Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Poetry at the "Bite Me" Art Exhibition - Joe DeCenzo and Bryan Story

L to R: Rick Wilson, Dorothy Skiles,Alice Pero, Bryan Story, Marlene Hitt, Maja Trochimczyk, Joe DeCenzo, and Mina Kirby, Exhibition "Bite Me" at McGroarty Arts Center, March 16, 2013. Photo by Maria Kubal.
The Poetry Reading at the "Bite Me" Art Exhibition at McGroarty Arts Museum on March 16, 2013, was such a great success that we decided to add more poems to those published in the preview two weeks ago.  The exhibition, curated by artist Danielle Eubank, explored sensory, aesthetic, psychological, political, and historical aspects of food, from its cultivation and gathering to consumption.

Bryan Story reads at the "Bite Me" Art Exhibition. Photo by Maria Kubal.
Bryan Story wrote and read only one food-related poem that was, to quote the author, "vaguely positive."

                            LIKE BLACK EYED PEAS    

                            by Bryan Story
    delirious with sugar he heard his fork on it's way
      to the kitchen say to his spoon "they are what they eat"
        "that's what they always say" said the spoon
           "but this boy's just fat, not so sweet from eating all this pie"
               scolded by tableware, he thought what about black eyed peas?
                 these noble beans brought by shanghied farmers
                    not so thrilled to crack somebody else's corn but glad
                      to grow and eat cow-peas with a born again name
                     after a mess of mustard greens and yellow maters and
                   biscuits bathed in red eye gravy, Mom said
                 "clean your plate if you have room for some blueberry"
                 which she set before his eyes and rolled her own
                two black eyed peas she got from her father
               who got them from his Blackfeet mother who
             with the help of his Irish father, gave them to him
             and so with help from granma gave them to the
            fat boy's mother, whose Irish eyes were smiling
           like black eyed peas, and he thought
          mouth full of cobbler nothing could be better
                           (C)2012 William Bryan Story Jr. 

Ceiling beams at McGroarty Arts Center, Photo (c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

Former Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga, Joe DeCenzo read two poems, one a retelling of a family story and the other one for fun...

The Merchant of Sound

He mends his gear by lamplight
Before the first set at dawn.
The captain of Cordova raises his crew
By pumping fuel into the propane grill
And setting breakfast on to sizzle.

In the same clothes he’s worn for the days
He steps into his grimy yellow pant bibs
And puts his rain slicker on.
It’s first light.  The salmon are running.
It’s time to haul the seine.

No GPS, No sonar
Just his instinct and knowledge of the water
He’s lived on since he was born.
He sees the dancing shadows
On the surface of the sea
That will be his payload.

He orders the skiffman to his rig
And tells him to head for shore.
The taste of liquor is all that kills
The greasy diesel fumes in his throat
And briny smell of fish guts on the deck.

With the lead line set
The corks chatter off the boat
Like a strand of pearls
Dropped into a glass of wine
As a quarter mile of net
Pays out over the stern.

From the helm he sees his grandson
Pumping the bilge, preparing the hold
And plunging the water
To scare the school of pinks into the net,
Remembering his days
When he was the greenhorn.
Whatever fish escape his clutch
And make it to the brackish water
Of the river inlets are home safe
Free to fight the bears and eagles
For a chance to spawn.

Steering the Bunny C. about,
He bellows the order to “close up!”
A scrambling crew draws the purse line
Harvesting the crop of Nelson Bay.
It’s a big set and the Bunny C. tips
As the power block struggles to pull the seine on deck.

Hundreds of tails hopelessly flap
In the pile of seaweed and jellyfish
Brought in with the catch
As they’re dumped into the hold;
The skin beneath their scales
Emblazoned with color.

Twelve more sets and the hunter of Hawkins Island
Radios the tender to sell his load and call it a day.
For three weeks, he and the crew
Live on the freshest fish, the stalest bread
And whatever canned goods the tender can purvey.

He rinses out tomorrow’s shirt in the galley sink
Hanging it to dry near the exhaust stack.                     
He draws a smoke and throws scraps to the otters and gulls
Having just pulled a thousand meals
From the endowment of the Sound.

©Joe DeCenzo

Joe DeCenzo reads at the Bite Me Art Exhibition, March 16, 2013, Photo by Maria Kubal. 

