Saturday, April 17, 2010

19 poems entered in the 2010 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Broadside Contest!

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Ellaraine Lockie

All his lovers have fed the birds he says
This is after I've sprinkled the balcony
with pieces of pancake

Well, we can't help it
Our wombs command the role
as surely as the moon dictates the slap
of waves against lava rock below the hotel

We are hardwired to feed hunger, if not in children
then in pets, plants and wild things
I especially like the wild ones
The touch between feral and female
A scrap becoming energy that burns in both directions

The myna who is empowered to squawk and walk
the perimeter as if giving orders
Zebra doves too dumb or smart to pay attention
House sparrows hopping like wind-up toys
as they pick up pieces for babies in a nearby palm

All of them fueling to follow their own destinies
And me with the same small flame that must have
kindled Annapurna when she filled Shiva's begging bowl
It burns through my morning bath

When I come out wrapped in a towel
A saffron finch with fluorescent head
is eating macadamia nuts

that my man chopped with his pocket knife
He calls it male bonding
The nuts are coffee-coated, sugared and salted

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Marvin Dorsey

Car started
belt buckled
staggered lines
start streaking by
concrete barrier divides
50 mile section of the 5
up north to Frazier Park
down south to San Fernando Valley

Exhaust pipes
red brake lights
speeds faster everyday
commuting to work
an hour or more one way
18 wheelers
compact cars
silver Saturn

Sipping coffee
smoking cigarettes
nerves stretched tight
blank faces staring
into an abyss

Silent waters
green grassed hills
the remains of a blown out tire
wreck consumed by fire
traffic alert
I'm late for work
someone's not gonna make it
home for dinner

Constantly in motion
fossil fuel burning
polluting mass
CHP hidden in a sparrow's nest
waiting for another moving violation

Who knows so many miles
round trip
around in circles
white knuckles clutching
down shifting from 4000ft
chasing a 15 minute gap

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Toti O’Brien

Like when I was ten
and wore clogs
still the one
of my steps
is my favorite

I adore when the heels
wear out and
(although treading on
is more dangerous)

the tick tock of my
and right
finds the


Oh I guess I
remember then
country paths at sunset
streets of my land or roman
cobblestones may be

But in fact I also
love flip flops, sandals
soft dance pumps
fit like gloves
cowboy boots and elegant
satin slippers

As well as I appreciate
in terms of support
carpets, sand beaches and
grass where I delight
bare foot


Thank you
mother earth
for letting me step on
you with myriads of
clicking sounds
or mute touches

Thank you, for each
time that you
let me fall
Thanks, whenever I slip
for stopping my fall

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Brenda Petrakos

Picking up a pipe - stuffing natural - instant fuck up
Pretending that he was 22
Sadly looking everyday of 45
Loudly proclaiming - crazy - religion
double talking, weed logic, bitter ramblings, stupid flirtations
He needed to eat
He needed to talk
Picking up a pipe stuffing natural - instant excuse, instant superiority, no matter how filthy the hands, no matter how empty the pockets, no matter how the mirror reflects
and the words the painful, horrible, junkie, addict words, made me sad, sad, sad,
I feed him, I listened, I told him no about a lot of things
so he over-talked, and ignored me
I tried, really, really tried ...but in the end... I let him go
sliding down the crazy, drug, landslide hill, perhaps to jail? perhaps a shelter?
It's not my problem
It is my problem
but I can't do a thing about it
not a thing -
He used to be something completely different
and now he was broken
like a ceramic statue of a boy, put together with evaporated milk and Elmers glue
all put together--- but never the same

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Jon Epstein

We weren’t actually living on a house boat. It was more like a converted fishing barge. It floated, but that was about as nautical as it got. In the rear, where the hull would have been, was a makeshift shitter that emptied into the canal. It was no wonder why, in the three months I lived there, I’d never seen anything swim in the canals; even water fowl were suspect. “Here you go” Steve said, and handed me three balloons packed with pungent, Red Lebanese hashish. Each weighed about twenty grams. “Thanks” I said and grabbed them. I stepped behind the mill-dewy, plastic shower curtain. The cramped toilet was filthy. I was surrounded by stacks of decaying German newspapers, tarpaulins, and decomposing fishing gear. I undressed, squatted down, and grunted when the first one went up.

