Friday, January 27, 2023

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 4, 2022 - Featured Poets Kathi Stafford and Susan Rogers

Ladybug Luminous by Susan Rogers

 The CSPS Poetry Letter No. 4 of 2022 included six poems nominated for Pushcart Prizes (published here in December), as well as two featured poets, Kathi Stafford and Susan Rogers.  The book reviews published in the Poetry Letter 4/2022 will be posted separately.


Kathi Stafford is the author of Blank Check, a poetry collection, and co-editor and contributing author of Grateful Conversations, an anthology of Los Angeles poets. She previously served as Poetry Editor and Senior Editor for Southern California Review for many years. Her poetry, reviews and interviews have been published in many journals, such as Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Connecticut River Review, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, and Southern California Review. Her poetry has been anthologized in Chopin and Cherries and Sea of Alone: Poems for Hitchcock. Stafford is a corporate attorney who is also a  violinist with Brookwood Strings and a banjo player and alto for the Staffords, a bluegrass band.


March 1st     Rabbit rabbit 
Rabbit doesn’t help this time      In a hospital
Room I’m on the floor      Day of my disaster
Cancer in gut     Foundations of earth and my
Life laid bare       Bible on the nightstand
Cords of death pull tight at 2 am       I am so
Alone       the disease my powerful enemy
I am on a fine line in the dirt      I’m only mud
In this moment    on an edge between being and
   Nothing left and yet
Supreme love     reaches down  rescues me
Cords loosened   I still breathe air mixes with
Dust      He brings me into a spacious place of
Beauty    Ferns orchids lantana spring up under
These feet     the day of rescue and
Clean hands lifted in praise for eternity


On the edge of sleep, here sits the yes
In the magic space between now and maybe
Between the star and its implosion   I find 
Joy too much    Music the bridge between
Galaxy’s edge and this mild heart of mind
Opposite sides of the glass
I wish for a tiny denouement
I kiss the raccoon and he turns into a
Fish     Or a ruddy prince
He sniffs the air     On his hind legs
He wants in    He thinks he wants to be tamed
If he only knew 

Waiting for Us by Maja Trochimczyk 


One year ago today: My first go 
At radiation. The tech with his arms
Flu of blue tattoos and scars eases me 
Into place. The quiet clicking

Machine drones on as I hold still
In its shadow. A thin red light razors
Below my skin, down to an ocean of
Cells and fear. In a few weeks, my skin will

Scale off—each strip delicate
And lacy. So individual, each layer
With its sheer story of my past. Some women
Much stronger than I am

Thirty-three times I go home after and burrow
Into sleep, so hard and final.

I win the lottery. One year come
And gone
With no new lumps. This is a gift 
And a wonder yo me. Will there always be
A blank check
Made out 
To future scars?

May I never ask the right questions.
There’s a tale for every traveler.

The tech guy talks about his newborn,
Jimmy, three months old, while shines
With joy. Jimmy almost in the room with us
Talcum powdered and fresh
The man is trying to distract me.

I laugh and
Take it all in.

My pain held up on all four corners
By the prayers lifted by my saints, my friends, toward
Gentle sky, oh Metta, oh peace of my Lord.   


I drive toward the airport   3 am in a hot
Bengalaru night          I drive past a park
Full of banyan trees     where one man 
Sits beneath the         Strangler fig
Shared with a        swarm of wasps

No fruit without the sting     He is wrapped in
White robes       His sweat precious as he achieves
Nirvana        The columns of the trunk ricketed and
Etched with        Many rivers of joy in this
National tree of India 
Elliptical leaves  with seeds spread 
By birds  frugivores soaring through 
Branches and with mutual bliss
Move the fruit         Far from the parent
The man leaves behind his robes
For his next ascension

Hill Clouds by Maja Trochimczyk


Thou has lifted me
Thou has lifted me
And my foes have not rejoiced over me
Thou has lifted

I cried unto you
Cried unto you
Thou hast healed me
Pulled out the cancer cells
By surgeon hands
Thou hast healed me

You brought my soul out 
You brought this soul
Out from the grave  kept me from the pit
At 2 am on the March morning when my soul 
Almost slid away     I felt it going

Sing Give thanks at the remembrance 
Of His holiness
His gift of life
Weeping lasts a night
But with morning comes joy

I cried to Thee Lord
And in the morning you gave
Joy. Peace. My soul.

