Lesser Magi, Simon Hunt

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Simon Hunt’s language helps the mind turn corners. He is a storyteller who allows rhythm and the constraint of form to shape ideas and prompt pleasures you didn’t even know you wanted. These poems are relatable yet complex, warmly human and insightful.

—Kimberly Dark, author of Love and Errors and The Daddies

 

A book I will treasure, full of craft and commitment. Each poem in it is a gem, and many are masterful! 

—George Lober, author of Shift of Light and A Bridge to There

In a world of unrestraint and tweets, what a joy to find the dignity of form and of language affirmed. Not just affirmed, but celebrated. The poems in Lesser Magi are gifts—tortoise shells and fine watch chains—that speak to both heart and mind.

—Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts, coauthor of Bowing to Receive the Mountain and author of White Fire

Simon Hunt's first collection of poetry, Lesser Magi, was published in 2018 by Hummingbird Press.  Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and raised in England and the United States, he co-edited Renaissance Culture and the Everyday (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999) and contributed an essay to that volume.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Measure, Homestead Review, Light Quarterly, The Raintown Review, The Seventh Quarry, The Sewanee Review, and other journals—as well as in the online publications 14 X 14 and The Chimaera.  He has taught English at various levels in California, Missouri, and Nevada.  Married and the father of two, he is a member of the Board of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, where he has served as a volunteer docent for more than a decade.

Lesser Magi by Simon Hunt.  2018    

ISBN: 978-0-9986722-3-6

80 pages.

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Charles Atkinson's Poems:
New and Selected
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This Deep In, Charles Atkinson 

Charles Atkinson’s first poetry collection. The Only Cure I Know (San Diego Poets Press), received the American Book Series award for poetry; a chapbook, The Best of Us on Fire, won the Wayland Press competition. A third volume, Because We Are Men, was awarded the Sow’s Ear Poetry Chapbook Prize. He has published a previous collection—Fossil Honey—with Hummingbird Press, and two chapbooks—World News, Local Weather and, most recently, Skeleton, Skin and Joy—with Finishing Line Press.

He has also received the Stanford Prize, the Comstock Review Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award (SUNY Farmingdale), the Emily Dickinson Award (Universities West Press), The Ledge Poetry Prize, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Prize, and Garrison Keillor’s Poems of Gratitude Prize.

He taught writing of various sorts for 30 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and still resides near Santa Cruz with this wife, writer and artist Sarah Rabkin.

This Deep In by Charles Atkinson.  June 2017.       

 

 Ordering Books 


84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9986722-0-5

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Pulling Down the Heavens, Barbara Bloom
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Praise for Pulling Down the Heavens:

 
“Barbara Bloom’s poems are a clear window into the world of wonder, of a childhood lived in the woods of British Columbia, of a commitment to family and friendship, and an abiding reverence for the natural world. She is also a poet who can look directly into wreckage and loss and salvage a sustaining vision through the healing music of poetry. Here are poems of a life lived with loving attention, poems that praise and celebrate our incandescent moment in this world.” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Of This World: New and Selected Poems 1966–2006

 

Barbara Bloom grew up in California and on a remote coastal homestead in British Columbia, Canada. She returned to California to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, and made her home there for over forty years. She earned an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and taught composition and creative writing at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, and three poems from her first book, On the Water Meridian, were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her musician husband, Fred Winterbottom.

 
Pulling Down the Heavens by Barbara Bloom.  September 2017.      Ordering Books 
82 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9986722-2-9

Cover image: Emily Carr, Above the Trees, circa 1939, oil on paper,

Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust. 
Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery 
Author photo: Balin Butler

 

Copyright 2017

 
 
Time and Peonies, Rosie King
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Praise for Time and Peonies:

In Time and Peonies, Rosie King delves deeply into poems of family and childhood, the community of friends, loss and joy. She has become attuned to what Kenneth Rexroth calls luminous moments. Her poems are infused with a lucid abundance, a kindness and charity that enlarges the spirit. Even in the face of loss she salvages hope and courage—“and I’m filled again/with a crush of old sweetness/at how giving a moment can be as it vanishes.” These are poems that shine like river stones, polished by long immersion in the waters of the spirit. 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Of This World, New and Selected Poems 1966–2006

It didn’t matter that I had other things to do the afternoon I sat down to read Rosie King’s Time and Peonies. Once I entered the poems, hers was the only world I was certain of. Each poem reads almost like a chapter in a novel. There is a softness, strength, and sureness in Rosie’s tellings. Try to stop after reading and savoring just one poem: go ahead, I dare you! 
        —Patrice Vecchione, author of Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life

I admire Rosie King’s irresistably lyrical voice. One senses she’s unable to do otherwise than listen from the center of her being and make music. The poems of Time and Peonies are elegiac, but also often, what one might call poems of astonishment. One comes away from these astonishments inspired to “…live your brief life, too, among what we/ in our love-bent way/ call beautiful.” 
        —Robert Sward, author of New and Selected Poems 1957–2011

Rosie King was born in Saginaw, Michigan. A graduate of Wellesley College, she came west in 1966 and did her master’s degree at San Francisco State and her doctorate in Literature at UC Santa Cruz where she taught beginning poets and wrote a dissertation on the poetry of H.D. Her poems have appeared in various journals and four poems from her first book, Sweetwater, Saltwater (Hummingbird Press, 2007), were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. When not traveling, she makes her home, with pond, fruit trees, and garden, near the beach in Santa Cruz.

 

Time and Peonies by Rosie King.  March 2017.       


84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9986722-0-5

Read or hear the poems from Time and Peonies read by Garrison Keillor

on The Writer’s Almanac on National Public Radio: 
• “Some nights you’re blessed” on Saturday, April 15, 2017. 
• “In Spring” on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. 
• “Again” on Tuesday, July 11, 2017.

 
The Night Bridge, Wilma Marcus Chandler
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Sample Poems

Praise for The Night Bridge:

Wilma Marcus Chandler makes the impossible possible in her poems: she enters paintings so that the reader is there, too, and without needing a single suitcase, she takes us to the distant places so that we not only see what she sees but live what she’s lived. She guides us through the physical world, yes, but takes us into the realm of the soul. To think these poems are made of words no, poet Chandler is an alchemist! 
        —Patrice Vecchione, author of The Knot Untied and Stepping into Nature

Rich and complex, Wilma Marcus Chandler’s The Night Bridge is a remarkable achievement. Indeed, there’s no holding back. What I find irresistible about her poems is the underlying lyricism, the quality of song, that uncanny ability, for example, to make colors come alive. More, she makes colors sing. 
        —Robert Sward, author of Uncle Dog and Other Poems and Kissing the Dancer

Chandler is an eclectic force of literary excellence and inspiration, through her work as an educator, director, actor, playwright, and poet. In her latest book, The Night Bridge, she shares an insightful glimpse into humanity and nature through a telescopic lens that highlights unique details and reflects universal truths. ”There is always something to find, Chandler tells us, and proves it with her careful and colorful observations and studied view of the world and the people in it. 
        —Jory Post, founder and editor of phren-Z Literary Magazine 

Wilma Marcus Chandler is an award-winning writer, director and theatre teacher in the Bay Area who has taught dance and theatre arts at University of Iowa and UC Santa Cruz and is Emeritus Chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. She is artistic director of the Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre’s long-running 8 Tens @ 8 Play Festival. Her books on stage combat, directing and scene study are published by Smith & Kraus Books and she is the founder and co-producer of In Celebration of the Muse writer’s festival, the Willing Suspension Armchair Theatre,and co-founder of The National Festival of Women’s Theatre. She is married to the writer John Chandler and lives in Santa Cruz, California.

The Night Bridge Wilma Marcus Chandler.  


92 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9967295-1-2

 
Hanging Out in the Ordinary, Tilly Shaw
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Praise for Hanging Out in the Ordinary:

“This splendid second volume of Tilly Shaw’s poetry confirms her particular gift for finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary and also her mental delight in living and exploring that moment. She examines the physical reality of her body whether it is her failing eyesight “uneasy novelty of/what creeps in unbidden/harbinger of the darkening” or swimming into a school of anchovies “a wavering dream of eyes/and silent parting bodies.” 
         —Audrey Stanley, founder of Shakespeare Santa Cruz


“Inside Hanging Out in the Ordinary”—the last collection of poems by Tilly Washburn Shaw—are poems and lines that will stay with us forever. They reflect Shaw’s extraordinary gift for detail, her joy at “riffling for berries, reaching/carelessly under leaves, intermingling/naked fingers,” and also a life familiar with love, friendship, regret, sorrow and aloneness—replete with “words up against/wordlessness circling between us” and “the old worn ways of wanting.” This collection offers us the gentle, disarming wisdom of a poet who bravely acknowledges “hot it’s difficult the way I’m hones” and reveals Shaw at her breathtaking finest. 
         —George Lober, author of A Bridge to There


The title of this book is perfect. Shaw has been rightly praised for what may be a poet’s greatest gift: to be astonished by what’s ordinary (an old lawn mower, Ben and J. ice cream, a dish of butter covered by a silver fox), but such items are de-familiarized, as if known for the first time. Tilly embraces multitudes: a deaf mute who hears “everything anyway through the bones/only quieter”; an artist who spends “long hours drawing in the sand…discovering he has more of everything to/give knowing it will soon be taken.” With economy, dignity, and restraint, Shaw’s poems embrace a world of constriction and convalescence, its “social algebra,” and do so with compassion. Her own trials are transmuted by language that goes straight to the heart with “new/sweets of enlargement.” 
         —William Minor, author of The Inherited Heart: An American Memoir


Hanging Out in the Ordinary by Tilly Washburn Shaw 
104 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9967295-0-5

Sample Poems
 
Gleams When Wet, Debra Spencer
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From her mother, the author learned to swim when she was three. Her father taught her to body surf and to make sand-castle turrets from dribbles of wet sand. She fed fish to seals at Marineland, saw the embalmed Winnie the Whale at Hermosa Beach before she burst into flames, and rode the Ferris wheel at Pacific Ocean Park. Sweating in school buses and classrooms in the San Fernando Valley, she vowed some day to live by the sea. And now she does, although the water here is much too cold for her to swim in.


