Monday, March 16, 2020

Alice Pero Named the Tenth Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga



Ms. Alice Pero, an eminent California poet, flutist, poetry teacher and cultural activist, has been named the Tenth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga for the years 2020-2022. Ms. Pero was selected for her role by a ten-person Poetry and Literature Committee, convened by Village Poets, a local voluntary group presenting poetry readings at Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. The Committee consisted of Chair, Joe DeCenzo, the Fourth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, and of other Village Poets of Sunland Tujunga, all former Poets Laureate – Dorothy Skiles, Marlene Hitt, Pamela Shea, Elsa Frausto, and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk. The Village Poets were joined by invited representatives of local organizations: Ms. Liliana Sanchez, President of Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council, Mr. Ardem Tajerian, Senior Librarian, Sunland Tujunga Branch Library, and Ms. Laurell Gells, Executive Director of the McGroarty Arts Center. The applicants submitted poems, biographic notes, and plans for their term of service; they participated in an in-person interview at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga.


In their congratulatory letter, the Committee stated that Ms. Pero’s poetry “is truly accessible, emotional and relatable to many.  Her love and appreciation of Sunland-Tujunga is prevalent throughout her work.  Her sensitivity and skill as a poet and viable plan to foster the poetic creativity of the youth in our community have set her apart as the person most qualified to express in verse the life and hopes and aspirations of the people of Sunland-Tujunga.” Ms. Pero will start her service on April 26, 2020 and the official Passing of the Laurels Ceremony will take place this summer at the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga.


Alice Pero’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, and G.W. Review, California Quarterly, Coiled Serpent, Wide Awake, Altadena Poetry Review, and many others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Altadena Poetry Review and California Quarterly. Her book of poetry, Thawed Stars, was praised by renowned poet, Kenneth Koch, as having “clarity and surprises.” In 2017 Shabda Press published a book of poems, Sunland Park Poems, written in Sunland Park by herself and former Sunland/Tujunga Poet Laureate, Elsa Frausto. The book also features photographs Pero took in the park.

Alice Pero and Maja Trochimczyk after a Windsong concert
with Maja as Featured Poet, 2017.

Pero is a teacher of poetry to children in schools for 29 years and a member of California Poets in the Schools. She is the founder of the reading series, "Moonday", ongoing in the Los Angeles area since 2002 and now located in Sunland. An accomplished flutist and former dancer, she created the performing group, "Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble" in 2015 which gives concerts regularly around the Southland. Pero continues to teach poetry to children throughout the Los Angeles area with a current residency at the Delphi Academy in Lake View Terrace. 


Pero lives on the edge of a Southland desert wash with her husband, Dennis, a pastoral counsellor, and she is the mother of two and grandmother of five.  She frequently takes her five year old grandson on walks in the desert wash in back of her house in Sunland, and he has developed a profound interest in nature, the local flora and fauna, particularly the bees that flourish on her very large rosemary bush.

Dorothy Skiles reads at McGroarty Arts Center, April 2012

The Passing of the Laurels ceremony, the tenth such event in 20 years was planned for April 26, 2020, but is now postponed to another date. It will be held at the McGroarty Arts Center (7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga, CA 91042) as a celebration of poetry and the community.  The wreath of green olive leaves (olive for the oil of wisdom and spiritual inspiration, rather than laurel for fame) will be passed to Ms. Pero by the Ninth Poet Laureate, Pamela Shea, (2017-2020). The event, free and open to the public, will include music performances, presentation of honorary diplomas, and poetry readings by both the outgoing and in-coming Poets Laureate.

Pamela Shea (L) with Joe DeCenzo and Elsa S. Frausto, April 2017

Pamela Shea served as the Ninth Poet Laureate since April 2017. During her term as Poet Laureate, she has especially enjoyed writing poems for specific community events. A particularly meaningful event for her was honoring the volunteers and staff who fought the La Tuna Fire and saved the McGroarty Arts Center during the September 2017 fire.

Pamela Shea, photo by Meridyth MacDonald

Ms. Shea has also written for many events at the Sunland-Tujunga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library; she particularly treasures the time when she wrote a special poem that she read at the library’s Celebration Honoring African American History Month, featuring Lt. Col. Robert Friend, one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Another memorable event was reading her tribute poem for the Coast Live Oak Tree Celebration at the library in January 2020.

