
dance off the tip of my tongue
and leap across the ears
of my listeners, as I speak.

Let the music of my idioms
skip over the stage of the psyche
while phrases chassé each other
and do pirouettes in the imagination.

Ending with an arabesque pose
before the final bow, I pray
my words grace the listeners’
minds with beauty.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CaLokie

GOD-IN-THE-BOX

Turn on tap
Pour oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, etc.
into plastic bottles

With scissors cut out continents
Fold and put into envelopes
Moist glue and seal letters

Collect planets
Paste on 3x5 blank cards
Paperclip together

Gather Milky Way stars
Staple to 8x10 college ruled notebook sheets
Leave every other line blank

Use rubber bands to connect remaining
galaxies to each other
Then bind together with super strings

Try to get all items in one box to save shipping costs
Wad newspapers and stuff between plastic bottles
and materials stapled or paper clipped

Wrap and duct tape brown paper on box
On top, bottom and sides stamp
“HANDLE WITH CARE”

Call Fed-Ex
Return contents to manufacturer for needed repairs
before warranty expires

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Michelle Angelini

SHE: EXPRESSIONAL EXHIBITION

she
does things according to self-desires
moves furniture before eating breakfast
leaves dishes to wash until the next morning
has no one to order (or at least mostly so)
what is allowed in her private space

once she heard a poet perform
her work in third person singular
a style that makes this author comfortable
now courage to compose poems
in this voice arises moves forward

she
is a child of the planet identifying
with all its elements
fire in her heart
air beneath her wings
earth in her heart
water-flowed words

she
befriends animals
tells them secret desires
they will keep to themselves
returning unconditional love unreservedly
has no intention of gratifying people
as she once did for friendship’s sake
or to back down from things they’ve said
in lessons learned that concern herself and others
she’s becoming more astute

she
believes in a Saviour who walks
with her through the day
guards sleep as the moon slips
across the dark sky
He is radiance
these beliefs keep her steady
and she understands no matter what happens
He’s always there so
trust is intrinsic
intimacy grows

she
plays with words as on a palette of paints
creates pictures with them
makes language into a shape she desires
in her hands they have learned
to become striking artwork
an expressional exhibition
which tells about harvests gathered
showers nourished
a life fully alive
with each nimble movement
her fingers make on keyboard
or holding a pen

Monday, June 22, 2009

Michelle Angelini

BLINDSPOT

In that moment
when going from light
to dark where
no vision exists
back into sun again
when sight returns
it’s too late
for defensive moves
to avoid the inevitable

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CaLokie

WAR DANCE


1923

Mom was 12 when her father abandoned her mother
three sisters and three brothers
They moved to a town where some oil rich Osages lived
in the best houses in town

Some Osage classmates were attracted to Mom’s red hair
They laughed when she said she had some Cherokee blood
But when some of them met her dark haired, brown eyed, dark
complected mama they believed her

They invited her to a pow wow on the nearby Osage reservation
She was awed by ceremonial dancers in resplendent regalia
Then white haired elder arose to speak
He addressed assembly in native tongue
interpreted in English

He exhorted them
to go back to the blanket for warmth
to moccasins instead of boots and high heels
to the horse instead of stinking, noisy cars
He begged them not to take white mates in marriage
but to wed each other and rear their children in Osage ways

After speech, war dance begins
Some dancers brandish swords
some wave tomahawks over heads

Mom was never so terrified
She was relieved to walk away
with red haired scalp intact


1966

One year after the riots or rebellion
depending on your point of view
I attend the Watts Jazz festival
In the afternoon under the junk sculpted tower of Simon Rodia
The drumbeat was like a flower power fiesta at a love-in
and deep in my heart
I do believe
that one day
WE
black and white together
SHALL OVERCOME

But as Hugh Masekela trumpet fanfares
West Coast sun down
majority of minority European Americans
leave festival
I was left with a few whites lost in the immensity
of an African night

A Black Power beat takes over drums
Flash backs to year ago unrest follow
“BURN, BABY, BURN.”
“GET WHITEY!”

