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 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, 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


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


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 and California State Poetry Society 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. 

This presentation is partly sponsored by the Dignity Health Foundation, through a grant for "Close to Nature" Project for Phoenix Houses of Los Angeles, with the California State Poetry Society as one of the collaborating partners

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):

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

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:

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,
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.