Archives for posts with tag: California

peter tellone
The Movers
by Cynthia Anderson

Every ferryman has to start
somewhere. In the dog days
of August, young Charon
gets his chance: after six years
of packing the truck, they let him
drive it, before dawn, across the desert
to meet Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Older, wiser in tomfoolery,
the two fast friends watch
that eager pup injure his paw
and bleed himself off the job,
leaving them free to unload
the way they wanted.
King G, tall, blond, and lean,
sings the furniture’s praises
to the lady of the house,
while Enki, a swarthy
stevedore, recites the litany
of local threats: fire ants,
scorpions, snakes, and worse,
the killer who descends
through the cooler duct
straight into the living room.
He grins with his parting shot—
You’ll have to deal with them
whether you like it or not.

PHOTO: “Sunset, Hidden Valley” (Joshua Tree National Park, California) by Peter Tellone. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2008, my husband Bill Dahl and I moved from the California coast to the tiny Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree—in August, the hottest month of the year. One young man drove the moving van all night from the coast to our new home. Two movers from San Bernardino joined him on site to unload. As the poem relates, the young man injured himself and the two San Bernardino men completed the job. One man in particular hated the desert and made sure to tell us why. As for us, our love for the desert—the climate, the wildlife, the wide open spaces, and the peace and quiet—continues unabated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

Endless Summers
by Joan Jobe Smith

Those endless summers when my son
and his buddies were too young
to drive a car, I packed as many
boy-men sardines that would fit
into my VW Bug and drove them
to the Surf Theater in Huntington Beach
to see surf movies, The Endless Summer,
Saltwater Wine and when the surf was Up,
they strapped as many surfboards as the VW
surf racks would hold and I drove them
to the Huntington Beach Pier where they
learned the poetry of the sea, sailed
aquamarine and spindrift soup
while I lay on the sand
studying for grad school exams
trying to make something of myself
and tried not to wish I were one of them
and then all the way home I listened to
their teen-aged a-b-c’s of “awesome,”
“boss” and “cool,” the salt and
sun turning their hair golden till
autumn and time to go back to school

and now my son and his buddies,
the age I was back then, their sun-streaked
hair grown-up dark while they try to make
something of themselves, come surfing now
to get back into shape and my son
brings his children now to show them
the way of the waves, those endless summers
and those sonnets of sun, sea and salt
going on and on as endless as

ABOUT THE POEM: “Endless Summers” by Joan Jobe Smith, dedicated to her son, former surfer Danny Bryan Horgan, was first published after award of first prize in Surfer Magazine‘s 1997 poetry competition, and next appeared in Pearl (2000). In 2009, the poem received a Long Beach (California) Arts Council City Transit Award and is on permanent display at the Long Beach First Street Transit Gallery. In 2013, 48th Street Press published the poem as a broadsheet. The poem also appeared in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology (2013).


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 500 publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published 20 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. Her latest book is Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl.

Gray Socks
by Ryn Holmes

A single ray sneaks through the curtain
on a thunder-dark dawn,
waking up an urban fish out of water.
Rolling out of bed onto the wood floor,
she scratches, stretches,
then works out a few night-kinks
as gray-stocking’d feet shuffle toward
the kitchen’s aromatic first-light brew
drifting ’round her nodding, foggy noggin.
Sliding over to the front window,
she sips and swallows
in reverie,
staring out at the commuter traffic

and is back in faded baggies,
under the sun, offshore winds perfect.
Straddling the waxed board,
she bobs gently,
lined up with others watching,
waiting for a perfect curl.
As the intensity of waves increases,
she puts the water on notice, stands
hanging ten, then steps the deck
to carve a place on the face of a big one,
flying off the lip and into the sky –
a clean aerial.
Ears wind-whistled,
she drops into the pocket, weaves,
shooting the pipeline
to barrel through the green room
in a tube-ride faster than ever before.
Finally, pitching into the pit
she wipes out, stoked.
A totally rad ride!

Outside, city noises break open the dream.

IMAGE: “Tubed,” California surfing poster by The Poster Factory, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My imaginary skill is surfing. Growing up exposed to the beach culture in Southern California, I spent many hours watching and envying surfers their freedom in the water.  Although I didn’t have the means at the time, I would have given anything to join them.

holmes photo

As writer and psychiatric nurse, Ryn Holmes has drawn inspiration from both patients and friends in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and now the Gulf Coast. She has been published in the Four & Twenty online poetry journal, various editions of the Emerald Coast Review, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, as well as Longleaf Pine magazine and others. An award-winning photographer, including first prize for “Art on Paper’” in San Francisco’s inaugural Art in the Park event, Ryn is a member of the West Florida Literary Federation, an editor at Panoply literary zine, and a partner in K & K Manuscript Editing.

1970s freeway
Shattered, ripped, jagged
by Patrick T. Reardon

“Drive,” he said. So,
21 and never
behind a
I did

on the 1971 freeways of
Los Angeles and
up into the hills
and down into
the city
on palm-lined
side streets
I clipped
the left
of a

shattered and
ripped like fabric,
jagged like a bottle broken
along the curb as the tire has turned.

PHOTO: Traffic on the Hollywood Freeway near Ventura, California, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, in the early 1970s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I borrowed the phrase “ ‘Drive,’ he said,” from the very good and now forgotten 1971 Jack Nicholson-directed movie Drive, He Said, which borrowed the words from the short Robert Creeley poem “I Know A Man,” which ends with these lines: “drive, he sd, for/christ’s sake, look/out where yr going.”

Reardon.....with shattered

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, who actually is a very good driver, spent six months in the suburbs Los Angeles, bored with the perfect weather. A Chicago native, he has published essays on the joys of snow-shoveling during a writing career that has spanned more than half a century.

PHOTO: The author in 1971.

ONE + ONE Paul1a

Paul Fericano is a San Francisco native and author of several books of poetry and satire, including The One Minute President (w/Elio Ligi / Poor Souls Press, 1984) and five collections of poems. His latest, The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press, 2015), was a National Book Award nominee. Paul is the editor of YU News Service and author of A Room With A Pew, a blog on clergy abuse issues and the healing process.

George Guida is the Brooklyn-born author of seven books, including The Pope Stories and Other Tales of Troubled Times (Bordighera Press, 2012) and four collections of poems, including his latest two, Pugilistic (WordTech Editions, 2015) and The Sleeping Gulf (Bordighera Press, 2015) George teaches literature and writing at New York City College of Technology, and co-edits 2 Bridges Review.

ONE + ONE Paul1b

On Wednesday, January 13, 2016 (the ides of January!), poets featured in IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks will read from their work at The Ugly Mug in Orange, California. All poetry lovers welcome! Please join poets Robin Dawn Hudechek, Daniel McGinn, Daniel Romo, and Thomas R. Thomas as they read from their chapbooks included in the 288-page collection.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 8-10 p.m.

WHERE: The Ugly Mug Cafe, 261 N. Glassell St., Orange, CA, 92866


At the Cadence Collective Reading at Gatsby Books, Long Beach, CA  05-11-15

Robin Dawn Hudechek received her MFA in creative writing, poetry from UCI. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including CalibanCream City Review,Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets, Cadence Collective, Hedgerow: a journal of small poems, Silver Birch Press, Right Hand Pointing, and work forthcoming in Chiron Review. She lives in Laguna Beach, California, with her husband Manny and two beautiful cats, Ashley and Misty. Find more of her poetry at


DANIEL McGINN has been active in the SoCal poetry scene since 1995. He’s written about poets and poetry for Next Magazine and the OC Weekly. He’s taught workshops for Half-Off Books in Whittier, The Lab in Long Beach, and the Orange County Rescue Mission. Daniel has an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His book, 1000 Black Umbrellas, was published by Write Bloody. Daniel, his wife, the poet Lori McGinn, and their poodle, Pearl Le Girl, are natives of Whittier, California.


DANIEL ROMO is the author of Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014). His poetry and photography can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, Yemassee, and elsewhere.


THOMAS R. THOMAS publishes the small press Arroyo Seco Press. Publications include Carnival, Pipe Dream, Bank Heavy Press, Chiron Review, Electric Windmill, Marco Polo, and Silver Birch Press. His books are Scorpio (Carnival), Five Lines (World Parade Books), and the art of invisibility (Dark Heart Press). His website is

Find IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks at

Check out a trailer for the collection: 

Kings Canyon Vacation
by Robbi Nester

Long ago, so long it’s almost mythical,

I went camping among the big trees—

Sequoia and Redwood, near a river.

The trees stood dark and silent

over our small tent.

The river sang all night, never still,

weaving in and out of my dreams.

Much later, I put words to the tune.

PHOTOGRAPH: Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park (California) by Neale Clark, Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by Silver Birch Press’s vacation prompt. The vacation in question took place over 30 years ago, when I first came to California to attend an MFA program at UC Irvine. I liked it so much here that I never left.

robbi photo2a

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester doesn’t take many vacations these days, but she makes up for it by writing poems that take her far away. She is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), and a forthcoming collection, Other-Wise (Tebot Bach). She also edited an anthology of poems inspired by public media, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014).

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.


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

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.


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

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

Bavetta copy copy

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