Lentil Soup


Penny Perry poet

 

By Penny Perry

for Lisa

A coyote calls to its kin.
A rabbit shifts under porch light.
Lizards, coyotes, hummingbirds,
foxes—your daughter, Natalie,
rescued, nursed them all.
It is my turn, now, Lisa.
I’ve simmered curry, garlic,
lentils, celery, bay leaf, hot cayenne,
on this early summer night,
two days past the solstice,
this odd, sacred window
between your daughter’s death,
and the celebration of her life.
For twenty-three years
you’ve brought cornbread,
bird seeds, sweet peas
to my front door.
Two nights ago, you gripped
the nurse’s pen,
and asked to sign away
Natalie’s eyes,
her still beating heart.
Wind rattles frail windows.
The season turning,
moon going down.
My turn to search for words
I don’t have. Only carrots
and cayenne jarred now
with lentils in glistening glass.
A woodpecker knocks
at the front door, taps at a hole
in the door frame,
retrieving an acorn he stored
last fall for this summer night.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo credit: K-B Gressitt © 2017

Declaration of Defendence


Conney Williams poet

 

By Conney D. Williams

I save my tears for weddings and presidential elections
while America the beneficent thrusts anthems up our spleens
the pasty ballot of deprecation without representation
please GOD, bless Ol’ Glory with sufficient stars and stripes
to vandalize my person until even bowels lose their allegiance
I am a casualty of domestic terrorism and
the transparency of America’s image casts no reflection
although lynchings are no longer the rage at picnics
state sanctioned genocide statistics suffice
prison systems compete with the Atlantic
for who holds the most slaves on death row
we live in an error of democracy
afflicted dissidents borrow retribution
then blow up U.S. entitlement and self-appreciation
the three blind mice are completely outraged
there is no spare change for self-imposed tragedies
this nation was bankrupt before its depression
misconceived foreign citizens sweated this economy
through the blood and flesh of capitalisms

let me sign, let me sign
please let me sign on that dotted line
let me sign then make my mark
below the signatures of Jefferson and Hancock

silhouettes and profiling require you know your place
so assume the nigga position please
keep your eyes on the national policy
you are getting sleepy and will not see what you really know
clasp your hands behind your head
lift every voice and sing
join in the organ grinder’s tune
because this is America’s favorite sing-a-long
“o’ say can you see by the dawn’s early plight“
new political pimps occupy opaque condominiums
federally funded on Pennsylvania Avenue
they pray like pious prostitutes but don’t use condoms
they train and arm their adversaries to kill their offspring
we are third world soldiers who don’t cry in public
mis-taken identity is what aborts freedom
the national opinion is infected by syphilis of patriotism
preaching the eminent eulogy for just-us
we are the offspring of Emmet Till, and
still breathe the muddy water of his incarnation
the purple color of our tattered existence
is the congealed breath of intended victims

let me sign, let me sign
please let me sign on that dotted line
let me sign then make my mark
below the signatures of Jefferson and Hancock

we are America’s unsolved national homicide
where is the milk carton campaign to locate lost ancestors
their admonition is forget your holocausts
and continue to smile for the camera
while the republic eats its young to support humanitarian efforts
balance the budget for their domestic foreign policies
in order to sacrifice their homegrown aliens
this is the bastard image of U.S. hypocrisy
but things will be different
when we get back to normal
things will be different
when get back to those ideals
of the baby daddies of the constitution
then I remember
that we didn’t have founding fathers
only mother-fuckers

let me sign, let me sign
please let me sign on that dotted line
let me sign then make my mark
below the signatures of Jefferson and Hancock
let me sign on that dotted line

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Conney D. Williams is a Los Angeles-based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality. Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His collection Blues Red Soul Falsetto was published in December 2012, and he has released two new poetry CDs, Unsettled Water and River&Moan, available on his website. Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience. Read more about Conney at conneywilliams.com.

“Declaration of Defendence” was previously published by Writers Resist.

Photo credit: Adapted from the original by Robert Couse-Baker via a Creative Commons license.