Ms. Shea dressed up as a Cat in the Hat reads to kids at LA Library, 2020

A city-wide event in which Pam participated was the NoHo Lit Crawl in October 2019, where she was part of the First Poet Laureate Parade. Through the L.A. Public Library, she contributed to the “Can We Get Your Autograph?” as well as the NEA Big Read events. She read at a meeting of SHPOA (Shadow Hills Property Owners Association) and participated in the 2018 Gathering of California’s Poets Laureate at McGroarty Arts Center hosted by Dana Gioia, California State Poet Laureate. In December 2019, Pam read a poem before the Los Angeles City Council in support of saving La Tuna Canyon as a historical and recreational site. During her term as Poet Laureate term she has achieved her goal in being published in a number of poetry journals and anthologies, such as the California Quarterly, the Altadena Poetry Review, and Spectrum. She looks forward to having a book of her poetry published soon.


McGroarty Arts Center with Commemorative plaque

The Poet Laureate Program was initiated in 1999 by local cultural activists as a tribute to John Steven and Ida McGroarty, who used their home as a gathering place for prominent town citizens to enjoy cultural and fund raising events. The McGroartys were the town’s most famous citizens. John Steven McGroarty (1862-1944) served as the California Poet Laureate from 1933-1944.  A man of many talents, he was known as a poet, journalist, congressman (1935-39), columnist, publisher, historian, playwright, and community activist.

The Assembly Proclamation declaring McGroarty Poet Laureate of California, 1933

McGroarty published several volumes of poetry, memoirs, and non-fiction. He wrote The Mission Play staged annually at Easter, and had a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times.  The reading of one of his poems, “Just California”, was required by all California elementary school students. The McGroartys donated their estate to the City of Los Angeles to serve as a cultural center for the local community.

Joe DeCenzo speaks to the audience, Passing of the Laurels, April 2017

In 2018, his memory was honored by Dana Gioia, then Poet Laureate of California, with the Gathering of Poets Laureate held at the McGroarty Arts Center – over 60 current and past Poets Laureate participated from the entire state, enjoying workshops and public readings, recorded by the California Arts Council, one of the sponsors of this worthwhile event.

Village Poets: L to R: Elsa Frausto, Dorothy Skiles, Marlene Hitt, 
Joe DeCenzo, Pamela Shea and dr Maja Trochimczyk

Mr. McGroarty’s involvement in the local community served as a model for future Poets Laureate that, so far, included: Marlene Hitt, 1999-2001; Katerina Canyon, 2001-2004; Joe DeCenzo, 2004-2006; Ursula T. Gibson, 2006-2008; Damien Stednitz, 2008-2010; Maja Trochimczyk, 2010-2012; Dorothy Skiles, 2012-2014; Elsa S. Frausto, 2014-2017; and Pamela Shea, 2017-2020.

Dr. Maja Trochimczyk with Joe DeCenzo, April 2010.

More information about the Poet-Laureate Program and former Poets Laureate is on the group’s website: villagepoets.com. Descriptions of past Passing-of-the-Laurels ceremonies may be found on the group’s blog, maintained by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, villagepoets.blogspot.com:

http://villagepoets.blogspot.com/2017/05/from-elsa-to-pamela-wreath-and-heart.html
https://villagepoets.blogspot.com/2014/04/elsa-frausto-becomes-our-poet-laureate.html
https://villagepoets.blogspot.com/2012/04/this-sunday-passing-of-laurels-ceremony.html

Village Poets with L.A. Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez, L-R Dorothy Skiles, 
Marlene Hitt, Joe DeCenzo, L. Rodriguez, Maja Trochimczyk

Monday, February 24, 2020

Postponed to Sept 27: A.R. Fancher and W.A. LeVine Feature on Sunday March 22,2020 at 4:30

Photo by V.A. LeVine

THIS READING IS POSTPONED. Ms. Fancher will appear at Bolton Hall on September 27, 2020.
The date for Wayne Allen Levine will be posted later.


On Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum (10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042), Village Poets invite poets and poetry lovers to the third Village Poets reading of the year 2020. We will feature two amazing artists: poet and photographer Alexis Rhone Fancher and poet, photographer and philosopher Wayne Allen Levine. The reading will include two open mike segments.  Refreshments will be 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.


