cæsura 2016: the poetic games / bronze edition

the Online-only Version of
the Journal of Poetry Center San José

 

cover photo by Branden Frederick

Editors

Bill Cozzini

Mighty Mike McGee

Caesar Kent

Poetry Review Team

Allie Marini

Brennan DeFrisco

Leslie Hoffman

Barbara MacRae*

 

Published by

Poetry Center San José

PCSJ Board of Directors

Robert Pesich, President

Mighty Mike McGee, Secretary

Bill Cozzini, Treasurer

Darrell Dela Cruz

Venus Jones

Caesar Kent, Marketing

Jeffrey Leonard

Amy Meier

Joe Miller, Design, Publications

Vinod Narayan

Dennis Richardson, Willow Glen Readings

Scorpiana Xlent

Nils Peterson, Emeritus

To contact the editors, send email to caesura@pcsj.org.

For submissions, back issues, membership, and donations, please

visit www.pcsj.org.

©2016 Poetry Center San José

All rights revert to contributors upon publication.

*Our apologies to Barbara MacRae. We mistakenly used the wrong surname in the print edition.

 

 



 

Contents:

Editor’s Note

Poetry:

Arjun Rajendran/The Beaumont Bible

Kara Arguello/Imagining this Earth without Beauty

Mary Ann Cook/Never Imagined

Susan Kelley/Algorithm and Blues

Judith Terzi/Trigger

Ariel Smart/A Wild Love

James B. Nicola/Scientific Mind

Anshu Johri/Buhddas of Bamiyan

MK Punky/Five-Sided Story

Barbara RuthCraigslist: Housing Offered

Shirley Muir/White Sea, Black Heart

Asha Sudra/Hex

Robin Lysne/Flight

Carolyn Grassi/There Is In God

John Nimmo/Facts

 

 


 

 


 

Editor’s Note

Before we chose a theme for Cæsura 2016, we discussed at length the purpose and direction of Cæsura. We wanted to ensure the journal connected with and supported our local poets and readers, while continuing to gain recognition and appreciation beyond our geographical community. The number of regional and global poets getting published has increased so we questioned how that might affect our local audience. Since we wanted more participation, it was suggested that we publish additional poems on line. This would enable more poets and poems to circulate, from all regions, and might expand our definition of community. So, before any poems were submitted, we agreed to select poems from the 2016 Cæsura submissions to post online.

So, in the spirit of competition and global unity, we decided to hold The Poetic Games. Teams were picked, The World, and Silicon Valley. The plan was to have each team’s best poem placed next to each other allowing an easy comparison as the poems were read. But to make it resemble a race, the poems needed to at least be similar in form and content.

Ten poetic forms were chosen to represent competitive events. As a further challenge to the competitors, each form was limited to three topics. This was done in part so we could evenly match the poems by their form and topic, making the competition less subjective. Also, we felt that the pre-determined topics would require most participants to write new poems, thus bringing the artists into a shared experience that is the Poetic Games. All of this produced a truly new and unique print collection of poetry and fiction we called Cæsura 2016, The Poetic Games: The World vs. Silicon Valley.

Dear Poets, with the complexity that this years Call for Submissions presented we were pleased that you accepted the challenge, and were equally impressed with the excellent poetry you created. We were pleased to see that all of the poetic forms listed in our call received multiple submissions. This demonstrates your depth of talent and strength of character. Thank you, your creativity made our reading a pleasure.

Dear Readers, the constraint of the printed book excluded some of our favorites so we are delighted to share more. What you have here are the fifteen poems we thoroughly enjoyed, but which had no true challenger from the “opposing team.”

Welcome to Cæsura 2016, The Poetic Games: Bronze Edition.

Bill Cozzini & Mike McGee

 

 



 

Arjan Rajendran

Silicon Valley, Free Verse / Religion

The Beaumont Bible

I’m no man of faith, so it still bewilders me why
I had to question the twenty bucks I found

in a Bible. Every other student had a job, legal or illegal-
only I smoked up my parents’ savings. I’d achieved

a lawn of stubs. The courses I’d enrolled in
had galloped away, covering me in dust. Wheeling

her polio, my aunt in the neighboring state sent
me blankets, stationary and medicines. She sent me

notebooks- I used only a few pages for homework
and in the rest, another bildungsroman choked

on its own vomit. Then one evening, this blighting note;
in a Bible I’d borrowed. It was easy at first

to slip it inside my pocket- the Pakistani store was right
around the corner. Halfway there, the money

asked, am I a gift? When I reached, it said, I’m a test.
I stood outside the door, hesitating to buy

cigarettes from my biblical wealth, unconvinced it was
just a fucking book, the oldest bestseller about hell.

Arjun Rajendran has appeared or will be appearing at Strange Horizons, Star*Line, ZARF, Berfrois, The Bombay Literary Magazine and other publications. His first collection, SNAKE WINE, was published by Les editions du Zaporogue in 2014.

 

 


 

Kara Arguello

Silicon Valley, Villanelle / Future

Imagining this Earth without Beauty

If there were nothing wild and free and fleeting

—blackberry brambles, fresh herbs, dew on a spiderweb—

why would we keep searching?

Paralysis, crusted heart, listen:

whole pieces of me would fall into shadow

if there were nothing wild or free or fleeting.

It is our tendency, or training, to deny everything.

But when the day is bleak, admissions must be made.

Why else should we keep searching?

A spirit that withers, shoulders slumping,

would fade like a vacation tan under artificial light

if there were nothing wild or free or fleeting.

A repeat encounter with a star in the woods

behind the house, to plunge into a cold lake of beauty—

that’s why we keep searching.

To be astonished, to learn it all over like a child,

old crows and caterpillars, mountaintop songs and muffled fog,

to find all that is wild and free and fleeting—

we know we must keep searching.

Kara Arguello was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now lives, works, and writes in San Jose, California. Her work has appeared in Cream City Review, DNA (Dragonfly Press), The Fourth River, Sugar House Review, Aperçus Quarterly, and Snail Mail Review, among others.

 

 



 

Mary Ann Cook

Silicon Valley, Villanelle / Future

NEVER IMAGINED

AT 16 I never imagined I would outlive a child.

AIDS attacks gays, druggies, not Cindy.

Who can imagine the unimaginable?

I never imagined I would be thrice married

and counting —two divorces, one widowhood.

Never imagined I would outlive a child.

Never imagined I would have the best death

in a survival camp horror movie.

Movies can imagine the unimaginable.

Buried in a pit up to my neck, I lost two limbs.

But couldn’t imagine outliving my youngest,

her light still shimmering on those remaining.

Couldn’t imagine two grandsons half Chinese,

Chock-a- block with improv and empathy.

Go ahead: imagine those unimaginables

Homesick for spoken English while in Paris,

I never imagined outliving my youngest

to a plague now controllable, but doctors did.

Faced the unimaginable and licked it.


Mary Ann Cook was a journalist—reporter/editor/columnist—for 40 years until retirement. In addition, she writes plays and poetry. Her 10-minute plays have been performed at Edinburgh, Scotland Fringe Festival, Santa Cruz Actor’s Theatre, Foothill College, City Lights in San Jose and Melodrama Theater, Campbell. Her full length play, Rocking the Good Ship Gooseberry, was performed at Foothill College. Mary served as interim director of San Jose Center for Poetry & Literature and Caesura editor for a year when the center was between directors.

 

 



 

Susan Kelley

Silicon Valley, Villanelle / Mundanity

Algorithm and Blues

As you descend the endlessly branching caverns

Lined with nested loops of tangled spaghetti code

Some mornings you feel your inner canary swoon.

You endure your cube-mate’s gray stalactite drip

About her steady stream of most unsteady men

Dragging you into her endlessly branching caverns

In this cauldron of digital drama starring code jocks

Who’ll wag themselves prone for a concatenated title,

Who never have felt their inner canary swoon

Despite this ergonomically hostile furniture

On which routine serves as proxy for purpose

And descends into endlessly branching caverns

Where you troubleshoot dust bunnies under the bed

On the hamster wheel of your life -- and

This morning you felt your inner canary swoon

While making insincere comments in the Luncheon

Adventure line about the Sandwich of the Day

Which descended into endlessly branching caverns --

This is the morning your inner canary swooned.

Susan Kelley is a retired information systems manager who lives in California's Santa Cruz Mountains. She has studied poetry at Foothill College and in Stanford's Continuing Studies Program. Her work has appeared in the journals Fresh Hot Bread, Caesura, Lowestoft Chronicle, 5-2 Poetry, Roguezine, Touch: The Journal of Healing and the anthologies The Walt Whitman 150, Life is a Roller Coaster, and soon Shattered.

 

 


 


Judith Terzi

World, Sonnet / Death

Trigger

Again they choose to turn amendments down.

When reason bombs, a Lobby logs a win.

One Sunday there were forty-nine, fourteen

plus more last year. Intransigence astounds.

Some chant our country doesn't need new bills:

The Second is their Holy Grail although

they've seen the magazines & salvers grow

like Uzis. Remembering the child who killed,

the gun too awkward in her tender palms:

stray bullet to her range instructor's head.

Arrhythmia is eased by will and meds

to slow adrenaline, restore the calm.

The nation needs a heart to heal the Pulse,

to curb the risk of murder some place else.

Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared in journals such as Atlanta Review (International Publication Prize, 2015), Spillway, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, and in anthologies such as Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. If You Spot Your Brother Floating By is her most recent chapbook (Kattywompus Press). She taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.

 

 



 

Ariel Smart

Silicon Valley, Sonnet / Love

                                A Wild Love in Spring

                                The pop of white blossoms,

                                plum, apricot, fuzzy peach,

                                 white again the cherry—

                                Unsettled in a pool of water,

                                wild mallards, two drakes in combat,

                                rive for a hen pinned down by her nape.

                                Ack, she sounds in distress.

                                Squack, she cries in dismay, her yellow beak agape.

                                In purple sheen, her two swains ravage her

                                with complacent swagger.

                                From a fence springs a flash of white and gray;

                                a feral cat flushes out his prey.

                                White blossoms, plumage, harried feathers,

                                blast every which way.

Ariel Smart was born in 1941at the Green Lantern Motel, owned by her father and grandfather in El Centro, Ca. At five she moved from one town to another in Southern California because her father became an itinerant carpenter. She received her B.A. at San Jose State University, M. A. from Santa Clara University and graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches at the college level. She is the author of The Green Lantern, Fithian Press; Stolen Moments, Fithian Press.

 

 



 

 

James B. Nicola

World, Sonnet / Love

Scientific Mind

A scientific mind is one designed

to learn from trials precisely monitored.

Statistics make scientists less inclined

than I to persevere in the absurd,

for I have not as yet been swayed by sense

but only rare affection, which is blind

to irrefutable experience—

and rash. . . .

                            Imagine it a kind

of Pavlov's system, then:

                                            I see your cheek,

I hear a bell, I hunger.

                                        I can't tell

the reason, for I'm never fed, but find

I wag, and seem to bark instead of speak.

And the pangs grow worse the less you ring!

                                                                                O hell.

I haven't got a scientific mind.

James B. Nicola's poems have appeared twice previously in Caesura and recently in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audiencewon a Choice award. His two poetry collections (Word Poetry) are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). A Yale graduate, James has been giving both theater and poetry workshops at libraries, literary festivals, schools, and community centers all over the country. sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.

 

 


 


Anshu Johri

Silicon Valley, Lament / Peace

Buddhas of Bamiyan

(Buddhas of Bamiyan from 4th and 5th century were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, in Afganistan)

If I could re-shape the moon,

possibly,

add strings to stars,

gently, pull them one by one

giving sky a perfect dark look

one it deserved that night.

Oddly enough,

they blinked like 

chicken pox adorning

sky’s face.

I slept under it, dreaming 

about gorgeous trees,

swings on them, 

you and me,

aloft the wind,

ready to jump

without getting hurt

peace descending

under the humming galaxy

while

on some other side of the world

‘Buddhas of Bamiyan’ stood tall and meek

engraved on a mountain

with  disfigured eyes,

broken fingers

getting knocked down;

a gargantuan stone mass

turning into desert sand

feeding the grand appetite of time,

so inconsequential

loudness of a whisper

becoming a voice,

turning into screams…

‘Peace’ stays quiet

always

even when

muffled, gruesome holes

quickly drill

with beating hearts

in soft bodies.

Seeks no revenge

when destroyed in stealth dark

or savagely

in broad daylight,

for if it does,

it’d be yet another shade of violent fury

indistinguishable

bloody red from an antique white…

Ah! in an attempt to live, it shall die

in its death, it shall live

like

whirling, stirring sandstorm’s left of

“Buddhas of Bamiyan”

in some indifferent part of you,

worn out me,

on a day when

wind’s warm, bird’s chirp

we’ve ropes of the swing

abuzz with love

a thousandth of sapling

for an intangible dream

refusing to be dead

amidst massacred trees…

Anshu Johri authors poems, short stories, and plays in English and Hindi.  A mother of 12 year old twins, she has a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from San Jose State University, California. Her work in English has appeared in Dukool, Vine leaves Literary Journal, Calliope, Creation and Criticism, and an anthology Desi Girls published by Hope Road Publishing U.K.  Her published works in Hindi include two poetry collections, Khule Prishtha (Bare Pages), and Boond ka Dwandwa (Dilemma of a Raindrop), two short story collections, Shesh Phir (More Later…), and Adrishya Kinara (Invisible Shores), and publications in reputed Hindi Literary Journals of India, Canada and U.S.A.

 

 



 

MK Punky

World, Free Verse / History

Five-Sided Story

This is merely a minor reminder mainly meant to catapult adults into jolts

of obvious offense or obstreperous discontent. At least that’s the expected result!

        This is not a jabbing joking jibe. This is not a fleet-footed treatise about bad vibes.