Blue Tattoo


By Ruth Nolan


—The story of Olive Oatman—

 

Olive Oatman

Olive Oatman

We took care of her, the white girl,
the grandson of the last traditional chief
of the Mojave Indians told the crowd

in 2012, at the 13th celebration
of the victory of Ward Valley
no radioactive waste facility here.

This valley is where our deceased
follow the Milky Way to the sacred
peak at Spirit Mountain, avi k’wame.

She chose the pattern
of her own tattoos on her chin,
the blue lines, the river.

We are the people
who walk along the water.
She swims with us now.

 

#nodapl

………………………………………………..

About Ruth Nolan

Ruth Nolana former wildland firefighter in the Western U.S.,  is a writer and professor based in Palm Springs, CA. She’s the author of the poetry book Ruby Mountain (Finishing Line Press 2016). Her short story, “Palimpsest,” published in LA Fiction: Southland Writing by Southland Writers (Red Hen Press 2016), received an Honorable Mention in Sequestrum Magazine’s 2016 Editor’s Reprint contest and was also nominated for a 2016 PEN Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Ruth’s writing has also been published in James Franco Review; Angels Flight LA/Literary West; Rattling WallKCET/Artbound Los Angeles; Lumen; Desert Oracle; Women’s Studies Quarterly; News from Native California; Sierra Club Desert Report; The Desert Sun/USA Today and Inlandia Literary Journeys. Ruth holds her M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside. She may be reached at ruthnolan13@gmail.com and Twitter @ruthnolan.

The portrait of Olive Oatman is from Captivity of the Oatman girls: being an interesting narrative of life among the Apache and Mohave Indians, by Royal B. Stratton, 1858, a questionable account.

 

Woman Inside a Wood Stove


By Penny Perry

 for my mother

Penny Perry poethissing
your small door
a square of black iron

woman inside a garden hose
spitting
inside those coils
and curls
your coupling
a circle of gold

women were in boxes then
women were in circles then

you wanted me warm
you wanted me well

busy burning busy drowning
you hissed instructions

held up mirrors waved your maps

opened your small door
I crawled through

……………………………………………………………….
About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo credit: D. Laird via a Creative Commons license.

Coming at Night to a Country Inn


By Penny Perry

 

Longing for sleep.
Cottage at the mouth
of the river.

Wet stepping stones.
Hydrangeas
at the door.

Innkeeper’s gone fishing.
Tree frog
on the welcome mat.

Mist from river and sea.
Branches on the highway.
The next town far.

On the sandy shore
a fishing pole.
Moonlight

on a red wool cap.

 

Penny Perry is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her first poetry collection, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage, was published in 2012 by Garden Oak Press. Her new collection, Father Seahorse, will be published by Garden Oak Press in 2017. She also writes as Kate Harding.

Photo credit: Foomio via a Creative Commons license.

Fertility Prayer


A pantoum by Tom Somers

Inanna, goddess of love and war, sings to Enki, god of water and wisdom, Mesopotamia circa BC 3000.

 

Inanna

Inanna

Full of loveliness, like the new moon
My fertile crescent is flecked with new growth a
Hillock of land rising by levees well-watered, Untilled
plot left fallow like the desert.

My fertile crescent swells and luxuriates
Joyfully expecting the Lord of my heart. My
untilled plot fallow like the desert
Welcomes the onrushing shameless monsoon.

Joyfully expecting the King of my heart Who
will wield his sword in my furrow
I welcome the onrushing shameless monsoon
Bursting forth in my pleasurable garden.

Wield your sword in my furrow, oh Lord, Pierce
my hillock of land and bring forth Shoots and
buds in my pleasurable garden Full of
loveliness, like the new moon!

………………………………………………

About Tom Somers

In 2001, Tom Somers moved his family to Fallbrook, where they enjoy the friendly, rural character of the community. Originally from Torrance, Tom spent twenty-five years working in the field of international trade and business development in Eastern Europe and Russia, while living for various periods in New York, Vienna and Moscow. Tom’s poetry has been published multiple times in the San Diego County Poetry Annual

On the pantoum form.

