Featured Reader, August 2016

Poet Christine Richardson, who co-hosts the WGPP readings with her husband Dennis Richardson,  introduced the featured reader, Arlene Biala, with these words:

Tonight we are thrilled to present the fourth poet laureate of Santa Clara County, Arlene Biala, a Filipina poet and performance artist. Supervisor Dave Cortese said, “The poet laureate serves as ambassador to the poetic arts in our community.” Perhaps no poet is better qualified to continue this legacy. Arlene has devoted her adult life to public service and community involvement, working since 1996 as an arts education and grants manager for the city of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs. She has collaborated with writers, dancers, musicians and other artists in many creative endeavors, most notably, appearing with former California, now U. S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera at a presentation in March of 2016 at the National Photo Gallery in Washington D.C. He has praised Arlene and her poetry by telling us, “Arlene Biala chants and dances at the center of inner-outer sacred lakes, her texts move at the incredible heights of Pele, the ancient Goddess.”

Arlene discovered poetry as a young person when she found a copy of e.e. Cummings poems in her brother’s backpack. Encouraged my her mother, a drama and English teacher, Arlene has continued to write, at first in a journal in which she wrote poetry to vent negative feelings and then later to witness the challenges and issues that confront us working through words to solutions.

Arlene has published three volumes of poetry. Her most recent work, her beckoning hands, was the winner of the American Book Award in 2015.

Her poems have been described as “ lovely, lush poems grounded in ritual object and ritual practice, mantras that resonate with the body and plant the body firmly in the world.”

Prepare now to enter the fascinating and evocative world of Arlene Biala.

Open-Mic Readers, August 2016

A late summer night, full of song and verse.

Casey FitzSimons “Back in a Time”
Joe Navarro “From Momentary Peace”
Nick Butterfield “Stain”
Amy Meier “Hunger”
Eike Waltz “”Traditional X”
Leslie Hoffman “Haiku XVII”
Diane Moomey “Pilgrimage”
Jim Russo “Barbara Lee”
Jerry Dyer “Cafe Lonely”
Dave Eisbach ” An Ode to Odin”
Janet Trenchard “What Women are Wearing”
Deborah Kennedy “Two Rivers at Hill’s End”
Jeffrey Leonard “Do not Ridicule the Small”
Al Nightingale untitled
Jessica Sauceda “Pulse”
Dennis Noren “Quake Perception”
Pushpa MacFarlane “Bound to Earth”
Dennis Richardson “At Tartines Corner Bakery Cafe in San Francisco”
Richard Burns “The Little Joys of Life”
Mike McGee “Sleepwalker”
Charles Albert “Your Obituary”
Sandip Bhattacharya untitled
Lorenz Dumuk untitled
Larry Hollist “The Snake River Stampede”
Christine Richardson “Little Poem,” in response to W.S. Merlin’s “After the Dragonflies”

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

From Momentary Peace

— Joe Navarro

She rose from her frigid dreams
As warmth, bright and yellow
Began to peek over the
Shadows of slumber
Ice daggers slowly
Melted the from her
Torso and limbs as
One fist rises and declines
Head weaving and bobbing
Words flowing like a raging river
Bundled in numbing cold vapors
Carrying each word
As the sun rises slowly
She argues, intensely, passionately
As she does every morning
When she is severed
From her momentary peace
Nestled in unconsciousness
All that she is
Unleashed in a fury of expletives
Sung in sorrowful prose
She curses the neglect and instability
That rules her life
Against the officials, the neighbors
Who want her invisible
Against the empty warm spaces
That she cannot occupy
Against the unwillingness
To see her and offer
Her a warm bed
With a roof over her head
She argues furiously
With what she has left
Of herself
Until she can argue no more

 