Gleams When Wet by Debra Spencer.  December 14, 2013. 
84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-9-0

 

 
Where Stars Begin, Joanna Martin
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Sample Poems
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Invented By the Night, Len Anderson
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Praise for Invented by the Night:

“Invented by the Night gathers for us the poems of a physicist brooding over the nature and origin of everything.  We have poems that think about God or the gods and poems that peer at the vast nothings between bits of something.  We learn that the Schrödinger equation looks like a collocation of ‘small migratory birds blown in on stiff winds.’  ‘Where did I lay my wings when I came in the door?’ the poet asks, ‘I may want them on the way out.’  Len Anderson is a rare poet, equally at home with iamb and atom.” 
        —Nils Peterson, author of A Walk to the Center of Things


“Invented by the Night is a book of marvels.  Len Anderson writes a seamless poetry that entices the mind and the spirit and is infused with a deep sense of wonder and thankfulness. He is a poet who can see the miraculous in our immediate world:

The Equation for the End of the World

has not been written 
nor the one for the beginning. 
Each day we are blessed 
with more things 
we don’t understand. 
We are such children 
that moments keep dropping 
into our hands and we wonder 
what to do with them all. 
This may be why 
I keep growing younger. 
Even the gods 
who made this world 
are still being born.

Anderson is a rare combination: a physicist and a poet, and his poems inform us that the physical world is bound against chaos by the four elemental forces of nature (Electromagnetism, Gravity, the Weak and Strong Nuclear) and that our human world is held together by the sacramental force of love.  The interplay between the physical and the human is where he crafts his unique and startling poetry.  His vision is at once focused on the immediate here and now, looking at a blue ceramic cup and finding an ‘unseen presence’ as an agent of renewal, or biting into a fig which is ‘born of a sacred act,’ and a vision that is also expansive, taking in a world that includes Socrates, Giordano Bruno, Newton, Schrödinger, Saraswati, Descartes, Mevlevi dervishes, quantum physics, Flamenco, and the Delta blues singer Robert Johnson, among a host of others. Like Heidegger he is concerned with the nature of Being and how one might live authentically and with commitment.  And like Kenneth Rexroth, he knows that a poet is one who creates sacramental relationships that last.  As a physicist and poet he understands the magical dance of atoms that make up the world and the magical dance of words that make up the poem, and through these he sees that ‘all matter is blessed / with awareness.’  It is his unique awareness of this that enlarges and deepens our own.” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Of This World


Poet and retired physicist Len Anderson is the author of one previous collection of poems: Affection for the Unknowable (Hummingbird Press, 2003), and a chapbook, BEEP: A Version of the History of the Personal Computer Rendered in Free Verse in the Manner of Howl by Allen Ginsberg.  He is a co-founder of Poetry Santa Cruz and serves as Secretary-Treasurer.  He and his wife live in the Live Oak area in Santa Cruz County.


Invented by the Night by Len Anderson.  Release: November, 2011. 
84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-7-6 
Cover art by T. Mike Walker and Len Anderson.  Author photo by Don Monkerud.

 
Len Anderson’s first collection, Affection for the Unknowable.

 
Len Anderson’s Chapbook, Beep.

 

Joanna Martin channels her best lines of poetry between the wee hours of 3 and 5 a.m. when she is in deep sleep and spends her waking hours trying to remember them. She is thankful to the diverse community of Santa Cruz poets for continuing to inspire her since she moved to Santa Cruz 27 years ago. Joanna is a wife, mother, nurse, videographer and swimmer, but of all the spheres she regularly travels in, she finds poetry to be the one that fills her soul with light. This is her second book of poetry from Hummingbird Press. Her first book, The Meaning of Wings, was published in 2003.


Where Stars Begin by Joanna Martin 
84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-8-3

 


From her mother, the author learned to swim when she was three.  Her father taught her to body surf and to make sand-castle turrets from dribbles of wet sand.  She fed fish to seals at Marineland, saw the embalmed Winnie the Whale at Hermosa Beach before she burst into flames, and rode the Ferris wheel at Pacific Ocean Park.  Sweating in school buses and classrooms in the San Fernando Valley, she vowed some day to live by the sea.  And now she does, although the water here is much too cold for her to swim in.


Gleams When Wet by Debra Spencer.  December 14, 2013. 
84 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-9-0

 
Poems from Gleams When Wet

Copyright 2013

Gleams When Wet, Debra Spencer
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Borrowed World, Maggie Paul
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Praise for Borrowed World:

“There is a kind of lyric poem that concerns itself with luminous moments, where the poem is like a jewel you look through, and the world takes on a new light and is transformed.  It is these luminous moments that one encounters again and again in the poems of Maggie Paul. She writes in a voice that does not flinch at sorrow or loss, but attempts to make poetry of them—poems that find a sanctuary, that try to hold on to love and family and compassion as if our lives depended on them, poems that can find solace almost anywhere: ‘To see what I mean / take a small thing, / the bend in the brook, / that branch’s shadow. / That’s how I rescue / the broken day.’  Coming from a religious childhood, Maggie Paul is a poet who searches for the sacred in a secular world, and finds ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is where you plant it.’  In Maggie Paul’s poems there are no linguistic fireworks, no rhetorical hyperbole; this is a poet who quietly goes about her work the way ‘sunlight seeps through the honey jar on the sill.’ ” 
         —Joseph Stroud, author of Of This World: New and Selected Poems


“‘I was born into the season of death,’ Maggie Paul says to open this compelling book, and then proceeds to combat that season with a lyrical voice that can assert ‘we have flocks of birds within us / who flutter and fly out when summoned.’  Indeed, herons, doves, crows, all kinds of images of flight suggest for her a way to transcend these issues with a haunting and gorgeous lyricism.  This is an amazing book that makes us rethink the very nature of what poetry can do.” 
         —Richard Jackson, author of Resonance


“Maggie Paul’s poetry is an act of radical translation. In Borrowed World, she negotiates the treacherous region between the world as we imagine it, and the world as it really is—the world of potentiality, and the world of stark inevitability.  Maggie Paul is ‘haunted by the souls / of things beneath words,’ and like a child opening one nesting doll after another, she is after an irreducible world; the one hidden behind the confusion of obfuscating pretenders.” 
         —Gary Young, author of Pleasure


“Precise in their construction, tender in their attentions to the world, and mature in their knowledge of our ‘borrowed’ time, these songs and meditations radiate a refreshing spiritual consciousness.” 
         —Mark Cox, author of Natural Causes


Maggie Paul was born in Boston, Massachusetts.  After working for ten years on Madison Avenue in publishing and advertising, Maggie completed her B.A. in English at Rutgers University.  She then received her M.A. in Literature from Tufts and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.  The mother of a daughter and son, Maggie lives in Santa Cruz, where she teaches Writing and Social Justice at both the University of California and Cabrillo College.


Borrowed World by Maggie Paul 
72 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-6-9

 
Anything on Earth, Ken Weisner
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Sample Poems

Praise for Anything on Earth:

“In a world of hard edges, Ken Weisner emerges as a kind soul amid irony, paradox, and the forgetfulness of history. His themes of a quiet boyhood exploring manhood are honest and generous in thought, eloquent in lean language; this thoughtfulness is transformative as other poems reveal a sensitive father guiding his sons into manhood. He unmasks the serene landscape to reveal the ugliness of our past yet is earnest in the belief of hope, of the song within, which heals anything on earth. These are crafted, tender poems, full of intelligence and wit.” 
         —Jeff Tagami, author of October Light, and Shirley Ancheta, editor of Without Names


“Only Ken Weisner could persuade us to see George Bush as a small child, asking us to just ‘lift his hand with God’s hand/from the trigger.’ He brings this grave compassion to everything that holds his gaze: the loved—present and gone; the faltering body; the things of the world: a bowl of apples, trailing wisteria, the Christmas tree that ‘floats there between life and death.’ These poems overflow with music—as a subject, as a metaphor, and as the medium through which words are remade.” 
         —Roz Spafford, author of Requiem


“Poetry is the physicality of music—not in drumming, but in the mind. With Anything on Earth, Ken Weisner gives us poems conveying what is doubly good: our instruments and the ardent notes we make with them.” 
         —Stephen Kuusisto, author of Only Bread, Only Light


“With Anything on Earth, Ken Weisner’s wide poetic range, lyrical and narrative talent, and easy command of form and idiom are all on display. His poems stir, provoke, and cajole; they arouse, encourage, and ennoble. He sings feisty celebrations of aging bodies, cracked relationships, and nauseating politicians, as well as the glories of earth, sky, and sea. Here he is accompanied by the likes of Stein, Rimbaud, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Roethke, among others—a dream back-up band if ever there was one. ” 
         —David Denny, author of Smog Baby and Fool in the Attic


Ken Weisner is a poet, editor, and teacher living in Santa Cruz.  He is originally from Oakland, a graduate of Skyline High School. He received his BA in English from Oberlin College, an MFA in Poetry Writing from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Santa Cruz. Between 1984 and 1999, Ken edited the literary journal Quarry West through Porter College at UCSC. He currently edits Red Wheelbarrow through De Anza Community College in Cupertino, where he teaches literature, composition, and creative writing. His first book of poems, The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians, was published by Hummingbird Press in 2002.  Ken has also worked as a poet-in-the-schools throughout the Central Coast, and is an avid hobbyist on the French horn. 


Anything on Earth by Ken Weisner 
96 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-5-2

A Bridge to There, George Lober
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Praise for A Bridge to There:

In “A Bridge to There,” the last poem in this collection, George Lober invites the reader to follow the “small footbridge zigzagging / across a creek thick with sedge and huckleberry,” to the other side, “to linger there long enough” to recall “something as familiar and delicate as the sound / of your almost forgotten name.” Reading “A Bridge to There,” one realizes that the finely wrought poems in this volume are, themselves, footbridges to familiar and delicate places of our everyday world—familiar because the poems deal with the human condition, especially human relationships, the source of so much of our suffering; delicate because Lober approaches this suffering with a tenderness and compassion which remind us of what defines our humanity.  Each poem takes us “there,” to a place both outside and inside ourselves; a place at times exotically foreign in its freshness of vision and comforting in its familiarity. 
         —Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts, co-author of Bowing to Receive the Mountain.


