Pandey_Texas
          LOVE OF HOME SPREAD THIN
          by Christa Pandey

          My heart was diagnosed with leaky valves,
          a sign of leaky love spread thin?
          Yes, as this German immigrant
          loves country and her childhood home.
          My husband’s family in yet another continent
          takes up heart space as well. I live there
          simultaneously, though more when visiting.

Mine was the war-torn country of cathedrals,
of narrow streets in charming medieval towns,
of siblings leaving one by one, of next-gen families.
A yearly week of home immersion is my treat.
My husband’s country, that of Taj Mahal,
Himalayas, a family so vast we stay
with relatives in many towns and relish
family we don’t have ourselves.

But after almost half a century I must confess
I do belong to the US, though not as gushing
“brought up right” flag-waving white old woman,
but as one who has seen the world and picks
her likes, reserves the right to criticize.
We spent more years in southern states
and shudder at the mounds of snow up north,
yet wish it could be piped down here
for our summer drought, when lack
of washing rain turns trees as dusty
as the Indian ones before monsoon sets in.
But wildflowers in spring make up for it,
fall is so long, it often slides to spring,
a tiny skip of winter in between.
Broad streets, nice houses are the benefits
          of growing towns in land-rich Texas,
          though if the drought persists, our land will starve
          and immigrants will have to leave.
          We love the richness of the world cuisine,
          can pick and choose from music, Broadway, poetry,
          eclectic offerings to fill each day, if one so wished.
          We chose to spend our end of life
          in Austin, have said “yes” to it.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My love of nature has resulted in the poems collected in Southern Seasons. An intense study of the Mahabharat (India’s grand epic) and the Bhagavad Gita led to my other two chapbooks. But I often put my critical thoughts about society into poems which might be called poems of witness. They are reserved for open mics, as there are few print outlets for such poems. The above poem has no “sense of place,” as Southerners call these attachments to their homestead. Mine bombed when I was five years old, and I have had to wander ever since.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Wildflowers” (Austin, Texas) by Christa Pandey.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christa Pandey has lived in Austin, Texas, for almost nine years, where she has delved into the vibrant poetry scene not available to her earlier. Individual poems have appeared and are forthcoming in numerous anthologies and journals. Her three chapbooks, Southern Seasons (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Maya, and Hummingbird Wings are reflective of the many themes she likes to approach in her poetry. She blogs at http://karmawings.wordpress.com.

glassey_view
MY VIEW
by Robin Glassey

My field
Greets me each day.
Changing seasons —
Brown, green, gold, filled with sunflowers.
What will I see today,
Deer, antelope, coyote?

A lone tree standing,
A sentinel.
A place of adventure
Where children play on a summer’s day.
A hawk’s home — he sits watching, waiting.

My mountains
Guard my field.
An ancient warrior scarred by battle
Mined for coal — but beautiful still.
Decorated in copper, browns and golds,
In winter, frosted in white.

Sunset bathes you in reds and oranges
Changing you minute by minute,
Second by second,
A new image, a new beauty —
Breathtaking.

My field will soon be filled
With homes, sidewalks, streets
Cars choking the roads.
No open space, no sunflowers
No sentinel, no antelope.

My field was never really mine,
Just my view —
My view that will soon be gone.
Gone to progress, gone to development.
Gone.

But for today the sun shines
On the copper-streaked mountain,
On the brown field,
On the lone tree,
On my grateful heart.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Although writing fantasy is my main genre, I tend to write poetry when I am feeling strongly about something. I saw the call for submissions on Where I Live for poetry and felt that I needed to write a poem about the field and mountains just west of my home before they are developed. Just this past year we discovered that the area west of us has been sold and will have hundreds of homes put in. We had thought that this land would not be touched for years to come as the farmer had said he would never sell. He was referred to as “the last holdout.” What I refer to as a field in the poem is actually land that stretches all the way to the Oquirrh Mountains. There is nothing in between but field. When you look to the east you see homes, buildings, lights — development. Soon my view to the west will look the same. I wanted to write this poem before this beautiful view is gone.

PHOTOGRAPH: “My View” (Utah) by Robin Glassey.

glassey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Glassey was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and currently resides in Utah with her husband and four boys. Her current passion is writing science fiction fantasy novels set in the world of Fathara and her books The Least of Elves, Secrets of Fathara, and The Veil of Death can be found on amazon.com and b&n.com. A former psych tech at LDS Hospital and graduate of BYU, Robin returned to college to take classes just for the fun of it. Besides writing, she is addicted to taking pictures, eating French fries, and watching Doctor Who.

brownsvalleyca
WINTER WHERE I LIVE
by Lawrence James Nielsen

Today, leave the city
As we did years ago.
Come walk with me.
Feel, taste, hear and see where I live.
Let hurdy-gurdy traffic
melt into distant white noise.

Open the curtain on
a morn of weeping fog,
of tears on cattails, and
give grayness taste, texture.
Feed your sun hunger.
Find woolybears sleeping
in mouldering, mounded
leaves until Spring’s song wakes
all souls fuzzy and smooth.
Hear the songs cooed, chortled,
and honked upon the flood.

See feathered fantasias,
white and colored wings,
souring chevrons tiered
against sun-dogged skies,
cascading into rain
flooded paddies;
heralding frosty morns,
chortling, honking fog.

Taste the joy of life raised
without walls or fences.
Live renewed by beauty –
creation daily born.

Flow with the seasons
As they change between
Flyway and Sierras
Where the Yuba flows
From high mountains
to the skirts of the Valley

PHOTOGRAPH: Brown’s Valley, California.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lawrence James Nielsen, retired teacher, born in Orland, California, reborn in Ribeirão da Ilha, Santa Catarina, Brazil, lives in Brown’s Valley, California, at the edge of the Yuba Goldfields with his wife, Florence, several cats, numerous chickens, and any wild critter who shows up for a meal. He is a naturist, and when not helping others discover their ancestors and origins, spends his time gardening, writing, fishing, or roaming the desert and forest chasing ghosts, inspiration, and edible mushrooms. Before retiring, he taught at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, several community colleges, and (after discovering a love for working with at-risk youth) public schools in Los Angeles, Modoc, Sutter, and Yuba counties. He’s published two novels, Cdwyn, Son of Mynd and Don’t Murder Maria. Some of his poems have been published online and in local community magazines. His academic articles were published in a previous lifetime.

logo_poetry1
Spring is almost upon us (actually, in Los Angeles it’s already here) and our thoughts turn to beginnings — the inspiration for our latest call for submissions: ME, AS A CHILD Poetry Series.

PROMPT: In a poem, tell us about yourself as a child — written from a child’s perspective or from your adult perspective. If possible, please send a photo of yourself as a child to accompany the poem.

WHAT: Submissions can be original or previously published poems. You retain all rights to your work and give Silver Birch Press permission to publish on social media and in a potential print edition.

WHEN: We’ll feature the work in the Silver Birch Press ME, AS A CHILD Poetry Series during April 2015.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email one poem to silver@silverbirchpress.com as an MSWord attachment — and in the same file include your name, contact info, one-paragraph author’s bio (written in third person), and any notes about your creative process or thoughts about your poem. PLEASE — put all of this information in one MSWord document and title the file with your last name (and only your last name). Write”Child” in subject line of email. You may also submit a photo of yourself as a child to accompany the poem.

DEADLINE: Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PHOTO: (From left) Maya Angelou, Jack Kerouac, and Sylvia Plath as children.

Toward the Chircahua Mtns, Rt 191, Az Mar 2014
Through the Chiricahua Range
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

Not even a forest road, but a switchback shouldered
by crumbling granite. Broken undulations,

trampled byways, printed in the rise and fall
of contour lines that plait my map. From a foothill

road no one bothered to name, I watch corrals
bedded in the gorge of Horseshoe Canyon, train

my sights on horses no longer there beneath skies
gathered in the pewter shade of monsoons, above

debris and flood deposits left by forerunning storms
that quenched the languid fumes of ancient droughts.

