Thursday, July 5, 2018

Village Poets bring Poetry to the Independence Day Parade 2018!

Poets Car with Pam Shea as Statue of Liberty, and Dorothy Skiles, July 2018.

Since 2010, Village Poets rode in the Sunland Tujunga Parade. In 2018, the car received some new decorations -  two-word poems (golden hills, canopy of oaks, eccentric moon, yucca blooms, shining skies, and splendid sunset). The flowers' palette expanded to add pink and yellow, and the poets found some new costumes, with Dorothy Skiles and Joe DeCenzo in red, Maja Trochimczyk in navy with a shining sash from Marlene and a basket of poems and bookmarks, and Pamela Shea, Poet Laureate as Statue of Liberty in bright green.

Car Decorating party at Maja's, with Marlene and pom-poms.

The preparations started on July 3, when five poets gathered to decorate the car; Marlene Hitt, Sunland Tujunga's Poet Laureate No. 1 from 1999, rode with the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council, but brought ornaments for the convertible. 

Fourth of July

Battles are never over
Hatred is never done
We think one war is finished
Think, of course, we’ve won
This year we’ll see our fireworks
We always cheer in awe
At the splendor of mock battle
Thunder of battles’ call
We lie on the grass of the football field
With our eyes turned up to the sky
Forget that war means sorrow
That some of us here could die
If those marvelous fires and colors
In our deep blue summers’ eye
Could say ‘now all fighting is over’
We could sigh a rapturous sigh
Then that would be the meaning
Of the cheers of the fourth of July.

Marlene Hitt  (7/4/18)

Pamela Shea with her banner assistants, Patrick and Mere.

Pamela Shea who was Betsy Ross last year, became the Statue of Liberty, with her Poet Laureate sash, and brave assistants, Patrick Shea as Mr. Lincoln in a top hat, and Mere in patriotic miniskirt.  She wrote a celebratory poem after the event. Her bookmarks were a big hit with the spectators, and were all gone half-way through the route. 

2018 Fourth of July

A wonderful day
Honoring all things that are good
Starts with a parade 
In my neighborhood

Then fun in the pool
Great time with family, friends
Next a baseball game 
But that's not the end

The nighttime sky glows
Fireworks burst, music plays
The Fourth of July 
A picture perfect day

But remember, too
Our freedom's cost
Honor those gone
And those that we've lost

Also hold in your hearts 
Those less fortunate 
Who live on the margins
Against whom others discriminate

Independence survives on
Thanks to both present and past 
So live with values to give
And pray for peace that lasts

By Pamela Shea 
9th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga

The Poets' convertible on the parade route.

The Statue of Liberty was also commemorated in a poem by Elsa S. Frausto

Ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island

I'd move there just to be able to see the Lady of Liberty
every single day. One of my great  grandfathers saw her
as she appeared after days filled with water and waiting.
She holds the tired longing of so many eyes.
Here, imperfect union that we are.

(C) 2018 Elsa S. Frausto

Pam Shea as Statue of Liberty with a handmade torch.

Pamela Shea earlier wrote a poem about the nation's flag; its fragment was included on her bookmarks.

Old Glory

by Pamela Shea, 9th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga

Today I performed a most humbling act
I repaired my home flag, dear Old Glory
I stitched frayed seams with reverential care
While it whispered to me its story

It took me to places where it had been

To battlefields, parades, and many graves
We visited places of the deepest sorrow
As well as sunny, celebratory days

I envisioned faces of many heroes

Of all colors, races, ages, and creeds
We journeyed to mountaintops and valleys
Commemorating countless courageous deeds

Frayed seams reminded me of frayed families

I thought of all soldiers, alive, dead, or maimed
Thoughts of generations flooded my mind
So many lives for freedom forever changed

I finished my sewing with thankfulness

Completing this sacred task with a prayer
My heart was warmed by appreciation
As I proudly posted the colors with care

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Parade's spectators with surprises for the poets - water!

Joe DeCenzo prepared a new CD of patriotic music in different styles, from Yankee Doodle Dandy, to Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, with several versions of America the Beautiful in between. The poets' cards included a printed version of two stanzas with music, and the sentiments of the two-word poems on the car reflected the focus on the beauty of natural landscapes in California. 