My proudly patriotic friends gathered before us, this is not an insolent insult.

Put plainly, for the most unenlightened dolt: There’s no dictionary you could consult,

no thesaurus or magic lexicon

that defines the Pentagon as a paragon of peace.

        More like a patron of paramilitary police.

        More like a massive factory churning out passive-aggressive offensives

        inevitably ending in disastrous catastrophes at distant addresses.

        More like Hollywood and Silicon Valley’s most important ally

        in comprehensively convincing the populous that what’s best for us

        is constant war and murderous mayhem on foreign shores.

        

Excuse my jargon, but they try to make a trillion dollars seem like a bargain.

Here’s a harbinger of what’s to come:

We will not kneel and we will feel lethal and there will be no cost too high,

because all would be lost without the KY tube of

lubricating grease on the gangrene gears of our economy,

stuck and stymied without an enemy to offend

or a homeland to defend from [fill in the blank], pajama-clad jihadis,

seductive Chinese hotties

or imperialistic Russian oligarchs owning all the best Bugattis – or Bentleys

or whatever wondrous wheels are suitable

for those whose feudal evil is horribly immutable and deplorably inscrutable -- yet

reliably refutable by heavyweight wrestling champions of the world

who specialize in sealing deals by euthanizing enthusiastic heels.

        It wasn’t always war-around-the-clock.

        Before Afghanistan and Iraq, in the halcyon days before Iran and Vietnam,

        a quiet calm fell between the bombs.

        Back then, we buffoons assumed the United States was safe,

        immune from the impending arms race.

After receiving the vaccine, we ought not to have got autism or measles,

or a feeble eating disorder in which the citizenry is feeding on fear,

a diet of insecurity and pure hostility toward those who don’t fully grok

the power of a grenade or Glock

versus our stock F-16, locked and loaded

with a payload designed for mujahidin.

        You know who I mean: uncivilized civilians

        with frivolous pavilions built from oil millions,

        scary men who don’t comprehensively comprehend

        America’s transparently inherent right to bully

        anyone with insufficient humility or ironic mirth.

        You know: the towel-heads and Commies who refuse to bow or kow-tow 

        when confronted by the greatest country on earth.

Here’s a useful fact if you want to keep track of the attack on truth

maliciously instigated before you were born but ‘til this day

still quite the norm.

Up until 1949 – World War II ended just before -- what we now call the Department of Defense

answered to its proper name: The Department of War.

        Hence, the Orwellian locution. War becomes defense.

        The most reliable solution to a public relations debacle

        is to block all calls for truth-seeking, heat-leaking leaders.

        Just neatly repeat the Big Lie ad infinitum.

        Here’s one: You can’t negotiate with “terrorists,” you can only fight ‘em.

        

Most of us intuitively understand in our glands, down to our pituitary, that

we can’t really “defend’ America by making war

 on faraway “enemies” behind every muddy door.

We know we have a predilection for aggression and an addiction to violence

(and pain pills and porn and muscle relaxers). Yet what we do with our knowledge

doesn’t compute: Stay mute and polite and keep nodding your head.

        

        Nobody likes to be called “unpatriotic,” a detractor

        from the grand larceny that we call American Democracy.

But if you need a reason to declare my reasoning treasonous,

I’ll save you the time: Every nuclear device is a war crime

waiting to happen, and every soldier in our military is a poorly paid mercenary

exploited by the corporate salesmen whose quarterly profits will cost him his life.

Or sight. Or, if he’s lucky, PTSD, because, sure, it’s a drag,

but at least he can see and he didn’t come home in a body bag, with a toe tag,

wrapped up in an American flag.

        

        If you want to mend a wound, sometimes you can’t “stay tuned.”

        You’ve got to filter out the noxious noise of popular culture

        and dial in the simple joys of poplars and maples and firs,

        the piquantly pleasurable treasures of mulch (or compost),

        of toasting the host of the universe, flirting with the chirping birds

        while moist dirt spurts from a formerly inert

        pile of detritus and flotsam that got some sun and some love and now nurtures         the future with nutrients

        derived from decimated peanuts and desiccated daffodils

        resuscitating human ills.

        On this fecund fertile growing ground, there’s no Army or Marines,

        no drones or Humvees, no battle-ready death machines.

They say there’s two sides to every story.

When we talk about killing other humans so our precious

Precocious, intermittently atrocious Republic can thrive,

the story sides are always five.

        But we can’t give up. No abdication.

        Let’s add another wing to the dreary Pentagon, we’ll

        make it the Hexagon.

        And we’ll all sing a fairy hymn when We the People declare a new

        Department of Peace

        for our forlorn, weary, war-torn nation.