Wayne Allen LeVine 

Wayne Allen LeVine is a writer, poet, philosopher, storyteller, impassioned public speaker and four-time author. LeVine’s books include two collections of poetry: Forgiveness for Forgotten Dreams (2003) and Myths & Artists (2006. LeVine made his literary leap into the realm of nonfiction in (2012) with the release of his 3rd book – Insights of an Ordinary Man – published by Spirit Wind Books – a collection of essays and autobiographical vignettes, becoming his first Amazon.com international Best seller – which was followed by his 2nd nonfiction book THE FOURTH REFLECTION, published by Thomas Noble Books in 2016.  Wayne Allen LeVine’s poems and stories have been included in several award-winning journals and on-line magazines, such as Rattle, the Examiner.com, and several editions of the Best-Selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, including Chicken Soup for the Body and Soul. A Midwestern son – born and raised in The Windy City, currently resides in Southern California with his wife and their two rock star sons.

Photo by V.A. LeVine

Only This 

It was only a dream. It was only a fantasy.
It was only a wish. It was only
My buoyant imagination running
Away with me – running away from me.
It was only a grandiose daydream –
While searching for guidance at a dizzying pace.
It was only another euphoric flash
In the pan that amounted to nothing.
It was only my naivety
Attempting to protect me –
A hollow echo in the guise of an opening song.
It was only a matter of time before 
My fascination with reverie would
Be abruptly interrupted by reality –
Wherein, the passive-aggressive illusion of
Logic runs roughshod over my unexpressed passions.
It was only a thought, only an idea, it was only
My destiny begging, pleading, needing to be lived.
It was only a moment,
Which lasted an hour
That stretched into a day,
Which turned into a lifetime.
It was only the elongated shadow of a brave little boy,
Creating the welcomed illusion of a full-grown man.
It was only another anonymous poet –
Spitting grape seeds and soliloquy into the wind.

Copyright  Wayne Allen LeVine - 2019

Photo by V.A. LeVine

No Way Back

I needed to get out today, after being
Sequestered for nearly a
Decade inside that granite mountain,
Searching for the ever-elusive diamond mine.

Now the world is asking me for
Everything, and I wish only to comply.

And it doesn’t matter where I
Left off yesterday – or where I
Imagine or pretend to begin today.

Maybe I’ll move to New Mexico
And let my beard grow . . . allow
My gray-brown whiskers to soften
My fleshy marble chin, and dance
With some of the other artists of my day.

Maybe I’ll climb to the top of a
Sacred mesa – watch a sunset through
The eyes of a brand new man
And permit my thoughts to fall like quiet rain.

Then, I’ll dry my emotions with the
Open end of a one-time-only rainbow –
Catch salmon in a bubbling brook
And cook my lucid dreams a little longer.

Maybe I’ll stain an empty canvas with
Unstrained honey, ancient sand, and
Half a glass of elderberry wine –

Then carve a bow from a willing branch –
A bendable cypress or pliable oak, mold
My arrows from hardened stardust,
And fashion tips from skipping stones . . .

Maybe I’ll shoot strait, this time? Hit my target
Dead-center, then dance home again, stopping
Along the way to see, and smell, and savor all
The roses, daisies, tulips, and erupting wildflowers.

And if all the crumbs I scattered along
The way have been feasted upon by
Tiny birds that never learned, though
Always knew exactly how to pray . . .

I won’t feel the least bit lost – knowing
All the while that there never was a way of getting back.


Photo by Wayne Allen LeVine


Alexis Rhone Fancher

Poet/photographer Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, The New York Times, Petrichor, The MacGuffin, Plume, Tinderbox, Diode, Nashville Review, Wide Awake, Poets of Los Angeles, Pirene’s Fountain, Cleaver, Glass, Rust + Moth, Duende, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. Her books include: How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen & other heart stab poems (Sybaritic Press, 2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and The Dead Kid Poems, (2019), all published by KYSO Flash Press. In 2018 Moon Tide Press published Junkie Wife, an autobiographical chapbook chronicling Alexis’s first, disastrous marriage.