Team and the Poets' convertible, with two-word poems. 

Joe DeCenzo's poem added some stanzas to the little known sections of Katharine Lee Bates, from the original 1893 version of the poem.

From Sea to Shining Sea

(Honoring The Poem “Pike’s Peak” By Katharine Lee Bates) 

Oh beautiful for hearts combined
That see beyond the gloom
Whose brothers crawl from every land
And know we still have room
America! America!
Thy bosom shall defend
The virtues of our ancestors
Against those who offend

Oh Beautiful for those who speak
Above the boisterous crowd
Crusading for the dignities
That all men are endowed
America! America!
For better or for worse
Whose amber waves and proud refrains
Deserve another verse

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Oh Beautiful for those few words
Those seldom heard in song
Reminding us of principles
That built our nation strong
America! America!
Forever shall we stride
To find our brothers arm in arm
Where liberties reside

Joe DeCenzo

Joe DeCenzo driving the Poets' Convertible (actually his...) 

Maja Trochimczyk soaked by  water guns from the onlookers 
with Dorothy Skiles, considerably less wet. 

... All happy and having fun in the sun, but for both Maja Trochimczyk and Dorothy Skiles, the Fourth of July is a bitter-sweet date. Maja lost her Mom in 2013 and Dorothy lost her Dad in 1987. Here's an in memoriam poem by Dorothy.  

Fourth of July 1987

Oh Dad, you picked a
mighty fine day to die -
on the 4th of July!

You weren’t much
for parades, but you
sure loved those
homemade burgers
dripping with tangy
sauce and stuffed with
lots of pickles, with
a martini to boot!

Remember, when all
five of us kids stood
on Grandma’s front
porch, wide-eyed
watching fireworks
off Venice Pier?
You loved to shoot
them off  right
in the street –
colors were brilliant
and shone in your eyes!
We’d top it off, with vanilla,
chocolate, or strawberry,
ice cream, life was much
simpler then.

Oh Dad, you picked a
mighty fine day to die -
on the 4th of July!

Dorothy Skiles
Rev. July 2018
©Copyright 2018 by D. Skiles

Poetry basket with America the Beautiful and poetry cards. 

Maja Trochimczyk walked most of the route, giving out poems, cards with America the Beautiful and poetry bookmarks. All the poems were gone before reaching half the route which means we need to print a lot more for next year. 

Independence Day

Red - are the rocks of the Grand Canyon
White - are the mountains, covered with snow
Blue - are the waves of Pacific Ocean

Red, White and Blue - colors of all.

Red - is the Earth from which we come
White - is the Air that fills our lungs
Blue - is the Water inside us, with Stardust

Red, White and Blue - connected in all.

Red - is pure Love, deep in our hearts
White - is the Brightness of our minds
Blue - is the Peace of well-lived lives

Red, White and Blue - freedom for all.

(C) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

Dorothy, Pam, and Maja with Mere and Patrick holding the banner.

Elsa S. Frausto sent in the final poem, about celebrating Independence Day in our beautiful foothills.


These mountains are here,
the surprising flight of parrots and their calls,
the large, white Yucca blooms,
nights giving up their hidden scent
of oak and sage.
Days filled with unsurprising heat.
It's July after all,
and Whitman still sings the body electric.
A song to Independence,
here, imperfect union that we are.

Elsa S. Frausto, (c) 2018 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Village Poets Present Mira Mataric and Charles Harmon on 22 July 2018

Look for Village Poets and Pam Shea in the 4th of July Parade of Sunland-Tujunga, Foothill Blvd from Mt. Gleason to Sunland Park. Starts at 10 am on the 4th of July. 

Dr. Mira Mataric and Charles Harmon will be featured poets on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. at the Village Poets Monthly Reading at Bolton Hall Museum (10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042). The readings include 30 min. for the featured poet, as well as two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013. The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society, named after the "little land" that each settler received in the Tujunga and Sunland foothills when the area was settled. The readings adhere to a self-imposed PG-13 rating, without extreme depictions of sex or violence, and with an air of gentility,  so poets use their words to bless the world, rather than curse it.


