Archives for posts with tag: California

Gotera Door
The Front Door
by Vince Gotera

was a surfboard speeding forward through the ’60s
except when it slammed, stopping time like granite
if not for the glass pane in the door, which let in
San Francisco’s lights, the fog like gray cotton,
screeching brakes, my friend Hart’s house across
Parnassus St. But the door didn’t stop time. Mom
came in, said, Hart is dead, Vin. Sorry to tell you.
The night before, running from the police, Hart
had driven off a cliff at Land’s End. A joyride
with a friend. Holy fuck. I could have stopped it
when I was on the N Judah streetcar a month before
and saw Hart with a coat hanger breaking into a VW.
I could have got off, said, What are you up to, Hart?
C’mon, give it a break, buddy. Let’s go get a coke.
But the moment was past. The N Judah kept on,
the steel wheels skirling on the tracks, twisting time
into ribbons. I imagined Hart would stop stealing cars,
throw down the screwdriver. But that time, I didn’t
get off the streetcar and confront my friend. There was
always time. Some time I’ll do it, I’ll say to Hart,
Just stop, will ya? But that future day was stillborn.
The taste of silver on the eyes, 9-volt batteries
on the tongue, fingertips on the hot iron smelling
like burnt toast. That logic was no damn logic. Nada.
The KFRC record on my dresser, that album I had
borrowed from Hart last year, said, What you gonna
do now, chickenheart? I pictured myself at that cliff
where Hart died, spinning that borrowed record into
the sunset air, where it would sail forever, surfing
to heaven and the future years Hart would never have.
But I didn’t do that. I didn’t get off that streetcar.
Moment past. Surfboard crashed. Front door closed.

PHOTO CREDIT: Google Maps — 62 Parnassus St., San Francisco, California, USA, December 2013.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is based on an actual event I have tried to write about for probably 30 years. But I’ve never been able to carry it off. Using the idea of a front door as an organizing principle broke that block. Thank you! I have not lived in that house for almost 50 years, but it looks the same, except for the stoop that was brick red. The door itself, with its large glass pane, is identical.

Gotera Headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He was also editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, The Coolest Month, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appeared in the journals Abyss & Apex, Altered Reality Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Dreams & Nightmares, Ekphrastic Review, Philippines Graphic (Philippines), Rosebud, Stone Canoe, and the anthologies Multiverse (UK) and Hay(na)ku 15. Gotera blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar

Anderson front door
At First Sight
by Cynthia Anderson

We’d spent the day with our realtor,
planned to make an offer on a house
we’d seen—but since we were so close,
we said, let’s go by that one last place
just down the block. It was farther
than we thought—towards the edge
of the tract—the roof barely visible
from the street. We followed the ups
and downs of the driveway to the top,
where we were greeted by the garage,
glowing clusters of barrel cacti,
rock formations all around. A desert
wonderland…but where was the door?
A narrow walkway led to the right,
past willows and cholla. Up ahead,
a rise where pines swayed in the breeze.
Finally, the door—solid, brick red,
with its own tiny window instead
of a peephole. We opened that door
onto our new life.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Twelve years ago, my husband and I wanted badly to move to the desert but had trouble finding the “right” house. About to give up and settle for second best, serendipity suddenly took over. The hidden door symbolized our search and its happy conclusion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert, in the house with the brick-red door. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She has authored nine collections and co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. Visit her at

The New Room
by Tamara Madison

When Dad came home the front door slammed
and the house shook. After a scotch and water
he’d settle down. When we built the “new room,”
Mom took that slammed door, covered it
with mosaic tiles, gave it some legs, put it
in the center of the room – a coffee table.

I used to dance on it, in spite of the unfriendly tiles.
The “new room” had a bigger door and a cold entry
with a terrazzo floor that echoed the slams
throughout the house. With the music up loud,
the old door was my dance floor. I could be

a go-go girl until Dad came home from another
angry day at work. I’d jump off the table,
turn that music off as soon as I’d spot the pickup
trailing a cone of dust up the driveway,
and brace myself for another wall-shaking slam.

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: This is what remains of the house that was first entered by the door that later became a coffee table. It was on my family’s citrus farm near Mecca, California. The corporation that bought the property ripped out all the citrus trees and later they razed the house where I grew from small.

coffee table
AUTHOR’S CAPTION: This coffee table is a little bit like the one my mother made from our front door. It was bigger and had some kind of thick blocks for legs and a more chaotic, colorful mosaic pattern. This is the closest I could find online.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac, Sheila-Na-Gig and many other publications. She has recently retired from teaching English and French in Los Angeles and is happy to finally get some sleep. More about Tamara can be found at

Author photo by Sharon De La O.

One-Hundred-Year-Old Door
by Erin Parker

Life is small right now
behind my one-hundred-year-old door
The glass is framed by painted wood
that opens to my half of a one-hundred-year-old duplex
Solitude waits in here
tense in the afternoon sunlight

The one-hundred-year-old windows rattle in the gusting wind
Chimes on the neighbor’s porch never stop, never stop, never stop, never      stop
Music is drifting in from the apartments
There is the quintessential crying baby
There is the quintessential occasional laugh
There are the quintessential helicopters over the house again and again,      flying low

A raucous crow is making daily visits to the tree by the red fence
Parrots are screeching green in the date palms in front of Carolle’s house
Peacocks have moved in and are now spotted on roofs
Coyotes venture out in the afternoons
These dangerous quiet streets

I open the front door when the sounds recede for a moment
It swings easily and I step outside
Squint in the sunlight, smell the ocean
Come back to life for a moment

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It is so quiet now that each sound seems invasive, both welcome and unwelcome. I long for silence but I miss the regular neighborhood noise, and I wonder how it can be so quiet when everyone is home. I am noticing more and more animals coming out into the open, and I find great comfort in that.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin Parker’s work has been published by places like Red Fez, Drunk Monkeys, Lost in Thought, and in the Silver Birch Press Alice in Wonderland Anthology. Her collection of short stories, The Secret and the Sacred, was published by Unknown Press and is available here at the Special Quarantine Price of $1.99 for the Kindle version.

Lupert---Door copy
Of all the doors I’ve loved before
by Rick Lupert

You are the one – Gray when I found you
Pride of ownership painted you blue.
All my previous doors merely rentals.

A forever relationship started when I
walked through you. I’ve got the
paperwork to prove it.

The bank writes every month to remind
me of the long haul. I send them a tribute.
It’s my way of feeding you.

Oh, the things you do –
You keep the bugs out.
You keep the temperature out.
You keep the virus out.

You open wide when they bring me dinner.
You and your nine glass panes.
Half light is the official term at the door stores.
Forged in the fifties when the craftsmen
still stung from the war.

Sometimes we open you to receive candy
from the youngest of our neighbors
trying to raise money to go wherever
they need to go.

You made friends with the UPS guy.
I hear you two talking sometimes.
Out of respect I won’t reveal the details here.
We all deserve our own relationships.

I put up a door stopper so you and
the wall wouldn’t hurt each other.
But I hope you never stop.
You’re the last thing in this shut-down world
I’m allowed to touch.

Of all the doors I’ve loved before
you are the one.

PHOTO CAPTION: It has been made clear to the author, he won’t be leaving the house today.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I lived in apartments for most of my life until I was lucky enough, with my wife, to purchase a home in Van Nuys, California. This door we walk in and out of every day is a physical gateway in and out of this American Dream. It deserves a whole book of poems.

Lupert copy1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 23 collections of poetry, including Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

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