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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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