Mira N. Mataric, born in Belgrade, Serbia. Earned BA, MA, and Ph.D. in Linguistics and World Literature, and master’s studies in Special Education. Librarian in the National Library of Serbia for 14 years and teaching at the University of Beograd, Mira has been a prominent free-lance writer and translator-interpreter in Europe, publishing her poetry, prose, and translations in leading periodicals of Yugoslavia and Serbia since 1950. And translated American, English, Irish, Swedish, Indian, Rumanian, and other modern poetry and prose (John Steinbeck, Isaac Bashevis Singer etc.). She traveled extensively in Europe, USA, Australia, Asia and Africa.
Living in the USA since 1981, Mira taught college English, Creative Writing, Russian, and ESL, Special Education, and successfully applied her expertise in creative writing as art therapy. Mira worked extensively teaching senior citizens to write memoirs, journals, poetry and other literary forms, as a legacy.
Mira has edited a literary journal, organized literary workshops and readings, often delivering public speeches for schools, organizations, churches, and clubs, in Kansas for 18 years. She continues to discover and nurture new talents, building multi-cultural bridges and spreading education throughout her career. 
Mira has published 44 (bilingual) books of poetry, memoirs, short stories, novels and anthologies. She has thousands of citations in other publications and anthologies, translated into numerous languages and awarded for poetry, prose, translations and life achievements building international cultural bridges. Her awards include recognition from the President of the United States, the Government of Serbia, Ministry of Diaspora and Education, etc: Arsenie Charnoevich, 2005; Ivo Andric, 2013; Golden medal from the Cultural-Educational Association of Serbia, 2007; Sretenska Povelja for translations,  2008; Poeta from Arte, 2007; Shumadijske Metafore and Literary Workshop Kordun for her short stories, 2014; Special recognition, Indjija, Pro Poet, 2018.
Mira has promoted some two hundred Serbian authors abroad through her translations, reviews and lectures, and as many foreign writers in Serbia since 1950 to this day.



Love to write, love to live, love to love, love to cook, love to eat. Teaching science is like cooking, cooking is like writing poetry, poetry is about life, love is about living, and living is about love. I love to write poetry. Long live love!


Published story in local newspaper in fourth grade. Produced hundreds of poems (first love), songs, stories, articles, photographs, artwork, screenplays, novel. Assembling collected poems, trying to get two books published. Won NSTA national science teaching award and $20,000 in 2001 for project, “Don’t Be a Crash Test Dummy!” that teaches kids traffic safety, physics, chemistry, math. Use poetry, songs to motivate students, challenging them to write their own, codifying learning. Reviewed, edited, contributed to five textbooks for Houghton Mifflin. World traveler, five years overseas, 60 countries, lifesaver. Taught English, composition as well as sciences. Won SGVPQ poetry slam in Hollywood in 2006. Published in Spectrum, Altadena Poetry Review, Ribbons, Haiku Windows, Haiku Society Anthology, Lummox, Prism Review, California Quarterly, Atlas Poetica. Charles was named one of the "Top Ten Poets of the San Gabriel Valley" by Spectrum Publications. 


I have tears in my eyes
But not from cutting onions
I’m laughing out loud
But not from jokes in my cookbook
Oil is sizzling and hot
But my pan remains empty
Not all the cooking wine 
Makes it into the pot

I want to cook for you
I want you in my kitchen
My spice box is exploding
Hot chili peppers set hearts on fire
Curry burns holes in souls
Lips blister from sampling salsa 
So sweet and sour

What strange alchemy transforms
Such simple ingredients into life?
Miracle food, magical energy source
Gives strength to go on, for 
Neither Woman nor Man
Can live by bread alone
We both need something more
Something hearty that endures
That sticks to Adam’s ribs and also Eve’s—
A great big serving 
Of passion and romance.

I’m dishing that up
With a chef’s flair for cuisine
Words of love to nourish 
Hungry hearts and thirsty souls
It’s hot and spicy and ready…
Are you hungry too?
Care to join me?

