Archives for posts with tag: writer

by Clemonce Heard

Cheating Ma’s keys to slink back, back, forth & forth
to the Lower Ninth Ward, to a cooped backseat
of a coupe, to a deluge where I was canoe & canal,
to a heat that lingered like a sucking, several hours
after the sun sunk in the lento of an initial bead
of sweat is how I spent the first three months. Isn’t
never again will waters become a flood God’s word
abridged. A disciple forced to plunk in my own sin,
to wade within the car I swindled regularly. Year 87
regular surged. Spent the months of surplus riding
back, back, forth & forth from perish to parish, once
inundation departed. Apartment gust-ransacked
here, brick flat plundered by brackishness there.
Age of confluence where neither current prevailed.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, graduating from Natchitoches Central High School (May 2006).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem highlights how my life at 17 was divided by coming into adulthood and Hurricane Katrina. It is meant to illustrate transgressions brought on by curiosity, along with what can be stolen. This poem also uses the hook from Aaliyah’s song “Back & Forth.” My youth is comprised of my sister playing Aaliyah’s albums on repeat. My writing process usually includes coming up with a first line that has a tone I can carry throughout the poem and writing until I start slowing down. I then move to my desktop and begin typing what I have and filling in what’s missing. The poem usually fails if I’m too conscious of what’s coming next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clemonce Heard is a New Orleans native who now resides in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is currently enrolled in Oklahoma State University’s MFA program for Poetry. In addition to teaching, Clemonce tutors and edits for A Door is Ajar Magazine (ADIA). He spends the remainder of his time cooking and eating food that comforts his homesickness, dancing wherever there’s good music and learning how to fish fresh water.

Once I Was Juliet
by Alarie Tennille

I was skeptical of those movie
scenes where the librarian slips
off her glasses and the leading man
realizes she’s gorgeous. Yet I went
from invisible to pursued in just that way.
Goodbye, glasses. Hello, men. Lots
of men — about thirty five for each
first coed at my college.

Suddenly I reminded them of Zeffirelli’s
Juliet. A stranger hummed “A Time for Us”
to me in the cafeteria. A nice romantic
interlude among the catcalls, curses,
and variations on we don’t want
you here.

Now when I hear that theme,
I’m eighteen again, looking like Juliet.
Feeling like Joan of Arc.

PHOTO: The author at 18 and about to leave for college. Her Romeo at the time took the photo.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She misses the ocean, but loves the writing community she’s found in Kansas City, Missouri. Alarie serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. She’s the author of a poetry collection, Running Counterclockwise and a chapbook,Spiraling into Control. Alarie’s poems have appeared in numerous journals including Margie, Poetry East, I-70 Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review, and Southern Women’s Review. Visit her at

ABOUT THE MUSIC: “A Time for Us” was the theme song of the 1968 film Romeo & Juliet. Listen here.

hotel cafe

 On Sunday, October 25, 2015, Tongue & Groove — a monthly offering of short fiction, personal essays, poetry, spoken word + music produced by Conrad Romo — will feature Janet Fitch, David Francis, Rita Williams, Julianne Ortale, and music by Garretson & Gorodetsky.


Janet Fitch is the author of the novels Paint It Black and White Oleander. Her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and journals such as Black Clock, Room of One’s Own, Los Angeles Noir, the Los Angeles Times,, Black Warrior Review, Vogue, and Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is a contributing editor. She currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Paint it Black has been made into a feature film, the directing debut of Amber Tamblyn, and will be released early next year. She is currently working on an epic novel of the Russian Revolution.


In her memoir, If the Creek Don’t Rise, Rita Williams shares the story of her childhood with the last African American widow of a Civil War soldier in Colorado. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, O at Home, Saveur, Best Food Writing for 2007, The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, The Utne Reader, and Fins and Feathers, as well as numerous anthologies. She taught at the University of Southern California. Rita is  working on a novel about a trucker with a meth problem.

david francis

David Francis‘s first novel Agapanthus Tango  was published internationally in seven languages and in the United States as The Great Inland Sea. His second novel, Stray Dog Winter, was named Book of the Year in The Advocate, Novel of the Year in the Australian Literature Review, was a LAMBDA fiction award finalist, and won the American Library Association Stonewall Prize for Literature. His short fiction has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, Best Australian Stories 2010 and 2012, Griffith Review,The Harvard Review, Australian Love Stories and The Ratting Wall. His third novel Wedding Bush Road will be released by Counterpoint press in the fall of 2016.