 Don’t Put That In Your Mouth

Don’t put that in your mouth
You don’t know where it’s been
It might have been an animal
At some point, I concede
It could have been a vegetable
But not one grown from seeds
It roiled in a factory the likes you’ve never seen
So don’t put that in your mouth
Because you don’t know where it’s been

It never grazed in fields or even swam the seven seas
I’m sure it wasn’t gathered by a man in dungarees
It never roamed a range or even ate organic grass
It suckled on a test tube and was weaned on Pyrex glass
The cauldron that they churned it in was clean as they could find
That doesn’t kill the dankness from the cavern it was mined

Ingredients or additives, what difference does it make
When you’re chewing on and sucking down the filling your cake
To taste so damned delectable must surely be a sin
So don’t put that in your mouth because you don’t know where it’s been

© Joe DeCenzo

Maja Trochimczyk at the Bite Me Exhibition. Photo by Maria Kubal.
By the time of the exhibition, Maja Trochimczyk did not yet have the proper image of the yellow sky that is needed to appreciate "The Taste of the Sky" about a Polish desert, an ice-cream substitute from Poland of the 1960s.

The Taste of the Sky

My mother's zupa nic - soup nothing
had puffy clouds of egg whites
floating in a yellow sea
of delight. I chased them
with my spoon that perfect summer.

I'm floating now
in thinning blue
of Technicolor sky
a meadow for
ten thousand cloud sheep
I cannot count while they
cast shadows
on tidy little gardens
of tidy little houses
of tidy little people

They go about their daily chores
folding sheets, baking bread,
I'm cooking up a storm
of dreams that will soon vanish
like clouds in my soup nothing

(c) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk
Published in Poetry and Cookies anthology, ed. Pauline Dutton, Altadena, 2009.

Album of pictures from the reading is now available on Picasa Web Albums:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Poetry at the "Bite Me" Art Exhibition,McGroarty Arts Center, March 16, 2013, 2:00 p.m.

We are thrilled to invite all our readers and poetry lovers to a Special Poetry Reading by Village Poets held on March 16, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the recently opened

7570 McGroarty Terrace, Tujunga, CA 91042

The Village Poets Reading on Saturday, March 16, will feature poetry about food written and read by local poets: Dorothy Skiles, Poet-Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, as well as Marlene Hitt, Joe DeCenzo, Alice Pero, Mina Kirby, Kathabela Wilson, Bryan Story, and Dr. Maja Trochimczyk. There is no Open Mike Reading on this day.

The "Bite Me" Exhibition, curated by Danielle Eubank, faculty member at the McGroarty Arts Center, is open daily from March 9 to March 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except Sundays. It ends with an Arts Fair on Saturday, March 23, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The following artists are included in the "Bite Me" Exhibition: Suzy Beal, Debby Beck, Sonia Mae Beduya, Dacia Calkins, Melanie Chapman, Sara Chao, Laney Clevenger, Michele Collender, Preston Craig, Chick Curtis, Miriam Dema, Babs Fine, Stacia Gates, Sheri Garwood, Barbara Harrison, William Hartdegen, R. Rene Hoffman, Mark Kennedy, Linda Kunik, Nancy LaCroix-Toyne, Evy Lareau, David Long, Sandra Low, Athena Mantle, Laura Marchetti, Barry Michlin, Lissa Mooney, Glenn Newland, So Jung Park, Rollence Patugan, Jess Perry, Ho Yan Pun, Linda Queally, Ainsley Rickert, Nita Sinaga, Yuki Toy, Laura Jean Toyne, Elizabeth Tucker, Colleen Underwood, Dawn Valli, Nicola Voss, and Jenny Ziomek.

McGroarty Arts Center. Photo by Maja Trochimczyk
McGroarty Arts Center. Photo (c) by Maja Trochimczyk

While discussing the theme, Curator Danielle Eubank asked: "What does food mean to you? Such a simple word, food, something we all need. At the same time it is a complex topic sparking social, political, economic, and cultural debate. Is it nutrition or is it a geo-political lever? What do you like to eat? What is real food? How does our culture differ from others? How do you eat? Is food simply for fuel or do you eat it for comfort, cultural holidays, and social gatherings? How is food related to body image? Is it a symbol of abundance? Power? Food affects the local and global economy through food trucks, genetic modification (GMOs), food production, farmers markets, food security, and homelessness. It impacts our health and society through diabetes, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, meals in schools, food labeling, organic, portions, food pyramids, fat, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, slow food, hunger, and desire."

Dorothy Skiles read her new poem at the Opening of the Exhibition on March 9, 2013.

Dorothy Skiles at the Opening of "Bite Me" Exhibition, March 9, 2013


Canvas One

The eye of the artist
Is familiar with the oval
Shape, the texture of
A perfect Roma tomato –
Firm and ripe.
Its meat sweet, yet tart.
She lightly sketches
The tomato on canvas.
The artist prepares
Her brushes and palette.