She’s been published in over 60 anthologies, including the best-selling Nasty Women Poets (Lost Horse Press, 2017), Terrapin Books’ A Constellation of Kisses, (2019),and Antologia di poesia femminile americana contemporanea, (Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, 2018). Her photographs have been published worldwide, including the covers of Witness, Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, Heyday, and Pithead Chapel, and a spread in River Styx. A multiple Pushcart Prize, Best Short Fiction, and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis has been poetry editor of Cultural Weekly since late 2012. She and her husband live 20 miles outside of downtown L.A., in a small beach community overlooking the Pacific.They have an extraordinary view.

A.R. Fancher Self-Portrait

Overdose

No, he did not look natural in his coffin.
He is not in a better place.
Don’t compare your pain to mine. Your dog
getting hit by a truck is not the same.
You really don’t know how I feel.
Don’t say you’re devastated.
Does it always have to be about you?
Don’t ask me about Fentanyl.
Don’t tell me not to dwell.
Don’t minimize my loss.
My boy is not better off dead.
For once, let’s say it like it is:
He did not pass away.
He died.
There is no plan.
Don’t say he is at peace.
Silence is good. A hug.
Tell me you have no words.
Or tell me stories of that summer
he rode the bulls in Ogden,
all that life tightly in his grip.


for K.S-B.

Honorable Mention, Beyond Baroque Poetry Contest, 2019, Judged by Diane Seuss


Photo by A.R. Fancher

CRUEL CHOICES

When my husband’s two grown daughters are in town, the three of them go to the movies, or play pool. Share dinner every night. Stay out late. I haven’t seen my stepdaughters since my son’s funeral in 2007. When people ask, I say nice things about the girls, as if we had a relationship. When people ask if I have children I change the subject. Or I lie, and say no. Or sometimes I put them on the spot and tell them yes, but he died. They look aghast and want to know what happened.Then I have to tell them about the cancer. Sometimes, when the older daughter, his favorite, is in town, and she and my husband are out together night after night, I wonder what it would be like if that was me, and my boy, if life was fair, and, rather than my husband having two children and I, none, we each had one living child. His choice which one to keep. Lately when people ask, I want to lie and say yes, my son is a basketball coach; he married a beautiful Iranian model with kind eyes, and they live in London with their twin girls who visit every summer; the same twins his girlfriend aborted with my blessing when my son was eighteen, deemed too young for fatherhood, and everyone said there would be all the time in the world.

First published in ASKEW, 2016, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, 2017. Winner, Pangolin Review Poetry Contest, and nominated again for the Pushcart Prize in 2018 by Pangolin Review.


Photo by A.R. Fancher



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Rick Smith Features on February 23, 2020, Farewell to the Oak Tree and Photos

Big  Tujunga Wash, January 2020, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum (10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042), Village Poets invite poets and poetry lovers to the second Village Poets reading of the year 2020 and of the entire '20s decade. We will  present poet, harmonica-player, and psychologist, Rick Smith. The reading will include two open mike segments and we encourage poets to read love poems in celebration of St. Valentine's Day. Refreshments will be 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.

Big Tujunga Wash, January 2020, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

We would also like to remind all Village Poets - featured poets and regular participants that the deadline for submissions to our anthology is extended to February 16, 2020 and the deadline for applications for the position of Poet Laureate is on February 2, 2020 (222020):  http://villagepoets.blogspot.com/2020/01/happy-new-year-2020-calls-for-poems-and.html



Rick Smith is a poet, editor, blues harmonica player, and clinical psychologist living and working in Southern California. Born in New York, and raised in his Dad's artistic house in Pineville, Pennsylvania,  Smith's early induction to the art world was by his father, William Smith, painter, artist, and art director for The Saturday Evening Post, Reader's Digest and various book publishers, including a series of book covers for Carl Sandburg's books. William Smith was also the author of Sandburg's portrait now in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and a subject of one of Sandburg's poems. Read more about the Sandburg recollections on Rick Smith's website https://docricksmith.com/.