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Jan Steckel

Splintery wood, cobwebs, cold. Door creaks
open to dark. Moldy lungful. Dead space. Crawl in.
Secrets in the hollow walls. Furnace filter: who scrabbles
behind blue lint? Squeaks and scurries under joists.
Small temblor, or bump of furry head against subfloor?
Skittering behind the lathe and plaster. Shhhh! Be

Twittering under the eaves: Bats? Swallows? Mice?
Tiny droppings, gnawed shavings, billets-doux stuffed
in knot holes yellow in the horse-hair insulation.
Immured within these walls, the whole house history.
Jacks. Marbles. Indian nickels. Corncob pipe stems.
Newspapers mouse-ground to Pompeii ash over all.

Baby skeletons collapse between dry-rotten beams.
Termite-built powder castles rise. Foundation crumbles.
Water pools. Generations of house shrews snooze
under asbestos blankets in pine dust beds.
Lead leaches out of decades-old paint chips,
drips out ancient gutters like whiskey from a

Daguerreotypes with newspaper backing,
manuscript fragments stiffening book spines,
antebellum glass shattered under the cellar.
Push into the house, always more rooms, more walls,
always more in the walls than in the rooms.
Always another walled room, further back

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Anita Holzberg

Kindness comes
sometimes as smooth as glass
on the back of a watermelon

Kindness covers the world with a cotton blanket
a quilt that puffs with the touch

Kindness is a river flowing
that we dip into

Kindness is an unexpected
smile across a room

Kindness walks on gossamer feet

Kindness is the antithesis of sorrow
that slumps even with the morning sun

Kindness, we could color her yellow, or orange
or hot pink, or even red

Kindness is a shining thoughtful person that
kisses on both cheeks

When I am too tired to take in my garbage cans,
Kindness just does it (I don't know who, what, when)
She's there.

Kindness lets me sleep in the garden of angels

When I am Kindness
there is peace in my heart
my heart rises up
to meet what is

Because Kindness is around
the sound of beauty

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Tony Peyser

The creature was still on the loose but they were
gaining on him. The faces of the peasants in hot

pursuit flickered in the shadows made by the light
they carried. Most of the people in the mob that

night were angry and yelling, clearly out for blood.
However, one of the young men from the village

looked not only calm but happy. He even began
smiling as it dawned on him that chasing after

Frankenstein’s monster with a torch was more
fun than carrying one for his ex-girlfriends.

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Phil Turner

One day a long time ago,
Somewhere outside of Chang’an,
In the dense, mountainous,
Bamboo forests of T’ang China--
A drunken master ambled into a valley
By the light of a blue moon
Unlike any that had ever been.
He marveled at a pavilion built there
By some inspired rich man so far away
Hidden from the world.
Its marble frame was a deep shiny black,
Quite like Ozymandias’ polished diorite throne,
And from atop it there called to the lucid drunkard
A small bird which he made out to be a kingfisher:
‘Poet,’ the resplendent feathered specter whispered deeply,
‘Hear my words: your journey has been long and lonely.
You have sailed the seas of imagination
And recorded your exquisite finds for others
To treasure. This is the night of your fate.
Your name is already immortal.
There is a gift for you in the dark,
Silvery shallow of the lake beyond me.
Go to look at it and join us in the Heaven
You have created with words.’
I can see the tragic wandering scholar’s
Moist black eyes and hear his quiet sobs
As he shivers with anticipation, drunk no more,
And though he fears he is dreaming,
Walks over to the pool and sees the moon,
Which enraptures him so profoundly on this
Loneliest of his nights that he jumps in
To kiss it and drowns in its heavenly embrace--
Some say on that fabled night he was both
The kingfisher and himself to have found
Such a beautiful death.

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julie larson

carrion crow’s feet
scratch without a doubt
eyes of newborn lamb promise

aluminum sheets rain foil
parades of charades
shadowing shar-pei wrinkles

*spoiler* This Poem Wants to Sound Hot!

are you choking on mere image smoke?
are you drinking the red? or golden bull?

rest in peace: Death Knows which snide
window or door can’t be clocked
time after mind after
aware of the beasts Inside
Life glances Over
* me *

it’s not always about you

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Rosalee Thompson

I bury 7 endangered poet's books
under my plum tree every full moon
Their wild words whisper
while I try to sleep
Hold The Voice That is Great Within Us
to the Center
of your head

My bed's in the air
The moon's eyes are purple plums
My arms hold a bouquet of trees

A white bird flies by
with a gold key in her mouth

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Jeffry Jensen

I’ve got maturity up the wazoo and
a car with a recurring “service engine”
light that keeps coming on just to torture me
no matter how many times I fill up the tank and
tighten the gas cap or replace the gas cap or
tie my shoes with double knots on a Tuesday.
You can see what it is doing to me in my ripe
old age of sixty (the new forty I am told).
There is nothing new about it in my bones
(what is this complaining crap anyway?).
Life isn’t for wimps or three-legged pigs.
No retirement for the wicked, librarians, or
women with big tits (now the sexist impulse
rears its ugly head, can you cut a poet some slack here?).
OK, the car will live, I will live, the poem will
end, and my cat will curl up on the bed (as
long as I don’t make any sudden moves in my sleep,
but I’m sixty and sudden is no longer an option) for
the duration of a cat dream with frequent twitches and
the BBC rattling on about cricket scores on a clock radio.