You turned my mourning into dancing and    
Thank you forever for this extra day to see 
The precious granddaughter faces you gave me.


I am on the edge of old and older
My land pushes up to his land
In the field     three horses   sisters
And one pony.        In the land next door they
Wait next to the gathered trees     In sacred shade
One kneels to me     Do they remember apples
I brought them last spring?  I forget their names
Except for Bear       The little one black and
Impetuous.      One suffers from the pain that
Will not end while       Three witches stir their
Cauldron in the borderland  Six geese float at pond’s edge
Under Oaks and slash pines and two crows
Fly to them         for no known purpose.
Jasmine on the gate      Still blooms 
Its scent and whiteness        Bring me home
Help me find level ground
I’m dizzy these days
Ground beside the blue red roses  a cliche of beauty


A tablespoon of honey and Aunt Ruth makes me
Swallow the comb  my throat 
Tickles.    Tiny wings scratch me close
Spit out the wax when she’s not looking
My little bee might miss his sisters     Or not
Let’s call him Fred for now      From Glad Hive
Next day Auntie steers the station wagon
Halfway across Oklahoma  encased in teak
Over to Glass Mountains. Though they are barely a
Mesa but we don’t argue    Free buzzes around
And my toe hurts
But I keep still
Auntie glows on the crest transformed
We scoot down the hill on our butts all the way
My cousins and I build an altar    One stone for each
Tribe    Near Rattlesnake Lake
Plains   Spread out every which way in a
Season of tall grass     
And barley rustling in the vicious
Wind where I am simply myself.   
 A very small girl in a big prairie.

Fuji Suddenly by Susan Rogers


Susan Rogers considers poetry vehicles for light. She’s a practitioner of Sukyo Mahikari—a spiritual practice promoting positivity. In 2013, 2017 she received nominations for Pushcart Prizes. She’s co editor of A Sonic Boom of Stars and was one of four international judges for the 8th Rabindranath Tagore Award. Publication Credits:Numbers,” Kyoto Journal, Issue 92; “Longing for October,” Kyoto Journal, Issue 81; “A Field of Winter Grass,” Interlitq: California Poets Part 2; “The Origin is One,” Saint Julian Press, 2012; “Grass” and “Grateful Conversations,”  Grateful Conversations, 2018; “Return to Muir Woods,” Altadena Poetry Review, 2019; “Sunflowers in Your Hand,” Quill & Parchment, May 2019.


Everything we have we’re given
in love to use in love, in grace.
There is nothing we alone have written.

We are but a conversation
of light, through this exchange we trace
everything we have. We’re given

sour and sweet, lemon, raisin
and grain to bind them into place—
there is nothing we alone have written.

We eat cakes but have forgotten
their origin. We have erased
everything. We have, we’re given

we look, we laugh, we love, we listen.
We welcome gifts we embrace.
Yet there is nothing we alone have written.

Watch sunset turn to a ribbon.
Remember honey and its taste.
Everything we have we’re given.
There is nothing we alone have written.


  ~ after a photograph by Peter Sheffler
      “Winter Field Grasses, Far Away Point, Maryland”

To be still in the middle of chaos
to be singular in the midst of multiplicity
to be a line in a series of lines
a note in a chorus, a voice in the marsh
a reed in a tangle of stalks
to be woven in a field of complexity
yet still a thread, an arrow, a direction
an intention, a clear heart, a hidden blade
a crisscross of here and there, a slender
reaching strand of light, an intersection
of possibility a dance of detail, a piece of
the weave, a pattern of everything,
a field of winter grass.

Raindrops and Reflections by Susan Rogers


                      for Kotama Okada

The dove knows the way
follow her.

