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.
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
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
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!
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!
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!
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
Forever shall we stride
To find our brothers arm in arm
Where liberties reside
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
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
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
Oh Dad, you picked a
mighty fine day to die -
on the 4th of July!
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.
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