A Bridge to There is another remarkable achievement. It’s the bridge to the place where meaning resides, not an easy place to know or stay, but Lober seems to know how to arrive there—each arrival surprising and hard-earned.  Note the inviting yet zigzag pattern, “do not be afraid,” the title poem reminds us—follow it to the other side and linger there / long enough for the birdsong / to recall something for you….” It’s a semiotic invitation: It’s the bridge to the air (bird song, the gift of life) also to the bodiless-ness that awaits us, the space in which poems reside. 
         —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians

 

George Lober teaches English at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from San Jose State and his master of Arts in English from Fresno State. He is a recipient of the nationally awarded Ruth Cable Memorial Prize for Poetry.  His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. He lives in Carmel, California


A Bridge to There by George Lober. Released March, 2009.      
74 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-4-5

Sample Poems
 
Strong-Armed Angels, David Sullivan
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Praise for Strong-Armed Angels:

 
“David Sullivan is a poet of awakening, of learning how to read the ‘signatures of the invisible.’  If life is miraculous, and it is, then we are surrounded with its signatures.  But for many of us they are invisible—we are too busy swimming in the quotidian to see them.  Sometimes it takes a poem to wake us to the miraculous, that they may be received.  David Sullivan is a master of that kind of poem.  Over and over in Strong-Armed Angels he demonstrates for us, ‘It’s not the world / we must shrink from, but our fear of it.’” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Signatures, Below Cold Mountain, and Country of Light

 
“In these powerful, deeply-rooted, witness-bearing poems, David Sullivan writes with equal fluency of grief and joy.  ‘Instructions for Grieving’ is a lament Thomas McGrath would be proud of, while the long poem ‘No Place Like’ anchors its domestic paradise in sharply-etched images of natural beauty and political struggle. Strong-Armed Angels is a long-overdue debut from a poet of earthly nourishment and ‘transcendental hunger.’” 
        —Campbell McGrath, author of Spring Comes to Chicago, Road Atlas, and Pax Atomica

 
“Sullivan writes poems of extraordinary tenderness about his son and his daughter, but these poems are tempered by others that explore the grief for a lost child and a dead friend.  For Sullivan, the dead are a part of the natural order, and take their place among the precious incidentals of the world: ‘Each hoofprint’s smothered / my stillborn daughter.’  In ‘This Close,’ a long series of interconnected lyrics that investigate consciousness, identity, and the dreamy realms of human affection, Sullivan recognizes the world for what it is: ‘a holy place.’” 
        —Gary Young, author of No Other Life and Pleasure

 
“Clear, deeply felt poems that make a gesture of love—and love of life—fill David Sullivan’s book of grief and joy, darkness and light.  The poems tell us to ‘haul out a tub for stars to drown in,’ ‘pinch the moon between thumb and forefinger,’ follow the ‘acrobat of glee,’ and mourn those who are lost and those who lose their way.  Let us celebrate this welcome book.” 
        —Reginald Gibbons, author of It’s Time, Creatures of a Day and former Editor of TriQuarterly

 

David Allen Sullivan was born in Illinois, and grew up in Vermont, with one year spent in Vienna—where his teacher, the novelist Jonathan Carroll, inspired him to write poetry (mostly bad Whitman knock-offs). He received a B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he edited The Chicago Literary Review, and went to graduate school at the University of California, Irvine.  His dissertation was on the ethics of address in the poems of Emily Dickinson and Killarney Clary. He teaches English, Film, and Screenwriting at Cabrillo Community College, where he also edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with Cherie Barkey, and their two children, Jules and Amina Barivan.

 

Strong-Armed Angels by David Allen Sullivan.  February 2008. 
104 pages, paperback, $15, ISBN 978-0-9792567-3-8, 0-9792567-3-9

 
Refuge, Amber Coverdale Sumrall
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Praise for Amber Coverdale Sumrall’s first collection, Litany of Wings:

 
“These winged poems bridge the worlds of nature and spirit with ultimate grace.  In language both sensual and evocative, they celebrate a passionate life in all its manifestations and seasons.” 
        —Maude Meehan

 
“Reading Litany of Wings is like spending several hours in quiet meditation and prayer.  Amber Coverdale Sumrall looks at life with a poetÕs eye, discerning what is important, precious and rare. These poems are deeply rooted in the earth, the body, the soul and the heart.” 
        —Lesléa Newman

 
“Amber Coverdale Sumrall addresses our search for meaning with the voice of one who never claims to have arrived. These poems are as compassionate as they are passionate. Not even Robinson Jeffers has conveyed the smells and shades, the sounds and silences of the Pacific Coast with more sensuousness.” 
        —Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

Amber Coverdale Sumrall was born in California and has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1972.  She has edited or co-edited thirteen anthologies including, most recently, Still Heart: Reflections from The Hermitage and Storming Heaven’s Gate: Spiritual Writings by Women. She leads Write to the Heart workshops: journal, poetry, and editing, and writing retreats at The Hermitage in Big Sur, St. Francis Retreat in San Juan Bautista, Mission San Antonio in Jolon and in Ireland. For twenty years she has co-produced In Celebration of the Muse, an annual literary event featuring Santa Cruz women writers. Her first book of poems, Litany of Wings, was published in 1998 by Many Names Press. She spends much of her time watching, listening to, and feeding the dozens of birds that frequent her creekside home in Soquel.

 

Refuge by Amber Coverdale Sumrall.  November 2007. 
96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 978-0-9792567-2-1

Sample Poems
 
 
On the Water Meridian, Barbara Bloom
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Praise for On the Water Meridian:

 
“For over thirty years Barbara Bloom has been quietly attending to the careful, solitary work of a dedicated writer, and through those years she has garnered a reputation as one of Santa Cruz’s fines lyric poets.  Her first full-length book, On the Water Meridian, gathers the best of her poems, and what a pleasure it is to have them, and to turn to them, during these troubling times.  Barbara Bloom’s poems are a clear window into a world of wonder, of childhood lived in the wilds of British Columbia, of a commitment to family and friendship, and an abiding reverence for the natural world. Here are poems of a life lived with loving attention, poems that praise and celebrate our incandescent moment in this world. Beneath the lyrical surface of her poems, there is a courage and tenacity of spirit that is prepared to ‘go through the fire’ to save what she loves. Her work has earned a quietness at the center, where she can say, ‘Walk slowly. / Empty yourself / of all cruelty. / What is sent forth as love / returns as love. / Reach out your hand / in good faith.’  Her poems enact that love, they reach out to us, they give us faith, they help us cherish this life.” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Country of Light, Below Cold Mountain, Signatures, and In the Sleep of Rivers

 

Barbara Bloom grew up in California and British Columbia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in English and creative writing from San Francisco State, and has taught composition and creative writing at Cabrillo College for over twenty years. She has a grown daughter and two grandsons and lives with her musician husband and their dog in the countryside south of Santa Cruz. On the Water Meridian is her first full-length book.

 

On the Water Meridian by Barbara Bloom. May 2007. 
92 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 978-0-9792567-1-4

Sweetwater, Saltwater, Rosie King
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Praise for Sweetwater, Saltwater:

“At last Rosie King’s long awaited first book is here. Sweetwater, Saltwater—with its poems of family and childhood, the community of friends, dreams and visions, loss and joy—is infused with a sweet abundance, a kindness and charity that enlarges our spirit.  It’s said that grace cannot be earned, only bestowed. But Rosie King earns the grace in these hard-wrought fine-crafted poems, and her gift is that she bestows that grace on us. There is as well a lyric freshness to her work, poems that shine like river stones, polished by long immersion in the waters of the spirit. What a blessing to have this new book, these gracious poems.” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Country of Light, Below Cold Mountain, Signatures, and In the Sleep of Rivers

Rosie King was born in Saginaw, Michigan. A graduate of Wellesley College, she came west in 1966 and did her master’s degree at San Francisco State and her doctorate in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her poetry was first honed as she taught beginning poets and wrote a dissertation on the poetry of H.D. She has practiced and taught Rosen bodywork for over twenty years and lived for six years as a Zen monk at Green Gulch and Tassajara. She makes her home, with pond, fruit trees, and garden, near the beach in Santa Cruz.

Sweetwater, Saltwater by Rosie King.  February 2007.        


96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 978-0-9792567-0-7

Read or hear the four poems from Sweetwater, Saltwater read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac on National Public Radio: 
• “Saturdays” on Friday, March 23, 2007. 
• “Visitation” on Friday, March 30. 
• “Old South School” on Thursday, May 3. 
• “Miss Shelley, Miss Hattersley, Miss Guilford...” on Tuesday, June 5.

 
 
Sweetwater, Saltwater, Rosie King
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Praise for Sweetwater, Saltwater:

“At last Rosie King’s long awaited first book is here. Sweetwater, Saltwater—with its poems of family and childhood, the community of friends, dreams and visions, loss and joy—is infused with a sweet abundance, a kindness and charity that enlarges our spirit.  It’s said that grace cannot be earned, only bestowed.  But Rosie King earns the grace in these hard-wrought fine-crafted poems, and her gift is that she bestows that grace on us.  There is as well a lyric freshness to her work, poems that shine like river stones, polished by long immersion in the waters of the spirit.  What a blessing to have this new book, these gracious poems.” 
        —Joseph Stroud, author of Country of Light, Below Cold Mountain, Signatures, and In the Sleep of Rivers

Rosie King was born in Saginaw, Michigan. A graduate of Wellesley College, she came west in 1966 and did her master’s degree at San Francisco State and her doctorate in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her poetry was first honed as she taught beginning poets and wrote a dissertation on the poetry of H.D. She has practiced and taught Rosen bodywork for over twenty years and lived for six years as a Zen monk at Green Gulch and Tassajara. She makes her home, with pond, fruit trees, and garden, near the beach in Santa Cruz.

Sweetwater, Saltwater by Rosie King.  February 2007.        Ordering Books 


96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 978-0-9792567-0-7

Read or hear the four poems from Sweetwater, Saltwater read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac on National Public Radio: 
• “Saturdays” on Friday, March 23, 2007. 
• “Visitation” on Friday, March 30. 
• “Old South School” on Thursday, May 3. 
• “Miss Shelley, Miss Hattersley, Miss Guilford...” on Tuesday, June 5.

Fossil Honey, Charles Atkinson
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The poems in this volume are frankly familial. They trace the dissolution of a long marriage, the reckoning entailed by parents’ deaths, the unstable terrain of parenting as sons grow toward men. A collection like this might be dark. But Charles Atkinson also asks the question, “Really, who can love the world / and disdain himself forever?” Through scrupulous attention—to the heart, to the landscape, and to language—these poems earn their slow way to compassion and forgiveness, for others and for self. Fossil Honey affirms the healing potential of a reflective, articulated life.

 

Charles Atkinson’s first collection, The Only Cure I Know (San Diego Poets Press), received the American Book Series award for poetry; a chapbook, The Best of Us on Fire, won the Wayland Press competition. A third volume, Because We Are Men, was awarded the Sow’s Ear Poetry Prize. He has also received the Stanford Prize, the Comstock Review Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award (SUNY Farmingdale), the Emily Dickinson Award (Universities West Press) and The Ledge Poetry Prize.  He teaches writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

 

Read the review of Fossil Honey by Joan Zimmerman on Ariadne's Web.

 

Fossil Honey by Charles Atkinson.  November 2006. 
96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-9-3

Pomegrante, Debra Spencer
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Praise for Pomegranate:

 
“Smart, funny, tender, with an imagination wide open to the world, Debra Spencer is a poet with a clear, vibrant, no-nonsense voice. In poem after poem of childhood, of sex and love, of giving birth and witnessing death, she gives us the whole arc of essential discovery and delight.” 
        —Rosie King

“The humor and pathos of everyday miracles find their home in Debra Spencer’s poetry.  She’s a poet of visions and visitations—whether she’s re-envisioning the painfulness of adolescence, speculating on the history of a condom in the street, or tuning in to her body while singing. The resulting poems are truly spiritual.” 
        —David Sullivan

“I’ve always felt a distinct difference between poetry and art. The former, while engaging, is often conformist; the latter takes chances, prompts thought. In a preponderance of her poems, Debra Spencer is an artist.” 
        —Joseph McNeilly, author of In Here

“Debra Spencer’s Pomegranate is a trick-or-treat bag—full of surprises and delights.

We may be beggars and wanderers—children, lovers, and fools.  And yet, ‘we know what lies at the heart of life’—so says the narrator of Spencer’s ‘The Library at Alexandria.’ ‘All are welcome here.’ Maybe if Edna St. Vincent Millay had grown up in the San Fernando Valley in the sixties, and Santa Cruz in the seventies and beyond, she would have written such poems.  The voice is playful, pure, wry, passionate—at once commonplace and hilarious, dreamy and familiar. In ‘A Man Comes to the Middle of His Life,’ another California poet, Dennis Schmitz wrote: ’We weep for our strangeness.‘ In Debra Spencer’s Pomegranate, we are gloriously strange, but we do not weep. Like in the better Raymond Carver poems and stories, we marvel or laugh; we are reminded of our own humanity.” 
        —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians

 

Debra Spencer invented her own alphabet when she was three.  She wrote her first book in the second grade and went on to earn a BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972 and an MA from San Jose State University in 1988, where she won the Anne Lillis Memorial Scholarship for Poetry.  In her desk she keeps a Bart Giammati baseball card, a fossilized shark’s tooth, the tuning key to an Anglian harp, and a piece of the Berlin Wall. She works at Cabrillo College as a learning disabilities specialist, and sings with Community Music School of Santa Cruz.


Pomegranate by Debra Spencer.  September 23, 2004. 
96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-8-5

 
Stilt Walking At Midnight, J. Esmé Jel’enedra
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Praise for Stilt Walking at Midnight:

“The final poem in J. Esmé Jel’enedra’s Stilt Walking at Midnight, ends with the lines: ‘You must learn to say Dance.  You must learn to say Sing.  You must learn to throw Joy into the air like a stick.’  Throughout the book, she constructs the intricate path that has led her, and the reader, to this psalm-like exaltation.  In the best of these poems, J. Esmé Jel’enedra creates a sometimes luminous, sometimes haunting beauty that is rare, original, and accomplished.” 
         —Joseph Stroud, author of Below Cold Mountain


“Carefully crafted and moving, Stilt Walking at Midnight expresses a full range of emotion—from deep sorrow and abandonment to lightness and innocence.  I am particularly struck by the poems for this author’s children: Runaway, Lamentation for My Son and the title poem with its account of two daughters ‘like white colts freshly unfolded and learning to stand . . . or herons . . .’ as, in their nightclothes, ‘they come to practice the secret rituals of rising’ and, in darkness ‘bend their faces earthward.’  There is something gentle, mysterious and brave about Ms. Jel’enedra’s poems that is certain to attract a wide range of readers.” 
         —Robert Sward, author of Three Dogs and a Parrot


“In language both tentative and sure, Jonell Jel’enedra’s poems are a swath of light through a forest of shadows: ‘We hold these tiny flames aloft . . . and pray that they not be snuffed out.’  Like undertow, her words pull you down into dark, teeming water then release you into life-saving air as you are gasping for breath: ‘Belly down and grow gills.  Learn from the fishes.’  These are poems of courage, of transition, when what used to be your life is gone and your life-to-be is nowhere in sight.  ‘Every night I stand at the border and call your name into that country.’” 
         —Amber Coverdale Sumrall, author of Litany of Wings

 

Jonell Esmé Jel’enedra has been a field hand, soda jerk, book reviewer, waitress, ditch digger, school teacher, sales clerk, and used clothing pricer.  Currently she is a mother of four, occasional poet, and library employee.  She holds a degree in Aesthetic Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which qualifies her to make sweeping judgments about the nature of beauty in the world.  She has been published in Ally, Quarry West, Writing for our Lives, Porter Gulch Review, and several anthologies.  She is a winner of the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award and the Quarry West Poetry Award First Prize.  She lives in Santa Cruz, California.


Stilt Walking at Midnight by J. Esmé Jel’enedra.  Release June 15, 2004. 
104 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-7-7

Sample Poems
 
Walking the Hot Coals of My Heart, Julia Alter
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Praise for Walking the Hot Coal of the Heart:

“If you’ve ever left your heart behind, chances are Julia Alter’s got it in this book of poems.  Alter is the poet for you if you’ve ever forgotten what you live for, what you love.  Her poems capture brief nuance—scent of rose as well as the bold strokes of longing.  The body is wholly alive here.  These poems are lush with the world—‘the magnet in her heart,’ ‘your name spelled out in honey,’ ‘the fist of a tuxedoed stranger,’ and more, so much more spilling, spilling from Julia’s pen into poems that may, in fact, not be made of words but of fire.” 
         —Patrice Vecchione, author of Writing and the Spiritual Life: Finding Your Voice By Looking Within.


“ Julia Alter was born with roses rolling off her tongue and perhaps she hid the thorns under her skin.  She was born in hurricane season during the great unleashing of tides and thunder and lightning splitting the trees into splinters.  She was born speaking the language of monsoon and tsunami when the ocean covered the desert and there were strange reptiles who could breathe underwater.  She was born knowing the songs of the horseshoe crab and the armadillo.  She knew what lived in those impenetrable shells.  She put words to the tempests inside our skulls.  She could tell you stories of how the heart went missing and she was a bounty hunter traveling the Sahara and Spain, San Diego to find the red beating muscle in a pawn shop or in a jukejoint somewhere in Texas or on Route 66 or in the gypsy camp by the river in Salamanca. She will tell you this is nothing.  It’s something she does for the fun of it.  She will tell you the only way to walk the highwire is without a net.  She will tell you the names of every color in the universe.  She will tell you the poem that was written on your soul at your birth.  She will spell it out to you in rose petals.” 
         —Patti Sirens, author of Antarctica.


“Julia Alter is such a good poet at such a young age.  I can't imagine what her poetry will be like when she's a crone like me—we‘ll have to peel her off of the stars.” 
         —Joanna Martin, author of The Meaning of Wings.

 


Julia Alter wrote her first poem at age eight and has been writing ever since.

Born in Walnut Creek, California, she has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz, California.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Writing from the University of California at San Diego and studied literature abroad through New York University in Salamanca, Spain.  For several years, Julia has been an attendee and assistant at Patricia Dove Miller’s Joyous Expression writing and meditation retreat at Zen Mountain Center.  Her work is featured on Natalie Goldberg’s CD, “Old Friend from Far Away” and her poetry appears in Blue Moon Review, DMQ Review, La Gazette, Porter Gulch Review, Santa Cruz Sentinel and is forthcoming in Calyx.  Alter received the Muse Award and a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2001 from DMQ Review.  She was honored with the Mary Lonnberg Smith Award three times from Porter Gulch Review and Cabrillo College.   She has worked as a bilingual kindergarten teacher and leader of poetry workshops for both children and adults.  Her current love is singing and she is presently at work on a CD project with songwriter Ron Upton.  She is one of the co-founders of Poetry Santa Cruz.  She welcomes your correspondence at julia_alter@yahoo.com.


Walking the Hot Coal of the Heart by Julia Alter.  February 2004. 
84 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-6-9

 
Affection of the Unknowable, Len Anderson
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Praise for Affection for the Unknowable:

“I wish I owned several Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry so I could give them to deserving poets.  I would make an award to Len Anderson whose intelligent heart makes a clear space in our brains, so we can find room for more imagination.  Maybe this is what physicists do, or should do.  And he is, after all a physicist as well as a poet.  When I read this book, my thoughts have more imagination then ever before and I feel that the world is fair indeed to give us, on a gray day like this, the work of Len Anderson.” 
         —Grace Cavalieri, author of 13 books of poetry and 18 produced plays and host of the radio show “The Poet and the Poem” from the Library of Congress.


“Len Anderson’s Affection for the Unknowable might have included a subtitle: News from the Universe, for the poems in this book explore not only the personal world of the poet, but also the world of Quantum Theory and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty, the world of physics and philosophy, ghazals of dark matter and the duende of Flamenco, the spectral lines of hydrogen and our kinship with a redwood tree.  Len Anderson’s poems manage this universe with clarity, candor, wit, compassion, and intelligence.  This is a book of wonder and marvels.  Len Anderson is a poet whose work bridges the Twentieth Century and the New Millennium.” 
         —Joseph Stroud, author of Below Cold Mountain.


Affection for the Unknowable draws particular strength from its reverential exploration of a life alternately informed by a somber and trenchant perspective and an infectious jouissance.   In reading this collection, there were extraordinary moments when I felt simultaneously humbled, awed and terrified, yet ultimately restored by the wisdom and vibrancy inherent in Anderson’s world-view.  His poetic voice is always a breath, a heartbeat, or a self-deprecating stumble away from the numinous.  His book is an astonishing gift to us all.” 
         —Calder Lowe, Executive Editor of The Montserrat Review


Read a review by Chris Watson in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.


Read Joan Zimmerman’s weblog review.


Len Anderson was born and raised on the San Francisco Peninsula and received his BA and PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley.   As a physicist he worked in experimental elementary particle physics at Berkeley and in Europe; in private industry he developed sensors for the automation of paper manufacturing.  His poetry has appeared in Bellowing Ark, The Dallas Review, DMQ Review, The Montserrat Review, Quarry West, The Sand Hill Review and Sarasota Review of Poetry.  He is a winner of the Dragonfly Press Poetry Competition and the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award.  He and his wife live in Santa Cruz County, California.  He is a co-founder of Poetry Santa Cruz.


Affection for the Unknowable by Len Anderson.  Released October, 2003. 
104 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-5-0

 
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Sample Poems
The Meaning of Wings, Joanna Martin 
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Praise for The Meaning of Wings:

“Joanna Martin’s The Meaning of Wings is a unique and deeply satisfying book.   The nursing poems at the core of the collection are especially moving.  A nurse by profession, Martin deals daily with the bodies and souls of the dying and the drowned—those clinging to life and those addicted.  Here, she offers us a nurse’s-eye view of blood, grit, corpses, prayers, miracles.  ‘You would never guess how many deaths/ she still has/ to witness.’  But good poetry is built of surprises as when one terminal patient surprises even Martin: ‘you turn into wings/ and sing… / you sing/ for us.’  And, inspired, Martin sings as well—of the daily miracle of living: passing a stranger on the street, waiting in line at the bank—hiking with her beloved father whose presence frames the volume (‘He haloed me under/ for a brief, winged time’), settling in under her lover’s coat ‘like wings folding over my shoulders,’ or just reading a good book on a stormy winter morning—‘everything centers/ becomes itself/ and then becomes/ itself/ again.’  Martin’s poems search and trace her own becoming.   She is most often meditative, philosophical—sometimes feminist and political—always sensuous—ultimately, movingly grateful and compassionate.   And Martin’s love and erotic poems are delightful as are her very funny poems of ‘Middle Aged Dating’ or a ‘Third Date’—gone not so well.  This book has an impressive variety of strengths.  I’m sure you will agree that with this publication, poet Joanna Martin has found—has earned—her wings.” 
         —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians.


“Joanna Martin’s day job—she’s a nurse—perfectly fits her to take us places ordinary mortals rarely see.  She shows us life and death from an insider’s perspective.   It’s a stunning view, both subtle and brutal but ultimately uplifting.” 
         —Debra Spencer, poet.


“The Meaning of Wings is a beautiful book, full of love and the grief that love hands us.  Everything she writes of is treated with respect, even reverence, whether it’s her bond with her father, the preparation of a corpse in the hospital morgue, or the grief of angels.  On the third reading I still emit gasps of recognition and get goose bumps.” 
         —Len Anderson, author of Affection for the Unknowable.


Joanna Martin received her BA in Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a nursing degree from Chabot College in Hayward.  She is a mother of two and has been a nurse for 17 years at Dominican Hospital, where she has worked for eight years in Cardiac Care.  She started writing poetry 15 years ago and has been active in writing groups and reading her work in the Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay areas.  Her work has been published in Porter Gulch Review and Quarry West.  She is a winner of the Mary Lonnberg Smith Poetry Award.


The Meaning of Wings by Joanna Martin 
112 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-4-2

 
 
In Here, Joseph McNeilly
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Sample Poems

Praise for In Here:

“Few poets I know have Joseph McNeilly’s talent, his rhythm, his ability to craft one singularly clear image after another and magically make the connection between Robert Duncan’s proverbial ‘porcupine and the concrete block’ appear light and obvious and natural. Yet the poems within In Here do just that. They literally resonate with McNeilly’s clear, moving, masculine voice, and echo his bravery as an artist to challenge the conventional ‘prettiness’ of poetry on a host of levels. These poems reveal the passionate, unforgettable soul of a father, husband, lover, and teacher.  In Here is a work of art, a literary beacon reminding us all that the day is short, the night long, and the need is ever-pressing to be honest in our words, our lives, and our capacity to feel love.” 
         —George Lober, author of Shift of Light


“Let the truth be told:  Joseph McNeilly ‘casts a cold eye’ on a brute world of chilling characters and confessions. These poems don’t flinch; beware the squeamish.  But also, don’t be fooled. In Here is, at its core, a book of astonishing love poems, fantastic songs and visions, remarkable wit, bold meditations, and hard-earned truths. 
         The poet John Logan wrote to his adolescent son: ‘wrestle/Manfully against the ancient curse of snakes,/The bitter mystery of love, and learn to bear/The burden of the tenderness/That is hid in us.’  So in Joseph McNeilly’s poems we encounter dark, ancient curses, terrible wrestling—bitter mystery, a learning to bear—and always the surprise, the gorgeous burden—of tenderness.” 
         —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians


In Here by Joseph Keller McNeilly with illustrations by the author and Ian Patrick McNeilly. Released March 2003. 
384 pages, paperback, $18, ISBN 0-9716373-2-6

Swimming Closer to Shore, Tilly Shaw
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Praise for Swimming Closer to Shore:

“Shaw’s is an entirely new voice: speaking in the pure quirky syntax of the mind, she makes the materials of ordinary life suddenly abstract into metaphor and then into meaning itself.  This book follows the dialogue of woman with herself—cleaning a summer house, forgiving herself, cajoling, caring for an elderly mother, revising, getting pulled into a riptide.  It sets unexpected meanings free that are both located in a woman’s body in motion and abstracted into almost pure idea.” 
         —Roz Spafford, chair, UCSC Writing Program


“Tilly Shaw is an original—at once plainspoken and wry, sharp and moving.  Her seemingly informal poems catch the subtlest turns of the mind’s play, achieve effects unlike those of any poet I know.” 
         —Robert Sward, author of Rosicrucian in the Basement


“In Tilly Shaw’s poems, the nervous rhythm, the ‘heightened sense of a particular voice’ apparent in unexpected syntax, enjambments, and phrasing identify a unique sensibility.  Her disjunctions wrench us from habitual ways of responding to the everyday world and force us to experience it in new, vital ways.  What more can we ask of a poet?” 
         —Morton Marcus, author of Moments Without Names


“These poems amaze me.  They directly enlarge and inform my experience.  They have for a long time tangibly helped me live my life.” 
         —Sharman Murphy, poet


By birthright a New Englander, Tilly Washburn Shaw came west to Santa Cruz, California, in mid-life, to join in building a new campus of the University of California in the late 60's, often returned later to Massachusetts in the summer.  She did her bachelor's degree at Swarthmore, her doctorate at Yale in Comparative Literature; taught at Haverford College, Douglas College of Rutgers, and Yale University before joining the Literature faculty at UC/Santa Cruz.  When younger, she published a book on three modern poets and later began writing poetry herself.  After 37 years of teaching, she retired to the enjoyments of age, lives in Santa Cruz with her fruit trees, friends, writing groups and books, does lay counseling with seniors, travels, swims in any ocean she is able to.


Swimming Closer to Shore by Tilly Washburn Shaw 
112 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-3-4

Sample Poems
 
Shift of Light, George Lober

Praise for Shift of Light:
 

“The wonder of Shift of Light, then, is this—whether addressed to the poet, himself, or specifically to another, the poems reach out, put their arms around our shoulders, and press us close, each poem transforming experience, ….” 
         —from a review in Caesura by Elliott Ruchowitz-Roberts, co-author of Bowing to Receive the Mountain.


Shift of Light reveals a fine eye for all forms of human landscape, external and internal, ‘how the world works,’ and does so with risk-taking sensitivity (‘twenty dark hours/on a rain-swept empty street’) humility, love, hope and even ‘reticence’ (dry, understated humor), and all the finely honed skill of a genuine poet who should now attract the attention, and praise, he so richly deserves.” 
         —William Minor, author of Some Grand Dust


“Although having control of the craft of poetry is certainly important, a good deal of what I read these days is craftier than substantive, cleaner than truthful, more clever than moving. George Lober’s Shift of Light has returned me to the promise of poetry, has reminded me of why I read poetry.  In here is a clear voice, a distinctively male voice, one that is both beautiful and wise.” 
         —Joseph Keller McNeilly, author of In Here


“George Lober’s poems are exquisite refractions—‘glistening/shards of sound’—lines clean and true. Shift of Light is a book of sweet wit and solid wisdom; but at the heart of Lober’s work is his marvelous vulnerability and courage—as son, father, lover.  You will be charmed—you will be won over by this superb collection.” 
         —Ken Weisner, author of The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians

 

George Lober lives in Monterey, California.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from San Jose State and his Master of Arts in English from Fresno State.  He is a former recipient of the nationally awarded Ruth Cable Memorial Prize for Poetry.  His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Sage, Spectrum, Eclectic Literary Forum, Quarry West and Homestead Review.


Shift of Light by George Lober. Released May, 2002.     
88 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-1-8

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The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians, Ken Weisner
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Praise for The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians:

“Weisner is a master of the unsung details that, as a whole, add up to a beautifully conceived collection bursting with abundant life. And his poems hit a collective territory where time slows, slow enough to wipe the sweat off our proverbial brow. ” 
         —from a review by Bruce Willey, Good Times, Feb 21, 2002.


“The other morning, when I didn’t have to run off to teach and could linger, I picked up Ken Weisner’s new book of poems, The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians, and began reading.  Every fiber of my being woke up and started nodding its head in recognition of all I had forgotten.  Poetry wakes up the self that lives on the inside.” 
         —from a review by Patrice Vecchione in the Tor House Newsletter (Summer, 2002)


“Ken Weisner’s powerful debut collection reveals a poet of true lyrical sensuality and a rare musical grace. There is a delicate and calm beauty to these poems, as well as a sly humor.  Often, music itself becomes the metaphor for passage and harmony, as the poet charts those courses of benediction and hope and courage that his life and experience have allowed. This is a remarkable book of intimate celebrations and worldly devotions.” 
         —David St. John, author of The Red Leaves of Night and Study for the World’s Body


“Quiet, clear voice—lovely phrasing’a fine first book!” 
         —Marilyn Chin, author of The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty


Ken Weisner is a poet, teacher, and editor living in Santa Cruz.  For over fifteen years, Ken edited Quarry West, a literary journal published out of U.C. Santa Cruz, where he earned his PhD in American Literature in 1993.  Ken also has degrees from Oberlin College and the Iowa Writers Workshop.  He teaches English at De Anza College in addition to poetry writing through U.C. Extension.  Ken is currently a contributing editor to Red Wheelbarrow, the De Anza College Literary Journal.  Originally from Oakland, Ken is also a swimmer, softballista, French horn player, husband to pianist Kit Birskovitch, and father to two teenage boys.


The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians by Ken Weisner 
96 pages, paperback, $12, ISBN 0-9716373-0-X

Sample Poems
 
I Flew Low Over Gratiot Road Rosie King
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From Barbara Bloom’s Pulling Down the Heavens

 

Wreckage and Memory

Vista Point, Skyline Blvd.

 

 

We slipped over the edge of the low stone wall,

my brother and I.  Perhaps the pilot

was out there, injured,

but still alive—or maybe dead

in the cockpit, face forward over the controls

that had failed him, the wings of the plane

broken, smashed by the redwoods and Douglas fir

on this mountainous slope.

 

We were only children—I don’t know

why we were allowed in the general search.

We pushed forward in the growing darkness

with the others, hoping we might find something

to make this real—a bit of wreckage, maybe the pilot’s

wristwatch, ticking away the minutes, hours,

in the bushes while the searchers bumbled about,

flashlight beams crisscrossing in the night,

the lights making the darkness even darker,

voices calling out “I’m over here!”

“Anything?” “No—nothing!”

 

Only now, thinking back, I can’t be sure

this is how it happened, or was I simply told

how, in spite of the best efforts of the search party,

nothing was ever found of that small plane—

and I simply added myself into the story,

put my brother in for courage.

 

 

 

 

Reading the Hardy Boys

to My Grandsons at Galley Bay

for Galil and Hanokh

 

 

They were never afraid, those boys,

no matter how bad things got.

Trapped in mines, swept into icy rivers,

pursued by murderous criminals—

they would soon have it under control.

In the pen and ink illustrations, 

the bad guys look disheveled,

but the young detectives aren’t even rumpled,

and their faces may register surprise,

but never panic.

 

So each night we’d pile on the bed,

my grandsons and I,

and read a little deeper into the adventure.

“Don’t stop!” they’d beg, when I’d say it was time for bed.

“You can’t stop here!” And they were right,

we couldn’t stop there,

not when Frank Hardy was trapped on a narrow ledge,

or both boys were tied up in a dark cabin,

a scowling thug keeping watch.

 

Outside, we could hear seagulls crying,

the reeling out of an anchor chain,

and the lapping of the rising tide

just steps away, in this place

where I was young, 

and where I still shrink from the rising wind

or the sound of a bear crashing through the woods.

 

 

And we’d turn back to the story

of these boys who never really got hurt

or even tired, and who always solved the mystery,

every time, who were brave,

as my grandsons are brave—

having known already what it is 

for someone you love to vanish from your life— 

and we sit close around the lantern,

happy to leave behind 

a world even they know is not easy,

glad to be so certain that everything, 

no matter what,

is going to be okay.

 

 

 

Palm to Palm

palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

—Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

 

 

Far from Verona, still, there we were,

sometime in those first weeks together,

standing in line at the bagel shop

hoping the strong black coffee would cut through

the fuzziness of too little sleep—

still half in the dream of holding each other, 

half there in the café, with its trays piled with bagels

and the sleepy chatter of the other customers,

that foggy morning in late spring.

 

You pressed your palm against mine,

idly, just to see how we matched up,

whose hands were bigger, who had the longer fingers,

both of us caught up in the fascination of the other.

 

Not that we would have compared ourselves 

to Romeo and Juliet—and no matter the passion,

who would choose their ending?—

and we couldn’t have seen then

that in that gesture we’d made a pact 

as surely as that other pair had,

only ours came out to this, my love,

twenty-five years later, upstairs in our room

I hand you a cup of coffee, or you hand one to me:

we sit up in bed, look out the window,

and watch the morning take shape—

every green leaf, each bird song,

brand new, everlasting.

 

from George Lober’s Shift of Light:

 

Space

 

So this is where we have landed,

this gray quiet in every other

afternoon where for one hour

skin slips as easily into silence

as it once slipped from grace,

where between duties to a son

and a family we sit and read

together like old bookends

turned inward, where in this

brief hollow with your bare feet

wrapped in a wool sweater

and settled onto my lap

like kittens, my hand on your leg,

we tell ourselves without speaking

that in these moments spiced

with a cup of hot mint tea,

others who have more

rarely have this much.

 

 

Definition

 

A half-hour after dawn

on a morning in October

as clear and calm

as the sound

of your own name,

a blue heron will light

upon the fronds

of a kelp bed

a quarter mile offshore

and remain there

motionless as a spear.

 

That morning,

if you slip a kayak

along the edge

of the bed and grab

a strand of the plant

below the surface,

the craft will anchor

and the bird

will not lift away.

 

Then if you are still,

the two of you

will slowly start to rise

and fall in rhythm

together

on the same wave

while the sky deepens

and you understand,

for the first time

in your life, perhaps,

why this moment is poetry.

 

 

Sonora

 

For reasons which

are not yet clear,

I want you to know

this morning how

before dawn, orange

thermos in hand,

I walked back down

the lumber road

a quarter mile

to the clearing

where, among

the piles of dirt

and sawdust chips,

spittle of the chain-

saw, we sat last

August, smooth

as one shadow on

a jagged stump,

breathing the wet

wind-tang of pine,

shivering against

the dusk and rain,

the silence dropping

brittle and uneven

through the shadows

around us.  And how,

once there, alone,

the dry smell

of fresh cut wood,

breath of coffee

lifting from the cup

in my hand, the early

sun scattering your

name like light

across the canyon,

it became enough

for one moment

to hear the cicadas

whine, to gauge

the distance to

the slow creek below,

to admit finally

that you are gone.

Tomorrow, I know,

may not be this easy.

 

From Maggie Paul’s Borrowed World

 

The Dove’s Wings

 

I’m learning to write cursive

at St. Thomas More

from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, 

who sing hymns to the Blessed Mother Mary

and St. Theresa of Avila, whose roses make me

want to cry. St. Anthony helps me find things

under the bed before my mother threatens

to break my neck if she comes in

and finds them herself. 

My days and nights are filled

with rosaries and missals

and statues of angels

who wrap their wings around

our wounds. My sisters and I go

to summer camp in Maine where we 

attend Mass every morning before breakfast. 

Some campers pass out before communion,

not struck by the white light

of Jesus so much as by sheer hunger.

Sundays we go twice. Benediction is beautiful

with the four o’clock sun streaming

through the stained glass window

shaped like a dove inside

a triangle intersecting with unity. 

I can’t figure out how the artist

made the dove’s wings meld into the design

without losing the true feeling of wings.

I aim my prayers at their tips. Maybe then

my prayers will fly up on the dove’s wings

straight to God, who can see me

through the stained glass,

mouthing the words of the Our Father

and kneeling my best for Him.

If He hears me, I know He’ll put things right.

My father will remember he loves my mother,

And my brother will come home from Vietnam. 

 

Iris

 

So what if I don’t want to be

connected to the rest of the globe?

 

And what if I do think the iris

the most beautiful thing

and not the speed of data

flapping their wings?

 

So what if I go home

to the silence snow taught me

and warm cat sleeping

when the crowd’s going out?

 

I circle in search of a place

to be still

to feel the earth turn

and count the slow clouds

as they pass. 

 

Doors

 

There’s a door that begins with a hole in the heart.

  • Richard Jackson, “Heartwall”

 

Let’s say the fruit fell before it was ripe

because the season didn’t know itself.

Everyone knows we’ve had an early spring.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s time for a blue moon.

 

Let’s say the atmosphere was thick with understatement

because translation is so difficult. 

Everyone knows the mind and heart only put up with each other.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they killed each other off somehow. 

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if that means freedom.

Everyone knows it’s the soul that matters

because nothing else really lasts. 

Let’s say we’re stuck with the invisible thing. 

 

Everyone knows when one world ends, another begins

because our lives are made of doors. 

I wouldn’t wonder if we never looked back. 

 

from Len Anderson's Affection for the Unknowable 
 

Affection for the Unknowable

Let’s chop down the beanstalk climbing into the sky of I Am Sure. 
Let’s roast the Giant in the holy fires of doubt and make our song We Are Not Sure.

At age seven I lived in the presence of God.  When the priest 
asked me to confess my sins, I could only answer, I’m not sure.

How many souls burn in the flames of war 
because a few men are not man enough to say, I am not sure?

In ninth grade algebra I took as my guru, X.  I follow still 
its first teaching: To know me, say first, I’m not sure.

Aquinas had it all wrong: our language must describe the world, not 
the world conform to language.  To be human is to hang on the cross, ever unsure.

Every atom in the universe is a quantum cloud of doubt. 
God must really like I’m not sure’s.

A friend asks, Why drag God into your poems? Early in life I grew fond 
of the unknowable.  And one of the names of God is I’m not sure.

We speak and the tongue trembles; we sing, the whole body quakes. 
All the libraries in the world add up to I’m not sure.

It’s scary how quiet Len can be: his whole body fixed, 
breathing stilled, eyes turned down, deep in another I’m not sure. 

 

Photograph of My Father at Age Ten, 1910

He stands at attention like a child soldier 
in his rough-sewn pants bunched at the waist, 
white shirt with sash as a tie, boots and a hat. 
The sun burns bright in those eyes tucked deep 
under his brows; his mouth is turned down 
at the edges, an Anderson mark I also bear. 
The front steps on which he stands, 
the skid walkway, the grass and the hedge rose 
that climbs the house 
lie in the glare of the sun, 
but the porch of his home is so dark 
one would pause and look before stepping in.

Already he is a little man; already his father 
has walked out, leaving a wife and thirteen children 
three blocks from skid row; 
already his mother has told him, the youngest, 
to go ask his father for money, 
and he has been told, I don’t know you; 
go away, and watched the door slam.

Each day the steel rod in his spine 
grows, each day he learns 
there are things that will haunt him 
and what it means to endure, 
as his mother and father did, also at age ten, 
on hardtack and salt pork nine weeks 
in the ship from Norway.

He will never speak a word to me 
of his abandonment, but one day 
after I have lived two years unwed 
with the woman I love, he will tell me 
I should make up my mind. 
He will say, There is something 
I should tell you, but he won’t, 
and I won’t press him—only years later 
will my niece say how, 
at the breakup of her marriage, 
my father called, spilled it all, 
asked her to think of the children.

Today this ten-year-old 
looks at me through deep-set eyes 
only steps from the dark 
shelter of his door and I 
look hard to see 
what I can rescue from this dark 
and from the silence between us, 
deeper now. 


 

On the Nature of Things

The squawking crow 
flies down from the redwood tree 
to tell me 
he is not a crow.

Not bird, not passerine bird 
of the family Corvidae, 
nor mind nor body 
nor thing.

And not a crow.

In fact, he says, 
he hasn’t even been 
discovered yet.

When I was young I dreamt 
I climbed marble stairs 
toward the room that held 
The Book of What Each Thing Is. 
Golden light poured down those stairs 
from a room so high 
I could never see it.

From that book 
I would learn 
what is crow 
what is redwood, 
what am I.

Crow tells me 
the black of his wings 
is deeper than any book.

Friends, there are hours 
I have no greater grief, 
no greater joy.

I will never know 
what I am.

Crow 
flies down often 
to tell me so. 


 

Ghazal of a Physicist

In grad school I would get drunk—drunk on equations. 
All along the hedgerow, the wind blew leaves in waves of equations.

In our yard the song of the mockingbird 
sounds a lot like Schrödinger’s Equation.

I still search for a word that is not broken, 
still find the solace of equations.

We do it on a tabletop or far out in space, 
anywhere so we can make more little equations.

When my wife can’t sleep, she asks me to read to her 
just one or two of her favorite equations.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m no reductionist. 
The touch of skin on skin is beyond any equation.

Len says, In The Book of Names, every word from the human tongue 
is a name of God, and so is every equation. 

 

Additional poems by Len Anderson may be seen on the following websites:

The Monterey Poetry Review: 
“One Day We Will Be Human” and “What Are You Saying?” (2.6 MB download)

The Montserrat Review: 
“Kinship with Silence” as “Sonance” 

 

 

from Invented by the Night by Len Anderson 
 

Twig

Parents are magicians 
who don’t realize 
what they’re conjuring. 
As a child I grew 
in the spell 
of my father’s silence, 
never knowing 
what to say.

I would go out after rain, 
find a puddle 
in the hard clay, 
set afloat a twig 
and guide it 
by the steady breeze 
of my breath 
to the other shore. 

 

Communion

At St. William Elementary School I learn of the Christian martyrs crucified, 
beheaded, or stoned to death.  Fifteen years later in Berkeley I read about 
Giordano Bruno tied to the stake and burned by the Inquisition after he wrote 
that the universe described by Copernicus is infinite, we are not at the 
center, and God might never find us, never save us.

That Sunday in Mass at Newman Hall I wonder how, if God is everywhere, 
even inside us, we fail to see Him.  I look up at the crucifix and see Jesus 
hanging there.  Then I see Caravaggio’s aged St. Peter on the cross being 
raised upside down, then Saints Andrew and Bartholomew.  I see Bruno in 
the flames, then Jesus again.  Each dying—dying for me.  Now, the bread 
and wine have been transformed into their body and blood.  I rise with 
the others and approach the priest.  He hands me the thin white wafer. 
I bow and place it on my moistened tongue.  Slowly the host softens. 
I swallow and take it deep inside me. 

 

A Certain Swaying of the Body 
        for Felix de Lola, cantaor Flamenco

The singer holds his cupped hand over his heart. 
The deeper his grief, the greater my consolation.

He too was betrayed by the turning of the earth, 
which only remains true to its turning.

I envy the clarity of his voice, 
the purity of his weeping.

This certain swaying of the body we call song 
was taken up long ago by the ocean.

His loss of control is born of discipline 
from years of singing in a small boat on the sea.

Now he tells us he is dying in prison. 
I can see we are in the same room.

He holds on as long as he can to this note, 
but it must pass to make room for another.

Where did I lay my wings when I came in the door? 
I may want them on the way out.

I am grateful for this swaying of the body, 
that the song will go on after I leave the room. 


 

In My Forty-Ninth Lifetime

At the playgrounds we had slides 
with antigravity machines, 
so we could go up and down as long as we liked.

Dreams no longer came from factories 
but sprang out of the ground unannounced 
or were sung by birds as they built nests in our hair.

A permanent rose hung in the sky 
and doors were shaped like lips. 
When we came home from a hard day, 
a giant tongue licked us clean.

All the theorems for God were found to contain 
tiny flaws in their springs, wound so tight 
they snapped on cold days.

The cage built around God collapsed 
and was disassembled and carried off by ants 
to the wilds of Madagascar.

God uncurled, this must have taken centuries, 
kept on uncurling, stretching and waking.

I invented a trombone played by the wind. 
The wind took a liking to it and ordered so many, 
the cops came and shut the factory down.

When I was a hundred and four, I went to the playground, 
started sliding upward, 
and it seemed like I just kept on going. 

 

 

from David Allen Sullivan's Strong-Armed Angels

 

Pinecrest

Hiking, my living 
          daughter’s asleep on my back— 
                     weight of two worlds.

Logging road’s snow’s so 
          deep I’m slogging past this gnarled 
                     pine’s every fissure.

Amina’s head lolls 
          so far out I think she sees 
                     the deer before me.

I stop. Rapt. My heart 
          drums so loud I fear he’ll hear. 
                     Plumed breath fogs my eyes.

I’m nothing to him. 
          He chews bark—only as wary 
                     as he always is.

My girl’s mittened hand 
          is written in tracks that cross 
                     leaning towards this sight.

The deer’s history 
          daughter’s asleep on my back— 
                     a sheer drop-off.

He takes that way back. 
          Should I wake her? Let her see 
                     a deer thread the brink?

Each hoofprint’s smothered— 
          I see a baby’s smudged feet— 
                     my stillborn daughter.

Mexicans believe 
          Angelitos come back as 
                     animal spirits—

that a dead child leaves 
          claw or hoof marks in strewn flour. 
                     Let this deer be her.

Amina’s dusted 
          hood, at the edge of my field 
                     of vision, rises.

There’s nothing I would 
          not do for her—nothing I 
                     can but step wisely.

I match my outbound 
          strides, re-seeing every tree 
                     through snow’s ghostly veil.

When a laden branch 
          dlets go, springing up as snow 
                     cascades down, she points.

Rhythmically beats 
          my cap with each step—a code 
                     I’m half mastering.

I would carry twice 
          her weight if I could shower 
                     them both with this dust.

Stream ice’s thin crust 
          gives way, water soaks through boots— 
                     cold cracks and shouts out. 
 

 

Warnings

A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may 
irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it’s 
not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings 
the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.

Wittgenstein’s There’s no such thing 
as clear milk rubs shoulders with a box 
of rat poison which has been found 
to cause cancer in laboratory mice.

Levinas’ Language is a battering ram— 
a sign that says the very fact of saying, 
is as inscrutable as the laser pointer’s advice: 
Do not look into laser with remaining eye.

Last week I boxed up the solemn row 
of philosophy tomes and carted them down 
to the used bookstore. The dolly read: 
Not to be used to transport humans.

Did lawyers insist that the 13-inch wheel 
on the wheelbarrow proclaim it’s 
not intended for highway use? Or that the 
Curling iron is for external use only?

Abram says that realists render material 
to give the reader the illusion of the ordinary. 
What would he make of Shin pads cannot protect 
any part of the body they do not cover?

I load boxes of books onto the counter. Flip 
to a yellow-highlighted passage in Aristotle: 
Whiteness which lasts for a long time is no whiter 
than whiteness which lasts only a day.

A.A.’ers talk about the blinding glare 
of the obvious: Objects in the mirror 
are actually behind you, Electric cattle prod 
only to be used on animals, Warning: Knives are sharp.

What would I have done without: Remove infant 
before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer 
while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken 
teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

Goodbye to all those sentences that sought 
to puncture the illusory world—like the warning 
on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son: 
Batman costume will not enable you to fly. 
 

 

Permission Granted

You do not have to choose the bruised peach 
or misshapen pepper others pass over. 
You don’t have to bury 
your grandmother’s keys underneath 
her camellia bush as the will states.

You don’t need to write a poem about 
your grandfather coughing up his lung 
into that plastic tube—the machine’s wheezing 
almost masking the kvetching sisters 
in their Brooklyn kitchen.

You can let the crows amaze your son 
without your translation of their cries. 
You can lie so long under this 
summer shower your imprint 
will be left when you rise.

You can be stupid and simple as a heifer. 
Cook plum and apple turnovers in the nude. 
Revel in the flight of birds without 
dreaming of flight. Remember the taste of 
raw dough in your mouth as you edged a pie.