--Charles Harmon
Previously published in Spectrum 4: “2016’s Top Ten San Gabriel Valley Poets, April;
Altadena Poetry Review 2017; Prism Review, Spring 2006; 
Winner, 2006 “Winner-Take-All” SGVPQ  Hollywood Poetry Contest


We had political representation at the Christine Jordan feature in June! State Senator Anthony Portantino is a poetry lover and attended our event along with a host of excellent poets!  Dorothy Skiles commented: "Christine Jordan performed her poetry and narrative readings with theatrical flair and humor which was well received by the audience! The poets who participated delivered humorous, compelling, and thought-provoking work, which is the hallmark of so many of our events."

Standing:  – left to right:  Cile Borman, Anthony Portantino, Mira Mataric, Joe DeCenzo, Peter Larsen, Beth Baird, Richard Dutton, Barbara Bagwell, Lalo Kikiriki. Sitting: - left to right:  Lida Abramian, Alice Pero, Pauli Dutton, Christine Jordan, Chris Cressey.

Village Poets wish all poets and poetry lovers

Happy Fourth of July! 

See you at the Parade down Foothill Blvd 
from Mt. Gleason at 10 am

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Christine Jordan Features on June 24, 2018 and Village Poets Write About Love and Nature

Village Poets are pleased to present Christine Jordan as featured poet on Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. The Village Poets Monthly Readings are held at Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. The readings include 30 min. for the featured poet, as well as two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013. The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society, named after the "little land" that each settler received in the Tujunga and Sunland foothills when the area was settled. The readings adhere to a self-imposed PG-13 rating, without extreme depictions of sex or violence, and with an air of gentility,  so poets use their words to bless the world, rather than curse it.


CE (Christine) Jordan has performed and created unique dance/theatre work all her life. Her signature dance opus, ‘LA Breakdown’, a 6-part dance/theatre work, premiered in sections from 1984 to 1987 at Cal State LA, and came together in a complete showing at Fringe Festival LA in Fall 1987, entertaining folks for two weekends at the Mac Arthur Park Bandshell.  She was bitten by the poetry bug in 1982, and has subsequently had her work published in  Armchair/Shotgun, Blue Satellite, Rivertalk and other journals over the years.

Her true love, though, is blurring lines & meshing genres. She began staging her poetry and stories in 1996,  performing with The Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre in 1996-97.  Most notably, her signature theatre opus, ‘Notes on a Country Childhood’, an evening solo outing full of touching and entertaining stories and poems about her rural childhood in Ojai, CA, has been performed in parts and as a whole in various theatrical and non- traditional performing spaces since 2009. She edits, combines, and happily riffs on this material as part of the texts for many Story Chicks pieces, the two gal theatre company she began with Terri MartinLujan in 2013. This is yet another example of getting ‘bitten’ by a good idea!

Ms Jordan’s current solo work includes ‘Map to the Stars’ with live piano accompaniment by Craig Kupka, which debuted at ArtShare LA in March 2016, and its next incarnation, ’Tinsel Town, tall tales of a ballerina in Hollywood‘, which enchanted young and old at the Hollywood Ivar Branch of the LA Public Library in July 2017. ‘A Model Life’, her humorous run-down of life as a fashion model in the 70’s and 80‘s, debuted at The Coffee Gallery Backstage in Dec. 2016 and then was seen with new visuals as part of  Moda 360 at The New Mart downtown LA in Aug. 2017. Story Chicks’ newest opus, ‘Starstruck, your name in lights’ a show about young performer’s dreams and stumbles, is currently being developed to debut in early summer 2018. A cabaret version of the show debuted in March 2017 at The Padua Hills Theatre in Claremont.

CE has her BA in dance/UCLA and MA in Theatre/CSULA. She has studied ballet and tap intensively, danced with The Moving Co. a Pasadena-based modern dance company, part of the NEA Dance Touring program, from 1973-78, worked with Bella Lewitsky and Miriam Nelson on stage and in television, and with Debra DeLiso in acting and staging memoir.  She has also created costumes and props for local LA theatre companies, including her favorite company, The Foliage Theatre Project, throughout the 1990s. Ms Jordan spent 10 pretty marvelous years modeling on the runway, for TV, and editorial shoots, represented by Mary Webb Davis in LA and by Ellen Harth in NY. Her career teaching creative dance and theatre to children spans 25 years, and she continues to learn and create by the seat of her pants!

possum garden                  by C.E. Jordan

this living-space
out of doors, by
day, glows, shift-
ing its spotlights.
But by night to
night I found
all the familiar
places hording their
own kind of light.