Barbara Lee

— Jim Russo

August in Greenville outside Jackson Mississippi
A still, windless, hot, thick afternoon in the south
A pretty barefoot teenage girl swings in a tire
Humming a tune, dreaming of someplace else
When she should be cleaning the barn
She clicks her heels and lands in North Beach
Who’s the new cute ticket girl at the Palace Theatre?
She looks like Doris Day and talks funny
A big pretty smile and light blue eyes
On a dare she tried out for Miss North Beach, swim suit pictures and all
Then she found the one, a tall local blond blue eyed Sicilian
He was paralyzed by her southern cooking and her southern charm
They were a team, five kids and seven decades
Her houses, her farms, her trees, her pampered gardens
Grandchildren close
Hands that never stopped once, always someone’s baby on her hip
You had to love her cynicism and colorful language, her front door was always open
Many, many people enjoyed and raved about her cooking and baking
Outside her kitchen window a tire swung from an apple tree

 

At Tartines Corner Bakery Café in San Francisco

— Dennis Richardson

Across the street in the second floor bay window
Stands a woman in a red sweater on the phone
Looking down at the café like she wished she were here.
A waitress, wrapped in her summer towel-like skirt,
Semidredlocked hair pulled back in its semidredlocked tail,
Circulates through the crowd looking for a missing person.
Next to me a man reads the Metro as he drinks
His cappuccino picking at the fingers of his bear claw,
Oblivious of the child counting the wrinkles on his forehead.
Tables, crowded with people sharing spaces,
Friends, lovers, singles, some with babies, dogs, books
All loosely held in place by the static electricity
Generated by the friction of our thoughts.
A woman with her green sparkle purse enters.
Everything stops. There is something about the way
She looks at the eclairs like she is eating their brown
Chocolate coats with her eyes. The soft powdered snow
On the cream puffs beginning to melt.
Satisfied for the moment, I finish my cup of coffee, put on my
Cap and blank face and head out into the deceptive world
Where everything that is good is sometimes bad,
Where I sometimes say no when I really want to say yes.

Your Obituary

— Charles Albert

If you haven’t already composed
one for yourself, mentally,
on the way to someone else’s funeral,
how does this one suit you?

“Passed into eternal rest three days ago,
beloved friend, mentor, sibling, teammate–
or whatever it was, exactly, you were trying for.
We feel the loss in our hearts.
You were a private person, forced into
a more public life than you wanted.
At least that’s what your
lack of style in clothes and haircut implied.

A person of unrealized potential
and missed opportunities–
and we won’t go into your annoying habits,
until the reception
at which, we should add, there will only be a cash bar,
in the spirit of some secret knowledge
of the cheapskate you really were.”

 

The Snake River Stampede

— Larry T. Hollist

A birthday I’ll never forget
Was the year we went to
The Snake River Stampede.

Uncle Dave way payin’
So the treats kept commin’
Dogs, nachos, cotton candy
Snow cones flavored with
Blue, or red, or yellow or green.
Cousin Ted thought that all
Flavors at once was a dream.

There was bull riddin’
Calf and team ropin’
Saddle and bareback ridin’.
A cowboy who herded his steers
With a whip as his only tool.

There were steer wrestlin’
With their hazers
And clowns with their trick mules.
Pat Boone also sang his tunes.

What I remember most was
The brown – eye freckle-faced girl with
Whisks of dirty blond hair escaping
From the sides of her western hat,
And a braided pony tail halfway down her back.
She was wearing a blue plaid button-up blouse
Tight Wranglers jeans and cowboy boots.

Ae fond kiss and then we severed;
Ae farewell, for then and forever!
For I was a green horn from the East
And she was a barrel rider from the West.

 

Featured Reader, July 2016

We have much to thank Barbara Saxton for. A wonderful poet (one time featured reader here at Willow Glen!), she brought us, all the way from Texas, our July featured reader, Loretta Diane Walker.  She introduced her with these words:

Like most of you, I love poetry, and while I try to give everything a chance, there are poets who affect me more than others — touch me deeply, made me understand things I didn’t know (or appreciate) before, help me go forward in the complex challenge of life. For me, Loretta Diane Walker has always been such a poet.