MK Punky is the author of many books and a winner of the 2016 Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival's creative writing competition, MK Punky serves as poet laureate of Vista Street Community Library in Los Angeles.

 

 



 

Barbara Ruth

Silicon Valley, List Poem / Home

Craigslist: Housing Offered

If I move to Domain Apartments in San Jo

blue lightning will chevron the fitness center in anticipation of my arrival.

If If I move to Alderwood Apts

I will learn how to Live the Good Life.

If I live at Reed Square in Sunnyvale

I will be Vibrant! Bold! Distinct! while I fight MediCaid for my oxygen.

At the Parc they care about me. I’ll live large

down to my last bowl of miso.

I’ll be revitalized at Woodland Meadow

you’ll see my brain light up when anyone says “leaping lesbians.”

At my sweet suite at the Giovanni

I’ll fling gnocchi into the redwoods.

At Mosaic in downtown SJ I’ll cast off

the relics of Then because it will always be Now.

At the Commons of Campbell they’ll bestow upon me

the key to the Passageway of Extravagant Kisses.

Apartment 4103 has great views and fun angles

(and I’m always on the lookout for an angle with fun.)

If I live at the Carlyle in Santa Clara

I’ll say goodbye forever to rigged elections.

There’s a pricey two bedroom coming in June.

These offers will not last long.

Conditions are subject to change,

Submit now.

Barbara Ruth is a weird sister, a spiritual grandmother and a daughter of Yemaya. Her fiction. memoirs, essays, poems and photographs have appeared in Slink Chunk, Barking Sycamores Review, Thank You For Swallowing, Eyedrum Periodically, and Silver Birch Review and have been widely anthologized. She is among the thousands without their own home in the Valley of the Silicon.

 

 



 

Shirley Muir

World, Flash Fiction / Family

White Sea, Black Heart

Ten of them huddled at random meeting points were rounded up and escorted by balaclava-clad men to the filthy, unreliable-sounding bus. It carried them across the dust-clouded Turkish border into Syria. To fight the kuffar. He couldn’t wait to stroke the metal of an AK47. To finger the trigger and then pull it, blow off the head of an unworthy kuffar. Then fifty more kuffar heads.

With these same hands that saved the little girl’s life when she fell on the railings and her blood was seeping away into the Manchester street. The same fingers that had stitched the breast implant in place instead of her breast with its widespread malignancy. He had been proud to work in the big Manchester hospital.

His ambition to violence was now more important.

In horror he remembered his mum and dad.

‘My son the doctor,’ his father had said slowly, at Adam’s graduation. He kept patting Adam’s head, unable to believe the truth of it. Adam couldn’t fathom how it had come about himself.

When had he been introduced to the word kuffar? Why had it ignited this burning desire in his heart for killing and human desecration?  

Once in the camp in Syria and operating under Sharia law with his own sex slaves  he had all the AK47s he could wish for. But now the concept of murdering kuffars felled  him with panic. Hatred swelled in his heart for what he had become. Mahmut, who had travelled with him and regaled him with tales of beheadings and throat-slittings and how to find live videos of them and view them in colour on YouTube, was in paradise. Mahmut had found his vocation.

Adam found hell on earth. He worried that Mahmut suspected Adam’s fading commitment to the daily bloodbath in Syria. The slaughter of innocent pregnant women and slitting of the bodies of little children into pieces made him vomit.

Tonight Adam was going to creep away in the darkness. He would hide in the back of the medical truck that delivered the weekly supplies from Turkey.  He would jump out at Manjib and slip across the unprotected border into Turkey before dawn.

Adam had texted his father using a mobile phone stolen from a decapitated Syrian victim of Mahmut. His father believed Adam was in Syria saving lives.

‘You always had the medical vocation, my son,’ he said when Adam confessed where he was.

‘You wouldn’t crush a spider if it ran across the floor, you saved it from harm. And remember when you kept that bird with a broken wing in the cardboard box. You fed it with milk and talked to it even in the darkness. I knew you would be a saviour of men,’ his father said. Adam wept.

Adam would not have the courage to tell his father about the monster he had become.

‘You are brave, my son. So considerate not to tell your mother of the risks you are taking.  To protect me from the worry of knowing you are saving lives in a war zone.’

His father had emailed that he would meet Adam in Antalya.

‘I will be at the bus station in Antalya,’ he said. ‘If you get caught by the Turkish authorities come clean and tell them you have been administering to the sick and wounded in Syria,’ he said. ‘They will let you come home with me. I will vouch for you.’

Adam felt bullets whistling past his head as he crawled on hands and knees, bleeding and grazed in the blackness. They were on his trail with their AK47s. His throat would be slit his throat like the others last week. Or they would slice his abdomen and pull out his entrails like they did to those girls from Birmingham who didn’t like being sex slaves to the ISIS men.

He ran like he had never run before, almost coughing up blood when he collapsed in the dirty sand under prickly bushes on the Turkish side of the border.

With a British passport he headed to Antalya.

‘I will wait for you for three days at Antalya bus station,’ his father had promised. ‘Don’t worry if it takes you a while to escape. You are a saint. God will protect you.’

He sluiced his dirty aching body in the Mediterranean, the AkDeniz, the white sea. It cleansed his skin but not his blackened heart. He would fall on his knees and kiss his father’s feet. Tears coursed down his face. He would beg his father’s forgiveness for throwing away the decency his parents had taught him.

Next day, juddering along in the rickety old bus, clutching his passport they were held up by a mob of yelling Turkish militia. It was fifteen miles short of Antalya.

The twenty bus passengers were hustled and forced onto the dusty roadside. The mob demanded identity papers. A couple of Syrians, a man and his wife, apologised that they had no papers and begged for asylum. The soldiers beat them in the head with their rifle butts. The man fell to the ground, blood streamed onto the sand at the side of the road. Adam found himself leaning over to tie up a wound on the wife’s forehead. He received the bloodied end of a rifle butt in the side of his own face as a deterrent.

‘British! You stay here. Do not move. You cannot go to Antalya.’

‘But I must,’ he said, trembling now because salvation and forgiveness was so near.

‘The ISIS have blown up the bus station. All the people are dead and Antalya is not safe. You stay here. We take you to Istanbul.’

Shirley Muir was trained as a scientist and worked as a writer in the engineering, pharmaceutical and oil industries. She travels regularly to Turkey and writes short fiction and flash fiction. She admires the work of Pippa Goldschmidt, Carol Shields and Ray Bradbury. A number of her pieces have been published or placed in writing competitions. In 2015 she won short story competition with Trapped and her first story was published in an anthology, Time to Flee. Shirley lives near Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

 



 

Asha Sudra

Silicon Valley, Spoken Word / Love

HEX

I tried to put a hex on you.

Vex to convince you of what I thought was

right

Developing wings forcing you to take flight and

away from me

Cast a voodoo Spell

But your soul was illiterate,

Unable to comprehend

The vast vernacular of love and acceptance

Except this dying desire to somehow be

validated.

Verified in perplexity and insecurity.

Secretly striving for a way out of a self

contained box that

only you hold the key.

Contents of dirty baggage

Closeted in fear of shame and disapproval,

Dresser drawers padded with interior lining as

to not reveal

the hidden compartments of your heart

that only I know.

I tried to fantasize and dramatize our story.

Hyperbolized in award winning literary fiction

To get me to hate you.

The lyin

The bitch

And the disrobe.

Medications of the chronic

Calms disharmony.

A Rotting inside my soul

Like a compost heap of trust turned sour.

Wars drove between my heart and yours

Yet my plot lines

Like rivers in a delta

All lead back to loving you.

No change in the ending feeling of frustration

and confusion,

Hearing battles cries

That could break divide between contrary

advisories.

Peace treaties drawn and debated

In eye contact conversations.

Contemplations of letting you go

Like I should

But,

feeling alive

Has made me feel like I can't not have you in

my life.

But the truth remains

And quite honestly,

I don't think anything is ever going to change,

You will never love me the way I love you.

As much as I tell myself

Your mind might change,

Might replace

Mistakes made

Mystified in decisions and stresses of choices

and risks to take

But,

You will never love me the way I love you.

I was a break from reality

Proof that there were things missing in your life

That you needed to work through.

I was a looking glass into

Magnifying fissures

Set in foundations

Erupting constant bleeding from the core.

I was a bandaid.

I mean

The best fucking band aid there ever was,

Like a band aid that actually matched your

color skin,

Or stuck to even your palm or the bottom of

your foot

I mean,

Talk about the most gentle and sensitive

support there could ever be.

And like a bandaid

With a deep breath and some courage,

Removed in one fell swoop

To allow for independent healing,

The 'right thing'

Whatever you call it.

I personally think it was a lil pre-mature

And you coulda handled another week but,

I'm kidding.

Like I said

As much as I spin it,

The bottle ends on you and me.

Literary devices

Devise idealistic fantasies

See but,

I'm beginning to think

My survival depends on realistic happenings

And the fact still remains,

You will never love me the way I loved you.

Asha Sudra is an artist, educator, and revolutionary originally from Los Angeles. She has worked for the non-profit Playworks in East-Oakland, was a community organizer for workers/tenant rights, antipolice brutality, and anti-domestic violence. Her passion for social justice focuses on educating youth. She is currently a 7th grade teacher and is actively training teachers around California about how to teach within a social justice lens in order to create authentic change. She has toured London showcasing her poetry including at the famous Troy Bar.