Your heart knows the way
listen well.
Within your deepest self
are wings of light.

They cover the earth
with waves of love.
Do you remember?
You once knew.
Stand in the warmth
of sunlight and recall.

 The origin of the world
is one.
The origin of religions
is one.
The origin of all
humankind is one.
Circle back.
Imagine the great will
of all things
stirring in your fingers.
Reach out your arms
and open your palms
to the sky.
It is time.

Paradise Sky by Susan Rogers

When she thinks of her husband,
she thinks of a half-moon carrying a shadow half behind.
The moon never loses fullness,
even if it is draped by night.
Once she could see the moon's unsevered disc,
no matter what portion lit the sky, and in its one, cool light 
complete herself. Now she finds only broken shapes, 
sees semi-circles separated.  She does not know how
to live in two places at a time. For three or four months 
she thought she could be the sky 
suspended in space above their cities. 
But it has been five or six years; he has not appeared.
She feels hollowed like air inside a weightless cloud. 
Seven days a week, she composes letters in her head, 
but cannot find eight lines to explain emptiness. 
Her nine koi fish swim in bright scaled circles in the pond 
They cannot distract her. She thinks again about walking
ten miles to the pavilion, but has walked this road 
a hundred times before, envisioned him returning 
a thousand times and more. Today, it seems 
ten thousand miles separate them.

If she knew the words, the numbers, she would write a poem.
She thinks of ancient China, of Zou Wenjun
who waited for her husband at a pavilion
when he was sent to the capitol for months which spun
into years. Zou Wenjun waited spinning words and tears 
into a numbered verse and when her husband sought divorce
showed him the poem. Greatly moved, he changed his mind.

Where in this ordered universe can she find
the words to fill a heart? She will have to start again,
relearn the edges of a circle, reclaim the white light
     of her first moon.


Yesterday, someone I know
Looked through me
like I wasn’t there,
as if I were a field of air,
insubstantial and invisible.
Today, I think of my great teacher
who said,
 “Become a practitioner of genuine humility,”
and a modern saint who said,
 “A cyclone can destroy the mightiest of trees,
but even a cyclone cannot touch the grass.
This is the greatness of humility.”
So today I have decided to become like grass,
which needs no encouragement
but water, sun and sky,
which is invisible, often, as we walk by,
a genuine practitioner of humility.
It is true the grass is sometimes mowed;
but that just keeps it safe from storms,
close to the ground, close to you.
Oh God of all things great and small,
cyclone, trees, dirt,
let me strive to always be like grass,
cool comfort for the earth.
So that children may run through me,
barefoot on a summer day
and I may greet them, or catch them if they fall,
soft and green and sweet, with no resistance        
         to their play,
almost invisible, pure reason for their joy

Japanese Maples by Susan Rogers


In the cathedral of trees
sunlight christens moss-grown branches—
a sacrament.

I breathe in 
air of clear intention
purified, re-written.

In the cathedral of trees
I smile at each person I pass
sharing the wisdom of woods.

So many voices mingle:
English, French, Italian, Farsi.
Each harmonized in hope.

I caress a broken trunk on its side
a moment of camaraderie
thanking it for pointing me to sky.

In the cathedral of trees
I walk with you 
each tree 

a testament I read now
and save for later.
I do not know

if the path through
is straight or a loop
that circles back to myself.

Either way I return.

Muir Woods by Susan Rogers


I wonder if I will recognize you
when you return
in a different form.
I like to think your breath
so intimately part of mine
that when you are reborn
even if you wear
white organza as a bride,
or the black habit of a nun,
if you appear much younger
than you were
in a sweater striped in cyan blue
with wild sunflowers in your hand
I will remember you,
just as I remember the shine
of a sun dazzled stream
after it’s gone dry, the rhythm
of staccato rain when I swing
my hammock under cloudless skies,
or the sound of laughter
in a dream of exquisite joy.
Even if you choose to be my cat,
a hummingbird, a bright scaled koi.
And if you are born in another country,
don’t speak words I understand
if you are not female this time
but instead a boy, I hope there will be
some note of you that sings,
your music indisputably
through the differences of then and now,
so I will know you are the one
that it’s you come back
in whatever form you come.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Contents of California Quarterly Vol. 48 No. 4, Winter 2022, Edited by Deborah P Kolodji

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 2022
Guest Editor - Deborah P Kolodji. Cover art by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz,  
You Push and You Pull, watercolor on paper (2020).   