Like my white x-
mas lights, strung
common, are now
as good as
searchlights, making
my pagoda’s ceiling
its own Hollywood
and the latest
possum waddling
across the red
carpet, shining
his day-glo mime-
masque right straight
in my direction. Creatures

tame and not, natural
for the most part, go
phosphorescent, and
blink tidings from
white patches
here and there. And
Vinca and periwinkle-shaped
wheels of light,
teeming stars
in white crockery
whiter and still no
moon. Then
the sounds like heat
seem to rise and
float dismembered
in the semi-darkness.
Voices badgering, more
wild things whining low.
And crickets, I’m sorry,
but you have to hear
this tiny, squeaking
chorus, hallelujahs
& noir plots this
night, growing home-
made stories &
third man types
wild life out


The May 27, 2018 reading by Seven Dhar and presentation by Abby Diamond were full of inspirational moments and true poetic delights. 

Seven Dhar, Maja Trochimczyk, Abby Diamond

Abby Diamond presented an original torn-paper collage to Moonrise Press, for use in the press's publicity.

We decided to post some of the Village Poets recent verse and bring more love to the world from our foothill community.

 Love’s Cliche

by Joe DeCenzo

May the words of the tired uninspired hackneyed poets
Ring out louder than the bells of Westminster if those words be love
If love be cliché then let me soak in its ponderous rain.
Let its mundane repetition fill the tomes of mankind
Its every margin and indentation ‘til there is no blank space

Let it be the first word spoken at daybreak
The last word murmured at prayers
And the longest note sustained in every choral song
Let Love be the first ingredient of every recipe
The first provision of any contract
The last word uttered with my dying breath


by Marlene Hitt

I know the rose
the splendid rose
I know the thorns
the tender skin
the gash
I know the gash
I know the fur
caught on the thorn
I know the fur
I know its warmth
I know the warmth
the noontime sun
the face of the rose
as it greets my eye
I know the rose
I know the thorn

the thorn I never touch.

Wash Wonderland

by Pamela Shea

Wash Wonderland
2/5/18 – Pamela Shea

Alice falls
Through the looking glass
In the wash

In the distance a dog howls
In trees birds flutter
She whistles
To her friends

A flock of geese fly, fly, fly
They call, sing

Hummingbird flits
From flower to flower
With the whir of wings

A crow caws, caws, caws
Seemingly scolding
In no hurry
To vacate its post

West to east
Sky pushes past moon
On its way
To golden sunrise

Indulge dear Alice
She is quite harmless
Carefully she steps 
Sauntering along, sauntering along, sauntering along 

In the past she ran
Trying to escape
Now she hops and skips
Into the future  

When she leaves
It will be blessing
She will fly, fly, fly
Somewhere far beyond

Perhaps north
To mountains
Or south
To deserts
Maybe east
To sunrise
Or west
To ocean sunset
Won’t you please join Alice
When you are able?
Wonderland exists
Wherever one chooses

Here, here, here

by Maja Trochimczyk

I love my mountains
blue and spring green still
under clear azure expanse,
their velvet pleats pile up
in layers above the valley
rock pathways in empty riverbed.

This is the Earth - naked
free of trees and houses, of rush
and pavement and cars on hot asphalt
in LA summers - this is
pure repose - serenely breathing
slowly, deeply - in the cycle of centuries

I love my mountains
the bluish shadows on distant slopes
manzanita and sage scattered 
on those close by- they open
like curtains into infinity - to let me in
beyond the next peak, the next canyon
into new worlds that grow within
in warm sunlight, under cool glow
of spiraling galaxies before dawn.

I'm here, I found my life
waiting for me under the indigo
cupola outlined with deep purple
at the ridges -  here crickets
measure the night as they sing
"we are here, here, here, here..." 
while birds sleep
hidden among branches.