I’ve been Loretta’s friend and an enthusiastic admirer of her amazing body of work for quite some time; I was beyond honored when she asked me to write a jacket “blurb” for her second full book of poetry, In This House:

Loretta’s emails always close with the postscript “Life is a poem waiting to be written.” And, oh, what a life hers has been! Providing many generations of young children with the music education (and love) they crave and deserve, creating and sharing her own amazing poetry, standing up against injustice and prejudice, as well as supporting her family, friends, and even herself through bad times and health challenges! In her own words, Loretta dares not “run from love, power, time or magic.”

Loretta has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize, has published two full length poetry collections (which are available for purchase after this reading!), and her poetry has appeared in many, many anthologies and journals (including HER TEXAS, which featured 60 Texas women poets.) Loretta (for IN THIS HOUSE) is also this year’s winner of the prestigious Wheatley Award for poetry by African-American authors.

A few more accolades: “Loretta Diane Walker writes with compassionate wisdom and insight. Her poems restore humanity.” –Naomi Shihab Nye

“(Loretta’s) talent as a musician infuses her lines with a haunting musicality which compliments her mastery of image and diction. Walker’s poems glow on the page like candles in the darkness.”   —Larry D. Thomas, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate

By all means, let’s stop listening to me and allow Loretta’s poetic candles set this room alight for us. It gives me such pleasure to introduce my friend and fellow poet from Odessa, Texas–Loretta Diane Walker!

 

Open-Mic Readers, July 2016

A transcendent mid-summer night of poetry.

Deborah LeFalle “Revisioning 71”
Karen Franzenburg “We Will Remember”
Joel Katz Translation of Ingmar Heytze’s “So long as you don’t write hymns of praise”
Lesa Medley “Driftwood”
Janet Trenchard “Smoke”
Dennis Noren “There are not two sides to every story”
Diane Moomey “Expecting Poetry”
Vicki L. Harvey “Heart Song”
Amy Meier “Living without Fear in the USA”
Dave Eisbach “Obituaries”
Jeffrey Leonard “Thank you for your service”
Renée Schell “Spelling Inventory”
Nick Butterfield “Sure Advice”
Pushpa MacFarlane “Not of a Feather”
Erin Redfern “What Makes Some Small Thoughts Stick”
Mike McGee “Dear Neil Armstrong”
Dana Grover “Pantoum”
Bill Cozzini “Blooming”
Larry Hollist “Electroechocardiogram”
Sathvik Nair “Go Bears!”
Barbara Saxton “Fossil Heart”
Joan Marx “Old Ladies”
Dennis Richardson “Of Grandparents”
Jessica Sauceda “Paradise”
Jerry Dyer “On Watching Arthur Rhodes dust off the Tigers, August 9, 1993”
Jim Russo “My Day”

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

Revisioning 71

— Deborah LeFalle

Rejoice with me while I am still alive
Let there be merriment beyond the end
Announce to friend and foe that I do thrive
Delighting in the good that bright days send
And as you read my written words do this
Of me think dearly as I think of you
Let fleeting thoughts of me bring you sheer bliss
And celebrate our bond we know is true.
Recite this verse as oft you open doors
Fain come and dance and sing with me a while
Call out my name and I will echo yours
Then show me love through your enchanting smile
Invite the world inside your caring heart
So they can too rejoice ‘fore I depart.

Driftwood

—Lesa Medley

Years ago
while walking the beach
on the Oregon Coast,
Mom spotted a
large, gnarled
piece of driftwood
she just had to have.
Dad drug that driftwood
for 3 miles down the beach
back to our car
so that it could become
the centerpiece of our
front lawn landscaping.
Fast forward
some forty plus years
to a pleasant,
sunny Monday afternoon,
late August;
my sisters, my Dad,
and I,
parked across from the old house
on Wright Street
in The Dalles.
That same piece of driftwood,
weathered with age…
but still in place.
We began to plan a covert
night time mission
to take it back,
but couldn’t agree
on who should keep it.
In the end, we left it there…
and went to Big Jim’s
for ice cream. ~

Expecting Poetry: a pantoum

— Diane L. Moomey

I

“New bones for old”, they’d cried aloud—
I’d sleep with knives and staples,
the shaman of titanium—
I’d sleep and dream of verse.

 

The knives and staples; then the days
I’d fill with paint and paper,
with brush and sleep and dreams of verse,
of sonnet and pantoum.

The hours of paint and paper; days
of water, paper—white.
Of meter:  sonnet and pantoum;
vermilions and umbers.

However,

II
every page still paper-white
while paragraphs are parsed
(no umbers or vermilions,)
parsed within the femur.

Whole paragraphs are parsed within:
(the knitting of new sinew,
scansion deep within the femur,
purling of new bones.)

The knitting of new sinew. Dactyls
hover out of reach.
The purling of new bones, instead
of metric feet. My pentams

hover out of reach. I sleep
and do not dream of verse
nor of re-growing metric feet
but only of ice cream.

I cannot rhyme, and do not dream
of anything except ice cream.

Heart Song

— Vicki L. Harvey

            The most powerful possession you can own is an open heart.
             The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.
–Carlos Santana

Your words took my hand
And led me to pen and paper.
You spoke of all the
Journeys of your heart.

My heart has also climbed
Many mountains and
Knows of the struggles
Which linger.

You have reminded me
Of the art of letting go,
Reminded me of the state
Of my soul.

I think we heal tired
Hearts, sending sunshine
To all the dark places.

Feel the heat, feel the beat
Of a once again happy heart.

If my flowers could speak
They would tell me to sit
Down and have a chat.

I have spoken to them
Many times pouring out
My heart as I tend to
Their care.

Do you ever wonder
Where the saying comes
From “Stop and smell the
Roses?”

They know the magic
Of taking time to
Recognize the beauty.

They do not feel that
The world is broken,
Only want to share
Their beauty.

I am inspired by many
Hearts,
Healing them on paper,
Healing the world on
Paper!

 

Obituaries I

— Dave Eisbach

As the crescendo of years
piling upon each other mounts,
my anticipated appetite
for obituaries has grown.
Those listed, younger than I
plus those of my age bring
a relieved schadenfreude
along with an almost gleeful
“Thank God it’s not me!”
Age eighty-four stands out,
giving me pause.
Mother, who didn’t take care,
died at eighty-seven; her sister,
who did, reached a hundred five.
I hope to share those genes.
My care lies comfortably between.
Now, I’m beginning to think “yoga.”

 

Sure Advice

— Nick Butterfield

If you ride a motorcycle,
smile so as not to swallow bugs
Don’t listen to Valedictorians or
the successful.  Listen to whom asks you to
love the unwanted, the unloved, the unseen,
the unsure, the undone, and the underdog.

Always look forward to something and call someone
you forgot to write and if you never
ride a camel or an elephant then ride a bike with a
friend.  Eat the core of an apple so as to appreciate the
sweet things.

Remember to respect what you don’t see, because someday
you will see it–someone smiling at you–someone in the mirror
with squished bugs on teeth.

 

Echocardiogram

— Lawrence T Hollist

Lying half naked on my bed
Wishing I was a Greek Adonis;
Then I wouldn’t be lying here
With the girl from the steno pool
Taking notes of my heart.

The heart that no longer beats smoothly

The heart that no longer beats as one.
But a heart that sounds like it is pumping slugs.

So here is your first crush.
Here is where your parents
Taught you to love.
Here is where first met your son
Here is your wedding day.
Here is your love for your wife today.

Ah here, here is the problem
You don’t let go of the hurt
You don’t forgive.

Fossil Heart

— Barbara Saxton

for Angel

We take hands, move to music
both ancient and new. In the crowd,
many friends, some just known
by the feel of their hands–
smooth as baby bird heads
or calloused as deer hooves;
warm as fresh applesauce,
cold as night stars.

Social media told me that Angel
had died, and I tried to remember:
what did her hands feel like?
Had I hugged her that last time,
or rushed to my car, saying nothing at all?

My heart is a fossil, with imprints
of lovers or friends who once graced
its clay surface. I join in life’s dance,
but my hands sometimes grasp empty air.
My mind reads sheet music with dissonant notes,
and my feet mimic pieces of stone.

 

On Watching Arthur Rhodes Dust Off the Tigers, August 9th, 1993

— Jerry Dyer

the million motions
honed to a stylus,
the pitcher’s stencil–

the head nodding
like a car-dashboard bobble-dummy,
holding the runner on second–

then–
owling the head homeward,
hurling with a snap of sinew and bone,
the whole game contained,
concentrated in the tips
of the fingers–
and the instant of release,
the ball like a seed
pumped into the center
of attentiveness
and rapt receptivity.

And all of it done
over and over and
over again, the loom of evening
weaving win or loss.

And the baseball moon
lofts inexorably
over the bullpen,
into the left field of heaven.

 

Officer Joe (My Day)

— Jim Russo

Let me tell you about my day

I usually walk for about two hours each day to get away from my computer

Today I decided to walk in the forest

I decided to take some new trails and yes I got lost

So four and a half hours later I was back at my car and boy do my feet hurt

I wanted to find the old growth redwoods in the forest

Wide trails became narrow trails used by horses but I did find five old growth redwood trees

All I could say when taking in their majesty was Magnifico, Magnifico, Magnifico

Something the early Spaniards might have said when first seeing these giant trees

The tops were way above the canopy showing new yellow green growth from our wet winter

The forest floor is covered with ferns, thick with green healthy ferns

I took a few new growth leaves from the base of the redwood

I crushed them in my fingers, putting my fingers under my nose, closing my eyes listening to the silence, the quiet, trying to put out of my mind the bad news of the last few weeks, the killings, being still only hearing the satin waters rolling and falling over smooth rocks far below

Smelling the redwoods vanes, the new life with eyes closed I remembered a friend I use to read with in San Francisco, a poet named Carlos Ramirez

One night when it was his turn to read, he said instead of reading a poem, he wanted to tell us about his day

Carlos was a teacher of young people and that day he was assigned playground supervisor, which he wasn’t particularly happy about

He noticed an older man hanging out in the school yard, so he went over to introduce himself

It turned out the old man was a retired SFPD, Officer Joe a man who never had a family, a man who was the beat-cop for thirty-five years in that neighborhood

He knew all the kids, their parents, their grandparents and all the merchants; he had walked those neighborhood streets and lived in the neighborhood for years

He was telling Carlos that he had bought and donated all the athletic equipment the kids were playing with in the playground and he came every afternoon to show the kids how to shoot a hook shot or how to play tetherball or pushed the little girls on the swings

Carlos was tearing up as he told this story reminding us of the good policemen in our lives, Officer Joe

While standing there in the forest listening to the silence, smelling those young redwood leaves

A thought occurred to me, which I want to assign to all of you listening to me right now, each day I ask you to; in conversations, in emails use the word PEACE three times each day

Thank you and the late Carlos thanks you too

 

 

Featured Reader, June 2016

Parthenia Hicks introduced our June featured reader, Ziggy Rendler-Bregman. Before that, however, Leslie Hoffman wrote the following insightful words about Ziggy, and we use these to introduce her to our blog readers:

Ziggy Rendler-Bregman has lived in Santa Cruz for more than 40 years. She is an alumna of UCSC, with a degree in Aesthetic Studies and an emphasis on arts education. As a student, she co­ founded the children’s literary and art magazine, STONE SOUP, a widely circulated print magazine which includes writing and art by children ages 8­-13.

In the late 90’s, Ziggy was a key leader in helping to restore music and arts education for children in the Santa Cruz public schools. A community activist, she was also a key leader in helping to form The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. As an artist, she has participated in Open Studios for many years and exhibited her prints and paintings widely. Her poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies. With her husband, Jesse, she has raised three children. Her poems draw inspiration from family, home, garden and travel. Ziggy’s self­-published collection titled: The Gate of Our Coming and Going was just released in December 2015.

The Gate of Our Coming and Going is a beautiful collection of both poems and prints created by Ziggy. She selected more than a dozen of her poems to be accompanied by a mono print created and hand­pulled in her studio. As both a poet and artist, Ziggy celebrates the way in which the language of the visual arts complements the beauty of her poems. There are poems which speak of her growing up in a family of nine children and poems which bring to light her own mothering, her home, garden, and love for the California landscape.