cæsura 2017

the journal of poetry center san josé

ascent || descent, online selections

 

cover art (above): Aya Summers, A Revolution of Transparency

 

 

Cæsura Team and Readers

Caesar Kent

Lita Kurth

Kim Lohse

Barbara MacRae

Cory Massaro

Mighty Mike McGee

AshleyRose Sanchez

Jarvis Subia

Shelley Valdez

 

Editor-in-Chief

Bill Cozzini

 

Art Editor

Joe Miller

 

Published by

Poetry Center San José

 

PCSJ Board of Directors

Robert Pesich, President

Mighty Mike McGee, Secretary

Bill Cozzini, Treasurer

Venus Jones

Caesar Kent, Marketing

Jeffrey Leonard

Cory Massaro

Amy Meier

Joe Miller, Design, Publications

Alice De Parres

Dennis Richardson, Willow Glen Readings

Jazzabell Thomas

Scorpiana Xlent

Nils Peterson, Emeritus

 

To contact the editors, send email to caesura@pcsj.org

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

Editor’s Note

 

Poetry:

Maureen Sherbondy ……………If Picasso Worked in the Mall Food Court

Alan Elyshevitz ……………….....Insomnia, Part IX

Jerry Bradley ……………...……..The Carnival at Night

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee …….....Bus Stop, Athens, Greece

Terry Savoie …………...………….Milkweed

Lisa Allen Ortiz …………...……..Nautilus

Leslie E. Hoffman …………...….The Mourning After

Celia Daniels …………...………… Crab Mentality

John M. Davis ...…………...……..A Life

Elizabeth Rees ……..…………...…To My Daughter, Returning

Michael Jack O’Brien …………...from the slow fear

Ruth Mota …………...……………..Crossing Paths

John J. Bowman …………...……..I Wasn’t Tempted to Shoot Her

CB Follett …………...……………….The Stick Men

Dixie Pine …………...……………….The Banjo

Larry Pike …………...……………….On Seeing the Van Goghs in Chicago

Yuan Changming …………...……..The American Dream Anagrammed

James B. Nicola …………...……….Embrace

Nancy L. Meyer …………...………..All I Want, An Ecstatic Death

Scott Knies …………...……………...The Worthy

 

Art:

Aya Summers, A Revolution of Transparency (cover)

Bill Wolak, The Mirror That Coaxes Off Your Clothes

Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, Reclaiming Autonomy

Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, Xicana Birth

Carmen Patiño, In Transit

Julie Barrett, Yell

Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, The Way

Aya Summers, A Revolution of Transparency

 

About the Poets

 

About the Artists

 

Our Supporters

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note

 

 

Where are you? Possibly a simple question if limited to geography. But when you’re caught in a wave, your location and perceptions constantly change, call them relative or oscillating. So much to discover. For instance, is your wave water, light, history, or humanity?  

 

When the Cæsura team gathered in March of 2017, a political wave dominated our thoughts. Since each team member witnessed such a wide range of reactions and emotions to this wave, a purely political theme seemed poetically repressive.

 

We tallied our words, tracked our ideas, and played with the sounds, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms; “ascent, assent, descent, or dissent is decent unless incensed, in a sense.” The physicality implied by ascent and descent, the climb, the brief pause before the drop, framed our collective journey. When someone described that pause as a cæsura, followed with another suggestion to display that pause with the cæsura symbol, the title Ascent || Descent willed itself into existence.

 

So, during a chaotic moment in history, the team found a physical place, metaphorically speaking, to plant our feet. In that cæsura, at that peak, we called for your location. Trail maps, posted at crossroads, often say, “you are here” with an arrow pointing to your location; our call used that idea but opened with, “you are where” and an arrow pointing to a blank spot. Your poetry, your art would describe your location. Underneath that arrow we shared a poem created from the ideas and the words we discussed, sharing something about our location.

 

The beauty, challenge, and strangeness of this call, was that it had no theme. Sometimes, as readers, we were surprised that a poem was an actual location on someone’s body or in a town. The poets, unperturbed by the constraints of an overriding theme stood together and delivered their theme, with a wave of creative, insightful, often painful and graceful, but resilient and powerful poems.

 

It is good to know, you are here.

 

Bill Cozzini

 

 

 

Bill Wolak, The Mirror That Coaxes Off Your Clothes

 

 

 

Maureen Sherbondy   

 

 

If Picasso Worked in the Mall Food Court

 

 

Of course he flirts with all the women – young mothers pushing strollers, twenty-year-old blonde Neiman Marcus sales clerks dressed in Donna Karan or Valentino. He draws them naked in his mind, then whistles while he sweeps up pizza crust, French fries, and chicken nuggets. The spills of milkshakes and cola he eagerly anticipates so he can swipe the mop strands through, brush-like, creating pink, white, and brown liquid collages on linoleum canvas with no sense of permanence – a slipping hazard for passersby who might not make aesthetic sense of the swirls and swivels. Danger he knows, so he sets down the orange cones.

 

He hopes one day to be recognized for creating rather than erasing amidst the daily throwing out and cleaning up of waste that from the right perspective might become a work of art. He dreams these same mall patrons will place his future paintings in their bags instead of shoes and scarves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Elyshevitz   

 

 

Insomnia, Part IX

 

 

I have mastered the elongation of time.

Horizontal is my orientation, my verbatim.

You think you are walking in bed

wearing a bad prescription. You cannot

awaken from arrhythmia, nor sleep

through assembled fears. Sheep

have been my ridiculous emblem,

but these days you count only grandchildren.

I invite you to consider the marsupial

in which the young sleep soundly.

How many centuries since your ancestors

set fire to their rest and chartered

newfound light to last until dawn?

I was there in the space between baobabs,

dressed in infallible nostrils and teeth,

there to witness the fumigation

of grievances against your own nature.

Your torment is the retroactive hours

of Prudhoe Bay or Tierra del Fuego.

In between, on Route 40 West,

you bisect the lackadaisical scenery:

longhorn steer or long red mesa.

This highway was built for wide states,

for you to contemplate inopportune

vegetation tangled in your thoughts.

I flatten the view to your prognosis:

California! Every night I hear you

banging that wall you call the sea.

 

 

 

 

Jerry Bradley   

 

 

The Carnival at Night

 

 

When the Kreepy Kastle falls dead

and Pharaoh’s Fury no longer parts the tide,

the midway games close with the biggest bears

 

on the bottom shelf still un-won

and the carnies, all but drunk, still debating

how many ferrets it takes to power the wheel.

 

Gravity returns to the Orbitron at night;

the calmed Dixie Twister lazes while the Dodgem cars

idle at the site of the last spinout.  The Cliffhanger,

 

where we once sat in a cage terrified of the drop,

no longer dangles.  And when the hum of generators slows,

one by one the lights go out until at last

 

we walk in full darkness, wringing our cotton-candied

hands as we watch the stars fall into place

with only the moon now to keep us awake.

 

 

 

 

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee   

 

 

Bus Stop, Athens, Greece

 

 

The hiss of the bus blew out with fumes
in front of our flat on a mountain where the road dipped
toward the sea, the sea air rising up
onto our garden of cucumbers and tomatoes.

I heard that bus only on hot afternoons
when the windows were open and the hillside
was stilled for siesta. I never got on,
but watched it pick up speed

as it coasted downhill, collecting  
each working woman, who rose early to stand on that road,
waiting for the wheels of the bus to roll
to a stop, who, once home, would put her hands into the sink

to prepare supper, to wash the dishes, to fill
the bríki and then would catch the bus again, only
to return when evening came, when even the sun
settled, and night came, when she could place

her legs on her bed, and the light would support her
body, lift her body onto a cloudless night,
where there was no bus, no work route, just silence
and the mountain’s own muffled sighs.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Savoie

 

 

Milkweed

 

 

I stroke the furred pod then pinch

       it to listen for the pop,

a single milk-drop bead bleeds out

       & glistens astoundingly.  I split

it in two down the midline seam

       then blow on the fleecy seed-

down, releasing all into the faraway

       & wing down toward the meadow's

bottomland.  The Incidentals of childhood

       I imagine I'll take with me into the Beyond,

all those small, cherished items that might be

       a reminder of just where it was I came

from so I'll not feel so very much alone,

       a soft but fiercely enduring echo

of all it is I hoped would be forever

       closest to my heart's home.  

Here I am packing lightly, preparing

       to fall in with my milkweed.

Together, we'll drift & drift with a wind,

       blown down to rest

in autumn's homeland meadow

       at the edge of the woods.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, Reclaiming Autonomy

 

 

 

Lisa Allen Ortiz   

 

 

Nautilus

 

 

 

I knew a lady who was medically decapitated— because of a complicated therapeutic history, the choice for her was literal and urgent: head or body?  She chose to let her body go and so became nothing but a head.

 

They say: One thing leads to another

but I learned already

that one thing

is another.

 

She did take offense at the phrase “nothing but a head.” From her point of view, the head was all and what was there that wasn’t head was nothing.  One’s body was the nothing but. The body waxed and waned, had hunger pains, suffered muscle memory and UTI’s.  But pleasure too! I argued (later in our relationship when we were friends and I could speak openly about such things), but she said, pleasure is nothing if not pleasure of the mind.

 

Accept what’s inevitable

that’s another thing they said.

 

I met her on the bus. We sat beside each other. She sat-so-to-speak upon her neck, but she was friendly, and we struck up a conversation about (obviously) the logistics of being a head or being a body with a head as well and the way the world is set up for some but not for others.

 

Ignorance is bliss.

That’s a classic one, but also considered now

unpatriotic and in some circles, irresponsible.

 

We build a life on faith and habit.  We get what we get. We work what we have.  Animal instinct, cultural norms, religious influence.  I went to church when I was young, and then it stopped making any kind of sense.  What did these people do that Jesus needed to be crucified for their sins? God is a kind of habit, my mom said, and I think that’s true.

 

Forgive and forget.

That’s good advice unless

you plan on learning who to trust.

 

Her body, she said, had been donated to others who needed parts. The balance that was not needed was cremated.  She didn’t want it buried which I rather understand. The body that is left underneath the ground grows roots. If you let something go, let it go completely.  I always thought in this country we should allow sky burials, those rituals for the dead where they put the body on a mountaintop and let the eagles and vultures carry pieces away with their talons and beaks.

 

Better once to see

than many times to hear 

is what Tibetans say,

and what we all learn the hard way.

 

I guess the point of this story is that we can’t know the difference between what we have and what we want except for this bitter ache that twinges at the base of our skull.  This woman was free from all desire.  That’s what she said.  Seemed nice enough.  Those of us who suffer with our bodies, we adapt.  We drink or we pray. We change the subject.  Honestly I was anxious the whole time we rode beside each other on the bus. How would she get off?  With what power would she propel herself down the street?  It was raining hard, and the streets were thick with a sandy kind of mud. I worried she had sutures still at the bottom of her neck and that they would open and be exposed to some infection.

 

Although changed, I arise the same

some scientist said, studying self-similar spirals.

We see ourselves in nature.

 

We imagine patterns, and we estimate similarity between our broken selves and the broken world.  This woman had a new set of difficulties now and I was not sure if they were mine or hers or if all difficulties belong to all beings.

 

Life is short and art is long.

This one, of course, is not true at all.

 

It was a little awkward to ask if I could pick her up. It seemed like the right thing to do but also I didn’t know what normal was or how one should behave also as I mentioned it was raining and I wanted to get home.  So kind of  you, she said as I cradled her in my elbow crook, rearranging  my bags on my shoulders and other arm.  Did she have bags? No, she said. The nice thing about leaving your body behind—none of the bags the body required.

 

Live and learn.

Mostly this one is used as an excuse.

 

The nautilus is a pelagic marine mollusk that propels itself by changing pressure inside its shell.  It has an uncommon ability withstand changes in depth, moving easily from shallow to deep. The nautilus is rare now and difficult to find. The animals are hunted and killed for the value of their shells which are used as ornament, gorgeous examples of the order of nature, of mathematical perfection or evidence that God exists.

 

Keep your head above water.

This is a metaphor and offensive to some

who might argue with the implied and submerged:

body.

 

Another friend of mine asked: what about people who have their leg amputated and chose to be just the leg? What about leaving other parts behind? I was not sure as I had not read about such a thing nor had I ever met a woman who was just a leg. But I suppose that it could happen. The world now is filled with such possibility, loss and opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 


Leslie E. Hoffman   

 

 

The Mourning After

 

 

I lost my virginity in the age of innocence.

 

        Worthy is the lamb, who was slain.

 

In the fake, gilded age of Trump

loathsome words bleed from 45’s mouth

oblivious to the collateral damage.

 

        And when you’re a star, you can do anything—

        grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

 

Nightmares revisit my dreams

evolve into wide-awake

out-of-the-blue triggers.

 

        If Ivanka weren’t my daughter…

 

I watch Kill Bill—read a Vachss novel

detachment being key

to amputating anger.

 

        Such a nasty woman.

 

Shunning invasive images, I turn

to focus on strands of moonlight

weaving through venetian blinds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celia Daniels   

 

 

Crab Mentality

 

 

 

I sit on the rim of an upright bucket and watch the ocean bleed red. The wound salt cracks my nails. I use one of them, still, to force my way through the bucket’s thin layer of paint, chiseling out my name, illegibly small.

 

A snap. My nail breaks. Inside the bucket, the last of a dozen crabs crumples down in death, its tinkertoy joints cracking. Its red body matches the other dead bodies; were it not for the last twitches of its dark eyestalks, I couldn’t tell it apart from the rest.

 

The thing I’ve learned about crabs is this: belly on back on belly, they will make ladders of themselves, but one will never reach the top of the bucket before the rest. This is considered selfishness. The crab that drops itself out into the world will be alone for the rest of its life; it will exist away from family, away from friends, away from the writhing bodies of its brethren because it used those bodies like a step stool. The crab-out-of-the-bucket comes from a womb full of enemies.  

 

(And the others will argue that their unbound claws are made for pulling family members back from the edge. They are community-minded, after all, and ascent is rarely deathless. Throwing oneself outward is narcissistic, singular. It does not do for a crab to try and make an island of itself.)

 

It’s a matter of perspective, then.

 

I sit on the rim of an upright bucket full of familial carcasses. There is blood under my broken nail. I reach down and pluck up the still twitching body of the crab. Its legs sag. This is a crab that has died as it lived: safe among loved ones and friends, free of enemies. Twitching.

 

I break one of its legs. The meat is salty, off-white red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John M. Davis   

 

 

A Life

        - after Anne Sexton

 

 

Glass without voice,

window pitted by persistent rain ⎯

 

all winter

raw nerves, sharp knives and dull forks

scraping fine china,

bent spoons and ceramic shards ⎯

sores salvaged like a nest,

from a potter’s field.

Heavy hands and dwarfed hearts.

Cold breasts.  

                Cryptic love.  

 

Life, a thumbscrew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Rees   

 

 

To My Daughter, Returning

 

 

Tomorrow has already started here

while there you’re waiting to return.

Here, today tells time to go to bed 

but time-zones mean nothing to you  

or to the pangs of leaving.

 

I was your age the first time I returned.

The whole flight I cried, watching

my new love fall farther

and farther away. Lightning

struck the wing but I didn’t notice.

 

Tomorrow presses on for you 

as today swaddles me in sheets.

Time splashes the pond’s edge

in clouds that creep

through holes of human sight.

 

Light there rises.

Here, darkness falls.

Light turns on, then dims.

As you begin to ascend,

I start my descent.  

 

 

 

 


Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, Xicana Birth

 

 

 

Michael Jack O’Brien   

 

 

from the slow fear

 

 

of being taken for days

by train on which a

red-headed woman

babbles and moans,

guarded by a stern lady

in a car just in front of us

that we have to walk through

to get to the bathroom

 

by train to another town with

yet another school and

different air on the skin

and to another tiny home

but unlike the others

this one doesn’t sit alone

on the prairie rather

it shares a wall with people

who mom does not quite trust.

 

our fourth home in seven years

into which we bring our

cardboard suitcases

and the fears of parents

who have only

prospects for jobs,

a home among homes where

people don’t look like us,

who look at us

with suspicion and distrust

a home with a hidden side-yard

where my brothers

bring stolen matches

to set dried leaves

and grass on fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Mota   

 

 

Crossing Paths 

 

I know what I was doing

driving down my mountain to work

worried about the deadline.

 

But what were you doing        

when you leapt through the manzanita?

 

Had something startled you?

the scent of a mountain lion?

the sound of a chain saw?

a rutting stag?

 

What made our paths cross on the road?

my brakes screeching

a thud

your graceful body arching through the air

into a ditch on the other side.

 

Kneeling beside you, I watch you struggle to rise

only to collapse again,

thrashing, bewildered in pain.

 

Panicked, I call 911:

Explain the crash, the suffering and plead:

Bring a gun. I don’t have a gun!

 

I tell you the operator says someone will come soon

but your eyes tell me it’s no use.

Your head falls onto the grass in resignation.

Accusation, pleading, light… all fade from your gaze

before the kind man with the gun arrives      

too late

 

At the body shop      

the headlight of my car dangles like an eyeball knocked from its socket.

The insurance agent on the line confirms: No one was hurt. 

Hurt?  I answer. The deer died.

 

Your eyes have not left me.

I drove today where our paths crossed ten years ago

slower, paying attention.

 

 

 

 

 


Carmen Patiño, In Transit

 

 

 

John J. Bowman   

 

 

I Wasn’t Tempted to Shoot Her

 

 

 

How often I see it.

One of my grandchildren, or

a friend’s grandchild, or a curly-haired

five-year-old, cheeks ablaze,

at the supermarket check-out,

little face screwed up, screaming,

“I hate you!” at his mother.

 

How often I wanted to say that

to my father (the one it turns out

wasn’t my father according to the DNA

test he ordered) or to my stepmother.

I never did, fearing a sharp slap to the face,

Or worse, the belt on my ass. Or the retort

“I hate you, too. If you don’t like it, there’s the door.”

 

My father told me once – after I had

endured an especially ambitious

tongue-beating from my stepmother –

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you took a gun

and shot her.” (I pictured the German Lugar

he brought home from the war, the one he

hid in his sock drawer, next to the single

condom, powdered and wrapped in a tissue).

 

In that moment, I knew he not only wanted

to escape me. He wanted to escape both of us.

In that moment, I knew the one thing I had respected

him for – his courage – did not exist. He wanted

me, a boy of 11 or 12, to be the hit man.

 

I was not tempted to shoot her. I was tempted

to lean in close to his face and say,

“I hate you!” But I didn’t. I pitied him.

I would get out in just a couple of years.

Not him. He was a lifer

 

 

 

 

 

 

CB Follett   

 

 

The Stick Men

 

 

        (A sculpture group by Judith Selby)

        The Pentagon said yesterday that a "gap in the laws

        governing warfare made it legally permissible during

        the gulf war for U.S. tanks to bury thousands of

        Iraqi troops in their trenches...

 

They are stick men

weighted to the ground by sins

they have forgotten to tell,

that pour out the pipe stems

of armless sockets,

holes snarled with torn wires.

 

They tell nothing, though mouths

are open and red slips around their teeth,

over the dark holes of lips

filled with the silence of fear.

 

They cannot move, rooted as they are

into lead squares, holed

for the stiff wood of their one

good leg, a leg formed

from a straining of thorax,

torn into edges.

 

Will they tell their secrets

if you incline your head,

offer your ear, pushing it close

to their cold, rough mouths?

Will you hear the wind of mountain caves?

 

And what of the missing man

his base vacant

the hole agape,  edges torn and sharp

where the leg pulled free

where the painted leg, the pipe-empty arms

and the half-body have taken away the head,

moved off stage into the inks of  darkness,

 

slipping into the mud-rich

night, tar night, the back side

of night where we can not follow,

indeed would not make one step

to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

Dixie Pine   

 

 

The Banjo

 

 

The man played the banjo, over in the shed. He lived in the shed some days, but not others. You could tell he was there by the banjo music. Every summer he came to the shed, an old man with a baseball cap and ragged overalls that looked like from a gas station. There was a faded spot where the name patch fell off.

The kids watched him when they had nothing to do. They made up stories about his life. They figured he had a gun, and maybe a book or two, but the main thing was the banjo. He carried it with him, slung over his back like a rifle. He never left it in the shed. Not that the kids would have busted in and took it. Or maybe they would have, just being kids. But then who would have played it? The kids could barely tie their shoes, and didn’t know anyone who could make music. All they did was run wild through the woods until they were too old, and then somebody made them go to work.

So the kids listened to him play the banjo, and watched him from behind the bushes and from up the big oaks. The banjo music made them think of strange things, like trains going South, or howling dogs, or dancing like they saw in a movie somewhere. Or chainsaws. They scared themselves by whispering stories about murdered children and werewolves, then their Ma would yell for them, and they’d run home in terror with no explanation that made any sense.

It was the banjo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Pike   

 

 

On Seeing the Van Goghs in Chicago

 

 

For once, waiting in traffic didn’t matter.

We enjoyed our leisure, eventually

taking in not only the yellow house in Arles,

but row houses on North Astor and coffeehouses on Rush.

Remember the unforced pace of days

achieving lift from the collective spirit

with which we answered the persistent wind,

always in our faces.  We rose on its gusts

like a wedge of geese against the vault of heaven,

in which Jesus assured us there are many mansions.

He could’ve said that even in the slums of Providence

there are luxuries that exceed our grace, pleasures

enough to make us sing, a gospel choir, standing

unrobed in the doorways to our rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

Yuan Changming   

 

 

The American Dream Anagrammed 

 

 

listen : silent

 

 

As freedom turns into a dorm fee

Democracy to a car comedy, and

Human rights to harming huts

 

A ram cairned me

In a crammed era [where]

Cameramen raid

 

A dire cameraman [or]

Arid cameramen

 

[Becoming]  

 

A creamed airman [or]

A carmine dream

A minced ram ear

[a] maniac rearmed

 

 

 

 


Julie Barrett, Yell

 

 

 

James B. Nicola   

 

 

Embrace

 

 

We lie, two sleeping puddles at the bot-

tom of a dried sea bed. At break

of day we yawn, misty-eyed,

reach up and try to shake away

the shackles of a long night’s lone-

some rest. Above I see your flex-

ing fingers, vapor rising, swirling.

Are you pointing down and beck-

oning or are you indicat-

ing upward, with no memory

of being at the bottom of

        the dried sea bed?

 

If I could only see your face,

or you would only nod your head,

then I should reach, rise, and embrace

the spirit swirl and leave this bed,

too. Unsure of you, though, or what

it’s like to be up there, I think

I’d disappear in a sudden

        gust of air.

