Archives for category: Where I Live

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Thank you to the 132 poets and photographers who participated in the Silver Birch Press WHERE I LIVE Poetry & Poetry Series, which ran from February 1 – March 31, 2015. The series was an amazing adventure around the world. Thanks for a great ride! We’ll post all the participants’ names and the places we visited in a few days.

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Monsoon Skyline
by Jerry Garcia

Midnight thunderhead
hovers above a vertical bar graph
of metropolitan halation.
Patina-framed windows
throw random sparks
at foot-stepped puddles.

Hooded valets lock rusted gates,
trip on soda cans down to the Metro;
café waitstaffs turn chairs over tables,
journeyman lawyers drive corporate sedans
vacating downtown perspiration.
Delivery truck sprits pavement,
lost tourists make U-turns
on one-way streets,
electric drizzle descends
like a drawn curtain fade out
muffling the booms of Bald Mountain.

Dawn’s alabaster lamplight
generates steaming silhouettes
of bicycles and shopping carts;
morning guards start their shifts
while last night’s security takes a walk.

Friday morning
Jack Purcell traffic jam
emerges from 7th Street/Metro Station
to invade the valley of worn itinerants.
Just another soggy pavement day
unusually cool to the touch.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though I live in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, I am never far from a view of the city and its cluster of high-rise office buildings. On this particular day, clouds shadowed downtown Los Angeles while thunder echoed in the surrounding mountains reminding me of Bald Mountain in Fantasia. At sunset I thought of the day travelers who visit or work in the city.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Rainbow over Los Angeles, California” by Jerry Garcia.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jerry Garcia is a poet, photographer, and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. His poetry has been seen in a variety of journals, including Chaparral, The Chiron Review, Askew, Lummox, Palabra Magazine, poeticdiversity, The San Pedro River Review, and his chapbook Hitchhiking with the Guilty. Visit him at gratefulnotdead.com.

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Living with Geology
by Phyllis Klein

You prayed it wouldn’t be the big one.
Is it over? Your body is tight.
You peer out at the fractured world
from under the bed that didn’t collapse.
Out the window that didn’t break
the dogs howl. The air isn’t the same,
though you can’t say why.
It is stillness after something profound.
And there they are, howling again, an aftershock.

You check yourself, no broken bones,
but your head’s shook up. You rise to see what,
besides your peace of mind, has been rattled.

You smell for gas, note broken glass, refrigerator
door ajar, a mess of food spilled on the floor.
When you moved here it was paradise, palm trees,
headlands, a bay filled with sails, no tornadoes, no snow.

This wasn’t the punch kind, delivered by a subterranean fist.
This one, more lurch, then twist, and then the crashing starts.

You sit on the floor with the books, the overturned lamp,
the ceiling dust. There are cracks on the walls that will stay that way.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love living in Northern California in spite of the fact that the earthquake risk hangs in the back of my consciousness. My first earthquake experience was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and couldn’t figure out why things were gently trembling. Since moving west in 1984, I have been through enough to know that the house could fall. It’s been quite awhile since the last one, and my emergency supply of water has expired. (There’ usually a run on the preparedness stuff right after the stronger ones.) It was interesting to write about what it’s like at the time, and a reminder about how the cracks remain.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Filmore Street at Broadway” (San Francisco, California) by Phyllis Klein.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR/PHOTOGRAPHER: Phyllis is a California transplant from New York via Michigan. Visit her at phyllisklein.com.

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Low Tide
by Ruth Bavetta

A shiplike rock sails
upon its own shadow, prow
warty with anemones;
water, green and pale, wears
a scrim of foamy lace;
minnows dart from sun
to shadow to sun.

A single piece of kelp,
carved from amber, floats
gently in a shallow bowl; eelgrass
sways from a crevice, strands
abandoned in a mermaid’s comb.

A hermit crab, lugging
his purloined home,
clambers from one spot
to another almost identical.
Barnacles stop kicking
food into their mouths, close
their shingles tightly against the heat.

Everything that lives
in these twin worlds
of water and of air
lies exposed.
The sky, shattered,
smiles back upon itself
in the green water.

SOURCE: “Low Tide” appears in Ruth Bavetta‘s poetry collection Embers on the Stairs (Moon Tide Press, 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My grandmother had a tiny cottage just few steps from the sand in Laguna Beach, California. Spending time there as a child and young adult forever tied me to the smell of salt and seaweed, the sound of the waves, the sparkle of the afternoon sun on blue.

PHOTOGRAPH: “A Day in Laguna Beach” by Sean Foster. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, Hanging Loose, Poetry East, Poetry New Zealand and numerous others, and are included in the anthologies Wait a Minute; I Have to Take off My Bra, Feast, Pirene’s Fountain Beverage Anthology, Forgetting Home and Twelve Los Angeles Poets. She has published two books, Fugitive Pigments and Embers on the Stairs. A third book, No Longer at this Address, will appear soon. Visit her at ruthbavetta.com.

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Sleeping by the Tracks
     Carpinteria, California
by Tamara Madison

The sea casts its song
To the eucalyptus
Tree shadows move
In the night window
A frog chorus sings
In the rank river mouth

The train rushes through
Like a tidal wave
Throws its warning blare
Before the shudder cleaves
The campers’ sleep
And night flows back in

The voices of the surf
Echo again in the trees
We lay ourselves
Before all greater forces
And step onto the raft of sleep.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Train Tracks” (Carpinteria, California) by Kyle Hanson. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

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Sincerely
by Rebecca Guess Cantor

The palm trees stand above me,
a subtly curving halo for this,
the city of angels. They line the streets
shielding me from smog.

It’s different here. I’m always looking up
through sun roofs, skylights;
sitting in traffic
but enjoying the warmth.

I think about you, shoveling our driveway
with your head down, determined,
whenever I see your region
shaded a light blue on the television.

I think about the home we made,
the shutters, hanging hinges, marbles
mixed with gravel, plastic toys scattered
on the deck, plastic pool

filled with rain water, the gas fire burning
an inch of blue flame,
the door with the half-moon window.
I said that I’d be back to shovel the snow,

that I’d write more, call
on days like today—a birthday, our son’s.
That morning in the hospital two years back,
I couldn’t open my mouth

without a promise sliding out.
Best father. Best husband. Provider. Protector.
You’ll never have to worry, I said.
And on that morning I meant what I said.

But I’m here now,
and there’s something about the palm trees,
the ocean, the light.
And I may not be back this winter after all.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about my home but from the perspective of someone escaping from some other place and some other life.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Two Palm Trees with Los Angeles in Distance” — postcard available at zazzle.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Guess Cantor writes about names and naming, literature, women’s issues, and women in the Bible, among other subjects. She received her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 2011 and is currently the Director of the Writing Center at Azusa Pacific University. Rebecca’s work has appeared in journals including Two Words For, Mezzo Cammin, The Cresset, and The Lyric.

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…another day
by Don Kingfisher Campbell

fiber on the inside of my pocket clogs my pen
but I pick it out with my fingertips and start to think
about where I live in a city with lots of cars unsold
and wheels fording streets to find tributary space
in Alhambra (not Spain) I park amidst similar license
plates note colors of shells and skin of those who step
outside I feel I reside in United Nations apartments
only everybody kinda keeps apart living parallel lives
I wake up in quiet mourning vacate unit to work in
a different city enter that environment speak some
language of a job eat a lunch culture I can choose
to fill myself with then back on the flowing road to
find my mind home re-enter allotted paid-for place
turn on electronic entertainment so full of the world
put on some music I get up and down for inner dinner
look to elevate reach for keyboard imitate our gods
let words appear about what is within set them loose
see how poetry may help me understand or mystify
my life with either result ready to repeat all this on…

PHOTOGRAPH: “Alhambra Welcome Sign” by Magnus Manske.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Don Kingfisher Campbell, MFA (Antioch University, Los Angeles), multi-award-winning poet listed on the Poets and Writers website, has been the long-time Creative Writing instructor for the Occidental College Upward Bound program, a coach and judge for Poetry Out Loud, a performing poet/teacher for Red Hen Press Youth Writing Workshops, Los Angeles Area Coordinator and Board Member for California Poets In The Schools, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, leader of the Emerging Urban Poets writing and Deep Critique workshops, organizer of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, and host of the Saturday Afternoon Poetry reading series in Pasadena, California. For publication credits, please go to: http://dkc1031.blogspot.com.

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Night Drowning Off Santa Monica
by Brad Rose

I swim out a long way,
my arms heavy as cathedral doors,
eyes stung by wasps of salt,
lungs, exhausted, gasping.

Behind me, the darkened sea breathes
its breakers into shore,
the irretrievable shore,
against which the night’s flickering haze hangs.

I am here, and not,
watching the cold walls
roll over me,
their heaving shadows, anonymous.

Your death, a year ago, has taught me
that the distance is not so great.
No matter its length,
a life reaches to its end.

In degrees, I cascade down,
beneath the crests and troughs,
to the black center, where a forgotten world waits,
where I will forget.

My hands, plummeting anchors,
fish tangling in my legs,
I am the current’s cold requiem.
The ocean is our stone.

MORE: Listen to Brad Rose read “Night Drowning Off Santa Monica” at soundcloud.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Many, many years ago, I lived in Santa Monica. I would often surf there, and points north (Zuma, Malibu, etc.).  When, 35 years later, I wrote “Night Drowning Off Santa Monica,” which is about love, loss, and mortality, my surfing experience in the Pacific informed the images contained in the poem. Although I’ve been a Boston resident for 30 years, I am inexorably, indeed, inescapably, a southern Californian.  Our species’ origin may be in the sea.  For the poem’s speaker, so, too, is his/her destination.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Beach After Sunset” (Santa Monica, California) by Nelson M.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles and lives in Boston. He is a 2013 recipient of Camroc Press Review’s Editor’s Favorite Poetry Award, a Pushcart nominee in fiction,  and the 2014 winner of unFold Magazine’s  “FIVE (5) Contest” for his found poem “Signs of Reincarnation at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, NY, NY.” His book of poems and micro-fiction, Pink X-Ray, will be released by Big Table Publishing, Spring, 2015. Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Review, San Pedro River Review. Off the Coast. Third Wednesday, Boston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The Potomac, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Common Line Journal, The Molotov Cocktail, Sleetmagazin,; Monkeybicycle, Camroc Press Review, MadHat Lit, Burning Word, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/  including his chapbook of miniature fiction, “Coyotes Circle the Party Store,” https://sites.google.com/site/bradroserhpchapbook/  Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1 

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Gold Rush
By Emma Rosenthal
(stations in italics)

The Gold Line is a smooth ride
Of light rail above and below the city
A narrative of twists and turns
Through backyards and cityscapes

From the bright colored storefronts
Stucco walls
And murals
Of East Los

West to downtown artists lofts
High rise concrete dispossessions
Of hipster cooooooool

East again through northeast

To manicured exclusive enclaves of South Pasadena and the Sierra Madre foothills

Mechanical voice calls out each station
Some names
Vestiges of momentum
We a migratory species
Our wild diversity
Land here in this zone of human destiny

Chinatown
Mariachi Plaza
Little Tokyo

Sip a civilized saffron broth at
Traxx restaurant in Union Station
Cathedral personae
Whispers and catechistic announcements from above
Marking time

In the thirties
The departure point
Within These silent halls of reunion and dispersal
Of thousands
Displaced
“Repatriated”
Destination: Mexico
No vacation departure
No day trip
No commute to school or work
Just long lines of familias forced to the other side of a line that crossed them over

Vaulted ceilings
Saltillo tiled floors
Civilized conversations
We know how to behave
What is expected of us in public places
Appropriate decorum
Scurrying from here to there
Not here not there
Do we know of the bones on which we tread?
Under the boot of colonization
This mastadon of Spanish architecture in the center of the
Cuidad de Los Angeles

We bump and bustle
Do we care about the lives we press up against?
As we hurry the city through plates of glass and rail?

Mission
Heritage
Memorial Park
Highland Park
Maravilla

Not Chumash not Nahuatl
Only the language of conquest
Monuments to the conquista
(Save for a few glyphs in Cypress Park
a token memory)

Do we know?
Where we go?
Where we are from?

The SouthWest Museum once told the story
But the cowboy Autry Center took away
The bones
Artifacts
Shards
Memories
Tools spun over thousands of years

The Arroyo Seco
Disregarded like gum wrappers and soda cans

The lullaby of the rails and the rush of the city
We are here to forget
To get to work
School
Shopping

Ni de aqui ni de alla
The tale does not tell the truth
At Lake there is no lago
There is no sea at Del Mar

PHOTOGRAPH: “Metro Goldline, Boyle Heights” (6/14/12) from the series: L.A. Paradise Chimera: Gold Rush by Emma Rosenthal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ PHOTOGRAPHER: Emma Rosenthal is an artist, writer, educator, urban farmer, human rights activist, and award winning emerging photographer living in Southern California. Her work combines art, activism, education, and grassroots mobilization. As a person with a disability, she is confined, not by her disability but by the narrow and marginalizing attitudes and structures of the society at large.¶ Her work combines art, activism, education, and grassroots mobilization. And is impassioned, sensual, political, life-affirming, and powerful. She explores the use of art and literary expression to elicit an ethos more compelling than dogma and ideological discourse, providing new paradigms for community, communion, connection, and human transformation.¶ She has been a featured poet and speaker throughout Southern California at a variety of venues and programs including; The Arab-American Festival, Highways Performance Space, The Autry Museum, Barnes and Noble, Poetic License, Borders/Pasadena, Beyond Baroque, Freedom Fries Follies (a fundraiser for The Center for the Study of Political Graphics), KPFK, Arts in Action, Chafey College, UC Irvine, Pasadena City College, and Hyperpoets. ¶ Her work has appeared in several publications including Lilith Magazine, The Pasadena Star News, The San Gabriel Tribune, The San Gabriel Valley Quarterly, LoudMouth Magazine (CSLA), Coloring Book; An Eclectic Anthology of Multicultural Writers (Rattlecat Press 2003), Muse Apprentice Guild, and Shifting Sands, Jewish-American Women Speak Out Against the Occupation. Her work has shown in several galleries in the Southern California area, including the Galleries at Whittier College (Light Among Shadows: Human Rights Heroes) and Pasadena City College, as well as Beans and Leaves Coffeehouse in Covina, California. Find more of her work at smugmug.com.

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11 a.m. Just like Edward Hopper’s Redhead
by Joan Jobe Smith

I lean toward my pied a terre window where I live, to gaze
out at the downtown Long Beach, California, cityscape.
Except I’m not a real redhead, my real hair’s really grey,
and I’m not naked.

I see the green hula-dancing palms, the Jupiter-sized camellia tree
fat with enough pink blossoms to polka-dot a yellow brick road to      Hawaii.
I see the two-story apartment buildings next door and other side of the      alley,
and telephone poles pointing the way to the reach-for-the-sky Villa      Riviera,
the long-ago swanky hotel now a condo with ye olde verdi-gris copper      rooftop
when lit up at night glows emerald cabochon while its spy-eyed
grim-grey gargoyles on the eaves glower and squat and curse
dread and dare demons to impale upon the spiked turrets.

At age two during World War 2
I could see all that out my bedroom window when
we lived in a 4-plex on the Old Pike (before the city tore it down for
land fill and a marina), the happy rattletrap roller coaster roars only a
block away from where I played with my dolls near boogie-woogie
hamburgers, jitterbug sailors paying a dime for a shoeshine, each
awaiting Long Beach cityscape sundown blackout
so’s the Japanese bombers wouldn’t see us down here near
the Pacific Ocean sand, everyone in the world wondering: What’s next?

and now, here in 2015,
3 weeks after my 75th birthday, at 11:19 a.m., I remember
it’s time to take out the trash to the alley dumpster, leave out food
and recyclables for the homeless, who, noontimes wander there,
worry, wondering, “What’s next?” the way I do, too, in here
with my dyed red hair as I look out my cityscape window,
waiting, wondering, “What’s next?” just like
Edward Hopper’s 11 a.m. naked lady does, too (doesn’t she?), as she
leans, sighs, at whatever in her 1926 cityscape makes her remember      and see.
Except I’m not naked.
Or am I?

PHOTOGRAPH:Villa Riviera” (Long Beach, California) by EYADSTUDIO

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .”  won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize.