Thursday, November 30, 2023

Village Poets Starts the New Year with Judith Terzi & Karen Greenbaum-Maya, Jan 28, 2024

Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to our monthly reading held in person, on the 4th Sunday, Jan 28, 2024 at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313. In January our features will be Judith Terzi & Karen Greenbaum-Maya.

Two segments of open mic will be available and refreshments will be served. Suggested donation $5 per person for the cost of refreshments and to donate to the Little Landers Society that manages the Bolton Hall Museum, a Los Angeles Historical Landmark built in 1913.


Judith Terzi is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay), as well as of six chapbooks, including Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By (Kattywompus) and Ghazal for a Chambermaid (Finishing Line). Now, Somehow (Finishing Line) is her latest chapbook, a collection of poems about confronting a pandemic, cancer, and other health-related urgencies. Her poems have been included in literary journals and anthologies such as the Atlanta Review, The Examined Life Journal, Lunch Ticket, The Main Street Rag, Solstice Literary Magazine where she was a finalist for the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize, and Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. BBC/Radio 3 featured her poem "Ode to Malala Yousafzai" in an episode of Words and Music. She holds an M.A. in French language and literature and taught French for many years at Polytechnic School in Pasadena as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.

 Four Poems by Judith Terzi

 Dancing Like They Did

 -after viewing the Oscar-nominated short subject documentary Walk Run Cha Cha (Directed by Laura Nix, 2019)

 She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

Her high heels sparkle. Rhinestoned ankle straps.

Dancing now at sixty like she did in Vietnam.

 She slides into her husband's arms. A fluent bond.

He lifts her up––they twirl, her legs akimbo, no holding

back. She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

They practice moves they've learned at the dance salon. 

Her husband looks sharp. Shirt and pants all black.

Dancing now at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

Six years of separation before her papers were drawn.

Before she joined him in California, started from scratch.

She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

It's Lunar New Year's Eve. Celebrations are on.

The couple's at home when the Ballroom's attacked,

dancing at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

Friends, partners are shot. Eleven dancers gone.

Cha-cha-cha. Mambo. Run. Fear that memories

unlatch. She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

Dancing now at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

-Appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal


   -after "The Automat" (Edward Hopper, 1927)

"Kind regards," he wrote. The letter arrived

yesterday. "Kind regards!" We'd made plans:

Paris, marriage. This coat his gift from last year's

great December sale at Wanamaker's, near

the automat where we met. Horn & Hardhart––

its sparkling floors, table tops of marble 

he loved. He'd hand bills to the nickel thrower,

rubber tips on every single one of her fingers.

He'd put nickels into the food window slots.

Oh, he knew my favorites: meat loaf or Salisbury

steak, creamed beets, lemon custard pie. Two years

of bliss now gone with "kind regards." How we'd

linger over H&H drip-brewed coffee that flows

from the mouth of a dolphin. Like a fountain in Rome.

 -Appeared in MacQueen's Quinterly


Like I'm waiting for kismet. Maktoub.

Waiting for a number, a letter––cryptic

for stage, grade. How many nodes

did she twist away? How many, how

many... Tell me to focus on healing.

Friends bring guavas, mini pumpkins,

t-shirts, pens, soup. The house

is a garden: five white orchids, purple

tulips, yellow roses, irises. Red

bromeliad clinging to bark, shape

of a seahorse, air plants cresting on two

heads. Rearrangement happening

in cachepots. Rearrangement of a colon,

color of geranium in a Casbah courtyard.

Animal on hooks in back rooms

of butcher shops where my grandfathers

blessed meat. How did she swing my

transverse meat around to greet my

small intestine, my distal ileum?

I wanted to catch the now-missing

slice as it slipped through her slick

incision above my navel. To feel
the surgeon's finesse navigate inside me,

caress my organs, then choke the cecum,

the appendix to death. How will the new

partners jibe? How will they groove

with no past in such diminished time?

No memory of all the little madeleines

and Sunday's flow of hours. Slippery

fingertips straining to hold onto a waltz.

