Friday, February 10, 2023

Village Poets Readings Continue with Toti O'Brien & Linda Dove on March 26, 2023 at Bolton Hall Museum


Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to the second of this year's Monthly Reading held in-person, on Sunday, March 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm. at the Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313.  In March our features will be poets Toti O’Brien and Linda Dove.

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.

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Pski’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2023).


Three Poems by Toti O’Brien


Taro San


And the boy named river

unfolded. Gently, yet

irreversibly he sprouted

like corn, tall, invincible,

like a newly built boat

bound to meet the ocean.

The boy was named river.


Boy with willow-dark hair

fit for making brushes

and brooms, with the pure

gaze of volcanoes

long-extinct but still warm

inside their hollow, deep core.


With the wisdom

of infinite seasons and

the cheerful trill of a bird.

His miniature index a compass,

long knitted cap flapping

like a sail in the breeze.


Chubby legs

knotted around her waist

like a leather belt, like

a sash, an obi. Tiny feet

tickling the small

of her back.


First published in Cholla Needles


Joan of Arc, 2


So, what did the forks say, she was asked.

Not just forks, she replied, but all the silverware.

Perhaps, forks in particular. Problem was

she couldn’t make out the words, and it didn’t matter.

She could not because the voices were distant.

Somehow loud, but remote. Simultaneously shrill

and soft, those voices were turned backwards,

as if speaking of something that occurred and

she should know about, perhaps she should fix.

The voices seemed to beg. Rather helplessly.

Sharp, insistent but small, trapped among

the prongs of the forks like hair stuck on a comb.

Those voices had long hair, corkscrews, curls,

floating ribbons moved by the breeze

across distant skies filled with swallows.

Voices, like the voice of the swallows.




She was asked, what did the swallows say?

She couldn’t hear words, just the exhilaration.

Swallows, she knew, talked about the future.

Future plans. Departure. Return. Mother leaving

and coming back, said the swallows, picking up

fragments of what the forks (all the silverware)

said already, as if echoing rhymes of a song

played by an obsolete radio set. Maybe

an advertising for milk. As if they (the swallows)

recalled an old tune and screamed it out loud,

louder, louder, drunk with spring and sunshine.


First published in ZIN Magazine


Odd Bird


Deep green of the mangrove, nest of shade

cupped hand, branches like fingers.

A release of pelicans in the sunset.

Why do you say “breathtaking”

each time a flock scatters in concert?

Expansion of ribcage. Inhale, hold, exhale.


Something about joy is centrifugal

overflowing like foam from a bottleneck

firework, fountain, cascade of confetti

rice thrown over a bridal train

shine on shine, a sparkling exuberance.


Fluttering of a thousand of feathers.

Angels don’t exist, but birds do.

Some of happiness happens

and that part is brisk, sudden.

What remains of happiness is.



First published in Pacific Review



 Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and teaches college writing. She is also an award-winning poet of four books: In Defense of Objects (2009), O Dear Deer, (2011), This Too (2017), and Fearn (2019), as well as the scholarly collection of essays, Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain. Poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. More recently, she has acted as a cultural critic, writing reviews and editing creative work for several internationally-recognized visual artists. She lives on the eastern edge of Los Angeles, where she serves as the faculty editor of MORIA Literary Magazine at Woodbury University. 



Three Poems by Linda Dove


Sometimes Lines Repeat Loss Like a Wave

       based on artist Samuel Erenberg’s Apparitions Ghost Image #40


In the life before this one, you knew the crow

would return to whatever shine caught the sun—


a silver bell, a tuna can, a hubcap lost to the exit

ramp. The way your heart went up and down


on the EKG like mountains, every spike

the reach for my name. Now the bird can’t find


the object. The lines are drawn, rows pulled

across a metal field, where nothing grows


but ghosts. What next should have meant.

How we should have spent the time between


then and now, as a pattern moving in a blue wave,

the way shibori changes a piece of plain fabric


into the sea. Sometimes what slips through

the lines our fingers make could never be held.


