Thursday, November 30, 2023

Village Poets Starts the New Year with Judith Terzi & Karen Greenbaum-Maya, Jan 28, 2024

Village Poets of Sunland-Tujunga is pleased to invite poets and friends of poetry to our monthly reading held in person, on the 4th Sunday, Jan 28, 2024 at 4:30 pm. at Bolton Hall Museum, located at 10110 Commerce Ave, Tujunga, Los Angeles, CA 91042-2313. In January our features will be Judith Terzi & Karen Greenbaum-Maya.

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.


Judith Terzi is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay), as well as of six chapbooks, including Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By (Kattywompus) and Ghazal for a Chambermaid (Finishing Line). Now, Somehow (Finishing Line) is her latest chapbook, a collection of poems about confronting a pandemic, cancer, and other health-related urgencies. Her poems have been included in literary journals and anthologies such as the Atlanta Review, The Examined Life Journal, Lunch Ticket, The Main Street Rag, Solstice Literary Magazine where she was a finalist for the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize, and Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. BBC/Radio 3 featured her poem "Ode to Malala Yousafzai" in an episode of Words and Music. She holds an M.A. in French language and literature and taught French for many years at Polytechnic School in Pasadena as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.

 Four Poems by Judith Terzi

 Dancing Like They Did

 -after viewing the Oscar-nominated short subject documentary Walk Run Cha Cha (Directed by Laura Nix, 2019)

 She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

Her high heels sparkle. Rhinestoned ankle straps.

Dancing now at sixty like she did in Vietnam.

 She slides into her husband's arms. A fluent bond.

He lifts her up––they twirl, her legs akimbo, no holding

back. She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

They practice moves they've learned at the dance salon. 

Her husband looks sharp. Shirt and pants all black.

Dancing now at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

Six years of separation before her papers were drawn.

Before she joined him in California, started from scratch.

She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

It's Lunar New Year's Eve. Celebrations are on.

The couple's at home when the Ballroom's attacked,

dancing at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

Friends, partners are shot. Eleven dancers gone.

Cha-cha-cha. Mambo. Run. Fear that memories

unlatch. She wears a handmade dress. Sky blue chiffon.

Dancing now at sixty like they did in Vietnam.

-Appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal


   -after "The Automat" (Edward Hopper, 1927)

"Kind regards," he wrote. The letter arrived

yesterday. "Kind regards!" We'd made plans:

Paris, marriage. This coat his gift from last year's

great December sale at Wanamaker's, near

the automat where we met. Horn & Hardhart––

its sparkling floors, table tops of marble 

he loved. He'd hand bills to the nickel thrower,

rubber tips on every single one of her fingers.

He'd put nickels into the food window slots.

Oh, he knew my favorites: meat loaf or Salisbury

steak, creamed beets, lemon custard pie. Two years

of bliss now gone with "kind regards." How we'd

linger over H&H drip-brewed coffee that flows

from the mouth of a dolphin. Like a fountain in Rome.

 -Appeared in MacQueen's Quinterly


Like I'm waiting for kismet. Maktoub.

Waiting for a number, a letter––cryptic

for stage, grade. How many nodes

did she twist away? How many, how

many... Tell me to focus on healing.

Friends bring guavas, mini pumpkins,

t-shirts, pens, soup. The house

is a garden: five white orchids, purple

tulips, yellow roses, irises. Red

bromeliad clinging to bark, shape

of a seahorse, air plants cresting on two

heads. Rearrangement happening

in cachepots. Rearrangement of a colon,

color of geranium in a Casbah courtyard.

Animal on hooks in back rooms

of butcher shops where my grandfathers

blessed meat. How did she swing my

transverse meat around to greet my

small intestine, my distal ileum?

I wanted to catch the now-missing

slice as it slipped through her slick

incision above my navel. To feel
the surgeon's finesse navigate inside me,

caress my organs, then choke the cecum,

the appendix to death. How will the new

partners jibe? How will they groove

with no past in such diminished time?

No memory of all the little madeleines

and Sunday's flow of hours. Slippery

fingertips straining to hold onto a waltz.

 -Appeared in Solstice Literary Magazine (finalist

for Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize) -Appears in author's Now, Somehow


        for Jaime

He warms his hands to textured skin of cup,

a first embrace of morning. Rustic cup.

He threw it, swirled it into a jumbo cup

of porcelain, he glazed his earthy cup

a rugged russet shade, endowed the cup

with sturdy, curvy arm. Not round, his cup,

but oval-shaped––a spacious coffee cup.       

His lips regale the thick-lipped rim of cup––

the only lips the rim permits to cup.

If ever he falls ill, his artsy cup

will take a break. A manufactured cup

of glass for chamomile or mint, no cup

to match the chemistry of homespun cup––

high fire flesh he'll ache to stroke, to cup.

-appears in author's Now, Somehow

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, former German major and restaurant reviewer, and three-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her work in fairy tales and dream interpretation, and her obsession with Kafka and flirtation with Buber have led her inevitably to prose poems. Her poems have received Special Merit and Honorable Mention in the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial contest from Marge Piercy and from B.F. Fairchild. Her work has appeared in journals including Comstock Poetry Review, B O D Y, Rappahannock Poetry Review, CHEST, and Spillway. Kattywompus Press publishes her chapbooks Burrowing Song, Eggs Satori, and, Kafka’s Cat. Kelsay Books publishes The Book of Knots and their Untying. She shared her life with her late husband for 34 years, which were not enough. The Beautiful Leaves, a collection of poetry about his diagnosis, illness, death, and her grief, has just been published by Bamboo Dart Press. She co-curates Fourth Saturdays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Her first complete sentence was, “Look at the moon!”

 Three Poems by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

 Sonnenizio from a Pawnee song*

 Over the line where the sky meets the earth:  Pleiades!

Overwhelmed and drunk on stars, we return to find

a brown bear skulking over by the garbage cans,

drawn over by sun-ripened smells

swirling low after the day is over.

Pick-up is at least a week overdue.

Our headlights sweep over him,

not a big one, scarcely over 600 pounds,

and he looks us over.  The set of his solid head,

paws on the hips, he’s cool, nothing overheated

about him:  What do you mean, ‘move over’?

Why shouldn’t he pick over our garbage,

our leftovers, nothing we wanted any more?

We inch over to the cabin, burst through the door.

*In their Hako ceremony, the people of the Pawnee American Indian Nation sing a prayer of hope to the Pleiades during their November rising. Kathleen L. Nichols, a university professor in Kansas, provides the English lyrics:

Look as they rise, rise
Over the line where sky meets the earth, Pleiades!
Lo! They, ascending, come to guide us,
Leading us safely, keeping us one;
Pleiades, teach us to be, like you, united.

  I Help My Husband Sleep

Your head rolls onto my shoulder, crushes

my hair so it rasps in my ear.

I smell your silver hair,

Einstein-wild from hospital sweat,

waxy under my hand.

Me almost under you, offering myself

as a better bed,  compressing

the single-use egg-crate mattress.

I’m here to let you let down.

Stop fighting your eyelids’ pull.

Burrow your heavy head into my breast.

I’ll hold on while you take up your dreams

like a tired dog who feels the grass

under his paws, twitching in his sleep

at the flicker of abundant rabbits.

I lie braced in the narrow bed

that keeps me from cradling you enough.

 Soup Pot

--for Wisława Szymborska

 Her sister’s soup, steaming in a poem,

simmers here in the pot.

Wisława takes soup seriously,

considers how much salt for the barley,

how fine, how coarse to slice cabbage,

how long caraway seeds may cook before turning bitter.

This soup took two, or maybe twenty lifetimes.


Being famished helped. 

In that War, she worked for the railroads

rather than be sent out to build them,

to starve slowly in forced labor

while her voice suffocated from silence.

She learned when to hold back,

how much is too much.


Deep in the soup, she stirs in step with Aubigné.

Wisława reaches for the bison grass,

finds it without having to look,

translates into French without thinking

as she sniffs at the jar. (More salt?)

Each boxcar held neighbors who died.

Now the fresh mushrooms.  Now, the dried.

A soup should be as full of mushrooms

as Polish of consonants. 


At night, the flame’s slow breath

condenses on the window, freezes to ice,

glass on glass, a clear inch thick.

These days, Wisława prefers oxtail over ham hock,

balances out turnips with carrots.

She knows what all went into the pot,

but not what will emerge.

Yeti will show up for a bowl, praise

each grain of barley, every shred of cabbage. 

Karen Greenbaum-Maya Publication credits:

Sonnenizio on a Pawnee Song:  The Literary Bohemian, 2012

Soup Pot: Tiger's Eye, 2011; reprint in Comstock Poetry Review in 2012 and in Sow's Ear Poetry Review in 2014

I help My Husband Sleep:  Algebra of Owls, 2017 (and of course in The beautiful Leaves)

Robert Shushed Me:  Lighten Up, 2020