Julianne Ortale is co­editor along with Samantha Dunn of the short story anthology Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in The Rattling Wall, Alaska Quarterly Review, Salmagundi, The Malahat Review, Stand, Happy, The Gobshite Review, and Barbaric Yawp. She received her MFA in Fiction at UC Irvine’s Programs in Writing, where she was the Cheng Fellow. Her dialogues “Hombre Kabuki” and “Fluorescent Grey” were produced as short films and placed at Breckenridge Film Festival, Mexico International Film Festival, Tulsa International Film Festival, New Filmmakers Los Angeles, SNOB, and won Narrative Merit Award at Los Angeles Cinema Festival. She lives with her family on Bainbridge Island, where she writes and works with children with autism. Her story collection Music For Incurables is under review. She is currently finishing a novel.

weba and ralph

Weba Garretson and Ralph Gorodetsky combine folk and pop music, blues riffs, and jazz harmonies with poetic lyrics to create songs that are haunting and humorous. Their most recent work “What Must the Hummingbird See?” is a song cycle about the fragile existence of urban wildlife In Los Angeles. Other commissions include music for Los Angeles Poverty Department’s “Utopia/Dystopia” at the Redcat, and the LA Public Library stage celebration of Melville’s Moby Dick “My Moby Dick” at the Broad Theatre.

WHAT: Tongue & Groove Literary Event

WHEN: Sunday, October 25, 2015, 6-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028


Come early! Seating is limited and the event starts on time!

First Communion 001
A Name in the Middle of It All
by Michael Louis Schinker

I seldom ever heard my middle name
unless it was hooked to my first name
making it sound like just one name
yelled out from the back porch by my
mother searching for my whereabouts
because it’s time for supper, like an
expletive shattering a quiet summertime air
with a loud syllable-by-syllable singsong
repetition of


letting me and everyone else
in the neighborhood know
Boy, you are in real trouble and you
better hightail it back home right now
cuz you’re gunna get smacked
for some reason or another.

I guess I never asked when Louis
first began appearing on the family tree
but the probable inspiration
for its continuity down through
my father and on to me was
likely the Louis I learned about
early on in parochial school,
a certain pious noble in the middle
of a long line of 18 French monarchs,
he being the IX, the Crusader King,
apparently esteemed by both the pope
who proclaimed him Saint and
early settlers on the banks of the
Mississippi who named their town
after him.

Of course I couldn’t help but
research the meaning and origins
of my middle moniker and discovered
that Louis is a fancy French version
of the manlier Ludwig, a derivative
of two gutsy German words meaning
“fame” and “warrior.”

Wow! What a revelation.
What possibilities.
Suddenly I’m wishing away the
timid, skinny bookish youngster
of my real childhood and imagining
myself as a Beowulf-like character,
substituting a Wagnerian
opera-costumed version of my mother
accompanied by a thundering
chorus of Ride of the Valkyries,
sending out a clarion call
heard around the block for

You mighty young warrior;
return from your day of battle
and sup with us.
Sit ye down ’round the blazing fire
with a pint of mead and join us
for roasted pig whilst ye
tell a hearty tale of blood and pillaging.

But alas, it was not meant to be
so like Tolkien’s Galadriel
resisting the enchantment
of the One Ring’s power,
I shall gradually diminish
and remain the Louis
I was fated to be,
my dream of Nordic glory
fading into the realm of myth,
relegated into the fantasy world
of make-believe like a
Walter Mitty trance.

But anyway, the only place
my middle name really matters
is on my birth and death certificates.
What happens in between
should just be about –

PHOTOGRAPH: The author the morning of his First Holy Communion. “It marks the date the Catholic Church officially began its doctrinal efforts to scare the hell out of me,” he says. “It didn’t work.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:I read many of the entries already posted, and intrigued by the subject, I decided to accept the challenge.


Michael Louis Schinker
lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and has been involved in the advertising profession as a creative director/graphic designer/copywriter for almost 40 years. A lust for literature of all genres was sparked when one of his earliest poems was published in his high school’s first creative arts magazine. He wrote short stories, several plays, and poetry while in college, but all the manuscripts were burned in a trash barrel during a fit of depression. He will be 70 years old later this year and regrets that he didn’t begin writing seriously again decades ago. Recently a renewed interest in self-expression prompted him to launch a blog to post random thoughts about life and love:

by James Ross Kelly

Four pelicans on a log downriver
Sit like squatting men
this crimson Sacramento River evening,

& one rises up a sleepy watchman
& slowly waves his wings,
As a good breeze blows up river,

Paired mergansers begin to move away
As I sit down and look at the pelicans
Whose white through binoculars
becomes pink for a moment
With changing clouds & sunset

I’ve never wanted flamingos,
I’ve been waiting
For these damn pelicans to show,
& they sleep on the log

All the while I’m sitting under cottonwoods
That release a snow like namesake floating &
Blowing up river, & mallards
Begin to sound and take air across the river

Two pair wheel & move up river
Then turn again, reverse & land
Near the shore below me
Across from the pelicans,

By me the wild grape from
The cottonwood hangs dead
In the river having
Been broken from some flood,