Losing My Mother Twice


By Penny Perry

 

motherAfter the funeral,
I peer through peepholes
in the oak door that leads
to the living room.

Clink of glasses. Ginger ale.
Manischewitz. My parents’ friend Arthur
wears a white shirt and sports jacket.
His wet eyes blink behind glasses.

Arthur’s wife Louise, six feet tall,
a golden valkyrie feeds her husband
gefilte fish on a Ritz.

I look for my dad. He must have
slipped away.

My mother told me her romance
with my father was one of those
rich college girl, hotel bell
boy, Washington Square
in the snow first love stories.

My grandfather, his back to me
at the kitchen table, tells a chum,
“She should have stayed married
to Arthur.”

Arthur? Patent leather pumps
squeeze my toes. Linoleum buckles
under my feet. My mother said
she had no secrets.

Two years ago, the newlyweds
rang the doorbell.
Before my mother turned the knob,
her dark hair piled in a bun,
she asked me, “Do these heels
make me look taller?”

 

First published in Lips. Thank you Laura Boss.

………………………………………………

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo credit: M. M. Palmer via a Creative Commons license.

Driving Distraction


By Sharon Thompson

“Oh, please.”
Read that:You’ve got to be kidding me.”

wrong turnThis is the third time today
I’ve shamelessly made a wrong turn
past the same construction site.

Unabashed,
once again at the traffic light,
one shoulder
rounds forward, nearly to dashboard,
single finger on radio button.
Shoulder again; shrug.
Nothing important here,
nothing more than a wrong turn.
Casual serendipity. Lashes flutter.

And read with a tight voice:
“Positively does not matter.”

Nothing on that lot but
mounds of dirt, split bags leaking concrete,
piles of wood covered by blue tarps,
impossible tools. Upright posts.

Here use a growl:
Upright posts? “Oh, sweet Jesus.”

And. That Kid so close by.
That ridiculously young, tan, half naked—
Kid.
Well. Really old enough.
Easily swinging his hammer. Delightfully,
lusciously, smoothly
swinging his huge hammer. All day.
Up. Down. Up. Down.

No direction for interpretation here. Nope.
“Just flat-out watch. Breathe, if you can.”

Crank up the air conditioner. Vents in my face.
And, still—I wait at the light
grow practiced at
a sly glance to my right.
Licentious behind Foster Grants.
Licentious?
Shouldn’t easy use of such a word
offer some small safeguard against
outrageously thudding chest?
Damp, wrinkled hands clutching
black leather bound wheel?

Get a grip, now. Eyes forward.
Suddenly filled with smug primness.
Until,
apparently without volition,
I squirm in padded seat as light
changes: Red. Green. Go.
God. I’m thirsty.
Suddenly very thirsty.

Ah. Perfectly proper errand to run.
Pick up a bottle of designer water.

Sigh. Step on the gas. Move forward, resolved.
In control. Task at hand.
I am certain to find some nearby store,
requiring me
to drive—accidentally
right by this spot, again.
And soon.

………………………………………………………….

About Sharon Thompson

65Sharon Thompson has been writing for most of her life. Love of reading and writing led to a twenty-year career teaching high school English, first in Los Angeles and finally in the San Diego area. Now retired, Sharon enjoys focusing on her writing, attending workshops and reading her work for others. She lives with her dachshund, Sam, in Temecula, California, close to her two grown sons.

Wrong Way photo credit: David Goehring via a Creative Commons license.

 

Surrender


By Conney D. Williams

 

confettihe has painted himself tender
like the confetti of
the runner-up
to the champion, stale,
fearful and misquoted
you know the look
underbelly of your ego
severed from safety
of self-adulation
the applause was never
really for him
it was about him
a single note extracted
from the lack,
loss of tone
of another wave
crashing, truly
this is the everyday
no circling the stadium
no Nixon exit
signaling triumph
he must wear this shade
it’s the most becoming
resignation and resoluteness
simultaneously
the clock figures
no longer count time
he’s the most fragile blue
and swallows all his contrition
but can’t digest
an apologetic diet
his eyes, yawning
remind him the sunrise
is always more delicate
more forgiving
than the purple and orange
nonchalance of sunset
self-pity misuses the soul
as much as overacting
so he releases the confetti
and eulogizes himself
realizing that he
may never be recognized
as he sees
his own reflection

……………………………………………..

About Conney D. Williams

ConneyConney D. Williams is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His collection Blues Red Soul Falsetto was published in December 2012, and he has released two new poetry CDs, Unsettled Water and River&Moan, available on his website.

Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience.

Read more about Conney at conneywilliams.com.

Image credit: Kaitlin via a Creative Commons license.

The Story of Menil, Moon Maiden


By Ruth Nolan, featured author at Writers Read 11 October 2016

 

A Cahuilla Child, from the Edward S. Curtis Collection

You created me, brother, you got people right,
not the twin who made them face-backwards,
or into ludicrous stone-hens, you made me Moon,

delight of the people, beautiful sister smiling in her
room, a perfect, orbed syllable. And then, you
violated me, in ways unspeakable, you knew your

heart belonged to Coyote, and he roasted your
skin, the people gathered acorns in the long rows
of oak trees at the base of Tahquitz Peak, silent

in their respect for the thunder, and visioned past
Pedro Chino, great shaman on the deer hunt who
transformed himself into a mountain lion so he

could reach the highest peaks more quickly from
the desert floor, the women sang songs at the oasis,
and they planted trees from the canyon. I know,

I felt the mountain lion stalking me, that late day
I’d climbed San Jacinto Peak, and no one, even you
could see me there, dusk whispering to me, and I

was scared, three miles to go and the trail waning
dark. And so I went away, sad, at your command,
for you knew you could not keep me there. The

lions left prints in the snow as they tracked their
kill, just the way you bruised my skin and broke
my cheeks, and the people can only say that you

were not very nice to me, and so I went away. And
lucky for you, they remembered to pull your black
heart from the fire just before Coyote finished his

rabid feast, and you returned to them, you look
to the sky and see my wan smile, a waxing candle
light, and now my name is Eve, I’ve developed a

roundabout way of coming and going, filling the
orbit of your mind in slices and full pies, sister
you created and violated and sent away, I slant

through your opaque window, where you lie alone
at night, wanting me to fill in your hollow side,
your absent twin, I study you, I am shadow-fill.

……………………………

About Ruth Nolan

ruth_pictureRuth Nolan writes about the California desert. Her poetry collection Ruby Mountain was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Her short story, “Palimpsest,” published in LA Fiction: Southland Writing by Southland Writers (Red Hen Press, 2016), was selected as a finalist in the Sequestrum 2016 Editor’s Reprint contest, and her flash nonfiction essay collection, California Drive, won the Mojave River Press 2015 flash creative nonfiction contest. Ruth is also the editor of the critically-acclaimed anthology No Place for a Puritan: the Literature of California’s Deserts (Heyday Books, 2009).

Ruth’s fiction and nonfiction writing and poetry have also been published recently in Rattling Wall, Desert Oracle, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Rhino Baby, News from Native California, Sierra Club Desert Report, Lumen and The Desert Sun, Palm Springs. She also writes about California desert culture and the environment for KCET/Artbound Los Angeles and Inlandia Literary Journeys. She serves as an advisory committee member for Poets and Writers, California. Ruth holds her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of CA Riverside-Palm Desert and is professor of English, Creative Writing and American Indian Literature at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, CA. Visit her blog or email her at runolan@aol.com

Click here to learn more about the California Cahuilla creation stories.

Photo credit: A Cahuilla Child, from the U.S. LOC Edward S. Curtis Collection

Witness


By Penny Perry

for my mother

rialto-lacInside the Rialto movie theater
the little usher, in her maroon uniform
lights the aisle for a man carrying popcorn
and dripping water from the brim of his hat.
After the feature in English, Black Friday,
a German newsreel.