Only the distant waves of truck noise
from the freeway remind me
that this paradise of mine
this magic, fluid, living 
folding and unfolding is my LA home
my own LA LA Land, of sweet
mountains under the brightest of Suns.


by Dorothy Skiles

Fond memory
ever so softly, quietly
calls to me…                                   

Monarch butterflies
in early summer’s flight
flutter through and beyond
mother’s morning glory vines
dressed in brilliant blues
and free to grow unbridled
along the chain link fence
of my childhood.

Butterfly by Bill Skiles (2013).


Since May is the Mental Health Awareness Month and in 2018 also the month of the "We Rise" campaign by the Department of Mental Health of Los Angeles County, some poets at the reading dedicated their work to increasing the awareness of mental health issues, and the importance of health and wellness.  

Dr. Maja Trochimczyk of Phoenix Houses of California, and Moonrise Press, read poems inspired by nature and reflections on finding and maintaining emotional well-being in life.  Other poets, like Pamela Shea, Dorothy Skiles, and Marlene Hitt, selected work inspired by the love of nature, reproduced above, as expressions of wisdom and beauty of the natural world and its soothing effect on human emotions and psychological well-being. 

Flyers about Phoenix House  behavioral health services in California were available during the event. More information about "We Rise" may be found on DMH website:

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seven Dhar - Poet, and Abby Diamond - Artist, Featured on May 27, 2018

Sunset Shadows by Abby Diamond

On Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. the Monthly Reading of Village Poets presents poet Seven Dhar and artist Abby Diamond. The Village Poets Monthly Readings are held at Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. The readings include segments of 20 min. for the featured poet and artist, as well as two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013.

The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society, named after the "little land" that each settler received in the Tujunga and Sunland foothills when the area was settled. The readings adhere to a self-imposed PG-13 rating, without extreme depictions of sex or violence, and with an air of gentility,  so poets use their words to bless the world, rather than curse it.


BIO: Seven Dhar aims to push the limits of language, East and West, performing in Sanskrit and Gaelic, Spanish and the awed tongue of mystics. A Buddhist meditator, yogi, and urban shaman with Los Angeles Native American roots, he graduated from UC Berkeley and UCLA and also studied at Yale and Oxford; 2018 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival slam poetry finalist, 2015 winner of the SGVPF chapbook and broadside contests; voted “poet laureate” by popular acclaim at Poetrypalooza 2016; LA Poet Society 2015 National Women’s Month dual acrostic poetry contests; co-host of the DTLA Poetry Meetup; published in Coiled Serpent, Eagle Rock Library Anthology, Altadena Poetry Review, Yay! LA Magazine, The Border Crossed Us, Spectrum, LA Word Salon’s LAWS Review, Karineh Madhessian's Heartbreak, Hometown-Pasadena; featured poet at the L.A. Shakespeare Fest and LitFest Pasadena along with the Poets in Distress troupe.
In the Wash - by Abby Diamond


By Seven Dhar

The shaman climbed the mountain, gathered sacred flowering herbs and berries along the way -- Datura moonflowers, toloache, Brugmansia angel's-trumpets, Salvia apiana sage, kasiile, toyon, holly -- until delirium overwhelmed him with lurid and ecstatic visions of hell and heaven. Then he returned to the human world.

Word spread of him. People asked, "Is it true, as they say, you have seen hell?" "I have." "What's it like?" "It's hideous, ironic, horror beyond imagination," the shaman winced to relive, nearly blinded by his recollection: "There's food everywhere, but no one eats, and drink aplenty, but no one drinks. There are long wooden spoons with which to partake, but their bodies have only tiny appendages for arms, too short to bring such elongated spoons up to their shriveled lips. Parched slaver forms ashes in their mouths, and bodies waste away. Struggle as they might, everything goes to wrack and ruin. They bellow in agony." The people shrank away, with growing acreage dedicated to burying their discarded surplus collapsing under smoldering heaps of trash.

"And heaven?" asked the hopeful. "Is it true as they say, you have seen heaven?" "I have." "And what's it like?" they pleaded. "Heaven," the shaman revealed, "is exactly the same."