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Erika Wilk

Huge sycamores
discard dead leaves
dried to a brown crisp
like the leathery skin of a sherpa

they sail to lawns, pavement
brittle yet strong
they do not shatter
unlike dreams

chased by wind
they race down the street
doing cartwheels
mischievously imitating footsteps

they startle me
I turn to look
no one

up ahead they gather
embrace into a huddle
I feel their strength
knowing it was a good year

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Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

My L.A. dances to the out of tune twang
of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” blaring
from rusty ice cream trucks
putputting down the road.

It lives in the crowds patrolling
Santee Alley every Saturday morning
buying trinkets to sell: beads, scarves,
plastic baby dolls that walk and cry like real.

My L.A. is weaved into every stitch
of an $8.99 turquoise blouse.
Blood, sweat, fear and dreams bound
together like thread

running through industrial sewing machines
singing in a row.
My L.A. is painted on freeways
like a Native-American woman’s jewelry,

it decorates cement waterways
snaking through concrete landscapes.
It breathes at Boyle and 1st;
expanding in carnecerias, Paneserias, loteria,

exhaling the Virgen, always the Virgen,
watching over everyone with her three
wise men pollo, leche, y pan.
You may say this L.A. is ugly,

but I say it is real. Unlike shiny
Hollywood fantasies, it is dark and sticky
like black tar bubbling and breaking
from city streets, and cannot be contained.

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Lisa Marie Sandoval
(a haiku series)

A humming bird sits
in her nest atop her eggs
warming the future

The moon cries and sighs
drinking light from the sun’s breast
its first breath of light

My rice paper soul
creases in flames with passion
consumed in itself

My soul floats, nourished,
in a womb of warm honey
drinking in God’s peace

My mind weaves worry
stretching the frames of wonder
needlepointing fear

White carpet descends
eats my last breath into death
covers my ashes

A new earth rises
a gold sky soars over me
Jesus sits, enthroned.

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Cliff Moore

I tell this tale of tallness not for myself
But for the breaths of my kindred.

Those breaths they breathed out
A time or so ago are the breaths
That I breathe in now.
Without filtering
And my acknowledgement,
I am destined to be poisoned
By the same toxins that poisoned them.

A time or two ago a young man
Told a wise man, what is
And Polar bear died off
Only to come back as platypi.
And the sun rose in the west
To set in the east China sea.

This thing we walk on,
This living rock in space,
Owes us nothing.
It spews out all kinds of life forms
And gives us cause to pause
To iterate how lucky we are.

But I will wait for man to love man.
I know a time is coming,
My grandmother told me so,
When beavers will not be damned.
And Ra will once again
Rise in the east
And set in the west China sea.

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Randy Cauthen
(poem removed by request)

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Jessica Joy Reveles

You and I were busy
becoming pirates in the desert,
cumulous clouds surrounding our rose and sienna

mottled landscape, palm tree yucca,
leopard lizards darting over and under
so little treasure.

There wasn’t a way to tell you
I’d lied about the salt flats,
wanting nothing but mirage,
fearing the dunes, the northern slope,

numbering our days
until the sun failed to make us sweat,
until the soles of our shoes
exposed stone feet.
I could have gone on

tracing the shape of your heart with my tongue,
like taproots searching for water;
we were becoming strangers though,
unable to remember the arroyo.

Your limbs stretched
along the desert floor,
a vain attempt at escaping erosion.

We were busy sinking ships in the sand.

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Patrick Thomas Jeffries

God pulls breath
From the solar plex…
A jumping spark reflects
A smoldering fire that collects
The dust, the fuel; the form being reshaped
Shadows stand still as wind blows and escapes
Through the window gently moving the drapes
The sound, the blow, the inhale like a hit of crack
The atmosphere is real; yet winks the eye itself
And that’s a trip
Translating could hardly say
A word that could blow the world away
Hangs gently silent, from the lips, hanging on with a tight grip
Move this, move this, the object is to continue to move this
Through this, a subtle bliss, a goddess kiss, solitude consists
In a recognition of a self non-distinct
From anything that ever thought or that could think
The heart skips a beat like leaping over puddles in the street
Skips another beat and almost sinks with this dramatic union:
Just whispering of the sun—