Canvas Two

With the flick
Of the her wrist,
The color yellow
Appears on canvass,
The artist envisions
The perfect omelet
Garnished with parsley
On a white ceramic plate.

Her favorite omelet
Comes to mind –
Filled with sautéed mushrooms,
Scallions, and red bell pepper.
A Roma tomato thinly sliced,
Topped with a sprinkle
Of cheddar cheese,
So pleasing to
The eyes and palate!

Canvas Three

A late afternoon sun,
Lights a dark corner
Of her studio, where
Unfinished sketches
On canvas lean
Against the wall, forgotten.
The artist thumbs through
The stack,and finds
A sketch of her mother.

A memory awakens…

Her mother in the kitchen
Bent over the cutting board
Peeling Roma tomatoes,
Scooping out the seeds,
Tossing garlic and onions
In the cast iron pot with hot
Olive oil sizzling!
Then come the tomatoes,
The oregano,
Bay leaf,
Tomato paste,
A sprinkle of sugar,
A pinch or two of
Red pepper flakes
And some red wine.

Sauce simmers for hours,
The aroma rises from the
Stove, fills the house.
The artist’s lets these
Memories linger -
She can almost taste the
Savory red sauce!
Now, finished with the sketch
Of her mother, she picks-up
The brush and palette
And lets her hand
Glide across the canvas.

Dorothy Skiles

© Copyright 2013 by D. Skiles

(First reading: Opening of the McGroarty Arts Center Exhibition and Fair, March 9, 2013.)

Bite Me! Art Exhibition curated by Danielle Eubank, McGroarty Arts Center


by Dorothy Skiles

~ to George and Dena

At half past seven…

Evening sky still
so young and so full
of the colors
of early dusk
that scatters its light
across the horizon…

            Meet you and Dena
            on your way
            to Albany.
You greeted us
with a familiar
embrace, as
we came up
the walk,
            and led us
            to our place.
            among family. 

Broke bread,
poured wine,
savored the
time together.
sprinkled the meals  
of seafood stew,
pasta with lamb,
pork with rosemary,
potatoes and garlic.

And when we caught
our breaths, coffee and
bread pudding were
shared before parting,
before we’d miss you,

Dorothy Skiles
Rev. 03/16/13
©Copyright 2013 by D. Skiles

American fruit tart. Photo (C) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk
American fruit tart. Photo (C) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk
Marlene Hitt will read a wide cross-section of her food-related poetry. The first Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, she is the Director of the Bolton Hall Museum, and the driving force behind the Village Poets Monthly Readings held there. At the McGroarty Arts Center's exhibition we will hear her poems: Best of Bites, Mother's Day, Feast Day, Vegetable Booth, and Irish Moss.

Mother’s Day


Mint leaves from her garden,
baby carrots, snap peas,
red-ripe tomatoes, and apricots...
As with paint pots before canvas,
her hands the brushes,
she arranges the color of the meal.
Monet’s gardens hang for centuries,
hers are devoured in an hour,
displayed only in memory. Meals.
Potatoes sprinkled with parsley,
lamb with Asian pear and kiwi salsa.
Chipotle-glazed apples,
chicken dumpling soup
with lemon grass and cilantro.
Vanilla bean souffles, flour pudding.
From her hands:
bok choy cooked crisp-tender,
haggis and ale, oatcakes and mutton.
Her treat, oreos, vanilla ice cream,
grilled cheese, strawberry milk.
Once, warm bread, this morning’s cream,
corn cob jelly, french toast,


Acorn mush, piki and a sprig of sage.The artistry of the nurturer.


(C) by Marlene Hitt

Marlene Hitt

Irish Moss - the Reaping

We waited for a full moon,
waited for midnight,
waited for the fullness of knowing...
Like knowing when
to harvest the moss.

Some searched in the morning
when the sun was high, the air clear,
when dew remains as it drops from grasses.
All of us wait
for the time of the reaping
of the carrageen
when the people gather,
reap together
to pick under midnight moon,
the seaweed,
which will become transformed
into the sweetest of puddings.
Magic, it is, the moss beside the sea,
the reapers, to thicken the pudding.

(c) by Marlene Hitt

Vegetable Booth

Apples are ripe on the apple vine,
carrots are grown through the roof.
I’ll grind some spinach to make some wine,
Yes, I’ll set up a vegetable booth
with turnip flowers and melon juice,
a strawberry bunch tied with string
with chocolate prunes and sour vermouth
and a tart lemon pie. I will bring

cabbage leaf jam and zucchini jelly
a pot of squash and leek stew.
Bring your coins and appetite
be part of the vegetable crew.

(c) by Marlene Hitt

Maja Trochimczyk picks mushrooms in the Sierras
Maja Trochimczyk picking mushrooms in the Sierras, 2011
Maja Trochimczyk will read a sample of her food-related poems, including "How to Make a Mazurka" from Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse anthology published by Moonrise Press in 2010 to celebrate the bi-centennial of Chopin's birth.  The poem is about a Polish "mazurka" which refers both to a special cake for Easter and a dance that Chopin loved.  Maja will also read her poems "On Mushrooms" published on the Poetry Laurels Blog in August 2011 (reprinted below), and "On Eating a Donut at a Krakow Airport" published on the Chopin with Cherries Blog in January 2013.

Easter dishes - ham, mazurka, herring, salads, chocolate
Polish Easter dishes including the mazurka, 2011.


How to Make a Mazurka

Maja Trochimczyk
                         After Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4,
                        for my Grandparents, Stanisław and Marianna Wajszczuk,
                        who could play and bake their mazurkas like no one else            

          Take one cup of longing
for the distant home that never was,
one cup of happiness that danced
with your shadows on the walls

of Grandpa’s house, while he played
a rainbow of folk tunes
on his fiddle, still adorned
with last wedding’s ribbons

            mix it – round and round to dizziness

stir in some golden buzz of the bees
in old linden tree, add the ascent
of skylark above spring rye fields,
singing praises to the vastness of blue

            mix it – round and round to dizziness

add chopped walnuts, figs, dates
and raisins, pour in some juice
from bittersweet grapefruit
freshly picked in your garden

add dark grey of rainclouds in Paris
that took Chopin back to the glimmer
of candles in an old cemetery
on the evening of All Souls’ Day

            mix it – round and round to dizziness

bake it in the cloudless heat
of your exile, do not forget to sprinkle
with a dollop of sparkling crystals,
first winter’s snowflakes at midnight 

King Boletus (prawdziwek) mushrooms in the High Sierras, CA
King Boletus (prawdziwek) found in the High Sierras, California, 2011.

On Mushrooms

Maja Trochimczyk

In the forest of Christmas trees for giants
I look for the shapes of mushrooms
I used to know well – hiding
In tall grass under the aspen,
Beneath piles of pine needles and bark

– the true one,
The king of the forest, Boletus
Rules in unexpected places
Among birch twigs and Douglas fir
Osaki, Kozaki – his second-rate,
Still lovely cousins wait in the shade
Among manzanita, wild currants and fern.

I find bitter, colorful szatans,
Pretending to be true
Pale muchomory my grandma used
To kill flies in a glass filled with sugar water
Psie grzybki fit for a dog
That would not eat them
And twisted, tree-growing huba
I do not know how to cook.

My share of mushrooms?
The toxic lookalikes of true ones!
That’s all there is in this
Enchanted forest for me.

And this is why, my dears, I wrote
And you read Confessions
Of a Failed Mushroom-picker.

King Boletus (prawdziwek) mushroom in the High Sierras, CA
King Boletus (Prawdziwek) found in California.

On Mushrooms was first published in Poetry Laurels Blog; reprinted in The Voice of the Village in September 2011. 

McGroarty Arts Center, mushroom and cake photos (c) 2011 by Maja Trochimczyk.

Album of pictures from the reading is now available on Picasa Web Albums:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo - Featured Poet on March 24, 2013

On Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. Village Poets will present Featured Poet Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo at the Monthly Poetry Reading at Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga, CA.

The event will include two Open Mike Sessions, before and after the Featured Poet, and refreshments. A hat will be passed around to collect donations for Bolton Hall Museum and to cover the costs of refreshments.

In 2013, the Bolton Hall Museum is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Museum is Los Angeles's Historical Monument No. 2.  The events are listed on the website for the Little Landers Historical Society and include:
  • April 13, 1 p.m. - Cornerstone Ceremony
  • May 11, 10 a.m. - Historic Home Tour
  • July 4, 10 a.m. - Fourth of July Parade
  • August 10, 4 p.m. - Open House
  • November 9, 3 p.m . - Dance 

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the creator and curator of Beyond Baroque’s monthly reading series Hitched, a founding editor of The Splinter Generation, and was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Award. Her work has been published in The Los Angeles Review, PALABRA, CALYX, and The Acentos Review, and she is the winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange.

She received an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. In August 2011, Xochitl-Julisa volunteered with the Tucson-based direct humanitarian aid organization, No More Deaths.

Poems from her manuscript, The Mediation for the Lost and Found, are inspired by her time in the Arizona desert. She teaches high school English and drama in Arcadia, CA.

Here is a link to the Poets & Writers prize she won: The site includes a link to a sample of her work. 

Here are some poems in Acentos Review: