Open-Mic Readers, April 2017

April is national poetry month.  Poetry is the voice of the people, so, to celebrate this annual event, the Willow Glen Poetry Project invites the audience to share two poems, one by a favorite poet, and one by the reader.  In April, we have no ‘featured reader’ because we are all the featured readers.

And poets are like cats, very individual, very ‘unherdable,’ if I may say so.  As you can see from the list below, some folks read a single poem, either by a famous poet, or by him or herself; some read two poems by a famous poet, or two of their own.  It is always a delightful mix, from Elvis Costello to T. S. Eliot.  Here is what we heard:

Dennis Richardson “Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver; and “Universality”
Nick Butterfield “PTSD,” and “Vet,” read by Dennis Richardson
Christine Richardson “On the Subject of Poetry,” by W.S. Merwin
Amy Meier “The Secret,” by Denise Levertov
Bert Glick “Thanksgiving Nightmare,” by Julia Vinograd
Erin Redfern “Phone Call,” by Tony Hoagland, and “Miracle of the Roses”
Sandip Bhattacharya “The Heart,”‘ by Mary Oliver, and “The Tall Distance”
Dennis Noren “In Our Craft or Sullen Art,” by Dylan Thomas; and haiku
Diane Moomey “Ode to my Socks,” by Pablo Neruda; and “Podiatria”
Jerry Dyer “Panhandler,” by Franz Wright; and “Tous les jours”
Eike Waltz “A London Hairy Tale,” and “Butt Naked”
Jeanine Corneliussen “New Lace Sleeves,” by Elvis Costello; and “Finding Clarity”
Lita Kurth “We Lived Happily During the War,” by Ilya Kaminsky; and “Mother of all Bombs”
Larry Hollist “Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower,” by Taha Muhammad Ali; and “Sorrow”
Katy Caselli “Walking the Hall in Circles”
Lesa Medley “Two Countries,” and “Gate A4,” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Jeffrey Leonard “First Sips,” by Larry Snydal; and “Remembering Rosie Hamlin
Jim Russo “Ode to Santa Cruz,” by Robert Sward; and “Barbara Lee”
Keith Emmons “The Waking,” by Theodore Roethke; and “The Teapot Speaks”
Dave Eisbach “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot; and “Encounter”
Judith Schallberger “Beethoven Quartet,” by Linda Pastan; and a haiku
Hank Millstein “Where Life Awaits,” by Charles Gibbs; and “Apologia Catholica”
Renée Schell “Spring,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay; and “For Kaylan, Who Likes Maps”
Jenny Luu “Leaves Compared to Flowers,” by Robert Frost; and “Autumn Leaves”
Pushpa MacFarlane “Seventy Anyone,” by William Stafford; and “Redwood Sapling”
Floi Baker “Last Night I was Sleeping,” by Antonio Machado; and “The Breeze at Dawn”
Casey FitzSimons “The Owl and the Pussycat,” by Edward Lear; and “The Still Creep of Sap”

Poets, please let us know if our list needs corrections or additions. Names and titles are easy to miss in the excitement of the evening. Especially this month!

The Teapot Speaks

Keith Emmons

We think this is a teapot.
This is a family of five on Christmas morning, at breakfast – smell the fresh tangerines!

The black scorchings from the stove.
The spout, neck of a squab, demands worms;
its squawk has obliterated differences.

Tin mines of Bolivia, roofs of tin-topped huts
sweep around a tiny dark lagoon.
This tea water flows from Borneo.

This teapot has a cap like:
hummock of ice; like
a toadstool top; like
a swelling of dawn;
like a symphony crescendo, at the moment of puncture . . .
the triangle; like
a torpedo – nose of detonation; like
a black funerary urn on a hilltop; like
a breast; like, somewhat like
the cap of a teapot.

Put a feathered stick to this handle
and no Zen master could miss the bull’s-eye.
Sitting immobile, this teapot gong resounds.

Who has riveted these struts for the handle?
Who has received this squat pot as a gift?

The children complain. They don’t want tea.

The presents wait. The fragrant pine
mingles with the tangerines and steam.

If leaning back, stroking my beard,
considering this teapot obesity, my rocking chair
dumps over backwards, can I say
I am over here, the teapot there?

Is this my reflection? I can’t even make it out.
Why does no one wash this teapot? And you poor thing –
you’re dented.

You are a curling ball. Players frantically sweep your path;
In a spy intrigue you explode.

You are a mine.
You are the writings of Chairman Mao.

At the table the mother weeps small wet teapots.
The young son smiles at the children. He knows about
impatience, mines, and Christmas: he has
one foot.

“When I was a boy! . . .” begins Father.

One hundred million years ago the brontosaurus reared.
Tumbling off the mountainside came
teapots the volcano spat.
Thus may a teapot put dinosaurs extinct.

You have killed a man!
You have killed a thousand men.
At a birth, you were passed from shaking husband hands
to an efficient country midwife.

Cézanne grips a spatula, legs splayed.
In Vermeer you repose among rectangles.
Is this Louis the Fourteenth’s hand?
Green tea is frothed with a bamboo whisk.
Did you end the war? Hirohito signs.
On the steppes you could have saved a thousand lives.
Did you hear the humming of the lonesome wife?
You serve Earl Grey’s with madeleines in Manchester.
Among austere Benedictines, you whistle.
You pour black coffee for Van Gogh’s miners in the Borinage.

Dali puts an ant upon your nipple.

You are among many neighbors, in a dark cabinet.
A mouse with twitching whiskers crouches. In his eye
is a luminous teapot.

If you were not a teapot, I would say continental Africa
is on your side.
Is this a dent or Borneo? Red and blue Chinese fish
circle in your waters.

You are a lesson in geography. To understand you
one needs an atlas.
You are on his shoulders now.

You, teapot, you boil in the minds of the children.
They dash, scattering tangerines. The son
hobbles to the tree where presents are heaped
like teapots.

“When I was a boy . . . ” concludes Father, “I was a teapot.”



Apologia Catholica

Henry Millstein

I pile all my gods beneath Jesus
as if he were my toychest
or maybe my tallit.
Why have just one god
when you can have them all
and the Virgin Mary to boot?
That’s what I like
about Catholicism:
angels at your fingertips
saints around your head
like haloes
or bad haircuts
virgins and vaginas
in the air

It’s like having opposable thumbs:
you can grasp
but a few things
like God
always slip past you

Featured Reader, March 2017

Christine Richardson, the co-host of Willow Glen Poetry, introduced the featured reader for March, Peter Neil Carroll, with these words:

Tonight we welcome back our October 2013 featured reader, Peter Neil Carroll. At that time Peter presented many of the fine poems in his 2012 prize winning book, A Child Turns Back to Wave: Poetry of Lost Places. He then continued to reveal the deeper truths of America’s past, present and (intuits) the future in his 2015 book, Fracking Dakota: Poems for a Wounded Land.  Peter has the gift for examining the landscape of industry and the industry of landscape as he holds them in juxtaposition as in his poem, “Birds of Dakota” in which he paints us a lovely/terrifying scene of silos, cows, hayfields, the quintessential red barn where The Bomb sleeps underground.

Peter is not the typical poet Billy Collins describes sitting at his desk by a window only imagining the world beyond. Peter goes whole-heartedly physically and emotionally into the world and extracts the poetry out of it. This is what is in store for us tonight. Peter is here with his literally hot off the press latest book of poems, published just last month, The Truth Lies on Earth: A Year by Dark, by Bright. It has been described as “containing poems of small moments, intimate scenes with expansive import.” For those of us who were fortunate to hear Peter read nearly 4 years ago and or remember his poems from open mic, particularly last month’s very touching poem, “Finance” know the wisdom and wit and the keen reflective powers Peter pours into his poetry. Please welcome Peter Neil Carroll!