 

 



 

Robin Lysne

Silicon Valley, Free Verse / Flight

Flight                                                        

…and the golden bees

are making white combs

of sweet honey from

my old failures.

Antonio Machado

Honey Bees gather nectar in radiant circles

                vibrating humm        Bumble bees covered with pollen chaps

lift heavy with

black negligee wings

                                                Feeders of sweetness-all flowers

of vegetables and fruit,

all flowers in their lace skirts         bees fertilize all green

trees and shrubs                 simply depend on

                                                you, on your transparent flow

your lazy lift                                 flower to flower                

yellow jackets in black and yellow

stripes, inadvertently bring

                        pollen to stamen

                                        buzz

circles sex to sex as butterflies color air, fluttering flowers

sunning

wings open and close

        monarchs drift orange windows, stains of scales so tiny they

leave powder

on fingertips

reflected, refracted color as Blue Damsels, or Blue Morphos, Painted Ladies

or Swallow tails

Yellow or White Sulfurs

dragonflies light over lily pads

                                in all colors and sizes , red or green, black

lift over ponds

                an iridescent dazzle

                                                

as Luna Moths with dusty green wings

                                        stare with eyes as brown oak colored moths swirl

                                                 

furry antennae        radar streaming flutter lover of flames

                                        in darkened room or sunlit day

rising blossoms to blossom.

Then bats their skin for wings flap at dusk and hang upside-down in caves in daylight        

                        squeaking blind screeches

bounding into sonar

                         ears        from rocks, trees or other night flyers scooping bugs

                                        dodging paddles held up high

 to test their radar swooping low over ripples or

Vampire Bats who land on cattle to collect blood before dawn as they fly back to

caves or cliffs where

they wrap their furry bodies in skin and hammock bones to sleep. Bats flutter rather than glide as Great Blue Heron’s “z” folded neck rests over seven foot air foils feathered in reflected blue

from sun on clear day, grey on cloudy ones. Cranes

fly with necks stretched out as Swans honk and lift

wings draped over air as arms around shoulders

of loved ones. Feathers or all birds in three layers, one stabilize, one set covers

another extend the lift, tails are air rudders

        for navigation into unknown spaces. How varied the flight of Swan from Raven who careens, wheels and turns diving through red canyons, a black lens

                                along rim of snow and fir trees clinging to cliffs. How Raven drops

                away returns to nest

                                and disappears into shadows, gateways, between boughs.

        Twittering sparrows or jays or bluebirds, or

Falcons, fastest bird in the world, who have been clocked at 80 m.p.h. across fields or over hills.

                Take the helicopter aeronautics of hummingbirds

                                                                tiny inspiration for pure joy,

how their ball and socket shoulders only appear in Swifts allowing

                                        movement in 360 degrees and are the only birds to fly backwards, Hummers drum their wings 45 beats a second

                                        and their light inspired helicopters. How all

                bugs and butterflies and bats and birds have from the beginning

                                        of human flight inspired kites and balloons, bi-planes and tri-planes, all paper or canvas stretched over wooden frames with stretchers or

cockpits beneath airfoil wings as

                                the Wright’s designed

                                                as their Kitty Hawk launch launched all of us into skies of uncertainty-a wingless creature – that broke through into air, into

the twentieth century from paper and wood to metal propellers, then jet engines to rockets

to engines roaring

breaking barriers of sound, a funnel of noise, over fields and mountains, Sierras and Rockies, over trees and streams, forests and eagles

                                                all by wing, yet how odd that the most

                adept at flight are covered not in steel nor wood nor paper nor sinew, nor

muscles nor socket joints nor feathers, nor flees nor flies, they do not have feet nor claws

nor wheels on which to land- their weight is nothing, their height immense, their presence

is

everything when you                 are sad, their compassion

endless.         They fly even so                from place to place to place and

do it without

so much as a thought.         They fly with                 light                 with                 the

slightest        request and will never                interfere                unless         you ask. They

watch                 over                 every                small                thing,         all        plants

forests                animals                birds                and beasts                alike

all        humans, alive                or                 dead                

                                        all                kinds                no matter

what        color                no matter        the design                They fly

with intention,                 theirs         and

with humankind        in                colors divine

gold                        white                pink                green                 and yellow                

blue                 and purple                some                 red                        some midnight with                  shoal of stars                

Bringing         with                 their colors                peace        wonder        

        

faith                        a lightness of touch                strength,                 and         an

endless                         pouring over         all, believer or non-believer

eternally                moment by ecstatic         moment.                

Robin Lysne, M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. is an author of 5 books, artist and energy healer. Recent books are Handbook to Heart Path, An Energy Medicine Guide, and Poems for the Lost Deer, (BlueBoneBooks, Santa Cruz,CA, 2014). Publications: Rattle, Phren-z online Magazine, Samizdat, Awkening Consciouesness Magazine, The Weekely Avocet, North American Review, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, etc. Member: Poetry San Jose, Poetry Santa Cruz, Emerald Street Poets in Santa Cruz. She is a psychic/medium and energy healer with 25 years experience around the Bay Area and across the country by phone.

 

 



 

Carolyn Grassi

World, Free Verse / Flight

THERE IS IN GOD

               “There is in God

A deep, but dazzling darkness . . .

  . . . O for that night! Where I in him

  Might live . . .”

         The Night by Henry Vaughan

If God is in “a deep dazzling darkness,”

  why not swimming in the sea of our DNA,

        or hanging on to

        words a friend confides

while we’re called on to discern the messages

  of the One who created us both from scratch . . .

Why not consider a blank slate, while beginning

  a new life, also links to past generation, though

scientific discoveries may

seemingly debunk what was

believed, or still may be felt by remnants today of

  what were magical mysteries, though caught

between deniers of evolution and those who reject

  anything thought to be unprovable, so tossed

aside, unable to categorize

things not seen under

a microscope or dissected in a lab, ignoring awesome

  wonder accessed once upon a time widely in rituals,

festivals, honoring the harvest, animals, deities, stars,

  the big bang, lilies in the field, the fox nesting in a log,

love’s miraculous dawn

leaping over obstacles . . .

happens to each of us and all, remembering when I fell

  for the man I’d come to marry . . . he appeared out

of the blue, walking through

a snowy Westchester

apple orchard, on his way to offer Mass, while I was

  meditating on the gospels, thus our attraction grew

in leaps and bounds, overcoming convent obstacles

  through what in those days we called grace,

        while the God “I knew”

withdrew or merged into

our lives, what some call transference, we simply felt

  it was part of the plan, a distillation of the divine

in ordinary stuff, like us, and sunrises, sunsets, elixirs

  brewed by naturopaths, potions designed by Chinese

medicine acupuncturists,

        Love leaving an encouraging

signs, even after death’s departure, since passing to a new

  stage of be-ing, the power to recall abounding as it is

the divine takes on the tinest form, subatomic particles,

  child in a manger, animals calling in the forest,

birds migrating,

pets purring, barking,

hear their breathing, up close and personal, incarnational

  disguises guiding us home to Love’s haven perhaps

once lost, now found, leaning to listen, seek for signs, even

  if ridiculed, warmly welcomed, who cares if clichés abound,

care for the outsiders,

comfort the oppressed,

taste forgiveness’s infinity, drops of dew on morning grass,

  the child Buddha knew, I feel your heart beating in mine . . .  

Carolyn Grassi is a native of Brooklyn, NY, Carolyn Grassi graduated from Brooklyn College, CUNY, holds two Master’s degrees (Political Science) from San Jose State University. Her poetry has appeared in many journals; three books of her poems are published: Journey To Chartres (Black Swan Press), Transparencies (Patmos Press) and Heart and Soul (Patmos Press).  With her late husband Joseph Grassi, they published Mary Magdalene and the Women (Sheed & Ward). Carolyn studied with Robert Hass, Robert Bly and the late Galway Kinnell. Her poetry has been praised by John Ashbery, Ron Hansen and the late Naomi Clark, co-founder of the San Jose Poetry Center.

 

 



 

John Nimmo

World, List Poem / Future & Mundanity

Facts

The highest point in California

is Point Conception.

I was conceived in a repurposed

pie kitchen.

The tipping point

is always twenty-two years away.

My sister has a picture of it

hanging in her house.

The earth is a cube.

Cold

is a temporary concept.

The shortest distance between two points

is through the Arc de Triomphe.

No picture.

The coldest place on earth

is the far side of the moon.

Solar power will become nonfunctional

due to chipmunks that gnaw the cables.

Acid dissolves coral.

On July 16, 2186

the Galapagos Islands

will see a total solar eclipse.

Extinction is a growth industry.

Picnics and electronics

will never be bugless.

Other islands will not.

Ick.

War in the Middle East will cease

when camels spit on their guns.

Futurologists retire early.

John Nimmo’s poems have appeared in many journals including Rattle, Stirring, Caesura, The Sand Hill Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and DMQ Review. His chapbook, Out of Mud, is published by Finishing Line Press. Besides poetry, he finds excitement pursuing his career as an environmental physicist specializing in groundwater resources. From southern California, he went to Wisconsin for six years of graduate school, and now lives with his wife Elsa in Menlo Park. His poetry website is at http://www.rubydoor.org/jnpoet/index.html.