"What," cried the people, "the same? Surely that is no heaven!" "There is one difference," the shaman went on to explain. "In heaven, there is an abundance of food and drink, long wooden spoons, and bodies with tiny appendages too short to bring these utensils up to their mouths. But the beings there, without hesitation, use the long spoons to feed one another. There is no want. No request ever goes unanswered, no desire unfulfilled. Acts of kindness overflow as do spoons. Spoon fed and cared for, there are continuous cries of gratitude and rejoicing as beings fall over one another to be the first to give. There is food, and they eat. There is drink, and they drink, and they relish diversity and bounty. They care for one another, nourish one another, thank one another. The sweetness of their caresses, gentleness of their words, kindness of their eyes," the shaman wept to recall, "make the place so beautiful that I only wish I could have shown one world to the other."


Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Abby Diamond studied a variety of art techniques, including papier-mache, sculpting, and painting. Inspired by her love for nature, her torn-paper mosaic landscapes combine methods and theory learned from oil, watercolor and Chinese brush painting, creating pure expressions of color, layer, shape, and texture.

Abby has shown her work in the 2017 Art in the Art house exhibit at the Pasadena Laemmle Theatre, and the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga, where she currently lives. She is a member of the Collage Artist of America, Chatsworth Fine Arts Council, and the Women’s Caucus for Art. Her piece entitled “Yucca” was the cover art for the official publication of the California State Poetry Society’s, California Quarterly, Issue 44/1.

Please visit her Etsy shop to see more of her work. Prints and greeting cards are available at

Yucca by Abby Diamond

 The artist's studio - working on the Yucca.

Dancing Trees by Abby Diamond


Some photos from the April 22, 2018 reading by Dr. Andrew Peterson with musicians Art Stucco and John Palmer are posted below.

Art Stucco (singer songwriter) and percussionist John Palmer open the reading.

Elsa S. Frausto

Host Joe DeCenzo

Poet Laureate Pamela Shea

Dr. Andrew Peterson 

Marlene Hitt

Maja Trochimczyk with the California Quarterly

The three featured artists in their hats...Andrew Peterson, John Palmer and Art Stucco.

Poets and guests at the April 22 reading. 

Work by Village Poets appeared recently in two prestigious publications:

The California Quarterly, 44 no. 1, journal of the California State Poetry Society, included poems by Village Poets Marlene Hitt, Maja Trochimczyk, and Pamela Shea.  Other Californian poets in this journal featured several poets featured at Bolton Hall Museum: Deborah P Kolodji, William Scott Galasso, Kath Abela Wilson, and Margaret Saine. Maja Trochimczyk edited the journal, with Abby Diamond's "Yucca" on the cover.

Village Poets with the Altadena Poetry Review, and artwork by Toti O'Brien.
April 29, 2018

The Altadena Poetry Review 2018, edited by Elline Lipkin and Pauli Dutton. presented work by Marlene Hitt, Pamela Shea, Dorothy Skiles, Maja Trochimczyk of the Village Poets, and many of our regular participants and featured poets, including Seven Dhar, Mira Mataric, Thelma D. Reyna, Teresa Mei Chuc, Don Kingfisher Campbell, Mary Weaver, Janet Nippell, and many others.

Village Poets and Friends published in Altadena Poetry Review 2018: Beverly M. Collins,
Dorothy Skiles (Pushcart Prize nominee!), Marlene Hitt, Pamela Shea, and Maja Trochimczyk.
Altadena Public Libary, April 29, 2018. Background  - artwork by Toti O'Brien.

Maja Trochimczyk's photographs of roses are shown as part of the "California Blooming" exhibition at the Hellada Gallery in Long Beach, on Linden St. The exhibition, curated by Marek Dzida, is on display until May 30, 2018


Since May is the Mental Health Awareness Month and in 2018 also the month of the "We Rise" campaign by the Department of Mental Health of Los Angeles County, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk mentioned information on the importance of access to services and health and wellness and brought flyers for distribution during the event.  She also read poems  about maintaining emotional well-being in life.  More information about "We Rise" may be found on DMH website: