Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to our monthly reading held in person,on Sunday, Sept 24 at 4:30pm. at Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313. In September our features will be Marlene Hitt & RG Cantalupo.
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.
Marlene Hitt, Sunland Tujunga’s first Poet Laureate, active member of the Sunland-Tujunga Village Poets is one who loves books, especially books of poetry. Having been included in several anthologies, she has published two books of poetry, Clocks and Water Drops and Yellow Tree Alone, (2023) both from Moonrise Press. Other published materials are recorded in the archives of many newspapers. From these articles came the nonfiction local history book Sunland-Tujunga from Village to City. Poetry has been Marlene’s private love since childhood with one elementary school poem published. When The Chupa Rosa Writers began to meet at McGroarty Art Center, 1985, she joined the group. The Chupa Rosa group which met for 20 years, introduced the Poet Laureate Program which resulted in Marlene being elected the first Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga, 1999-2001 on the bridge of the millennium.
As a member of the John Steven McGroarty chapter of the California State Federation of Chaparral Poets, more submissions led to awards and inclusions in anthologies. After writing cut-and-paste chapbooks, taking part in the group-published daybook, she began to send poems out to publications; Psychopoetica of University of Hull, England was the first. In the meantime, as a volunteer in the local museum, she enthusiastically wrote articles for The Foothill Leader and Glendale News Press. Several other local papers published her weekly articles about history. The enthusiasm generated by the stories of settlers in the sagebrush to citizens of the City of Los Angeles led to Sunland-Tujunga from Village to City, 2000.
With guidance from Maja Trochimczyk, Moonrise Press, she was included in Meditations on Divine Names and Chopin with Cherries anthologies. She also served as co-editor of We Are Here: The Village Poets Anthology celebrating the 10th anniversary of our readings in 2010. She has been included in Poetry Corner, Colorado Blvd., Quill and Parchment, Altadena Poetry Review Quarterly, Four Feathers Press, Quill and Parchment, Sometimes in the Open, California Poets Laureate, Sacramento, and Cowboy Lariat on line. Her poems also appeared in Coiled Serpent and When the Virus Came Calling, an award-winning anthology edited by Thelma Reyna. Now, as Poet Emeritus of the Sunland Tujunga Village Poets, she is honored to continue to be inspired, to write and to participate in open mic readings.
I am the queen
of a world of small things
a button to sew
lost papers to find.
In this place
I fold and freshen
steer and carry
suggest and correct.
I struggle with words
mold them and taste them
each syllable one at a time
until hundreds cover a page
in the story of my days.
is a vegetable patch
my throne a stone
lizards are my footmen
a puddle my mirror.
By the authority vested on me
as majesty of myself
I proclaim all in my kingdom
to be happy. Be free.
Do not bow before me.
I am an open face marked with hours
a gentle smile stretched over
a bridled tongue
a cauldron stopped up with
a melting stopper
I am ripples in a still pond
the pebbles in its bottom
the compass whose needle
points the other way
I am the hiding place
found then lost
I am the weaver, I am the cloth
the photograph with no one in it
I am the shadow in the night
the brilliance of dawn.
Come, walk with me to see
if I am believed.
No curb appeal is needed in prairie dog town
for the burrows deep underground
give no excuse for not having
a tiled roof, a specimen tree.
In human habitats neighbors complain
that those are shakes on dormers
a garage door is different not allowed here.
I see beneath this window rooftop
stained by storms where inside
stories hide with secrets beneath.
In old Ireland, peat, lashed below thatch
kept out grey cold and crystals of frost.
I toast the wisdom of prairie dog town
where winter below needs no roof
slate, thatch, wood or willow, sod
or a shelter on a draped park bench.
Under the safe places are kept secrets
in the burrows of dark souls
inside the house with curb appeal.
There needs to be no curb appeal
in prairie dog town.
RG Cantalupo is a poet, playwright, filmmaker, novelist, and director. His work has been published widely in literary journals in the United States, England, and Australia. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he studied under such luminaries as George Hitchcock, editor of Kayak, Gregory Bateson, and Norman O. Brown, and received his MFA in Poetry and Non-Fiction from Vermont College of the Fine Arts. His books of poetry include Involving Residence, No Thanks, Walking Water On Earth, The Art of Naming, Remembrances, The Endurance: Journey To Worlds End, (a lyric novel), Never To Die, Graces For The Wonder, Words Kill, and Private Entries. He is also the author of You Don’t Know Me, (a five book young adult series), The Light Where Shadows End, and The Shadows In Which We Rise, memoirs, American Patriot, Surviving Covid, and a number of plays and stage adaptations including the musical versions of The Giving Tree and Where The Wild Things Are. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Stages in Santa Monica, a performing arts center, and founder of Poetry-Films.com. His books can be purchased through New World Publishers or through the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(for my mother)
I thought Vinny running through explosions, Vinny
firing mortars back while bits of flesh rained down,
took a rare courage, but lately I’ve begun to see
how you, battered in ‘58, before there were shelters,
before beating your wife was even a crime--one eye
red-blue-purple as a smashed plum--with money
borrowed from your sister only enough to escape
with your youngest son--you running away from
this man who you’d served for twenty-two years,
on whose plate each night you’d prepared the good
meals, spooning the gravy quietly, calmly, clenching
the hurt inside like a fist--this man whose clothes
you’d washed clean of the vomit and beer, ironing
his shirts even on the morning after he’d suffocated
Rose, your infant daughter, by drunken accident--
this war-haunted man who could fix anything, but
could only break the ones he loved--you a poor,
white, Jewess without skills, without a high school
diploma, running away to God knows where, as far
as the Greyhound facing the sun would take you,
as far as the road ahead would go--you who saved me
from becoming my father, teaching me about wounds
that remain purple under the skin, inside the eyes,
became, years later, in Vietnam, when I was dying
each day from the killing, a kind of hero, realizing how
you’d endured a lifetime of daily deaths, how my sister
Rose was a stone resting on the bottom of a red pool
in your heart, how my brother Eddie was a black sin
on your unforgiven soul--you became, as you become
now, when I see how your courage to leap bleeding
into the abyss, to gnaw off one leg when love held it
in a trap, was far braver than Vinny’s courage, that
the courage to bear life is more heroic than the courage
For A Young Poet
Already at seven, you’re naming the garden,
writing “rose”, “lilac”, “daisy” along the walkway
with colored chalk. We watch you, say how
this world we live in, this green patch in Angel City,
will be yours soon, then we let you take our hands,
guide us through your creations, show us how
even the prickly weed “thorny” has a home here.
Out beyond us, where our sight ends, are predators,
I know. I know. They peer out from inside shadows
like frightened cats, drive by stalking behind glass.
And that too, you must name, write in red so those
after you know what else lurked here. Remember,
even leeches rise in this earth. Remember also, how
yours must be the words we long for, for without them
there is only this dying garden without colors or
sounds to sing. Look at your fingers, green from
leaves and grass. Let that be your guide. Look at how
your eyes reflect the sun’s light. Just so. Just so.
Light is a prism there, shoots off sparks igniting
whatever it hits. Take it in. Take it in. Let your heart
be the diamond that bears our light
Scene From The Promenade
Evening, late, the lights
of the promenade
dimming to dark.
I walk out of a movie
into the reality of
stop in front of a
with the name J. C. Crew.
Shot in some exotic,
third world country,
or Paraguay), it sells
adventure: an exotic tundra,
a dirt road leading to an
endless horizon, warm,
earth tones drifting off
into matching mannequins.
Up close, an enormous,
furry, white dog getting out
of a sand-colored Land Rover,
a man in khakis unloading
rattan suitcases, a woman,
also dressed in khakis,
standing nearby, smiling.
They are both rugged, slim,
blond, beautiful as angels
looking down from two stories
above. Below them, humans,
me, a homeless couple
vacationing in the alcove—
two writhing lumps
under a newspaper and
a gray, tattered army blanket,
grunting, then moaning
as I pass.
Text: Alice Pero, Photos: Maja Trochimczyk
Text: Alice Pero, Photos: Maja Trochimczyk