It is February, 1940, rain pouring
on the theater’s peaked roof
and on the wide Los Angeles streets.

Though her parents whisper about politics
in worried Yiddish, the usher doesn’t usually
watch the news. She’s grateful for her job
and the camouflage of her married name.

On the movie screen, a woman with sloping
shoulders and a small suitcase causes the usher
to stare. The woman in her winter coat,
waiting with the other Jews from Stettin,
for the night train that will carry them to Poland
and resettlement, could be her own Aunt Syl.

The usher wonders how it would be, the knock
on the door, a few hours to gather her belongings.
Quick as the flick of a flashlight switch
the woman from Stettin is gone. The usher
rubs gold braid on her uniform, studies
army tanks, bombers and then Tom
and Jerry racing across the screen.

She is glad she works mostly in the dark.
Plump, cheerful Mr. Schneider, the theater owner,
never guesses she is a Jew.

After her shift, she drives home, down palm-lined
streets, pooling now, forming creeks and even rivers.
The city never believed a rain like this would come.

In her apartment, she cries to her husband,
downs a shot of whiskey she usually reserves
for menstrual cramps. On her old Royal
she types the word Stettin writes a letter
to the LA Times.

At midnight, she steps out in the street,
imagines German eyes following her
from the rain-streaked windows of cafes
whose neon signs turn the new LA rivers
the color of blood. She drops her envelope

in a yawning mail box. Three days later
she receives her reply: “Thank you
for your interesting letter about Stettin.
We’re unable to print it at this time.”

She stands on her porch and wonders
at her own odd relief. For a moment she is safe,
anonymous. Rain dropping on rooftops, and palm
trees and bus benches and on her own hatless head.
She steps inside to type another letter.

……………………………………………………….

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo: Los Angeles Conservancy.

 

Carlos Called to Tell My Mother Her Husband Was a Cheating Dog


By Penny Perry

 

cheating dogMy father, his work boots in his closet,
at rest, at last.
My stepmother, her black mourning dress,
slit at the knee, keens over my father,
lying in his satin-lined coffin.
Men, including the broad-shouldered
realtor, with a cowboy smile,
Lee, the one I’m sure will be her next spouse,
vie to comfort her.

No shoulder-pat of comfort for me, from Carlos,
tall, neat, shiny shoes, shiny hair,
my current stepbrother.
He sits next to me and hands me Scotch,
my first, that attacks my tongue
like porcupine quills.

Glancing at the coffin, Carlos tells me he once
called my mother to rat on my father and his mom.
When he heard Mom in her low-pitch voice
doing the family’s Groucho joke—
“Hello, I must be going”—he hung up.

Receiver heavy in her hand, my mother
may have believed Carlos’s story,
then gazed at her heart-shaped face
in the mirror above the phone,
heard rats scratching behind our walls.

…………………………………

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Photo credit: JLK_254 via a Creative Commons license.

Followers and Friends


By Mary Somers

 
followers and friendsIt’s so easy
nowadays
there are so many
different ways
to “love” people,
or pretend to,
anyway.
See,
if you ask me
honestly
I hope love is
something more
more than “following” a feed
on a screen
where what you see
is
quite literally
just a story
a narrative someone’s selling
about their glory.
What about the ugly parts of me?
The scary parts of my book
that I don’t share
so you don’t look?
What about them?
I think that’s the difference
between followers and friends.
Followers don’t care
about the things that you don’t share.
They only want to see you pretty
not the pain
and not the gritty.
Which is ok
but don’t forget
you’re not that story
that you tell
the version of yourself you sell.
Someone told me once before
and, since, has shown me even more
that to love
to really do it
is to lie down with someone’s pain
when they need help going through it.

………………………………….

About Mary Somers

Mary Somers was born in Moscow, Russia, and was raised in Fallbrook, California. A professional actress and dancer, she now spends her days pursuing her dreams in Hollywood. Mary stumbled upon writing poetry at age 22, as a way of processing the world around her.

Image: A segment of Winslow Homer’s A Summer Night,also known as Buffalo Girls.

Wisdom Worker


By Sharon Thompson

Perhaps
in days of deep pine wilderness
and cooking stones lowered into baskets of thick soup,
there were elders to consult.
Huts in which to kneel and learn.
Dreams of smoky revelation.
Heart beats measured on drums of stretched skin.

women's wisdomSomeone with knowledge

given as gift from soul to soul,
understanding and steadfast insight
fortification
against the incongruity of this sense of bleakness
in a life of such lush bounty.

In myth, if not in flesh,

a gnarled woman
stoops with curved awl

sculpting graceful sides into an oaken bowl—

laughing at my unrelenting woefulness,

lifting it, hefting its weight easily, scolding,

“Go swim in the stream
and take some hard young warrior to your breast.
Forget your own babies for today.
Rub your mouth with raspberry juice.
Dance in the current with your knees high.
Laugh.

That is all there is.”

I am no longer a girl with streaming black hair,
out tasting the world.
Almost aged myself,
shifting blindly along
overlooking shrines, passing prudent Ones to query.

Nearing,
empty handed,
the threshold of things.
Inept, I will gather what I can
practicing my smile as I go.

……………………………………………………………..

About Sharon Thompson

Sharon Thompson
Sharon Thompson has been writing for most of her life. Love of reading and writing led to a twenty-year career teaching high school English, first in Los Angeles and finally in the San Diego area. Now retired, Sharon enjoys focusing on her writing, attending workshops and reading her work for others. She lives with her dachshund, Sam, in Temecula, California, close to her two grown sons.

 

The etching, an excerpt of “Titianus redivivus; or the seven-wise-men consulting the new Venetian oracle,” is by Jame Gilray, 1797, courtesy of The British Museum.

Readings from the San Diego Poetry Annual 2015-2016


San Diego Poetry AnnualPreceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

DateTuesday, August 9, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

The San Diego Poetry Annual, published by Garden Oak Press, contains the work of poets from throughout the San Diego County region and beyond. The Annual includes two volumes: one bilingual Spanish-English volume, and one of poetry in English.

The new edition includes an eclectic group of poets, including our first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who was raised in Escondido.

 

Enjoy a sample poem from the collection:

Home Office

By Tom Somers

My raucous rooster’s crow in twilight gray
drives away the night’s refreshing sleep.
Waves rush in and wash my dreams away
tops foaming with commands I cannot keep:
Trade your soul, your peace, your all for cash!
By duty called I struggle to my feet and plod
ahead, in hope some day to fill my stash.
Dear God! Why does success elude this clod?

Still here and hopeless I’m not quite:
away I cast my phone to stop its ring
and forth into my garden take my flight,
where startled, fishy island heron now takes wing.
Work and worry vex me, yet it’s funny:
my soul is saved by sunshine and the bunny.

 

The San Diego Poetry Annual is part of the permanent collections of every college and university library in San Diego County, the county and city library systems, and the libraries of independent cities throughout the area.

Copies of both volumes of the 2015-2016 Annual will be available for sale at the reading.

For more information, contact Kit-Bacon Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com or 760-522-1064.

Doors Without Handles – Hospital


By Sharon Thompson

Doors Without Handles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no mirrors here.
The world narrows
to small white cups of medication,
safety glass
and doors without handles.

I lean, one knee bent,
against a wall
the color of poorly done toast,
hands tucked behind my back,
fingers scratching, scratching,
at a torn bit of wall paper.

I don’t yet pace the short, fat hallway,
but others do,
and I can see ahead to when
I will join the aimless, oval trek.

The black pay phone beside me
hungers for coins
I am not allowed to have.
How would I kill myself
with four quarters?

The fat nurse in tight blue scrubs
stops directly in front of me.
Loudly asks how I am feeling today.I respond with a
counterfeit smile and lie.
I lie to everyone.
Especially the pleasant, dull doctor
with scuffed brown shoes and dandruff,
who knows I
used a bottle of small, white pills
to season a last meal, carving
my muscled thighs
waiting for sleep.

I have been very careful
since then.
Very careful since here.

I chill to think I have not hidden well enough
the familiar family tune—
the secret crooning from the grave
to which I sway, eyes closed
listening to my mother.
It is she humming
as she taps my shoulder
asking, at the very least,
for company.

………………………………….

About Sharon Thompson

Sharon ThompsonSharon Thompson has been writing for most of her life. Love of reading and writing led to a twenty year career teaching high school English, first in Los Angeles and finally in the San Diego area. Now retired, Sharon enjoys focusing on her own writing, attending workshops and reading her work for others. She lives with her dachshund, Sam, in Temecula, California, close to her two grown sons.

Photo credit: Mike McCune via a Creative Commons license.

Four weeks after her stroke


By Penny Perry

Four weeks after her strokemy daughter colors her eyelids gold.
We had been suspended, her father,
brothers and I, in the egg-shaped,
metallic aerial tram, we rode each day
to the hospital. Her brain was bleeding.
Her right side was weak. The tram dangled us
over the city and river. We floated, tilted
on a lake of clouds, helpless as a mouse
in an owl’s claws.

Her surgeon whispered she would live.
We were dropped in her tiny living room,
down to the loam of her carpet,
we blinked at each other
and at the salt and pepper shakers
on the table.

July has been dropped from our calendar.
Back to school ads, sneakers with pink laces
on TV. Days are shorter. The maroon hollyhock
we saw our first day here has shut its eyes.
We are opening ours.

We hear her voice, halting at first,
stronger each day, like the adolescent jay
on her front porch, who tilts its head
and listens to its own small screech
growing louder against afternoon traffic.

She has thrown away her cane. She steps
one foot in front of the other down the stairs.

We sit at the dinner table. She can lift
and hold a fork now, quote from Soapdish.
“I’ve had ‘a rare case of brake fluid.’”
Her gold eyelids glitter in the evening sun.

……………………………………………………………..

About Penny Perry

PennyPerryKateHardingMugPenny Perry is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in California Quarterly, Lilith, Redbook, Earth’s Daughter, the Paterson Literary Review and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Her first collection of poems, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012) earned praise from Marge Piercy, Steve Kowit, Diane Wakoski and Maria Mazziotti Gillan.

She writes under two names, Penny Perry and Kate Harding.

Portland aerial tram sunset photo credit: Joseph Readdy via a creative commons license.

Fruit of Thy Womb


An excerpt from Mi Amor: a Memoir

 

By Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

Fruit of Thy Womb

I was born on the tenth of September,
nineteen hundred and seventeen.
Tucson, Arizona.
My baptism name is Elizabeth Carrasco Luna.
At nineteen years of age
I eloped with Elias Rodríguez Aparicio.
We were married by a justice of the peace in Arizona.
Five children lived. One baby boy died from my toxemia.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art Thou, amongst women.

Who do I tell that I am alone, now?
Need to tell him that I scraped my arms.
How did it happen?
I better change my bloodied bandages
before he comes to me.
So scratched up. Tan herida.

Ave Maria Gratia Plena

I wanna go home. Quiro ir a mi casa en Los Angeles.
Sometimes I go to the construction site and
ask the workers for Caro, mi esposo.
I get so lonely.
This place of viejitos,
this place of nuns,
house of old people,
gray sad faces.

Santa Maria, Llena Eres De Gracia

My loneliness is so strong.
Sometimes I feel like breaking that window
and getting on a plane and flying away.
Tell me, someone. Where is he?
Is he all right?

Bendita Sea. Blessed Be.

I pray to the Blessed Mary,
spouse and mother of God.
I’ll hide your holy statue in my closet
if you don’t grant my wish.

Dearest Mary of Nazareth.
Like Elisabeth, your aged
and barren cousin.
Let me make life with my husband.
His seeds, his children in my womb,
mi vientre.

I pray to you, Mary Mother
Santa Maria, Madre de Dios.

