Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to our Monthly Reading held in-person, on Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313. In April our features will be Brendan Constantine and Alice Pero.
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.Photo by Jun Takahashi
Brendan Constantine is a poet based in Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous collections and his work has appeared in many literary standards, including Poetry, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Ploughshares, Poetry Review (UK) and Poem-a-Day. He has received support and commissions from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A popular performer, Brendan has presented his work to audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe, also appearing on NPR's All Things Considered, TED ED, numerous podcasts, and YouTube. Brendan currently teaches at the Windward School and, since 2017, has been developing poetry workshops for people with Aphasia.
Three Poems by Brendan Constantine
My mother is sleeping while you read this
white hair spread across a pillow
She’s on her back, mouth open, and—you
need to know this—her teeth are gold
and china. The radio is playing, low,
a classical station, some opera or other
where people die believing love can be lost
in a crowd. My mother breathes
like a gallery, like a hundred paintings
of old ships. This really does concern you
because the sea is at your door. Because
my mother sleeptalks on your behalf.
Because it gets late so early now.
This poem originally appeared in The Poetry Review (UK), Vol 112, No 4, Winter 202
to ask which floor They want – for surely
God's pronoun is They - because deep down
you know God is already on every floor and
how long is this going to take? God says,
I never get tired of The Girl from Ipanema.
You smile and agree, though only now
do you notice the music. You start pushing
buttons in no sequence, feel the earth fall
away. Is this what it’s like to be a prayer,
or rather, what it’s like when one arrives?
... like a samba that swings so cool
and sways so gentle …
You remember something you read about
the first elevators, how they were powered
by animals and, later, water. And children,
They say, don’t forget children.
At every stop God gets on again, but you
don’t notice, you’re too into the song now.
Surely joy and apprehension shall follow you
all of your days.
This poem originally appeared in The International Literary Quarterly (InterlitQ), Winter 2022
Tralee, Ireland, Days Ago
I’ve been traveling so long
I forget what country this is. I can read all the signs
in the hotel, but it’s not enough. It could be Ireland,
or Heaven, or Mars. A black dog sits next to me
with a white bib, wary, curious. I ask the concierge,
“Is this a member of your staff?” “Ay,” he says,
“A stray. Showed up days ago.” I finish checking in,
drag a bunch of America to my room, take a nap.
Later, when I step out for a walk, I find the dog
waiting in the hall. “Days Ago,” I say aloud.
“Your name is Days Ago.”
He follows me to a park
across the street, not quite at my side, but with me.
I speak to him in a full voice, ask questions, give him
time to answer, and interpret his silence. No one
pays much attention, though a policeman tracks me
for a moment. Likely because I’ve used the word
“terrorism” a few times, loud enough to be heard
across the fish pond.
Days Ago, like all dogs,
can’t talk or is choosing his moment. He withholds
any opinion on terror, foreign or domestic. When
I mention poetry, he yawns. Yeah, tell me about it.
We find a bench and claim it. “You’ve done this before,”
I say. It gets a smile. He does that donut thing his kind
are so good at—cats, too—where they can lie on one side
and still be sitting up. I naturally start stroking his neck
“Did’ya hear about Mars?” I ask.
“Once again, they think they found life but aren’t sure.
Apparently, it’s harder to spot than anyone guessed.”
His fur is so black, it hardly shines. I lose my hand in it.
He’s tracking the policeman now. I’m thinking about
space, how astronomers say almost a third of it is made
of something called Dark Matter, mass that swallows
light. Or drinks it. Or, I think now, loses light in its coat.
“You know, Days Ago,
whenever they don’t find life
on other planets, I can’t help but think it means they
also can’t find death. So far as we know, there’s no
death anywhere on Mars. None on the moon, for that
matter. A few people have died in space. But how
do we know they didn’t bring death with them?
They were people after all.” Days Ago is looking
at me, right into my eyes. He clears his throat.
This poem originally appeared in Rattle #78, Winter 2022
Photo by Irene Kalents
Alice Pero’s poetry has been published in many magazines and anthologies including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Main Street Rag, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, and G.W. Review, “Coiled Serpent,” “Wide Awake,” “Altadena Poetry Review,” and others. Her book of poetry, “Thawed Stars”, was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.” She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She is the 10th Poet Laureate of Sunland/Tujunga. A passionate dialoguer, she has created works with over 25 poets. Her book, “Beyond Birds & Answers” is a collaboration with New York artist, Vera Campion and “Sunland Park Poems” with Los Angeles poet Elsa Frausto. In 2002 Pero created the popular reading series, “Moonday” which continued for another 16 years with Lois P. Jones as Co-Producer. She is currently curating the Village Poets reading series and also is the Monthly Contest Chair for The California State Poetry Society. Alice is also a flutist and former dancer and her chamber music group, “Windsong” has performed around the LA area since 2015. Alice is a member of the California Poets in the Schools since 1996 and has been teaching poetry to school children since 1991.
Three Poems by Alice Pero
Directions for an Important Display
Look for small things,
a nail, a pebble, a drop of rain,
a snowflake, even after it has melted
Put them in a collage,
an intricate arrangement
with subtle colors, barely
Hang it up
It may need to dry
for several centuries
cured by weather
Take it out again
and view it with great
Add a sound track
You may or may not
get an audience
If not, show it in sunlight
Let it gradually fade
then start over
Published in Vilas Avenue
When crocheting a poem
be sure to be awake
Do not use Alexa
She is forever asleep
She has no dreams
She will take your words
and insert them in her circuits
and her machines will whirl
in random patterns
producing a million monkeys
Look at the clouds
blow a ghost fantasy
dream that school of sardines alive
Use the wrong punctuation
Drop a few and purl one
Fall asleep to wake again
and let the words fall out of your mouth
String them and wear to a Dodgers game
with an evening dress
Flaunt your aliveness
Smile at everyone you see
If you decide to knit the poem
refer to a pattern
but add ropes and daisies
If you begin to fumble
refer again to the pattern
but do not follow it
It will only confuse you
Know that the poem
the tiniest of nothingness
you spin with your own magic
My mother fell
small and wrinkled
on the morning
and the moon slipped
off into some hidden darkness
Coffee steamed us awake
and the cups chattered
in the cupboard
My mother dropped
like an ancient stone
into the blue light
The day rolled out
like a newspaper
with tiny important print
we had to read
heaved away the sky
left clouds loaded
There would always be enough
we could grow
My mother left the kitchen
with cups and papers
We were dizzy with words
We drowned in heavy milk
We lay muffled
like shifting sand
curious with the weight
waiting for the delicate
shadow of the moon
to release us back
into buoyant darkness
Published in Thawed Stars and Dodging the Rain