Rick Smith's latest book of poetry is Whispering in a Mad Dog's Ear published by Lummox Press in 2014. He also published Hard Landing (Lummox Presss, 2011), The Wren Notebook (Lummox Press, 2000), and Exhibition Game (G. Sack Press, 1973). As blues harmonica player he may be heard in recordings of the City Lights, on recordings by other bands and companies, and on the soundtracks of three films including Days of Heaven. Here's a recording from a poetry reading where Rick played the harmonica: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXLLf77OIbg

St. Germaine District, Paris, 1949


My dad sets up his easel
in the ruins of St. Germaine
and I get to amuse myself
in the post-war debris.
Concrete slabs and twisted re-bar
throw mad shadow in the morning sun.
My dad takes a charcoal stick to the blank
canvas, roughs out
what's left of an apartment building.
Stained canvas becomes a battlefield
The hand and the stick depend on tension.
Six steps lead up to nothing,
fascinating to me or to someone
who studies destruction.
There will be no finishing touches
on this new order.
We try to imagine the noise this
would have made but the kids
went blind
before they were deaf,
were senseless before the skin peeled away
from jagged fire all around.
Theory and speculation no longer matter. There
is disregard for the form and content debate.
There is no counting of ambiguities;
it all goes up in a flash and
it all goes up as one.

But this is about art,
illusion that sustains us.
Dad puts up the one piece
that is still recognizable as wall
while I break rock and darkness falls.

(c) 2001 Rick Smith, published in Rattle No. 16, Winter 2001.


Big Tujunga Wash, January 2020, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk


When the Fog

from The Wren Notebook (entry #75)

When the fog laid in
a wren from two worlds
came flying across water.
Dark was that water
and darker still, the wren.
She herself was invisible
and so
she was gone.

You were saying
the wren flying in darkness
isn’t real
because she was only a dream.
“And just dreaming it,” you said,
“doesn’t make it real”.

I say,
sometimes
I see things.
That makes them mine.
And just as real
as the empty space
that holds them
as they carry on wind
from something
toward something else.

Dream is what we’ve got;
the flight is real.






Oaks in Descanso Gardens, October 2019. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Farewell to the Oak Tree at the Tujunga Library

On Monday, January 13, 2020, the Sunland-Tujunga Branch Library held a Farewell to the Coast Live Oak Tree just outside of the library. As the librarians wrote 

"we know you share our affection for the Coast Live Oak Tree outside our branch. The tree has been a fixture of our community for many years, and when we realized it was suffering, we hoped we could do something to save it.  We hired a certified arborist to evaluate the tree and make recommendations for how to proceed. Unfortunately, the assessment indicated that we will need to remove the tree because of its severe structural decline."

Two poets read their poems to commemorate the Oak Tree. The noted poet and flautist Alice Pero, the co-producer of Moonday Poetry Readings, posted her reading online and shared with us her poem. 

Old Oak of Sunland/Tujunga Library

on the Occasion of Laying the Tree to Rest, Jan 13, 2020

Old oak, you have watched us long
while we trampled the underbrush
nearly 100 years
You watched
while we turned forest floors
into highways and sidewalks
finding comfort in books
inside cool walls of cement
and stone

Once you baffled the sun*
with your thick, fertile branches
your Old Women** friends
teaching us the prayers of the Tongva
though they, too, were almost gone
by the time your seed sprouted

We are grateful for your shade
your outstretched arms
as children ran about under you
shouting and playing
feeling spirit spreading grace

We are grateful for the grace
all live oaks give
more than just precious oxygen
something of an ancient time
when trees were sacred

Now we must now send you back
to the earth from which you came
with hope that the spirit of trees
remains in your seed


*In 1910, a Los Angeles Times correspondent wrote about Sunland:
In the center of town the oaks are so thick that that the sun is baffled

**"Tujunga" in the native Tongva language means "the old woman"

© 2020 Alice Pero
Alice Pero reading in front of the Coast Live Oak, Photo by Joe DeCenzo.


Pamela Shea, Sunland-Tujunga Poet Laureate, also read her poem to commemorate the Oak Tree.




Coast Live Oak Tree Celebration

               1/13/2020, Sunland-Tujunga Branch Library
              By Pamela Shea, 9th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga

Fluttering leaves have bid welcome
To Sunland-Tujunga Library.
Our beloved Coast Live Oak
Has blessed us over a century.

An icon, a landmark,
A beacon, and our friend,
Will live on in memory
Its influence will never end.

Oh dear, beautiful tree,
The time for goodbyes has come.
You’ve adorned our community,
Protecting us from rain and sun.

A sentinel to learning,
You have bridged earth and sky.
Welcoming, inspiring,
Our host and our ally.

Precious one, so majestic,
Standing proudly all these years,
We must now bid you adieu
With our thanks and with our tears.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Joyce Futa and Jackie Chou Feature on January 26, 2020

  
San Francisco Marina. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

We are please to invite poets and poetry lovers to the first Village Poets reading of the year 2020 and of the entire '20s decade on Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum (10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042).  Village Poets  will present two poets associated with the Tanka and Haiku groups in Southern California, members of Poets on Site and Southern California Haiku Study Group. The reading will include two open mike segments. Refreshments will be 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.

We would also like to remind all Village Poets - featured poets and regular participants that the deadline for submissions to our anthology is January 31, 2020 and the deadline for applications for the position of Poet Laureate is on February 2, 2020 (222020):  http://villagepoets.blogspot.com/2020/01/happy-new-year-2020-calls-for-poems-and.html
 

JOYCE FUTA

Joyce Futa has been writing poetry since she retired in 2001.  Her book “Lit Windows: A Book of Haibun and Tanka Prose” from which she will read today was published in 2017.  She lives happily in Altadena, a dramatic change from the city life of San Francisco, where she lived for 50 years.  She has recently discovered a new creative passion: ceramics, the process of which in some ways is not that different from writing poetry - an openess to whatever might be unconsciously evolving, attention to detail, and patient revising and refining.

 Ginkgo tree in Descanso Gardens, by Maja Trochimczyk



Her Death

It wasn’t an answer, it was a question.  
It wasn’t simple, but dark and teeming.
Like tv detectives, we thought about it, 
reconstructed timelines, conversations, events.
The  links were there, 
everything and nothing made any sense.  
Our thoughts ranged wildly depending on the hour, 
whether it was gray or bright as the tropics,
what friend we just talked to and whether we wept.  
Who could have stopped her vision of fate.
How the seed grew to take over her mind.  

Sometimes it seemed simple: it was just too much.  

But it wasn’t simple, never an answer.
The question echoes as it moves into the past.

lost in caves
we tunnel through grief
trying to remember your light
those days in the years
you walked with us



Kumquat Marmalade



My sister and I slice a huge mound of kumquats for marmalade, a tedious, time consuming task; each tiny fruit has seeds we must tease out with the tip of a knife.  One could go nuts doing this alone, but we pass the time chatting about friends, sons, the awful daily news.   Twelve jars of orange jellies with little bright haloes of rind will be our reward.

We start to talk about movies.  Suddenly we are caught in the familiar senior struggle to remember someone’s name, this time an actress we have loved in many roles.  We catalog facts we know about her – she played an artist in that movie with whatshisname … and X’s sister in a film set in San Francisco – was she nominated for that?  Finally, my sister says she gives up and rinses her hands to google.  When she returns with the name, we slap our numbskulls.

slippery seeds of memory
we leave drama behind
and enter the age of comedy



 
 

JACKIE CHOU
  
Jackie Chou writes free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry.  Her work has been published in JOMP Dear Mr. President anthology, Lummox, Creative Talents Unleashed anthologies, and others.  She was nominated for a Best of the Net in 2017 by Hidden Constellation.  

Hills at Cajon Pass, December 24, 2019 by Maja Trochimczyk


Ode to Insomniacs



When you're up with the owls and moon people,
I'm in a cozy slumber, deep in dreams.


You can do so much;
String together stars,

Enough to feed a whole village

Come morning.


Your eyelids droop with weariness.
You remind me of mama and papa



Who worked till their bones broke,
While I lay indolent, on a couch,
Embarrassed by their smelly armpits



Urged them to eat well, sleep well,
And bathe daily. To no avail, my voice 
was smaller than their American dream.

They both died young,
And you and your sleepless nights,
Traumatize me all over again.

Snow at the Grapevine, Maja Trochimczyk

Cerulean


My mother clad me in pink,
and later in my teens, lavender.
But the blue was always there,
underneath the pastel colors.
It was in my genes,
blue with its melancholia
and myriad synonyms,
azure and cerulean.
My mood is a spectrum
of different shades of blue,
including royal and navy.
The sky and the sea are blue,
with every variation in between,
turquoise and indigo.
Blue is behind my strawberry colored smile.
 
San Francisco Marina, Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

PHOTOS FROM THE READING