Featured Reader, October 2016

Christine Richardson, introduced the featured poet, Vinod Narayan, with these words:


Tonight’s featured reader is one very engaged, active and versatile writer. Born in India, living in the Bay Area since 2002 and writing poetry since 2004,  Vinod Narayan enthusiastically describes himself in this manner: Content Addict, Blogger, Poet, Flash Fiction Enthusiast, Liberal, Movie Freak, Human who pays bills by implementing large enterprise level content management systems.

Wow! No question, Vinod is a man of conviction. He believes it is essential to be vocal about things that should be discussed and debated.  Look at his blog posts about critical considerations of current events. He sets tough personal challenges for himself as shown in his commitment to write not only a poem each day of poetry month, but also to translate a poem of an international poet into his native Malayalam language. Vinod is also a man of deep feelings and introspection. Read his poems about his father to see his loving tribute. And to know his humility and  gift for introspection,  read his essay, Reflecting On Oneself and Making Changes, in which he outlines the 7 specific ways he is working on being a force for good in this world while staying true to himself.

He has published 2 books of poetry, and a third one is in the works. He believes that “ the power of the pen is not the color of ink it spills, but the power of the word it spells.”

Please welcome Vinod Narayan.

Featured Reader, September 2016

Christine Richardson, introduced the featured poet, Erin Redfern, with these words:


Picture ocean swells as, “ribbons of candy trails”, the sea with “its throat of salt and blue, the setting sun casting, “its blister of light against the ocean’s rim” and be amazed as I was to see these original and vivid images all within a single stanza of a single poem, “Gidget Builds an Igloo”. This unique gift of imagery resides in tonight’s featured reader, Erin Redfern.  Of course for those of you who have heard Erin share her poems here at this podium, or have read her poetry in workshops or other settings already know that what I say is true.

Others outside of our poetry community have recognized Erin’s talent as well. Surely the editors of the many online and print journals who have published her work for over a decade can attest. One of the judges for the Poetry Society of America for which Erin is the recipient of the 2016 Robert H. Weiner Memorial Award, said, “I found Erin Redfern’s vibrant and protean poems, packed with telling details, immediately engaging: they’re acrobatic, dynamic, richly populated – a rightful heir to C.K. Williams’ roving and inclusive work in Tar.”

Not only is Erin generous to the reader in her poetry, she has been generous to our PCSJ community with her time and expertise: graciously subbed for me as host at this reading; co-edited the 2015 edition of Caesura, and lead groups at Poets at Play.

Erin’s chapbook entitled, Spellbreaking and Other Life Skills will be published in November. The poems in this chapbook have been described as emanating  “lyrical brilliance in a compact collection.”

We do have to wait until then to actually hold this volume in our hands, but tonight we are fortunate to perhaps get a preview of some of those poems and others from the head and heart of this talented poet.

Please welcome Erin Redfern.

Open-Mic Readers, September 2016

Fall is near, and a tone of elegy was frequently present

Jerry Dyer “Allusions”
Casey FitzSimons “Love Story”
Barbara Saxton “Harbinger,” by Ilyse Kusnetz
Vicki Harvey “Momma and Snowball”
Lesa Medley “”Prudence”
Leslie Hoffman “Hereafter”
Diane Moomey “When I am old”
Al Nightingale “untitled”
Eike Waltz “The Coronation of the DADA Donald”
Deborah Kennedy “Impute Salute”
Dave Eisbach “Freedom,” by Tien Nguyen
Dennis Noren “Ode to the Sensors at Street Lights”
Jeffrey Leonard “Tribute”
Jim Russo “A Day at the Races”
Dennis Richardson “The Coming and Going (for Maxwell)”
Pushpa MacFarlane “Kitchen Encounters”
Maria Bagphy “End”
Larry Hollist “Haiku”
Nick Butterfield “They Thought the Truth No Longer Lay”
Richard Burns “Letter Left Behind”
Amy Meier “Support the Troops,” by Jacob George
Floi Baker “untitled”
Juliane Tran “Medication”
Bonnie George “Thunder Chicken”
Christine Richardson “No More Tears”


—Lesa Medley

She’s tall, thin and very old
but not frail.
Long black lacy dress,
old, pointed high heeled shoes,
buttoned up.
Snow white hair in a tight bun
at the nape of her long, thin
wrinkled neck,
penetrating steely blue eyes,
pursed, thin, tight lips,
painted red,
long fingernails, tapered,
painted red.
In her left hand is a lit cigarette
held between two bony fingers by a long holder,
slender, tortoise shell.
Looking over my shoulder,
she takes a puff, points at me and,
blowing blue smoke in my face,
she says in her deep raspy voice,
“Oh no dear, you mustn’t write about that,
it isn’t nice or ladylike.

What will people think?
What will people say?
What will your Mother say?
Oh no, that will not do,
tsk tsk”.
Another puff and blue smoke.
“Will not do, at all.
Honestly, dear,
I just don’t know why you even bother,
you know you really don’t have
anything worthwhile to say anyway.
You certainly haven’t any talent to speak of.
Surely, you must know that. ”
The very next time she shows up,
(and she will)
I want to say…
no, I will say, this:
“You may be right, but for now,
no, I do not know that,
so thank you for sharing darling,
but, if you don’t mind,
I think I will keep trying anyway.
Now, please, put out that cigarette
and be quiet or go away,
I’m writing.”


— Leslie Hoffman

I’m meeting him in Vasona Park
my friend shrieked
–isn’t life wonderful!

My musings temporarily interrupted
of the plot in Madronia Cemetery

I’d inherited by default

where “notable individuals” are interred
such as Thomas Kinkade
and the second wife
of the Abolitionist John Brown

and my sister

our plots under a gnarly oak
where over half a century ago
we stifled giggles while dancing
on the ground above
where we had no idea
we’d be spending eternity

side by side


I’m sure I’ll be a noisy love-maker
she said, while posing for a selfie
–you know, like when you’re at a funeral
and can’t stop giggling.

When I am old

— Diane Lee Moomey

I will live in the redwoods
in mist and deep green shade. My lover
will live with me: two ancients,
we will build a treehouse
of woven bark. Bats

will hang, head down,
in the shadows above.

Or, when I am old,
I will live by the southern ocean
in a round house with seagrass
for a door. I’ll build it myself.

I shall eat kelp.

A gray cat will live with me,
a very old gray cat. He will be indifferent
to the seabirds that walk on my skin.

I shall lie by the water’s edge each day,
and mark the new year
by the return of gray whales
from the north


The Coronation of the DADA Donald

— Eike Waltz

Dodo is long dada
long live dadody…
What do we da have
100 dadadadadadas later?
Give us
da T
Give us
da R
Give us
dad U
Give me
da M for M M Meeeeee
Relieve me
of da yellowy, da smelloy, da spewy… Pee
Gone in da flash
Cesspool splash
Dada, one hundad dada dad?
Ohhhh… nada, nada…nada
Dad means da Dodo
Long live ….dada da daa
Haddy …Baddy …DADA
Kiss da Donald
On da Trumpolini
Gone ….da blabber lightweight joker
kicking ….da Christian lawyer liar
DADA o DADA why o whya
I like da punch you in da face
Bore me again ….as you only won Ohia
O yeah… America… the press saw me comin
The best clown in town
Build da Mexican wall
high and higher
deport da gangsters all
[is he really paying for that all???]
What can da loose?
Brilliant Putin is tutin:
Hey badddy…Nukes are for hire
Load da trumpet with fire
Da dara dara da da da daaaaaa
Da dara darata tata taaaa
….Sch>>>>>it… happens
Donald breath… breath…
Just dooooo…. what you say
You do it… anyway….
Our goldie locks
Our commander….
Heil da King …Brag-a-Lot
Don’t mess with da messsssss…sssiah
….Ha’ Ha’……………..
And…and… I see…
What remains
…Of… Me



— Larry T. Hollist


Yuki furu so
Haiku tomara-nai
Ase o kaku

Looks like it will snow
the hike cannot be stopped.
I’m dripping with sweat

Making love midair
Dragonflies are the porn stars
Of the insect world

The house is still warm
Black dog panting in my face
Sleep will not be found

Sweetness, joy, peace, love
Was Emily Ann’s essence.
A morning bird sings
Sweetly of joy, peace & love.
Yet gone, she lives, she lives still.


They Thought the Truth No Longer Lay

— Nick Butterfield


They thought the truth no longer lay

inside stone walls of a church –

So they dusted off the Bible and

left the serpent above the entry way.

Soon  to rest their heads against a bulk-head

for a pillow and crossed a blusterous sea.

They gave thanks when Massoit the Indian

helped them plant seeds that soon would grow a nation,

a nation careful about their freedom.

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.


—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. ~