 -Appeared in Solstice Literary Magazine (finalist

for Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize) -Appears in author's Now, Somehow


        for Jaime

He warms his hands to textured skin of cup,

a first embrace of morning. Rustic cup.

He threw it, swirled it into a jumbo cup

of porcelain, he glazed his earthy cup

a rugged russet shade, endowed the cup

with sturdy, curvy arm. Not round, his cup,

but oval-shaped––a spacious coffee cup.       

His lips regale the thick-lipped rim of cup––

the only lips the rim permits to cup.

If ever he falls ill, his artsy cup

will take a break. A manufactured cup

of glass for chamomile or mint, no cup

to match the chemistry of homespun cup––

high fire flesh he'll ache to stroke, to cup.

-appears in author's Now, Somehow

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, former German major and restaurant reviewer, and two-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her work has appeared in journals including Comstock Poetry Review, B O D Y, Rappahannock Poetry Review, CHEST, and Spillway. Her collections include three chapbooks, Burrowing Song, Eggs Satori, and, Kafka’s Cat (Kattywompus Press), and, The Book of Knots and their Untying (Kelsay Books). A collection of poems about her late husband’s illness and death from lung cancer in 2018, The Beautiful Leaves, was published in August 2023 by Bamboo Dart Press, and is also available through Amazon. She co-curates Fourth Saturdays, a poetry series in Claremont, California, as well as Garden of Verses, an annual day-long reading of nature poems in Claremont’s California Botanic Garden.

 Three Poems by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

 Sonnenizio from a Pawnee song*

 Over the line where the sky meets the earth:  Pleiades!

Overwhelmed and drunk on stars, we return to find

a brown bear skulking over by the garbage cans,

drawn over by sun-ripened smells

swirling low after the day is over.

Pick-up is at least a week overdue.

Our headlights sweep over him,

not a big one, scarcely over 600 pounds,

and he looks us over.  The set of his solid head,

paws on the hips, he’s cool, nothing overheated

about him:  What do you mean, ‘move over’?

Why shouldn’t he pick over our garbage,

our leftovers, nothing we wanted any more?

We inch over to the cabin, burst through the door.

*In their Hako ceremony, the people of the Pawnee American Indian Nation sing a prayer of hope to the Pleiades during their November rising. Kathleen L. Nichols, a university professor in Kansas, provides the English lyrics:

Look as they rise, rise
Over the line where sky meets the earth, Pleiades!
Lo! They, ascending, come to guide us,
Leading us safely, keeping us one;
Pleiades, teach us to be, like you, united.

  I Help My Husband Sleep

Your head rolls onto my shoulder, crushes

my hair so it rasps in my ear.

I smell your silver hair,

Einstein-wild from hospital sweat,

waxy under my hand.

Me almost under you, offering myself

as a better bed,  compressing

the single-use egg-crate mattress.

I’m here to let you let down.

Stop fighting your eyelids’ pull.

Burrow your heavy head into my breast.

I’ll hold on while you take up your dreams

like a tired dog who feels the grass

under his paws, twitching in his sleep

at the flicker of abundant rabbits.

I lie braced in the narrow bed

that keeps me from cradling you enough.

 Soup Pot

--for Wisława Szymborska

 Her sister’s soup, steaming in a poem,

simmers here in the pot.

Wisława takes soup seriously,

considers how much salt for the barley,

how fine, how coarse to slice cabbage,

how long caraway seeds may cook before turning bitter.

This soup took two, or maybe twenty lifetimes.


Being famished helped. 

In that War, she worked for the railroads

rather than be sent out to build them,

to starve slowly in forced labor

while her voice suffocated from silence.

She learned when to hold back,

how much is too much.


Deep in the soup, she stirs in step with Aubigné.

Wisława reaches for the bison grass,

finds it without having to look,

translates into French without thinking

as she sniffs at the jar. (More salt?)

Each boxcar held neighbors who died.

Now the fresh mushrooms.  Now, the dried.

A soup should be as full of mushrooms

as Polish of consonants. 


At night, the flame’s slow breath

condenses on the window, freezes to ice,

glass on glass, a clear inch thick.