“Sometimes Lines Repeat Loss Like a Wave.” observant touches [exhibition catalog]. March 2022



What I Learned This Week About Desire


Saffron found its way north before oranges,

before the color orange was a word:


English had only yellow-red, after the stigma

of the crocus. Then Seville oranges


were sunk in salt water all the way to Dundee,

mixed with sugar, boiled translucent


into marmalade, spooned on tongues

that were inventing the color, the word


with no rhyme. This week I learned

that desire floats like a life raft, an orange


bubble on the surface of an hour, bittersweet

reminder that the world can suddenly


flare into an S.O.S. or a spark or the heat

of spice in a finger cut. It isn’t trying


to save me—it wants to peel me back

until I can see through myself,


back to when I swore never again and

said I’m so much happier without.


But the truth is we travel, the word naranga

becomes arancia becomes orange.


Look at what we’ve misnamed—the red fox,

the robin’s red breast, red-heads—as if


the colors of fire are interchangeable,

as if we forget that each burn is its own.


“What I Learned This Week About Desire.” Under a Warm Green Linden. Issue 9, June 2020.


Lettuce Is My Hair—A Love Song

                 Adapted from the translation of an ancient Sumerian chant of the same title,

                 written about 2350 B.C., probably by a priestess of the cult of  Inanna,

                 and only extant in fragment.  The italics indicate lines of the original poem

                  in translation.


She is washing her hair in the river, and it is older

than the shale cavern, than the dark line of the horizon

that halves the olive belly where she rests her hand.  Her hair

will fall in with the reeds and rushes, watercresses, lettuces,

gathering in the cool pools of moss around her shin

and thigh.  Curls of arugula, locks of endive and

mesclun chignon at the nape of the world’s wet place.


My hair is lettuce, planted by the water . . . It is gukkal-

lettuce, the most favored of plants . . .


Crenelated green and deep purple fringe of scalp silk

draped across the terrible knowledge of the heart, the voices

of the women call to the vegetable muscle from beyond

the wind of the quartz desert. 

Without end

She mouths

the language of the song, the dry words rinsed with her saliva

and her tongue wounds as she drags the small rocks across

her leafy strands, forehead to shoulder.


The brother has called me to his refreshing . . . For him

who is the honey of my eye, who is the lettuce of my heart,

May the days of life come forth . . .


Her voice has become his companion, her dark blood sound

that leaks into the shallows, that feeds the vegetation.  What follows

will leave her lighter.  She will sing the words that grow

near the banks of the river with her sisters.  She will think of the one

with whom she is not alone.  He has taken her wet hair in his mouth,

felt the relief of his thirst,  the lettuce of her heart,

                                                                        the spring’s first food.


When there is nothing else pushing up from the earth’s cold skin.


“Lettuce Is My Hair—A Love Song.” Clackamas Literary Review, Vol. X (2006): 51. Reprinted in In Defense of Objects (Bear Star Press, 2009).


Our January reading was a joyous event with our two features Sharmagne Leland St. John and William Scott Galasso as well as an excellent group of open readers. Sharmagne illustrated her beautiful poems with a slide show from her recent book, IMAGES: A Collection of Ekphrastic Poetry.  Maja Trochimczyk, who is retiring from Village Poets this month, received numerous awards from political dignitaries for her contributions to the artistic community over the last 12 years and we received a surprise visit from CA State Senator Anthony Portantino who presented her with an award and delighted the audience with a performance of two of his own poems. Awards were also given to the two features.


 Our 2023 series is now completed booked with the following excellent poets as features. Please mark your calendars for these coming events. Please note that we are not now having readings every month of the year.


Village Poets at Bolton Hall Calendar 2023


Jan 29 (5th Sunday) Sharmagne Leland St.John & William Scott Galasso
26 March (4th Sunday) Toti O’Brien & Linda Dove
30 April (5th Sunday) Alice Pero & Brendan Constantine
25 June (4th Sunday) Lois P. Jones & William O’Daly
27 August (4th Sunday) Beverly M. Collins & A. Jay Adler
22 Oct (4th Sunday) Ambika Talwar & Susan Suntree
No dates Nov/Dec due to holidays