Open-Mic Readers, March 2017


Keith Emmons “Moondrifter Reverie”
Larry Hollist “Death of a Nation”
Joe Navarro “Animal Behavior”
Lesa Medley “On Leaving Maui”
Deborah Kennedy “Sisters”
Dennis Richardson “Desirable Weights for Men”
Diane Moomey “Verandah”
Eike Waltz “La Gioconda”
Bert Glick “For Linda”
Jim Russo “Whole Foods”
Barbara Saxton “In Concert”
Jerry Dyer “Traffic Report”
Amy Meier “My Back”
Dana Grover haiku
Dave Eisbach “Surprises”
Jeffrey Leonard “Satisfaction”
Judith Schallberger haiku/ tanka
Karen Franzenburg “The Isle”
Richard Burns “Ode to Sadness”
Charles Albert “Narcissistic Tweets of the Bloviating Sociopath”
Janice Garcia “Mouth of Mirth”
Floi Baker “I Am Memory Alive”
Pushpa MacFarlane “Silent Stream”
Christine Richardson Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”

If you see errors above in the names of the poets or poems, please write to us at with the corrected information.

Death of a Nation

— Larry T. Hollist

Book of Mormon: Either: 15: 14-32

For four long years
All the people of the land
Gathered for one last fight.
Some to one side
The rest to the other.

All had forgotten what
They were fighting for.
Yet, each side knew that
They were

Every man, woman and child
Were fitted with breastplates,
Helmets and shields.
All went to battle that first day
Carrying their own personal weapon.

They fought until it was dark.
Returning to their respective camps
The surviving armies took
Up howling for the dead.
A howl that penetrated the surrounding hills.

At daylight the armies returned to
Their work of destruction.
At night they returned to their howls.
None wanted to make peace.
All knew their side was right.

Another day of fighting.
Only now there were less
To howl for the dead.
But their hatred had grown.

Day after day they fought by light
Then howled by night
Until there was just 52 on one side
And 69 on the other.
Still there was no compromise.

The next day there were just
32 and 27 left.
Yet neither would yield.

For the next two days they fought,
Bled, fainted, recovered, and died.
No one relented until the two leaders
Were left. And they fought until there
Was one and the mighty nation was dead.




On Leaving Maui

—Lesa Medley


Sunlight glistening
waves crashing
palm trees swaying
hibiscus and plumeria,
ah, the plumeria,
its heady fragrance
perfumes the air
and casts a spell
like no other
strong trade wind breezes
keep it all
in constant motion
puffy white pillow clouds
hover above and
cling to the mountaintops
Kihei sits directly
across the water
from my spot
on the Maalea Harbor
Wailea, to the far right,
almost to the end of the point,
although I am preparing
to leave this place,
I am not yet ready
to say Aloha, goodbye,
there is comfort and solace;
however, in knowing
that I most certainly
will return.


Desirable Weights for Men

— Dennis Richardson

I’m at my chiropractor’s office when
I see this list of men’s heights
And weights.  It’s not a strange
sight to see in his office, but

When I stop and think of the thought,
What comes back for me is, desirable
For what?  I mean if you’re going
Dancing you might not want a fat slob.

Or skiing, you might prefer someone
Who knows how to ski and not
Someone who looks good in
The outfit.  Of course I knew that.

But I couldn’t resist the temptation
To point it out.  But I mean desirous
Is such a loaded word.  People are
Always attracted to what they

Desire, even a streetcar.  As old
As I am, desire still gets a look or two
From me and don’t say I’m too old.

La Gioconda

— Eike Waltz
I wrote this
Re-wrote this
And I still don’t know the answer… to the WHY

Yes…I saw the goose stepping black boots masked with iron helmets and frozen faces. I was told…I was 4 years old…that we are the masters of the world…

Words… neither stupid, funny or wise.
Words only… by nature… lonely…
So men turns words into brutal creation…but it is the vulnerable all of us…that provides justification and that all so scary… convincing… support.
If you sing… somebody elses song… and you don’t understand…than you are not only an accomplice but also… dead wrong.