These days, Wisława prefers oxtail over ham hock,

balances out turnips with carrots.

She knows what all went into the pot,

but not what will emerge.

Yeti will show up for a bowl, praise

each grain of barley, every shred of cabbage. 

Karen Greenbaum-Maya Publication credits:

Sonnenizio on a Pawnee Song:  The Literary Bohemian, 2012

Soup Pot: Tiger's Eye, 2011; reprint in Comstock Poetry Review in 2012 and in Sow's Ear Poetry Review in 2014

I help My Husband Sleep:  Algebra of Owls, 2017 (and of course in The beautiful Leaves)

Robert Shushed Me:  Lighten Up, 2020



Sunday, September 24, 2023

Village Poets Welcomes Ambika Talwar and Susan Suntree on October 22 at 4:30 pm



Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to our monthly reading held in person,on Sunday, Oct 22 at 4:30pm. at Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313. In October our features will be Ambika Talwar and Susan Suntree.

Two segments of open mic will be available and refreshments will be served. Suggested donation $5 per person for the cost of refreshments and to donate to the Little Landers Society that manages the Bolton Hall Museum, a Los Angeles Historical Landmark built in 1913.

Ambika Talwar, professor emeritus, is an India-born author, wellness consultant, artist, & educator here to realize her sacred destiny. Her mystical and ecstatic poetry are a call to action, a “bridge to other worlds.” Of note is a recent anthology Crystal Fire (2022), which includes her poems and paintings. Ambika's poems appear in The Force is With You – a collection honoring the Indian defense forces (her poem honors her father and his batch mates) (2022): Ruddy Ravens Cheshire Cat & Rusty Rats; Beyond Words; and Breathe Poetry (2021): Roseate Sonnet (2020); Grateful Conversations (2018). Twice Pushcart nominee, she earned Commendable Mention in The Great India Poetry Contest (2018).Ambika shares the Poiesis Award for Excellence in Literature (2021-22) for a short story and received the Nissim International Poetry Prize. She has authored 4 Stars & 25 Roses (poems for her father) and is published in Glo-Mag; Timeless Inspirations; Breathe Poetry; Paws, Collateral Damage; Kyoto Journal; InkwaterInk-v3; Chopin with Cherries; Meditations On Divine Names; VIA-Vision in Action; in Poets on Site collections; St. Julian Press; Tower Journal; Enchanting Verses; Quill & Parchment; California Quarterly; Life & Legends, and others. Ambika published My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses – a poetic-spiritual travelogue that questions our collective human purpose. She asserts it is time for creatives to offer new narratives. She made a short film titled Androgyne in 2000 earning the Best Original Story Award in Belgium.

 Ambika practices Intuition-Energetics™, a powerful fusion of modalities for speedy recovery from stresses and ailments. “Both poetry and holistic practices work beautifully together – language is intricately coded in us.” Ambika makes her home in Los Angeles and in New Delhi, India.  


 Three Poems from Ambika:

From the Shadows

From the shadows,

comes the drama of a red birth

quiet softened with flutes

of time mending the new world

before it is born.

From the shadows,

we are reminded of old tales

woven in our fabric tattered

like forgotten truths – awaiting

glory of our arrival.

From the shadows,

we know we will return some day

blessed with soundless music of

wisdom – waiting laughing  

our bones restructuring…

From the shadows,

before the delivery of 1,000 names

reminding us of that

which we were born for: to sing

the world into beatitude—

sweet courage equals love

hues of peacock blue 

wings over sky when trees turn green

rivers dance to earth, food is a-plenty:

life shines with generosity…

From the shadows

emerges drama of a new birth…

Though wisdom’s robes be tattered

and babies wail wondering, we unfold

new architectures that grace spirit!

Drums of heart beat fluted with

cosmic tones…Wise Ones

in our midst emerging from shadows…!

Why are we still in search?

 Published in The Shadows

Devotion – The Fruit of All Wisdoms

Oh tender fruit, not one but many
on a loom – petalled, infinite, fractal

as Devi made it.

She’s seated in center, infinitely
disappearing – She!

