— Harry Lafnear

Take one cup of punch line, reduced.
Smother it in Americana passé.
Don’t worry if the roots are moldy
and that the fruit was sucked dry
by a previous chef.
Frappé, flambé, cliché, bidet
until you can no longer bear
starting again from scratch.
Spread it over a furrowed page
and put it up on a shelf
for the puzzled silverfish.
Check back in a year
and beat down any line that has risen.
Soak in the obvious sherry
until half-baked, flaky and flat
appear ironically crisp.
Ignore the aftertaste:
no amount of sugar will mask the nuts.
Rinse and repeat till you’re sick of the scent.
Then just serve the damn thing
upside down.

In Mary’s Garden

— Lesa Medley

In Mary’s garden
a soft wind blows,
flowers and herbs bloom and grow.
A kitty named Desi sleeps
coiled in a corner in the sun,
one paw wrapped over her face.
She’s hoping you don’t see her.
The sounds of poetry, laughter
and chimes
blend musically with
the rustling of the trees
in the wind.
The afternoon sunlight
filters through the leaves,
casting a golden glow.
Hummingbirds hover,
wine flows, and
friendships strengthen . . .
and deepen.
Our writing becomes richer,
more alive
with this good food,
good conversation,
and good company
for inspiration.
Yes, magic happens . . .

in Mary’s garden.

Exiled by Poetic Means

— Barbara Tinsley

What do I know of poetry? Why bother to ask at all? It picks me up
Without my comprehension; then pushes, rather, hurls me out through
corridors tall of bright white light and glass—
depositing my trembling frame by tension set aflame outside
with consummate condescension—onto a field of yellowish, dry,
sterile, yellow, waving, prickly grass, shouting to me in the shade,
“Go, make something of this!” but of what in all this alienating
exile and alone-ness is there to be made?

Outed, I find no kindred soul, no company at all. I’m in a total daze,
half hidden by the waist high swells of dry straw grass;
and looking back, lump throated, gaze under a dim star
with awe and jealousy upon acquaintances with whom, if only not so far,
I might have made the dull time in some room or bar pass cordially.
If only I had not been rushed so willfully and intentionally–
so existentially divided from their happy, laughing mass.
That invitation to remain contentedly with the rest n’er came to pass.

What I do know of poetry is relatively uninformative, but from the soul;
It parts poets like me from shared posterity and in austerity
deprives them of comraderie—which is the common goal.
It keeps the poet ever liminal and minimal and, some think, vaguely criminal
while he or she is separated out from common touch and all such
as comes to others naturally. Poets endure incomprehension,
condescension; survive without the benefits of easy friendship, remuneration,
insouciance and lasting love; the healing and appealing kiss of ordinariness.

Ode, on realizing that five of my best poems were born doing Sixty on Two Eighty between Page Mill and Sand Hill

— Diane Lee Moomey

It’s the Dish.

That metal ear plucks news from the Nebulae:
baseball scores from Betelgeuse,
what they’re wearing on Altair,
the latest on Strings.

Some waves never die.

That Dish, smelling of static,
warps its own space—sonnets and villanelles
leak from lambent fissures.
Egrets, one-legged, contemplate haiku
and cows surround, pantoum-oo
with bovine grace.

Stanfordians circumambulate.

The Dish.
News from the Nebulae,
the best of Orion’s Open Mics
and, rebounding off the cosmos’ curvéd walls,
the syllables of bards long gone
returning to shatter our firmament
all over again.

Charlie Brown Writes a Poem

— Dennis Richardson

The nouns said they would meet me
halfway but they’ve said that before
only to leave me without a subject.

I hate it when they do that because
Snoopy is not much of a poetry muse
and Lucy would only laugh at me.

Anyway, here I am on the corner
of Verb Avenue and Adverb Street, one
word in sight. It’s an adverb I think.

I only know adverbs by their last
name of Ly. This one is finalLy.
Where are the nouns? I ask finalLy.

He says, June couldn’t come
because April is feeling very lonely
since May left. Rose said to say she’s

sorry but she hasn’t felt well lately,
ever since she got dusted.
I couldn’t find Woodstock

anywhere. Someone said he’s
really upset. I don’t know why.
And the bees are busily making honey.

Oh, good grief!
Why do things like this always
suddenly happen to only me.

The Poet / El Poeta

— Joe Navarro

Some days I show my love;
Other days I live in despair.
Often I simply simmer in my anger.
My head swells with emotion y
A veces me siento como
Voy a morir de la tristeza.
Pero en algunos días
I feel as though I can
Alleviate the pains of el mundo.
Cada día…each day brings
Tragedy and hope in the same
Breath that often leaves us breathless.
I live in a world of social contradictions
Manifested in political geography,
Official tyranny, people
Whose only hope is to be awakened
By a kiss from the warm sun, and
Hopeless romantics who long
For a spiritual connection.
I live in a mundo of people
De todas razas y colores,
Who must navigate between
The thorny stems that
Keep roses out of reach.
En mi nación—my nation—neighbors
Have lost their homes, students lack
Health care, and the wealthiest of all
Sit atop Mount Whitney smirking
At the rest of us as we struggle to
Live meaningful lives. Así es la vida.
And, I, el poeta…what can I do? ¿Qué hacer?
I share los sueños colectivos—
Dreams of my ancestors.
I remind us that Earth is our
Mother y Sol es nuestro padre.
I send rainbow feathers into the sky
With messages of justice,
Equality, dignity, and of democratic
And human rights. I inspire dreams
To become realities by igniting
Imaginations with colorful word
Murals. Soy poeta…my destiny
Is to awaken people with poems.

Writing the Poet’s Bio

When printing poetry, many publishers ask for the poet’s biography. Even the WGPP does this for the anthologies. And the request invariably freaks out a few of the poets that have never done it before.

The publisher thinks: You’re a writer. Just write about yourself.

The poet thinks: My writing isn’t about me. It’s about poetry stuff! I’m doomed!

Well, for those who are new to the bio blurb business, let me reassure you. There’s a bit of a formula to it. Most bios just answer the basic questions a stranger might ask. For instance, here are some general questions, along with answers that a (purely fictitious) poet might give.

1. Where were you born and in what year (especially if very young, very old, or born in an auspicious time or place)?

>>Chesbro, Ontario in the mid 40s.

2. What is your educational background?

>>I briefly attended Dartmouth, which was fabulous in the 60s. I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Fine Arts at Saratoga University.

3. How did you start writing poetry?

>>I’ve always loved poetry, but began writing in earnest after a critical car accident left me unable to speak for six weeks.

4. What is your writing philosophy?

>>Everyone can have a clear, free voice on paper.

5. Have you been published before? If so, where?

>>My poetry has appeared numerous times in Ember Magazine, and most recently in Cherry Lane.

6. What are your favorite hobbies?

>>I’m a novice taxidermist. I also collect vintage thimbles.

7. What are your proudest or quirkiest accomplishments?

>>I was once a candidate for astronaut training. I’m (secretly) the inventor of the cordless mouse.

8. To what groups, clubs or associations do you belong?

>>I serve as Secretary in the Women’s Golf Association, and I’m a regular volunteer at my niece’s Montessori school.

9. What is your current profession.

>>I teach third grade. It’s the most rewarding job there ever was.

10. Where do you currently live?

>>Los Gatos

11. Do you have a spouse or significant other? Children? Pets?

>>Husband Joseph. Two dogs.

After answering the questions, you merely pick some of the more interesting elements. You can jumble their order, place similar facts together, and combine some of the smaller statements. Liberal use of “and” works great to connect short elements. For some publishers (like us), it’s customary to convert the bio to a third-person format. Try to alternate a bit between the use of your name and third-personal pronouns. Be sure to rephrase things to flow logically. Finally, a few creative embellishments can go a long way to give the bio a sense of life.

For example:

Tina Shakespeare—
     Tina is originally from Chesbro, Ontario. She’s always loved poetry, but began writing in earnest after a critical car accident left her unable to speak for six weeks. “Everyone can have a clear, free voice on paper,” she says. Her poetry has been published in Ember Magazine and most recently in Cherry Lane.
     Tina is also a novice taxidermist, a collector of vintage thimbles, and was once a candidate for astronaut training. She currently teaches third grade, the most rewarding job there ever was. She and her husband Joseph live in Los Gatos with their two clever but messy dogs.

Sometimes the publisher provides guidelines on length or style, but for WGPP you can really say whatever you like about yourself. Some people have given us a single sentence. Some hand over pages (though 80 to 100 words seems about right to us). Some are prim and proper, and some just joke the whole way through. As such, it usually ends up a rather interesting reflection of their personality.