Suddenly blonde Euro in bare midriff
stands up in spotlight and shakes blue jean booty
to roar and laughter of crowd

A jazz brother needs ride
and in my ’53 Chevy I drive him to his ghetto home
My fading blue clunker could have broken down there
but it didn’t

And even if it did
as Miles Davis might have “kind of blued”
with muted horn
“SO WHAT”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lori Wall-Holloway

CLEANSING IN THE NEW YEAR

The rain slowly falls
and lands on leaves of bushes
outside my window.
The gentle pattering sound
before dawn is soft and sweet.
It brings calmness to my heart.
A new day has come in a new
month and in a new year.
I sense something wonderful
is in the works as the old days
and problems are now swept
away with the water.
A fresh joy bursts forth within
me like a colorful butterfly,
which breaks out from its cocoon.
After the struggle, victory is the result.
I listen as the rain cleanses and washes
away the dirt and hardship
from days and times before.
It offers me a new start.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Barbara Cogswell

SESTINA

Many uses have been found for a length of rope-
take the one hanging loose 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
it’s his job after all, to polish the brass

but he 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!
it’s nice, but 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
and make plans for polishing the brass
he’ll spend the night in this warm campanile
and 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”
and the ballad turned sad, about his bong
for 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
graffito on the wall reads “different times ring different chimes”
of course nobody has forgotten “bong”
which used to mean the sound induced by striking a bell made of brass
by nothing more than pulling on a rope

so every campus has a campanile
and hears at least one bong
it is to be hoped, from a bell
made of polished brass
and somebody rings their chimes
just swinging on the rope

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ed Houston

AMERICA

America for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain
You stole me from another country, and now I bear your name
America, America, between a rock and a hard place is where I be
America, America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free

America, America, Democrat or Republican is all the same to me
Makes no difference who holds the whip, if your back is the only one they see
America, America, remember when segregation was the law of the Land
Of course it wasn’t right, but at least, Blacks had there own Economic Plan

We couldn’t use yours, but we had our own banks, stores, theatres, and were always ready to give each other a helping hand.
But through the process of integration, we own nothing as a people, and about each other we don’t give a damn
America, America, you’ve really taught us well, in what’s really important in life, like Bling-Bling, and how to tap that ass
And how to stay fresh, and dress to impress, drive the Escalade, and talk all day long about how much Kobe and LaBraun get paid

America, America, you’ve been a hard task master
But truth be told there’s no place I’d rather be
Every ethnic group in the world can come here and make it
It’s no wonder they look down on me

America, America, you’ve held the carrot-stick of Freedom in front of our faces for over 200 years
We’ve got a few nibbles, but never a full bite
It’s our own fault if we keep being stupid believing you’ll be fair
No group has earned freedom without being in a fight

America, America, death to you and yours is the cry from distance lands
America, America, we will bury you, they say it’s Allah’s Plan
But every group in the world has a Plan, and you best believe Black’s will be last on every list
And if we don’t band together and get our own Plan, we’ve got no right to get pissed

America, America, like it or not, this is my country too
And there’s no other place I’d rather be
But if we don’t wake up Black America
We’ll continue to be Slaves, just pretending to be Free

Monday, March 30, 2009

CaLokie

EVOLUTION OF FUNDIES

Six to ten thousand years ago began your earth
From wiles of talking serpents you sounded alert
Shellfish eating sodomites guilty of double abomination
Creator created in your image over all creation did give you domination
For your professional piety you were promoted to priest in first theocracy
We the prehistoric people were robbed of our communal democracy

In Athens you lost your subjects but not your slaves by democracy
Ptolemy told how sun and stars revolved around your earth
Under Rome you were a pharisee in a monotheistic theocracy
From hexes and vexes of opposite sexes you gave alert
You prayed for an apocalyptical messiah to restore your domination
A woman caught in adultery but not her partner was an abomination

You now loved lobster but homosexuality still an abomination
You denounced debauchery of sex deviants in decadent Greek democracy
In Medieval Europe you were given back your domination
You fared sumptuously from labor of serfs who plowed your earth
Against heliocentric heresy of godless Galileo you gave alert
No light allowed in your Dark Ages theocracy

You replaced European peasants with African slaves in New World theocracy
Bourgeoisie building wealth from colony plunder and slave labor no abomination
From bawdy bards and Robin Hood wealth re-distributers you sounded alert
We the people lost our commons under “enlightened” English democracy
Missionaries and merchants you sent forth to colonize the earth
You raged against papal, Muslim or ungodly despot domination

But raved from Salem pulpits the glories of Puritan domination
You waged war to keep slaves private property in Confederate theocracy
You maximize profits from industries which rape Mother Earth
Entrepreneurs who got filthy rich from sweatshop work no abomination
There was a reign of Klan terror in your Jim Crow democracy
Against welfare cheats driving Cadillacs you sound alert

But against bourgeois attempts to loot social security you give no alert
You have sold your soul for Mammon’s worldwide domination
Evolution myth and global warming hoax in your home school theocracy
Labor and gay unions voted our of your Bible Belt democracy
Olympic gold medal winners who smoke pot an abomination
Further right you swim to the edge of your flat earth

We must alert the people to the perils of theocracy
No, to fundy domination! No, to fundy abomination!
Yes, to democracy for all people! Yes, to cure of Mother Earth!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mary Frances Spencer

IN THIS SPA

we are all ages
bodies mapping time
mixed colors ages
grandma is here too
dipping in pools
lounging in salty steam
breathing jade oxygen
we find a moment
to be free
to shed the old
skins
today we
are all
naked
and have never been more
beautiful

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mary Frances Spencer

LIGHTENING SPRING

spiral down
magnetic darkness
intense negativity
attracts more

hides under the heavy
cloak fear
dire predictions
leaden footsteps
to nowhere

when light annoys
irritant spark
provoke
the hibernating
come out and taste

lightening of this storm
crack through clouds
melt the frozen
light a forgotten pyre

burn away bloated
as soft ashes fall

flower petal spring
must bloom
again
soon

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ruth Nolan

COATLICUE
the mother of gods

She’s not a mirage, cold at this altitude
somewhere, talking, between snow slides and sand dunes
coffee avalanche, a wired bird, wings sliding draftward
to a daft cold escape. Desert or mountain,
one can’t be certain, lopped windmill
slapping time with too steep geography,
north America’s sharpest drop and rise
jump, fall, swoop upward, the venturi effect
blockades the fog, clouds, mirrored water, snake gathering

Date a cougar, engage in IM sex on AOL buddy systems.
E-harmony.com matches up Christians and agnostics
And pray you’ll catch a draft. MILF, alive and well,
Stacy’s Mom, neighbors avoid rent and move overnight.
We’ll fuck at your apartment between the hours of 1-4 pm
somewhere in Topanga Canyon, the narrow passage
between the hot valley and drop to cool Malibu.
Plenty of fish shows a man with wild hair, gather them
In between, where the sun falls and ascends. Summer heat
behind the curtain, ready to descend, toxic shrew.

It’s real, and too hot beneath a down blanket. The gate
Is busted out again, the fridge is new on borrowed money,
the washing machine spin cycle doesn’t wring enough
water out, a young adult daughter steals your clothes.
He wants you to meet at Horsethief Creek this
time, an up and down 2.5 mile hike ending at water,
cottonwoods or high pines, dry by summer, landing hard,
full moon again, yanking up the dry lakebed, storied winds
dying in childbirth, landscaping the southern stars.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Three by Eleanor!

Eleanor Higgins

GHAZAL

I am a dirty little girl with flapping shoes
You can wash your face
but you'll need money
to buy new sandals


I am poor, without status
They say with hard work
you can be rich but few make it


I am dark, ugly, untouchable
Isn't beauty
in the eye of the beholder?


I am scared I'll starve, disappear, be ignored
You are here
even if no one looks at you


But what if I the tree falls
and I'm not there to hear it?
We will imagine its sound together
Eleanor Higgins

BAD BOYS

most of my boyfriends
have been bad boys
but this has had its advantages

they don't work
so they have more time
to spend with you
or to make friends
and their friends
are often interesting
"offbeat" characters

because they don't work
you're probably supporting them
yet because of this
they won't boss you around
or criticize
or expect you to cook
if you don't want to
and they have time
for morning sex

bad boys don't plan ahead
are open to suggestion,
don't have much of an agenda
live in the moment
if you have a date with a bad boy
he'll ask you what you'd like to do
…and mean it

they don't seem to experience fear
like the rest of us
but this can be a good thing
they are often heroes
the kind who run into burning buildings
the only thing they are afraid of
is getting caught!

they are exceptional liars
thus great at poker
have absolutely no "tells"
those mannerisms
that give the rest of us away
when we are lying

there's a saying in recovery circles
"alcoholics want to run the bank
and addicts want to rob it"
make the appropriate substitutions,
and you have another truism

they don't have
much of a conscience
so if you want something
they'll steal it for you!

for example, during the Olympics
I mentioned I liked the colorful signs
directing traffic to the events
the next day, the sign pointing
to the beach volleyball court
showed up on my doorstep
I was thrilled

they don't contend with
Inconvenient feelings of remorse
so suddenly
no one owes you money anymore!

and a bad boyfriend can often do away
with pesky disputes you may have
and he won't feel bad about it
for instance, the guys across the street
used to park in my driveway
but when my bad boyfriend moved in
they stopped doing it!
(come to think of it,
I haven't seen their cars
at all lately… hmmm.)

another great example
of how handy no conscience can be:
The Story of the Barking Dogs
we had two huskies behind us
the neighbors and I had tried everything
talking to the owner,
calling animal control
nothing worked
it was so bad
I couldn't go on that side of the house
without starting them up!

then one day, silence.
I asked one of the other neighbors
what happened
she told me one of the dogs
had been poisoned
and the owner moved out

that weekend we had a great party
on the patio we could now use
because the dogs were gone
my bad boyfriend played
a recent song he'd written
which was a big hit
it was called
"Dead Puppy Blues"

Yes, bad boys are great,
but the best thing about bad boys is
you don't have to be good around them.
Eleanor Higgins

I AM SCENERY

a prop in your life
the unplugged telephone
with no one there
with whom you have
your one-sided
play-acted
conversation
you conjure up fake tears
for my imaginary wrongs
then disappear me
in Act Three

if I were real
I could march off your stage
punctuate my exit
with a slap to your face

I'd incite my prop friends:
the imitation pine tree
the minature frozen lake
painted on
the breakaway window

we're sick of the sound
of your studied dialect
when your back is turned
we'll move to another soundstage
you'll pick up a phone made of air
stare at a blank wall
read lines about an evergreen
that isn't there! HA!

revenge is sweetest
in its imagining

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Michelle Angelini

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE

Hearts on her back jeans pockets
say something
I’m loved
She’s an uptown queen
striding along Hollywood Boulevard
as if she knows all those
in front of her will bow down
in worship
No questions asked

Scrunched beneath a blanket
on the bench serving for a bed
on Alvarado Street
he’s unidentifiable
Only his pants and shoes
below the dirty blanket
give knowledge of gender
I’m invisible, please recognize me
He bows down before the twin masters
of poverty and homelessness
Too many questions

And, I, somewhere in the middle
escape homelessness each month
My stature when I walk says
I’m generally happy with life
Sheets cover the bed on which I sleep
just as my clothes are no strangers
to a washer and dryer
I am equal to both queen and homeless man
neither bowing before nor slumping beneath
I question everything – learning to live

Monday, February 2, 2009

Helen Graziano

FEAR NO ART

Wandered into a New Jerusalem, a secular Vatican
A quasi sacred ground complete with Chardonnay

CCAA planted its foot in dusty earth of Etiwanda
Wrote the name Contemporary Art on winery walls

Pilgrims from banks, farmers from fields
Teachers from schools find the answer, look for truth

Satisfy artistic search amid arid land of TV
Malls, billboards, telephone poles, distressed homes

Drink in rainbow colors eternal cubism, realism
Of Andree's geometry, Fauvism of Bob Smith's trees

Art, an organizing experience avoiding boredom
Teases senses, not to do the same thing over and over

We are immune to reason, need only food, water
Sleep, sex, open arms of art gallery, colored shapes

No Pope, priest, prelate, just disciples of Cezanne, Kandinsky
Gauguin, diamonds sparkling, trees blazing orange

The eye sees prisms not prisons, kaleidoscopic broken
Images of suns spots, flowers, pristine sky

I, a poor beggar poet, selling verses in the market place
A slum dog luring travelers to Taj Mahal, bazaar of color

Climb the chakra ladder, create my own stars
Midst action of creation, debauchery and energy

Smith's California Dreaming sane with Chevy's
Historical rendition of As Time Goes By

It Had To Be You, driving the Chevy, top down, past
California orange trees on Rte.66, citrus labels upscaled

Bob's agency, technical perfection, imaginary, red sky
In dream of flying, Andre turns inward, communing

With acrylics, backwards being babe in Waikiki
Bob renders Laguna seascapes, male/female polarity