 

I therefore only face the sky

in soggy search for you from here,

knowing too well that if you miss

me, why, then you will shed a tear

or two, one day, to fall upon

me like a melancholy kiss

that dampens as it rues. And I

shall know the drops are you, and try

to rise, and yawn, and be content

        to disappear at dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy L. Meyer   

 

 

All I Want, An Ecstatic Death

 

 

You are talking to a corpse she smiles.

Patient as a panther on a branch.

her hospital bed looms silent

in the tiny living room

 

Bird-thin, radiant

she wears her 60’s tee shirt

from the Woolworth sit-ins

in Greensboro. Going out fighting

muses her son.

 

Always put flowers in the vase

one at a time, she taught me that,

her husband arranges the four stalks

of lavender a friend brought. Lavender

helps you sleep says the friend.

 

We recited two of Shakespeare’s love sonnets

this morning, we know them all by heart,

they hold hands.

 

I don’t have the energy to entertain you,

she chides the family

poised like a square dance circle

waiting for her call.

 

Porcelain tea saucers, royal blue

and carmine, cup the pills in careful

order. She sucks down the final potion

through a rainbow straw. A summer breeze

slips in the balcony door. Her husband’s

face a rainfall over her body.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Knies   

 

The Worthy

 

 

I returned to this broken land.

Stood on the painted plateau,

startled again by how the river

had its way with these mountains.

 

Imagined what other men thought,

tongue-tied and light-headed in air

so dense they would close their eyes to feel it.

 

Do I see the same sights

as when time played unpetrified by maps –

where light finds the labyrinth

both irresistible and extreme?

 

Take just the angle of shadows – edges of rim

sharper than cactus thorns,

erupted from millennia new again each hour;

or the capriciousness of clouds upon water and rock,

their gel of vermilion lenses best left unnamed.

 

Certainly this shimmering terror

of polished schist remains as it always has been –

ugly with heat and blacker than the raven’s breast.

Earth scoured down to its equivalent

of that unknown space between and beyond the stars.

 

And here’s another moment shared over the eons:

rays of golden sunshine bounced from cliffs

towering in the distance reflect

in a water pocket glowing flame-tipped at my feet.

 

For this trip, I have mostly kept my map folded.

It provides me less hope than before,

its angles of roads and dams seemingly played out,

and broke in my lifetime.

 

Surely dawn will never cease to fill

these plunging gorges with pewter and purple?  

 

And dusk?  Won’t she always faithfully aim

her western torch to set ablaze the highest pinnacles?  

 

And the terrible schist – won’t it always be there, too?

Dark and hot, long after this sun has set.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Jimenez Montelongo, The Way

 

 

 

 

About the Poets:

 

 

Maureen Sherbondy is a poet and fiction writer. She has published nine poetry books and one short story collection. She received her MFA degree from Queens University of Charlotte. Maureen resides in Raleigh and teaches English at Alamance Community College. www.maureensherbondy.com

 

Alan Elyshevitz is a poet and short story writer from East Norriton, Pennsylvania. Stephen F. Austin State University Press published his collection of stories, The Widows and Orphans Fund. In addition, he has published three poetry chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Planet, Červená Barva Press. Twice he has been the recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia. For further information, go to https://aelyshevitz.ink.

 

Jerry Bradley is University Professor of English at Lamar University.  A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he is the author of 8 books including The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology. His poetry has appeared in New England Review, Modern Poetry Studies, Poetry Magazine, and Southern Humanities Review. He is poetry editor of Concho River Review and won the 2017 Boswell Poetry Prize awarded by TCU. 

 

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee is the author of On the Altar of Greece, winner of the Seventh Annual Gival Press Poetry Award and recipient of a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category. Her poetry has appeared in journals internationally, including The Bitter Oleander, Cæsura: The Journal of Poetry Center San José, Feminist Studies, The Massachusetts Review, and Pacific REVIEW: A West Coast Arts Review Annual. Her website is www.donnajgelagotislee.com.

 

Terry Savoie has retired from teaching and living just outside Iowa City. Beyond a previous appearance in Cæsura, more than three hundred and fifty poems have been published in literary journals over the past three decades.  These include The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Cider Press Review, Spillway, Tiferet, The Iowa Review, and North American Review

 

Lisa Allen Ortiz is the author of Guide to the Exhibit which won the 2016 Perugia Press Prize. Her poems have also appeared in Cæsura, Zyzzyva, Beloit Poetry Journal and have been featured on the site Verse Daily and in the series Best New Poets. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Turns Out (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Self Portrait as a Clock (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She lives in Santa Cruz.

 

Leslie E. Hoffman is an independent copy editor who moonlights as a poet. Results of her midnight sojourns have appeared in The California Writers Club Literary Review; Third Thursdays; Cæsura: The Journal of Poetry Center San José; Helen: FNS; and Nevada State College's 300 Days of Sun. As an editor, Leslie has enjoyed giving back to the writing community by volunteering her skills in collaboration with the editorial teams of Writer's Bloc, Las Vegas; Cæsura; and The CWC Literary Review.

 

Celia Daniels is a poet, essayist, and short story writer who grows catnip but doesn’t own a cat. Her works have been or will be published in Road Maps and Life Rafts, Magic Jar, Entropy, Timeless Tales, 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy, and Claudius Speaks.

 

John M. Davis lives in Visalia, California, where he teaches philosophy and social sciences at the College of the Sequoias. His work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Comstock Review, West Trade Review, Silk Road, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Descant (Canada), Illya’s Honey, among others.  

 

Elizabeth Rees: Codhill Press published my first full collection, Every Root a Branch, in late 2014. Additionally, three of my four chapbooks have won national contests, most recently, Tilting Gravity, 2010. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, my poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review, and Agni, among other journals. New work recently appeared in The Southern Review and Barrow Street.

 

Michael Jack O’Brien has published in print and on-line journals, including Cimarron Review, The Orange Room, Out of Line, Rag Mag, Rio Grande Review, Wisconsin Review, Review, Main Channel Voices, and, recently, Madness Muse Magazine. Also, his work has appeared in three anthologies: Gridlock: Poetry of Southern California, Proposal on Brooklyn Bridge, and California: Dreams and Realities. He still works on inspiration and craft, trying to write his truest poem.

 

Ruth Mota has a degree in English from Oberlin College and an MPH from San Jose State. She currently lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she writes poetry about nature and   her decades of experience living and working in developing countries on HIV/AIDS. Recently she taught poetry classes and published anthologies by male writers at the Rountree Correctional Facility in Watsonville. Her verse is soon to appear in an anthology of poems by teachers in jails and prisons throughout the United States.

 

John J. Bowman: I was conceived by a 17-year-old, German-Irish woman, from Camden New Jersey, and a father I never met. I’m told he was Sicilian. Who knows how that data informs who I am or what my poetry is about? I know this: I am a retired journalist who edits books, writes poetry and an occasional column for the local newspaper. I live with my partner, Valerie, also an editor, and our Tibetan Terrier, Ziggy Marley, in the Sierra Foothills.

 

CB Follett is author of 11 poetry books, most recently NOAH’S BOAT, 2016, and several chapbooks. She has ten nominations for Pushcart Prizes as an individual and also nine for particular poems. She was awarded a Marin Arts Council Grant for Poetry, and is widely published nationally and internationally. She has many awards and prizes. Follett served as Marin County Poet Laureate from 2010-2013.

 

Dixie Pine: I’m a newly awakened poet who spends days writing about computers, and nights dreaming about everything except computers. I’m a parent. A comrade. An orphan. A dancer. A traveller. A hummer. A lover of trees, dogs, and empty spaces. I went to college, and every state in the union, but not to Europe. I have no idea how to write a biography of myself

 

Larry Pike’s poetry and fiction has appeared in Athlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, The Louisville Review, Hospital Drive, Seminary Ridge Review, the MOTIF anthologies Writing by Ear and Come What May, the chapbook Absent Photographer, and other publications. Horse Cave (Ky.) Theatre produced his play Beating the Varsity in 2000, and it was published in World Premieres from Horse Cave Theatre (MotesBooks, 2009). In June 2017, he won the George Scarbrough Prize for Poetry.

 

Yuan Changming, nine-time Pushcart and one-time Best of Net nominee, published monographs on translation before moving out of China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1309 others.  

 

James B. Nicola's poems have appeared twice previously in Cæsura and recently in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections (Word Poetry) are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). A Yale graduate, James has been giving both theater and poetry workshops at libraries, literary festivals, schools, and community centers all over the country. Visit https://sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola

 

Nancy L. Meyer an avid cyclist, grandmother of 5, and End of Life Counselor, lives in Portola Valley, CA. Published in: Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly 3, Bitterzoet, Poet’s Touchstone, Wordland, Kneel Downe’s Stolen Indie, Persimmon Tree, HIV Project Then and Now, Kind of a Hurricane Press Tranquility Anthology, and Pyrokinection, The Centrifugal Eye Tenth Anniversary Edition. Forthcoming Tupelo Press 30/30 Anthology, WAVES Anthology of AROHO and Songs for a Passbook Torch, Cherry Castle Publishing, Finalist, New Orleans Poetry Festival 2016.