With awkward grace a deer bolts through spinal
shadows of burnt ponderosa pine, wakes the infrangible

silence of my sunstruck gazing. A kestrel’s sudden
wing-shadow draws my line of sight toward shuttered

mine shafts, the open palm of San Simon Valley
beyond, where wolves once threshed the undergrowth.

I have come this late to these foothills, brow grimed
with dust and salt, but better now than in my youth,

mortality the sole plight of the aged then, none
of the unheeded toll of errors that own me now.

The sky westers in penumbral stormlight,
shadows racing me along rising cutbank walls.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Toward the Chircahua Mountains, Rt. 191, Arizona” (March 2014) by Jeffrey C. Alfier.

jeff_alfier

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey C. Alfier is winner of the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection, Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013). His latest work is The Color of Forgiveness, a poetry collaboration with Tobi Alfier (Mojave River Review Press). He is also author of The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and The Storm Petrel – Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books).

ClancyDesert3
Wait Till the Scorpions Come Out
— for N
by Sara Clancy

You hate the desert and I don’t,
it’s as simple as that. I point out
the blossoms on the clumped barrel
cacti, you show me the pack rat
midden in between. We are both

right, but since it is February
and temperate as any June day
on Cape Cod, the point goes to me.
The match will go to you soon enough
in the season I choose to forget,

as surely as the diamondback
disaster you saved me from tripping
over last spring and the other sting
of recognition from underneath the birdbath
we were foolish enough to move.

Originally published in The Toucan (Spring 2013).

PHOTOGRAPH: “Evening in the Sonoran Desert” (February 2015) by Sara Clancy.

clancy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. Her poems have appeared in The Linnet’s Wings, Burningword Literary Journal, The Madison Review, Verse Wisconsin, The Toucan, VAYAVYA and Houseboat, where she was a featured poet. She lives in Arizona with her husband. They both look down carefully before stepping outside.

justin_lowery
SUMMER SURF
by Diane Gage

ocean air soft as soggy Saltines
rusty as the bottom note of Old Spice

long sweet slope of asphalt
on a street perfect for skateboards

shrug off marine layer melancholy
and take a safe little newbie ride

past the buzzcut pink-tufted mimosa
whacked flat by a lackadaisical city crew

dip-a-dip-dip your stiff-beaked ball cap
to ladies living happily with cat fur

slide past lawn chairs of domesticated men
who have learned many ways to hide beer

betrayed in the sunset years by spinnaker bellies
preceding them on their daily waddle

summer in San Diego suburban style
Pacific just a couple of freeways away

PHOTOGRAPH: “California Dreamin'” (La Jolla, California) bu Justin Lowery. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

gage

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diane Gage writes and makes art in San Diego, California. Her work appeared recently in Facing the Change: Personal Encounters with Global Warming (Torrey House Press, 2013). Her poems have also been published in journals such as Chattahoochee Review, Puerto del Sol, Rattapallax, Seattle Review, Hawai’i Review, Poeisis, in anthologies such as Letters to the World, Prayers To Protest, Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odesm and online at Qarrtsiluni and Thanalonline. She was featured and interviewed recently at http://bluevortextpublishers.wordpress.com/interviews/

robert_eovaldi
Faux Spring in Southern California
by Robbi Nester

It’s been a month since the last rain.
Tumbleweeds that last fall
pursued their manic course
across the highway
have settled in for the season,
send out tendrils
like misdirected telegrams.
Another frost will surely follow.
Even the birds sing all night,
making the most of a short season.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Apache Canyon in the Los Padres National Forest, California” by Robert Eovaldi. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

robbi-nester

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide Press, 2014). She has also edited an anthology of poems inspired by shows on public TV, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes Press, 2014).

gonzalez2a
Though you may not drive
a great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls,
TV antennas in the back . . .
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got

Be Thankful for What You Got,”
William DeVaughn (1974)

THANKFUL FOR WHAT I GOT
by liz gonzález

In my North Town neighborhood,
pit bulls and German shepherds,
trained to kill, jump spiked fences
and crunch Chihuahuas like taquitos.
I carry a big stick when walking Chacho,
my cream and caramel Jack Chi.
We circle a two-block radius,
stuck on flat concrete and asphalt,
stuck seeing the same houses and streets.
Whenever we can, Chacho and I
hop in my ‘95 Toyota Tercel,
and make a quick escape.

