Archives for category: California

by John Gardiner

Man keeps a razor at his cheek, scissors to his scalp
hangman’s tie around his throat,
runs on two legs plus four wheels, eats meat he hasn’t cooked
and doesn’t need, his belly’s more than full.

I pulled over in the canyon, traffic speeding by,
got out of my truck, hauled a dead coyote
off the road, people honked and screamed,
“Get out of the way!” Did they think I took its life?
I hope so — at least that would explain their hate.
“You can’t do that.” “Development might stop.” “We can’t care.”
“It’s just a mangy scavenger.” When I tried to get back on the road
no one yielded, so I got out again and lay down next to coyote.
I played dead while autos whistled by, no one stopped.

I asked coyote who would hear his cries in the night and he said,
“Only the blazing moon.”
I pledged my love to him and to the animal world.
I dreamt coyote dreams, slipped into his skin, brother of wolf,
cousin of dog.

I have run with them on four legs in a wilderness of dreams
eaten what I needed, thinned out the mice, worshipped the moon
howled with the goddess of open space and water holes
sniffed the ground and searched for my old friends, the Indians.
I wonder where they went—
they must have been hit by cars.
I am coyote, four legger, straw colored fur, survivor
so far.
“Coyote Blues” is found in Coyote Blues: Free Verse and Prose Poems by John Gardiner, available at

John Gardiner’s poetry will whisk you from subway to sea, from Russia to Rio to Reno, through chambers of the heart, into both ocean and space and back again to the songs of four-leggers-dogs, wolves, and coyotes. These finely honed poems will wrest you from your comfortable chair and you will alight in a place where “…night stretches her arms/and balances the stars…” and you will never perceive the moon in quite the same way again.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Gardiner has published 10 collections of poetry and his work has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals, and magazines, including two anthologies of California Poets (Tebot Bach), Spillway, The Sacred Beverage Press, Speakeasy, Write Bloody, Moon Tide Press, Poetry Flash (Berkeley), Windflower Press, California Poetry Quarterly, Art Life, and The Comstock Journal. In addition to hundreds of featured readings in the U.S., Gardiner has also performed in Russia, The Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Brazil. He tours in a rock ‘n roll Shakespeare show called Shakespeare’s Fool, and has facilitated poetry readings, slams, and workshops in Laguna Beach for the past 16 years. Gardiner teachers drama, Shakespeare, and oral presentation for the Gifted Students Academy at the University of California, Irvine.


Author Paul Fericano, whose poetry appeared in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology and will be featured in the upcoming Silver Birch Press Bukowski Anthology, will read and perform his work at Bird & Beckett Books and Records in San Francisco on Sunday, September 8th, with a program starting at 2 p.m.

Entitled “Italian-American Writers Read Their Work,” the event — in addition to Fericano — will feature readings by Giovanna Capone, Jennifer Lagier Fellguth, George Guida, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and James Tracy, and will be hosted by Laura Roberto, co-chair of the Berkeley City College of Arts and Culture.

According to the Bird & Beckett website, “These writers share an Italian-American background that has had a hand in shaping their work. Several have devoted their attention largely to poetry, plays, and fiction, while Avicolli, Mecca, Tracy, and Fericano have long track records as activists as well…”

WHAT: Italian-American Writers Read Their Work

WHO: Giovanna Capone, Jennifer Lagier Fellguth, Paul Fericano, George Guida, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and James Tracy

WHERE: Bird & Beckett Books and Records, 653 Chenery St., San Francisco, CA, 94131, 415-586-3733,

WHEN: Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 2 p.m.

by John Gardiner

Thank you for not killing me in the metal-grilled cross-hairs
of your monstrous SUV as I crossed the street

cautiously, in full view, in daylight, in the crosswalk
where I thought I had a lawful right to be
and indeed once did in a different, slower world
when I could meander and even take a peek upward
at a trail of pelicans
or outward at a glorious pod of dolphins,
but now I must deal with the likes of you
as you fight for space, wrecking the world
with anger
and the awful weight of your toys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  John Gardiner, a teacher at the Gifted Students Academy at UC Irvine, lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Editor’s Note: “Crossing the Street in Laguna Beach” by John Gardiner was a winning entry in the recent call for Op-Ed poetry by the Los Angeles Times. Check out more of the winning poems at

Photo: Trail of pelicans


In September 2001, Green Poet Press released A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens, edited by Enid Osborn and Cynthia Anderson. The 162-page collection features poetry by 80 of the Golden State’s finest poets, who hold forth 
on the theme of crows and ravens — offering passionate, vivid, sometimes humorous, 
and ever-surprising views of these common yet mysterious birds, called 
”black as the sun” by Gary Snyder.

Myths and Texts (Excerpt)
by Gary Snyder

on a roosts of firs
No bird in a bird-book
Black as the sun.

Contributors include two poet laureates of the United States and other iconic poets 
such as Christopher Buckley, William Everson (Brother Antoninus), Lawrence 
Ferlinghetti, and Ann Stanford.

Other outstanding contributors include: Sylvia Alcon, Ron Alexander, Maureen Alsop, Len Anderson, Cathryn Andresen, Jennifer Arin, Rochelle Arellano, Lisl Auf der Heide, Bettina T. Barrett, Abigail Brandt, M. L. Brown, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott, Jeanette Clough, Constance Crawford, Patrick Daly, Carol V. Davis, Frances Pettey Davis, ellen, Roe Estep, Robert W. Evans, Joan Fallert, Paul Fericano, Molly Fisk, Mary Fitzpatrick, Dan Gerber, W. K. Gourley, Lara Gularte, Kevin Hearle, Katie Goodridge Ingram, Sheila Golburgh Johnson, Greg Karpain, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Kit Kennedy, Lois Klein, Steve Kowit, Danusha Lameris, Noreen Lawlor, Andre Levi, Ellaraine Lockie, Perie Longo, Paula C. Lowe, Friday Lubina, Glenna Luschei, Maia, devorah major, Diane Kirsten Martin, Julianna McCarthy, Kathleen McClung, Deborah A. Miranda, Charlotte Muse, Carol Muske-Dukes, Jim Natal, Ruth Nolan, David Oliveira, Melinda Palacio, Robert Peake, Connie Post, Peg Quinn, R. S. Read, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, Halie Rosenberg, Mary Rudge, Mary Kay Rummel, June Sylvester Saraceno, Edwin Shaw, Kim Shuck, Dian Sousa, Barry Spacks, David Starkey, Joseph Stroud, Patrice Vecchione, Doris Vernon, Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Jackson Wheeler, Charan Sue Wollard, and Cecilia Woloch.

 A Bird Black as the Sun is available at