 

Scott Knies lives and works in San Jose and dreams of finding more time for poetry in his life. His poems have been published in Santa Clara Review, Cæsura, Boatman’s Quarterly Review and Downtown Magazine.

 

 

 

About the Artists:

 

 

Julie Barrett: I am a California-grown artist, born and raised in the bay area. Graduated 1999 California State University Chico with a BA degree in Drawing and Ceramics. I consider my work to be dark expressionism and have always loved to work in the grey scale. Charcoal, dry pastel, graphite and conte are my favorite mediums to draw with as they are quite pure and natural, as is the paper that I use. My hanging techniques using over-kill hardware and found objects to hang and weight my drawings originated from the need to cut costs in framing and because i felt too limited by common frames. Some of my work is darker than others, i do have color pieces too, but the subject remains dark, passionate, compassionate, and always searching for grace.

 

Elizabeth Jiménez Montelongo is a visual artist, poet, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her artwork revolves around themes of identity, transformation, and empowerment. She is intrigued by anything having to do with her indigenous Anahuak (Mesoamerican) roots. Her ancestors’ worldviews have influenced the ideas, iconography, and aesthetics of her work. Elizabeth Jiménez Montelongo’s art has been included in over fifty exhibitions in: California, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. www.ejmontelongo.com

 

Carmen Patiño is currently pursuing a degree in Communication Studies and a concentration in Creative Writing at San José State University. She is a Fiction Editor and the Marketing Director at Reed Magazine. An intrepid globetrotter, writer, and equal rights advocate—her dream is to become a travel writer.

 

Aya Summers: Poetry, for me, is the edge of consciousness. When I dance, when I dive, when I speak to trees - it becomes a poem in movement, seeping through everyday life. I love to travel and experience the Earth and its people - they’re all living poems. I’m just a translator, a vessel. I’ve found that words can touch people and create new worlds. And maybe, just maybe, it can save us too.

 

Bill Wolak has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defense with Ekstasis Press. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2016 and The 2017 Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR SUPPORTERS: 

 

Thanks for all the support from our PCSJ Donors in FY 2017.

 

PATRONS:

Hee-June & Mi-Hye Choi

Timothy Tomasi

 

SPONSORS:

Richard Burns

Jerry Dyer

Jeanne Glad

Patricia J. Machmiller

 

FRIENDS:

Kevin Arnold

James Baxter

Nektarios Eirene Butterfield

Lisa Francesca

Kathryn K. Johnson

Millicent Kellogg

Linda Lappin

Shawn Lucas

Stephen Lyons

Joe Miller

Dennis Noren

Robert Pesich

Stephanie Pressman

Andrew Reynolds

Elliot Roberts

Mary Ann Savage

Renee Schell

Mary Lou Taylor

Marquita West MD

 

MEMBERS:

Marcia Adams

Francis Adams

Miriam Ahern

Charles Albert

Betty Arnold

Dr. Dennis Augustine

Shannon Avina

Jonna Baker

William Barnhart

Sandip Bhattacharya

Arlene Biala

Deb Bogart

Lynn Brooks

Jennifer Brown

Kathleen Budros

William Cozzini

Mary Curtis

Janice Dabney

James Dawson

Alice De Parres

Karen DeMello

Maureen M. Draper

Linda & Chuck Drew

David Eisbach

April Flowers

Nancy Fowler

Karen Franzenburg

Lucy Geever-Conroy

Bonnie George

Kathleen Goldbach

Erica Goss

Carolyn M Grassi

Nathan Hale

Jan Hintermeister

Leslie Hoffman

Brenda Joy Hurst

Kathie Isaac-Luke

Richard James

Anshu Johri

Venus Jones

Murial and Ronald Karr

Pearl Karrer

Joel Katz

Deborah Kennedy

William and Hilary King

Veronica Kornberg

Lita Kurth

Jeffrey Leonard

Ellaraine Lockie

Jenny Luu

Robin Lysne

Pushpa MacFarlane

Amy MacLennan

Alice Ann Martineau

Katherine McCormick

Mike McGee

Lesa Medley

Faisal Mirza

Diane Moomey

Charlotte Muse

Rosalie Nelson

John Nimmo

Sharon Olson

Shrishail Pattanashetti

Maggie A. Paul

Nils Peterson

Lynn and Harry Powers

John Price

Erin Redfern

Christine Richardson

Dennis Richardson

Lisa Rogers

Judy Sandretto

Marjorie Schallau

Susan Semans

Clysta Seney

Susan Seyan

Janet Trenchard

Bernard Vogelman

Jeanne Watson

Debbie Whitmore

Alison Mary Woolpert

 

 

Aya Summers, A Revolution of Transparency