Handpick for her delight watermelon
guava, radish of a singular night
of a ponderous, full, golden moon sailing
with love’s red, lush, wisdom
for creation She is –

Tenderly carve fruits spherical as cosmos
for Her dance never ends – Om sukhi magic
everything comes to a point. Om shanti.

Taste this blessing if you can without juice
running over – or let melon water fill
a river thirsty for Her favors.

Tender fruit of an earthly loom –

Devotion is all She cares for. Are you ready?

Do you want to take her place 

en pointe centerless as eternity?
Know Her knife is sharpest when you

love. Om shanti! Om Peace!

The Birthing of Seed

Mother awakening in our awareness

is birthing of seed

from all time into no time –

a birthing what was ever-present

holy, profane, transcendent.

Rooted we are – yet rootless we wander.

If dust cracked under our feet,

would it feel the same as
digging a cave
a little above seed-rich soil?

Tender, fierce dance sweetens the air around

desperate passages wary, wanting, winsome.

See everything in an instant.
Oh dear heart.

An inner smile is way of Cosmic Love.

Our clarifying perception and Time's boundless
sagas reveal laws of wholeness.

Do we remember?


Susan Suntree is an award-winning poet, performer, essayist, and activist whose recent books of poetry included Dear Traveler and the updated paperback and audiobook releases of her non-fiction epic poem Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, written over three decades under the guidance of indigenous Southern California Culture Bearers. This book won the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Nonfiction, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Narrative Poetry, a Mellon Foundation Elemental Arts Award; the audiobook was a finalist for a Society of Voice Arts and Sciences prize. Other books include Eye of the Womb, also published in Madrid as a bilingual edition, El Ojo de la Matriz; Tulips, a bilingual chapbook of translations of Spanish poet Ana Rossetti; Rita Moreno, biography; Wisdom of the East; Stories of Compassion, Inspiration and Love for which the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword. Site-specific performances include the quartet, Seed to Snow: Plays for the Seasons; works exploring Los Angeles include Origins of Praise, commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club;  Skins performed in the store windows of Playmates of Hollywood, Talking to the Sun for the Fringe Festival, and the eco-political street theater works Wetlands Land, Saving Private Pickle Plant, and Earth Water Air Los Angeles, a four day Giant Puppet trek following the path of the LA River to the Ballona Wetlands. Her work-in-progress, The Undertakers, confronts the war roots of the climate crises. She often accompanies her readings with the dulcimer and harmonica.

Three Poems from Susan Suntree:


Beside old stagecoach ruts

oak cracks pink sandstone

the trunk grows

                        straight up from the seed

                        roots drawn down

tracking fractures

in hardened sea dunes

to water

            an oak bonsaied by

                        natural limits rewarding

                                    vigor and good luck.


Traveler: Will you demand

                                         to know the heart

                             of this rock-captured tree

make it your preacher

                 force a parable

                              from its stone splitting root?


Fighters from the northern bases

            drive through flimsy clouds

                                                laying tracks

                                    exhausted fumes

                        rolling roars blown behind

            engines combusting forests

 long dead and decayed.


What you breathe is the tree's breath

What the tree breathes is your breath

Breath of a fevered civilization.


The boundary of hell

            is the shape of your skull.


 Published in Dear Traveler (Finishing Line Press)

Wealth in a Gilded Age

What is wealth in a gilded age?

                        Stockpiled Italian furnishings?

                        Houses larger than hospitals?

                        Owning more than everything?

 Has it always been the course of blood

                                                to heat a power suit?

To drip down the channel of a red tie

                                                from chin to glans?

To amplify fat luxury lips to a wet red slash

            above a tightened neck?

 If sparks from the stars grinding by overhead

                                                            have nothing to do with it

                        what are these sparkling treasures

                                    boxed in black velvet

                                                secured by military dragons

                                                            flashing the mirrors of fear?

Wherever light might escape

                         the power grid keeps the doors sealed.         

 Wealth in gilded age hides itself with itself.

Only dust can put a finger on it.

From work-in-progress: The Undertakers



 Village Poets Readings will resume in January 2024