We park at the Signal Hill
Home Depot lot,
hike up Skyline Drive,
up the gated community’s
winding paved paths,
past the squeak of bobbing oil pumps.
I’m breathless; Chacho’s ready to run.
We speed walk around Hilltop
Park’s rim and Panorama Drive.
Air swept by Santa Ana winds
reveals Los Angeles high rises
and San Bernardino mountains.
The cobalt blue Walter
Pyramid rises from treetops.
Huntington Beach’s jagged
shore shimmers and froths.
Off the coast of Long Beach,
yachts and freight ships
sail by artificial THUMS Islands.
Behind the Queen Mary,
gantry cranes stand erect,
like metal dinosaurs
ready to do some heavy lifting.

Chacho leads the way on White
Point’s foot-carved trails.
Concrete frames brush, ocean,
and sky in Battery Bunkers’
empty gun encasement.
Salt and sage scent the breeze.
Fennel, that interloper,
waves tiny yellow buds.
A cactus wren feasts
on swollen prickly pear fruit.
Chacho pulls the leash taut
while I stand in awe of the view.
Catalina Island on a fog-free day.
White sunlight rides the ripples.
A lone speedboat
rips the serene surface.

A supermoon illuminates
the Seal Beach boardwalk.
Dusk dabs stuttering clouds
purple-pink. The sinking sun
spills amber honey into lampposts
lining the wooden pier.
Chacho can’t read “No Dogs.”
He runs unleashed, kicking up sand
smooth as a whisper.

After a two or more mile jaunt,
my t-shirt sweat-drenched,
we lounge on Beachwood BBQ’s
dog-friendly patio
in downtown Long Beach.
Chacho nibbles on corn bread.
I sip a pint of craft lager,
eat a small salmon salad—
my version of suds and grub,

and give grace.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Chacho at White Point Royal Palms Beach” (San Pedro, California) by liz gonzález.

liz gonzalez zwark

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: liz gonzález is a fourth generation Southern Californian. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have appeared in numerous literary journals, periodicals, and anthologies. She has poems forthcoming in Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and is the author of the limited edition poetry collection Beneath Bone. liz’s awards include an Irvine Fellowship at the Lucas Artists Residency Program and a Macondo Foundation Casa Azul Writer’s Residency. She works as writing consultant and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Visit her at www.lizgonzalez.com.

longbeach
Peninsula, Long Beach
by Donna Hilbert

On this beach the days are mild, evenings cool.
Wind kicks up at three, unvaried as bread
sliced from a single loaf. I read
the seasons by the setting sun: summer’s spool
hidden by high rise, and then, the slow pull
toward Catalina. By fall, the sun beds
down in open ocean, un-obscured
except by cruise and cargo ships schooled
before the port. Neighbors say Upton Sinclair
left Pasadena to summer on this beach.
I wonder how he conjured slaughter
houses—the severed flesh, the stench—in air
so sweet? Did suffering stay within his reach
while dolphins leapt and sun melted to water?

PHOTOGRAPH: “Long Beach, California” by Donna Hilbert.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest chapbook, The Democracy of Carbon, is collected in Swallow Dance, from Silver Birch Press. Earlier books include The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from Aortic Books; The Green Season, World Parade Books, a collection of poems, stories and essays, now available in an expanded second edition; Mansions, and Deep Red, from Event Horizon, Transforming Matter, and Traveler in Paradise from PEARL Editions, and the short story collection Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them from Staple First Editions and published in England. New work is in recent or forthcoming issues of Chiron Review, Mas Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy and PEARL. She is a frequent contributor online journals including A Year of Being Here, Cadence Collective, Little Eagle’s Re/Verse, NewVerseNews, and Your Daily Poem. Her work is widely anthologized, most recently in The Widows’ Handbook, Kent State University Press. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com.

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