Together sets horizon high, lines into infinity
Surrealism, Expressionist Mahoney Smith

Survival of the finest, only God can really
Judge beauty, be it mountain, sea, cathedral

The moving fingers paint and write and
Having writ move on, as long as lovers woo

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Steven R. Kutcher

ALTADENA BALLERINA

Pink twirls and pirouette pearls
Tutus turn while arms unfurl
Satin shoes flying while bodies whirl

The red velvet curtain falls and rises
To the sound of folk music surprises
The audience anticipate dancers of all sizes

But the 9 year old 's feet are in a pickle
Her body is a statue, a frozen popsicle
Stuck like pine pitch on each golden curl

Her young face frightened, completely hidden
She starts to dart behind curtains unrisen
“I cannot dance,” are words quietly spoken

Then a soft voice appeared in her youthful head
This is what her ballet teacher pridefully said,
“You are an Altadena ballerina,
Fly from your cage like a bird instead”

With a burst of energy rarely engaged,
She floated and twirled across mid-stage
Dancing like a bird just out of its cage

The audiences shouted with magnanimous glee
Bouquets of roses were tossed, one, two, three
She danced like a faun and jumped so merrily

But the very best happened
When all the dancing was done,
When the crowds left the theater,
When the orchestra had unstrung,
When the ballerina had danced her best
And had so much fun

There appeared on a silver platter,
For everyone to see
A golden ballerina award, a glass of milk
And, of course, pink cookies, three

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Don Kingfisher Campbell

JOSHUA TREE SERVICE

sun in the sky
filtered through bands
of blue and white

land all a round
mountains frame (surround)
rock strewn plain

worshippers gather
citizens of earth
stand with branches

outstretched take
in periodic warmth
between collected tears

even rocks seem
to enjoy the hours
of light reflection

(effortlessly provide
shadows for respite
from constant brilliance)

through the unseen
companion who fills
space around us

we grow up and die
reseed the soil keep
the ceremony going

Monday, January 19, 2009

Barbara Cogswell

LISTEN KIDS

There once were bees, wild
with bodies that glistened
in the sun, and every spring
they would dance the “waggle”
to the sound of their buzzing
wings, the “round” , and
the “tremble” too, tell each
other where the sweetest
nectar could be sipped
when the pollen was best
peach blossoms, cherry or
pear, a carpet of
clover.
only the Queen
(she had no crown)
laid the eggs ate nothing
but royal jelly
the rest worked all their short
lives, feeding the babies
(in the larval stage) bee bread
and honey till they emerged
from their octagonal tubes
full grown, flew off to pollinate
another season.

Where are they now, you say?
Good question!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Terry McCarty

I WISH I COULD BE THE OSTRICH ON TAMPA AVENUE

Once or twice a week I drive past
the petting zoo on Tampa in Northridge
and I see the large bird
not being angry
not putting his head in the sand
but staying still
and looking over the fence
at parents and children,
proud of his role
at being one of the first non dog/cat
creatures a young child will see.

Sometimes, I can see the ostrich’s face
and he reminds me of the cartoon version
with the cute eyes and savior-faire
in Disney’s FANTASIA.

When I feel too much bitterness and discontent,
I think of the ostrich
and how he could merely look for a hole in the ground—
but instead greets the children-in-strollers and their parents,
happy that he’s found a place and a calling in this world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sharmagne Leland-St.John

HAIKU RULES

Someone
Foolishly decreed
And then some other one
Complacently agreed
With a gesture, oh so grand
And a sweep of
His dismissive hand
The word ”cicada
Should be
Forever banned
From modern Haiku
And poetry.

Sirs, I ever so strongly
Disagree with you.
3 & 4 syllable words
Like “cicada
And “stacatto
And “chrysanthemum
Should be sprinkled
Liberally
Like wild flower seeds
Wherever and whenever
The poets please!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don Kingfisher Campbell

NATURAL

I like to watch clouds drift by
I like to smell wet grass breathing
I like to see the sky turn dark
and feel cold air on my skin

I walk inside, close the drapes
sit on a sofa, switch on the
fireplace--I mean--TV
hunker down for the night

drift to drowse like a cloud
smell a small fart escape
lids fall like a night sky
I feel light as a sofa cushion

but there is a fireplace inside me
which is more like a TV really
changing dreams all night long
of clouds drifting over wet grass

and more skies with people below them