My babies. Where are they?
You love our bebitos. Don’t be sad, Caro.
I can’t have any more babies. No puedo.
Stay with me.
Sleep in my bed.
Don’t go.

Blessed is the Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.

I try to remember.
Caro, mi esposo,
didn’t we live over there
on Hazard Avenue?
Tell me before you go.
Didn’t you come last night
to visit me?
You called me your bride.
There were two moons
outside my window.

Hail Mary Full of Grace

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

About Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

VibianaVibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin is an author, visual artist and storyteller based in Los Angeles County. Her memoir, Mi Amor, was published by Bambaz Press in 2015.

She will be the featured author at Writers Read at Fallbrook Library on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Vibiana founded El Teatro de los Niños, the first Chicano children’s street theater in the U.S., as a continuation of her family’s tradition of storytelling. She has masters degrees in Educational Administration and Theater Arts from Cal State LA, and Bilingual Education and Secondary English, from USC.

Vibiana’s prose and poetry have appeared in Dismantle of VONA, Voices of our Nation; Heart Song Food Memories; Los Angeles County Latino Heritage Calendar; Flor Y Canto Literary Festival, USC; Inscape Literary Magazine of Pasadena City College; the City of Altadena’s Poetry Anthology, 2011-15; dandelion breeze and apology of wildflowers, Southern California Haiku Study Group Anthology 2013-14; The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly 2013-14; and Beyond the Lyric Moment, Tebot Bach 2014.

Fruit of Thy Womb © 2015 Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

 

All of me is fragile


By Conney D. Williams

lost all hope

I have lost all hope
in this world
lost inside drones & surges
lost on the West Bank
the redness of our Blood
is a nickel a barrel
and we have no oil
to barter for safety
Death has moved
into the apartment next door
Plans to sublet from
me and my family, soon
The air is shrapnel, and
my people sifted like desert
The world doesn’t care
if we have a home or peace
Does anyone remember
that we used to be a nation
All of me is fragile,
vulnerable & forever wounded
I have lost ALL hope, like
limbs severed without anesthesia
afraid to retrieve them
from among the rubble
of treaties broken before
the ink of signatures dry
There’s no hope in this world
for people, not considered
God’s

………………………………………………………………………………………..

About Conney D. Williams

Lost all hope conney d williamsConney D. Williams is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he worked as a radio personality.

Conney’s first collection of poetry, Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet, was published in 2002. His poetry has also been published in various journals and anthologies including Voices from Leimert Park; America: At the End of the Day; and The Drumming Between Us. His collection Blues Red Soul Falsetto was published in December 2012, and he has released two new poetry CDs, Unsettled Water and River&Moan, available on his website.

Conney has performed his poetry on television, radio, galleries, universities, grade schools, coffeehouses, and stages around Southern California and across the country, including the Black Arts Festival. He is a talented public speaker with more than thirty years of experience.

Read more about Conney at conneywilliams.com.

Photo credit: Freedom House via a Creative Commons license.

Writers Read Presents Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin


Discussing Mi Amor on May 10, 2016

Mi Amor by Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

 

Preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Date: Tuesday, May 10, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook

 

Author, artist and gifted storyteller Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin will share excerpts from her poetic memoir, Mi Amor, illustrated with her visual art. She will also share the flavors and aromas reflected in her writing.

Vibiana’s prose and poetry have appeared in Dismantle of VONA, Voices of our Nation; Heart Song Food Memories; Los Angeles County Latino Heritage Calendar; Flor Y Canto Literary Festival, USC; Inscape Literary Magazine of Pasadena City College; the City of Altadena’s Poetry Anthology, 2011-15; dandelion breeze and apology of wildflowers, Southern California Haiku Study Group Anthology 2013-14; The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly 2013-14; and Beyond the Lyric Moment, Tebot Bach 2014.

Mi Amor will be available at the reading for sale and signing.

For more information about Writers Read at Fallbrook Library, contact K-B Gressitt at kbgressitt@gmail.com or 760-522-1064.