Feel the skin on things vibrate. Attune 
yourself. Close your eyes. Hum. 
Each beat of the world’s pulse demands 
only that you feel it. No thoughts. 
Just the single syllable: Yes . . .

See the homeless woman following 
the tunings of a dead composer? 
She closes her eyes and sways 
with the subways. Follow her down, 
inside, where the singing resides. 

 

 

from J. Esmé Jel’enedra's Stilt Walking at Midnight
 

untitled

It is the names of the dead.

The names of the disappeared 
etched on slivers of silver. 
We carry that weight in our bones.

This is what we own together. 
This is our unholy bond

that we know the honed edge 
of hope splintered, 
the shock of dreams shattered 
lodged like shrapnel 
cold beneath the ribs.

We are wounded tending to wounded. 
Our bodies applied like a poultice, 
warm flesh against flesh 
to draw out the shards 
twisting through tissue and skin.

It is the nights the ghosts speak, 
we fever and tremble.

We know the pierce of memory wending 
through muscle, through dream. 
This is what we own together.

But this will be our holy bond: 
that one morning we will waken 
and recognize each other, 
and slowly, so slowly 
begin again to sing. 
 

On the Darkest Night of the Soul

We Have a Pillow Fight

After all, 
what else is there to do? 
We’ve wrestled with shadows so long 
we are sick 
and slickened with sweat 
and the whole room dank, 
damp with stale tears. 
It’s pitch black in here 
though we’ve burned all our bridges 
not a flicker, not even one coal 
to see by. 
Only this cloudburst 
of black swan feathers raining down 
on our heads 
like ash. 
 

The Soul Leaves the Body

And You!

You stand there arms akimbo, 
yelling your commands Come! Sit! Stay!

down the empty street.

This is not the language of the soul. 
You must learn a new vocabulary,

speak in the tongues of a softer palate.

You must learn to say Dance. 
You must learn to say Sing.

You must learn

to throw Joy into the air 
like a stick. 
 

from Julia Alter's Walking the Hot Coals of the Heart
 

Ode to a Carpenter

I like the man with the redwood bed 
built with his own hands, who knows 
the name of wood by the color of its heart: 
walnut, birch, maple.

The one with a callus for each workday 
who feels the hours heavy in his I-beam shoulders. 
With the name that breathes out in one syllable: 
Matt. Doug. Jack.

I want the man who knows which earth 
is firm enough to build on, who would brawl 
in a bar for me. Yes, the one 
with fingers thick as babies’ wrists.

He knows the tree’s name by its 
cut scent, its fingerprint: redwood, 
sycamore, pine. Knows a woman 
by her textures, reads the inside bark of her.

This man—with a hammer tucked ready 
in his belt, a handful of Cupid’s nails. The one 
who can build a house around us 
that will not fall down. 
 

Longing Manifesto, Highway 189

I pass through Phoenix, 
through El Paso, 
every name on the map is yours. 
You’re a ghost building, 
the forgotten courthouse 
with its stilled matrimonies.

I drive through you, this sunburned strip 
begging for flowers in the heat, 
this interstate unzipping the seams 
of a desert too scorched for jackrabbits.

You’re the road I use to get there, 
the old two-lane I descend. You’re the valley 
and the last filling station for miles, $1.19, 
the cold Coca-Cola on my lips.

You’re the mirage slick as eel skin 
on the highway ahead. The closer I get, the faster you 
disappear. I serenade you 
with the AM radio—me and the dust 
and this nonstop song.

I pass a woman in dark braids and beads 
weeping into her own hands and can’t go back. 
She’s a mirror I can’t look at for long, 
both of us panning for answers 
to impossible prayers.

Our love is a boarded-up church 
where spider hymns web 
over melted windows. 
Old sins whispered 
under desert’s breath.

My own prayer I carry locked up 
in this glovebox heart.

This road, 
a line in your palm. 
You, the muscle 
of the engine, 
pulling me 
wherever I go. 


 

Twenty-first Century Escape Plan #27

I’d rather live in Chagall’s world—in his cupboard, 
his oils, inside his hand. Live in a long dress 
painted down like a cliffside home in the Greek isles, 
a starry bride floating above a bronze sea town.

If Chagall’s angels could swoop down—gentle, wild 
warrior women in gowns of purple clouds, pull 
me up, fly me from this year on earth.

As his bride, my eyes would burn with rusting fires, 
leagues of lovers and gods flying around us, 
protectors of wheat and sky. He would paint me 
as the moon if I wanted him to.

>From up here I see the neighbors of stars, 
watch a grandmother string calico skirts on a line. 
A man with a beard fiddles a song of heaven 
that turns our burlap coats to velvet.

The world smells of sap and vinegar and lovesongs. 
I’m a woman growing flowers of lava 
from her overheating heart and Chagall has just now 
painted the last wide feather on my new red wings. 

 

Country Lane

What if the road is a country road, one lane,

green grass of a California winter, strip down the middle, not divided for two cars, but for two wheel ruts, same car.

What if the gate is ramshackle,
but keeps in the chickens and keeps out the fox? What if I am the fox
or the snake sliding under your fence...

and you want me gone? You won’t have me, want someone else fixing the old Ford, want someone else down to the
water pump, the well.

And if I’m merely a ghost in a dream—
then who are you to remember me,
to weep softly at the kitchen window,
hands in soapy water, twilight filling the flowers.

 
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"These are poems in love with the fleeting world--that travel through its dense underbrush and listen to its secrets. Poems in which the the bees' "solemn feeding," is lifted into ceremony. In which life is a book, "inscribed/on the antlers of a deer,/in the thin red bark of manzanita." There is much wisdom and pleasure to be found in this raucous assembly." Danusha Lameris

Drum of Bone, Whistle of Silver  by Angie Boissevain  2019    

ISBN: 978-0-9986722-3-6

80 pages.

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Ken Weisner cricket.jpg

Cricket to Star

ISBN:  "9780998672243"

 

In Cricket to Star, Ken Weisner proves himself to be a canny, poetic topographer, as at home describing the Sierra Nevada range and California’s Central Coast as he is detailing the vast territory of the heart, where anguish, tenderness, and sometimes savage affections leave indelible marks. Poems of childhood are juxtaposed with lyrical evocations of marriage and divorce, and comedy is balanced with elegy and homage. There is very little that escapes him; like the night heron he writes about so eloquently, Weisner is a poet who always seems to have “one eye open.” 

     —Gary Young, author of That’s What I Thought: Poems and No Other Life

 

There is so much pleasure to be had in Cricket to Star, Ken Weisner’s latest collection of poems, I didn’t want it to end. Weisner is like that one amazing friend, smart, funny, large of spirit, a gifted raconteur. Whether he’s describing the Truckee River and its “singing mouths” or riffing on ants in his bed as “wise men come to the Bethlehem of my body,” he imbues his lines with exuberance and grace. His gaze is by turns wounded, ecstatic and patient, but always “busy, uncovering something human, something splendid.” I’m reminded of the bards, those consummate poets and singers who traveled the countryside. “He could balance chairs on his nose while juggling plates, or sing arias blindfolded,”Weisner writes in “Dream.” He might be dreaming of himself.

                             —Ellen Bass, author of Like a Beggar and The Human Line

 

"So thank you, ants, messengers/of someone else's kingdom....” Cricket to Star is a story of an alternate creation, a maternal California, a kind California, a California born in the 60s, necessary in today's landscape. Cricket to Star is a cartographic map of the concerns of a middle-aged Baby Boomer poet at the height of his career, a responsible American man, towards the world, in particular towards the earth, through his lover's body, wherein he evolves. The jewels of sound and touch abound: ”She will sleep/with her head on my shoulder/'you feel so good,” she says,/she, at sea, her hand ashore.”

                         —Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, author of The Runaway Poems

 

Weisner is the generous master of all possible landscapes, an inexhaustible lover and sufferer, a poet of the lyrical, whimsical and bitter truths of our times.  

       —Elizabeth McKenzie, author of Stop That Girl and The Portable Veblen

Ken Weisner enjoys his day job as a De Anza College Community College English teacher, and both advises and edits Red Wheelbarrow, their literary journal. He coordinates, with Poetry Center San José, the Red WheelbarrowPoetry Prize. For fifteen years, Ken edited Quarry West out of Porter College, UCSC. Ken has published two previous volumes of his own poetry with Santa Cruz’s Hummingbird Press, including Anything on Earth in 2010. Ken’s poems have appeared most recently in Perfume River Poetry Review, Catamaran, Caesura, Nine Mile, Porter Gulch Review, and Phren-Z. Ken also teaches poetry writing at Salinas Valley State Prison.

 
 
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Scrimshaw, Maggie Paul

ISBN:  "9780998672243"

I admire the clarity, the directness of Maggie Paul’s poems . . . how they embrace the simple objects of nature and our lives, and find a true music to transform them into light and hope despite confronting the facts of age and mortality.  This requires talent but also honesty; I believe her voice when she asks, in “Egret”, “Is it true that with each step/we come closer to being/a star” Scrimshaw speaks carefully to us with epiphanies and appreciations etched into its lines.

—Christopher Buckley

 

If, (as Confucius is quoted as saying, here), “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name,” then the poems of Maggie Paul begin and end in wisdom— naming egret, elephant seal, Chinese maple, mustard flower, star, and sister. This thoughtful and elegiac collection explores the terrain of family and intimacy, with particular attention to “what happens in the/ in between moments. The before and after/ how the light fell or rose.”

—Danusha Laméris

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Scrimshaw

Once a very great poet said 

she preferred the slow, circling 

labor of writing, that when she thinks

she no longer has any agency,

she talks to the poem like a person 

she loves, and asks it what it needs.

 

I serve it little dishes, a variety 

of things, and see if it eats. 

 

She ignores the tiny ants 

roaming around the edges 

of her notebook and writes

for the reader on whom 

nothing will be lost. 

.

Another poet, after a lifetime 

of writing says, It’s still an agony, 

to this day. Yet I continue 

marking blank pages as if I

am walking toward the January dusk

leaving my boot treads on a road 

deep with snow. 

 

It can feel like winter any time,

despite a perfectly generous sun 

and no snow on the ground.

In the silence of night, if you listen.

you can almost hear a poet

etching scrimshaw onto bone.