The mallards wing away
Again, I catch them in flight
With my glasses,

These green-heads
Winging with their brunette wives
Paired up noisily and across the river
I see the soil layers on the eroding
River bank that each lay down
On the valley long
Before the dam

There are two surfaces
Shimmering streaks with
After breaking water
Lines on the river
In front of me now,
& ten minutes ago,
There were three others, &
A ways down river
I see two more, &
I walk to get oranges
From the neighborhood
Communal tree
I now know what the pelicans know.
the shad are in.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Pelicans on Sacramento River” by Ken Doty.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California. He has been a journalist for Gannet, a travel book editor, and had a score of labor jobs — the in-between, jobs you get from being an English major. Most recently, he retired as a writer-editor for the Forest Service, where he spent the better part of the last decade in Alaska. He started writing poetry in college, and after college continued and gave occasional readings in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s. His poems have appeared in Westwind Review, (Ashland, Oregon), Open Sky (Seattle), Siskiyou Journal (Ashland, Oregon), Don’t Read This (Ashland, Oregon), Table Rock Sentinel, (Medford, Oregon), Poetry Motel (Duluth, Minnesota), Poems for a Scorpio Moon & Others (Ashland, Oregon), The Red Gate & Other Poems, a handset letterpress chapbook published by Cowan & Tetley (1984, Vancouver, B.C.).

by Magdalena Ball

On the bridge of time
I waited in a dream
toes curled, lips pulled back.

It could have been anywhere
scanning radio frequencies
cold and bright
as if this alien moon were the moon.

Enceladus spouting water
against a frozen heart
in need of heat.

Open strings ultrasound
pressure waves infrasound
an unheard symphony played
in the vacuum of space while I wait
at right angles to the brane
in the middle of nowhere
alone, nothing picking up the signal.

In place of mourning, I found myself
laughing silently, hysterically
a synecdoche
for all those things we pretended were real.

That big open mouth
the echoing void
your waving hand.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Waiting is such a charged verb – conjuring hope and anticipation, along with the notion of a lack – whatever you might be waiting for you don’t have. A new kind of meaning is created in the permanent waiting space — you neither despair nor are you satisfied that things are as they should be. Following from Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting,” I attempted to capture that sense of longing, and its accompanying mingling of sorrow that comes with knowing that what you’re waiting for cannot happen (lovers will never kiss on the urn, aliens won’t contact us, and ghosts don’t exist) with a forced optimism (“renaissance of wonder”).

IMAGE: “Under the Mirabeau Bridge” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti—a painting that features lines from a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire. Learn more about the painting and artist at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sublime Planet, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs and a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at

by Jonathan Galassi

The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,
takes on a used-up, feather-duster look
within a week.

The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign
sends red feelers out and up and down
to find the sun.

Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,
brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch
soft to the touch

and rank with interface of rut and rot.
The month after the month they say is cruel
is and is not.

SOURCE: “May” appears in Jonathan Galassi‘s collection North Street, available at

IMAGE: “Apple tree blooming in late spring” by Steve Kuzma, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  In addition to publishing two volumes of poetry, Morning Run (1998) and North Street (2000), Jonathan Galassi is an eminent translator of Italian poetry. Galassi studied poetry at Harvard University with Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is an honorary chairman of the Academy of American Poets. In addition to acting as poetry editor of the Paris Review for 10 years, Galassi has served as a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin, and as executive editor and later president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In 2008, he received the Maxwell E. Perkins Award, which recognizes an editor, publisher, or agent who “has discovered, nurtured and championed writers of fiction in the U.S.”

by Rita Dove

We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
requiring restraint,
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony,
one learns to smile through,
ecstatic mimicry
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
smiling, smiling),
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?)—achieved flight,
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down.

SOURCE: “American Smooth” appears in Rita Dove’s collection American Smooth (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2004), available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Dove made her formal literary debut in 1980 with the poetry collection The Yellow House on the Corner, In works like the verse-novel Thomas and Beulah (1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize, On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Sonata Mulattica (2009), Dove treats historical events with a personal touch. In addition to poetry, Dove has published works of fiction, including the short story collection Fifth Sunday (1990) and the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992). Her play The Darker Face of the Earth (1996) was produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Dove is also an acclaimed lyricist, and has written lyrics for composers ranging from Tania León to John Williams. Dove was named US Poet Laureate in 1993, the youngest poet ever elected to the position. Dove has continued to play an important role in the reception of American poetry through her work as editor of the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry (2011). She is currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“April is the cruelest month…” T.S. Eliot reads his poem “The Waste Land,” first published The Criterion (October 1922). (Read about the poem at

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the  fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean

SOURCE: “The Changing Light” appears in Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s collection How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems & Others (1997-2000) (New Directions Publishing, 2001), available at

PHOTO: TheBrockenInAGlory