Monday, March 27, 2023

Village Poets Features Brendan Constantine & Alice Pero on April 30th for National Poetry Month



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

World’s End


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


You're on an elevator with God and afraid

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

and shoulders.

                                   “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

discernable texture


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

on typewriters

quoting Shakespeare


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

like pearls

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

comes from

the tiniest of nothingness

you spin with your own magic


My Mother


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

of dawn


The day rolled out

like a newspaper

with tiny important print

we had to read

to know


My mother

heaved away the sky

left clouds loaded

with rain


There would always be enough

for flowers

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

of dreams

waiting for the delicate

shadow of the moon

to release us back

into buoyant darkness


Published in Thawed Stars and Dodging the Rain