Archives for posts with tag: California

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

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.


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  including his chapbook of miniature fiction, “Coyotes Circle the Party Store,”  Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at 

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

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
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?

Memorial Park
Highland Park

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
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

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.


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

NORTH HOLLYWOOD PARK SUNSET PHOTOGRAPH: “Sunset in North Hollywood, California, park” by Joanne Chase-Mattillo.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love the natural settings of Los Angeles. Neighborhood parks are crucial to the environment of our great city. Having lived in Los Angeles for so many years, I have seen changes our North Hollywood Park. In the 80s I would not have gone there. It was not safe. Then with revitalization of the park there are now paths to walk on, a community center, exercise equipment, people practicing yoga and martial arts. It is still a refuge for the homeless, but everyone seems to be respecting each others space for everyone needs a home away from home and a place to walk and enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather in a comfortable environment.

portrait joanne chase mattillo small

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: The beauty of nature surrounding Los Angeles was the impetus for Joanne Chase-Mattillo’s entrance into the field of photography. She began vigorously studying photography and other art arenas to hone her skills as a visual artist. In 2000, Joanne graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a Masters of Fine Art (MFA). During the time she prepared for this degree, she continued as a tenured teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District. Joanne is now a full-time artist. She began this life’s journey in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and graduated with a BA from Eastern Michigan University. Though the natural settings of Michigan are also quite beautiful, Joanne always dreamed of living in California. It was when she found the Santa Monica Mountains and her many hiking trails that Joanne learned to absolutely love Los Angeles. In addition to color and black and white film, she now shoots digitally and employs the techniques of infrared imaging and enjoys creating 3D anaglyphs to be viewed with red/blue lenses. She also combines images of nature with movie stills, mannequins, or human subjects in photo montages, with occasional text included in these artworks. Joanne has exhibited her photographs throughout California, nationally, in Korea and England.

Remembering Jack
by Robert Lee Haycock

Fog meandering eastward across Browns Island
Remembers Jack the erstwhile oyster thief
While it dallies over the Antioch waterfront
Fingering its way upstream toward Big Break

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Jack London wrote a knuckle-biting story about rounding up a bunch of salmon poachers and throwing a message in a bottle asking for help as he passed Antioch [California] on the way east to what was then an island but became Big Break.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Some Dreams Never Die” (Antioch, California) by Laurie Search. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Lee Haycock grew up in California’s Santa Clara Valley, “The Valley of Heart’s Delight,” and now resides in Antioch, California, “The Gateway to the Delta.” Robert has been an art handler at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco since 1988.

The Meadow
The Meadow on Awakening
     Pt. Reyes National Seashore
by Sandra Anfang

Light mounts the roofline
a thief on nimble feet;
the windows pastel with rose
pool with dew.

I unzip the nylon bag of dreams
feel the chill on each goose-fleshed limb
sleepwalk from my bed
                    every cell yearning for sun.

opening the cabin door
a velvet net of birdsong
draws the boundaries of my world.

dew glitters
twists off a railing;
                    a genie rises from a lamp.

silvered brush considers stirring
thinks better of it;
pines stand at attention
reverent in their pews.

the soft complaint of quail crescendos
joins the chitter of songbirds
at their ablutions.

across the creek a raven’s cry
                    somnolent sky.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem last April on a weekend writing retreat at the Point Reyes National Seashore in West Marin County, California We stayed in cabins that were icy in the early mornings, and wrote perched on the edge of creeks and under Coast Redwoods. I live down the road from the meadow depicted in my poem. I consider it my backyard.

PHOTOGRAPH: “The Meadow” by Sandra Anfang.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Anfang is a teacher, poet,and visual artist. She is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks. Sandra has won several writing contests and awards, most recently a first place award for her poem “Surprise” in the 2014 Maggi Meyer Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Poetalk, The Shine Journal, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, Healdsburg Literary Guild For Love’s Sake chapbook, The Tower Journal, Mothers Always Write, and Unbroken Literary Journal, with others forthcoming. Sandra is the creator and host of the monthly poetry series Rivertown Poets in Petaluma, California. To write, for her, is to breathe.

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.


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.

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


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

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


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).

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

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

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.


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