And if you don’t hear…what you should hear…and silence sounds like too good to be true…your reasoning… lost for humanity…
Then…your life:… worth… shit all…

Oh yes…Creation thrives uncontrolled in emotion…Think about it…but you… after all…have that privilege… to have a human soul…and… that incredible urge… to live it all…but… is it for all ?

Poetry seeks not only lyrical lovers…It’s from pillow whisper…to that roaring thunder of a juicy… healthy… fart..,
So…take your shit… like a hammer…speak out…speak loud…and crash us all… with that earth shuttering revelation…your … human art

The drum beat of 1939

A…Be…Ce…Drrrrum… drum drum…drum drum…drum drum drum drum…EEEgomaniac…eF…Ge…Ha Ha Hitler…ha hit, ha hit, ha hit…ha hitler was a hit…Iiiiiii…JaJa its iffy…Ka…Lala… lala lalaland…eM…eN…Obnoxious…Peeee…Qu…eR…eSSSSA marschiert, die Reihen fest geschlossen… sociopath…Trrrrump Tru Trump…Tru Trump…Trump…Trump
Tru Trump…Trump Trump…Tweet Trump Trump Trump…Twitter Pussy Puss…the canned Congress Pop up Show…Uuuu…what do they doo…VW es tut wieder so weh (it hearts so bad again) …iX…Ypsilon…unser royal Koenigssohn in historia ezetera hysteria… ezetera Zet…narcisstic…tralaland…
ezetera Z…ein unvergessslicher ironic Zeitgeist …entgleist…
into that notorious ironic memory loss…Camelot tradition on a slippery Twitter Twitter Tweet Tweet Tweet… 1939 humanity’s loss… 2017… is it the same tune or is it an old tone in a toss?… Panic Angelicus…servus…servus et humilis…pussy pussy… piss piss piss

Trump….Tru…Trump…Tru… Trump Trump Trump…black nights…black boots…and I bet ya…ICE is coming to get ya>>>trrrrrump – tru trump – tru trump – tru trump – tru trump


Whole Foods

—Jim Russo
Man and Woman conversation, Woman speaks first

Excuse me…will you lick me down there?
I beg your pardon
Will you lick me down there? I saw you looking at me
Well, I don’t know. How long does that take, a good licking?
An hour or more
And you would have how many orgasms?
Oh, multiple, multiple orgasms
I see…I would expect reciprocity
Reciprocity, oh head…yes of course reciprocity
And how long does reciprocity last?
About ten minutes
That’s all, ten minutes?
Ten minutes or less
And I would have how many orgasms?
Well it’s no wonder you can’t find anyone to lick you down there
An hour or more and multiple orgasms
Ten minutes or less and one orgasm…that’s not very fair


Narcissistic Tweets of a bloviating Sociopath

— Charles Albert

What can you say
to those who still approve of
the bloviating sociopath?

It won’t get through:
they’re protected from
the fake news
by a wall
of alternative facts

Don’t sharpen your claws on
their obtuseness.
Anyone who still believes
his narcissistic tweets
is past the reach of wit.


Featured Reader, February 2017

Christine Richardson, the co-host of Willow Glen Poetry, introduced February’s featured reader, Janet Trenchard with these words:

We are very pleased to honor a valued supporter and frequent participant of Willow Glen Third Thursdays, Janet Trenchard.  Janet carries dual artisanships: she is both a well- known visual artist and a published poet. While her two choices of creative expressions are executed differently, what inspires her can be viewed as arising out of the same source.  Janet describes her paintings as kinesthetic and visual pleasure, which gives her a sense of being in touch with the process, resulting in paintings that can look very elemental.

In much the same way her poems involve the very elemental aspects of human existence: the ebb and flow of daily life, memories – good and bad, aging, and celebrations of the individual spirit especially when it is not constricted by norms.

I invite you to listen to Janet’s poems tonight with an ear for the kinesthetic. Notice how the lines almost ask you to rub them through your fingers or hold them on your tongue, as in these phrases from her poem Circling: Life, I want to get caught in your web…. drink your sticky nectar… swoon like jello.  And in your mind’s eye see the strong visuals she incorporates into each poem. In her poem, Memory Hag, Janet paints a checkerboard floor mopped with the long gray strands of memory revealing among many things both the crumbs and frostings of birthday cakes and broken glass crunched underfoot.

Please welcome artist and poet, Janet Trenchard.

Open-Mic Readers, February 2017

Bill Cozzini “Little Clam”
Jessica Sauceda “I am”
Jerry Dyer “God in the Vulgate”
Mary Lou Taylor “The Restless Sea”
Jade Bradbury “Ocean Park Dreamscapes”
Lee Rossi “Apply Topically”
Diane Moomey “Water Above, Water Below”
Stephanie Pressman “To Sleep Here”
Eike Waltz “Ombra Anna”
Peter Carroll “Finance”
Robin Lysne “Form Follows Thought”
Barbara Saxton “Reflections on a Swan”
Casey FitzSimons untitled
Jeffrey Leonard John O’Donohue’s “Where Nothing Unravels”
Dennis Richardson “CRS”
Leslie Hoffman “On Being a Fox”
Jenny Luu “My Precious”
Laura Brown “Credo”
Jeanne Watson “Christmas Eve, 2016”
Pushpa McFarlane “The Silent Poets”
Doug Nelson “Bent Nails”
Sandip Bhattacharya K. Daruwalla’s “The Guaghra in Spate”
Amy Meier “Borderland”
Renée Schell “February: The First Year of Teaching”
Larry Hollist “Walking the Dog”
Juliane Tran “Morality in the Trump Era”
Christine Richardson Rita Dove’s “Heart to Heart”

God in the Vulgate

— Jerry Dyer

I make my way to the evening window,
where moonlight beaches itself upon the glass.
She always claimed I was begotten of the moon.

When we were young, we’d watch
the Perseids fall together,
life in the sky so brilliant and brief.

We’d lay our beach towels on the dewy grass,
and watch heaven rain down fire,
etching its vastness before our eyes.

She lived her whole life listening to god
in the vulgate.  Then she would translate,
in that voice that sometimes made the dishes jump.

The Perseids are falling again tonight.
I’d swear that I can feel their heat
drifting down to me through years of sky.

I’m old enough, she began saying late last fall,
where I just might be brave enough
to close my eyes and sleep.

I can hear crickets in the windless calm.
Their chirping tells us, quite exactly,
the temperature of the air.


Ombra Mai Fu

— Eike Waltz


From the Series – Tears of an Immigrant
Ombra mai fu –
In the treasure drove of words, languages and music
I found the opening aria of the opera Xerses by Handel 1738

Ombra mai fu
di vegetabile,
cara ed amabile,
soave più.
Dear gods…
All.. you competing gods…
my troubled earth.
intimate souls
so profoundly….
We are one.. and…none
divided…by natures unrest
lost in histories forgetfulness.
And then…
I don’t want to leave you…sad..
Why should I be… mad..
What is the meaning… of being… bad…
Just… let me end…ever so glad……
…Ombra.. mai.. fu…
Never.. there was a shade…
longer than a day…
shorter than a night…
stronger than fiction…
As only roses… can see…
the infinity…
of eternal.. light.
Ombra mai fu
Never was made
the shade of a plant,
so dear and loving,
or more gentle.
And all the vegetables…I don’t like to eat… may be… forgiven…
And all the poisonous strawberry’s… I love to eat
Will finally kill me….it’s so lovely…indeed
Ombra mai fu
Never …there was… a shade…in a day…you couldn’t bee

Reflections on a Swan

— Barbara Saxton


A swan’s reflection: regal, unreal,
mute elegance worth twenty measly mallards
or a dozen lesser egrets. Alone, aloof–
he skims the lake’s still mirror, a bulging wake
broadcasting cygnet symmetry.

Beauty, peace and purity swim near,
but my mind breast-strokes beyond all that
to Leda and her misogynist Zeus-bird.
I feel him clamp his snaky neck
around his female prey, clasp her roughly
to his torso with enormous pearl-hued wings,
then rape her, while cruel moonlight shoots
its brilliant silver on still water.

A turn-on, to be sure! But strange and violent passion
also frightens and appalls. Billowing white feathers,
well-toned body, fearsome black beak, strapping legs,
all orchestrated for loathsome seduction, trumpeting:
When you’re a star,
you can do anything you want!

Beware to all who dare to dip
a shapely toe in this Swan’s Lake.

On Being a Fox

— Leslie Hoffman

You call me Red Fox
but I would still be a fox
if my coat were grey.
Does not the Grey Fox
eat what I eat,
drink what I drink?

Look into my golden eyes
and tell me if you can see
into my heart, into my soul.
You may no longer wear
my fur around your neck
or as a muff to warm your hands,
but you still train your dogs
to chase my kind into a tree
for your amusement.

Like you did my mate
carrying my pup
whose blood ran red
the same as yours
before being born.

My Precious

— Jenny Luu

I entered a room filled with candlelight,
rose petals scattered the floor.
“Oasis” plays in the background.

I smell the sweet aroma
of coffee, of cocoa
and of cream.

Smiling in anticipation,
I reach for my precious
flickering in the candlelight.

Silky cream on my fingertips,
soft and smooth to the touch.
I slice the sponge-like cake
and devour
this exquisite Italian gem.

The perfect amount
of sweetness
fills my mouth
and satisfies
my tongue.

Comfort, happiness, pleasure…

We blow out the candle
and slow dance in the dark
to the beautiful music
in our hearts, in our souls,
in our appetites.

“When we’re lost in a desert night
and we’re chasing our paradise,
when we can’t fight another fight,
we’re gonna make it.
You’re my oasis.”

We kiss in the dark,
our shadows in a tight embrace.
I know I love you,
my precious, tiramisu.


— Amy Meier

This morning and every morning
as the sky turns from pewter
to robin’s egg across Texas,
New Mexico, Arizona, and California,
Juan Chavez Serrano, Miguel Ruiz Pintor,
Cipriano Martinez Rios and others like them
report for work enclosing new housing communities
with seven foot stucco walls and wrought iron
fences whose primary purpose is to keep
themselves, and other like them, out.

The new United States president sees the opportunity
to extend this idea, fulfill his campaign  promise to
build a great wall, it’s gonna be really great,
folks, its gonna be amazing, he says.

I hear this threat dressed up like a promise,
picture a four state 1500 mile gated community,
imagine Juan, Miguel, Cipriano and others
like them hired for border wall building,
noting as they drive the posts where
ICE prowls, marking territory,
observing where ICE has no presence.

Each day they fasten sections of American
made steel, code mark the bases so the
unofficial night crew on the southern side
of this construction project will know the safest,
the most secure locations to set up the ladders,
throw up the grappling hooks and dig the tunnels.


Featured Reader, January 2017

Christine Richardson, the co-host of Willow Glen Poetry, introduced January’s featured reader, Tamam Kahn with these words:

Welcome to the start of another year for the Third Thursday Willow Glen Poetry Readings. Throughout the years of presentations we have tried to honor the primary purpose for our existence: to hold a caring community space for the many rich poetic voices from here and afar. Tonight we are so pleased to have a poet return to us who exemplifies our goal of inclusiveness. With her first book, Untold, A History of the Wives of Prophet Mohammad, our featured reader, Tamam Kahn informed and delighted us.  Again we will be enriched by Tamam’s work as she has brought us her new book Fatima’s Touch, Poems and Stories of the Prophet’s Daughter.

Tamam has traveled and read in many cities in the Middle East, India, and North Africa and well as here in the United States. She has devoted many years doing extensive research into early Islamic history. How fitting that as women across this continent prepare to make their voices heard, we will learn about the life of a strong, vibrant woman of the 7th century relayed to us through the voice of a strong, vibrant and charming woman of the 21st century. Please join me in welcoming back Tamam Kahn.