A Path I Can’t Refuse  — William Scott Galasso  7

Teton sunset  Cynthia Anderson    7

Fire Season — Milton Bates 8

Asleep on the Couch — Cary Bogart Ziter 9

Morning — Michaela Chairez 9

Dusk, Hudson Valley Palisades — Robert Dorsett 10

Arch   Paul Willis 10

Stargazer Lily — Sharon M. Williams 11

drops of morning dew     Nancy Marie Fernandez 11

Rain Slippers — Thomas Belton 12

Cassandra as Climate Scientist  — Jeannine Hall Gailey      13

[Sombra] — Carla Pravisani 14

[Shadow]  —  Margaret Saine, tr.  14

salt and pepper — Cynthia Anderson 14

The Fortuneteller’s Bad Day   George J. Searles 15

Void  — Michael Potter 15

Mockingbird — Jeffrey Kingman 16

Questions for a Lodgepole Pine     Paul Willis  17

An Evening Flock — Matthew J. Spireng 17

Blood Moon — Basil Rouskas 18

The Photo  — Margaret Brinton 19

New Moon’s Old Tale — Raphael Block 20

A Stranger —  Ruth Holzer 21

Sheltering on the Coast — Rosemary Ybarra 22

The Big Bang — Georgia San Li 23

A Fading Band — Claire Scott 24

Rain Regiment  Dr. Emory D. Jones 25

what’s left of the night…     Gregory Longenecker  25

Morning at Moore’s Lake, Again — Kimberly Nunes 26

Droplet — Michael Kleis 27

[Receta] — Carla Pravisani 28

[Prescription]  Margaret Saine, tr.  28

golden years — Lee Hudspeth 28

Reconciled — Cynthia Anderson              29

Morning — Nancy Marie Fernandez 29

Phoenix Hairpins —  Margaret Chula 30

Mona Lisa in Hell — Andrew Miller 31

passing time —  Gregory Longenecker 31

Goodnight —  Greg Bell                32

Orange County Roots — Sabrina Skye 34

Ode to an Old Nature Pilgrim — C.L. Hoang 35

October winds  — Gregory Longenecker 35

Spider — Carla Schwartz 36

When I begin — Patricia J. Machmiller 37

my mind emerging — Margaret Saine 37

She Learns to Become Fire  Jeannine Hall Gailey       38

oak leaves  William Scott Galasso 38

With Determination — A.J. Hoffman 15

Corsage, Eight Grade Dance, 1960 — Matthew J. Spireng 39

The Queen Mary — Deborah P Kolodji & Mariko Kitakubo 40

Waiting for the Light — Beverland, Terry, etc. 41

Cranberry Fields Forever — Jim Tilley 42

The Gargoyle, Time  S.T. Brant 43

You Are Eating Oatmeal  Betsy Martin 44

In the Snow — David Sapp 45

Karaoke — Jackie Chou & Genie Nakano 46

March  Henry Stimpson  47

Flies Circling Light Bulbs — Cary Bogart Ziter            48

Mothlight  Lynn Axelrod 49

The Last Small Town — Robert H. Guard  50

Jazz Hat  Bj Cotton-Jeffords 51

The House on Green Street — Michaela Chairez 52

2022 Annual Contest Winners  53

Dolores Street  Jeanne Wagner 56

After —  Susan Wolbarst  56

Ariadne Auf Naxos — Claire Scott 58

Cover art: Tiffany Shaw-Diaz, "You Push and You Pull" Watercolor on Paper, 2020


Guest editing California Quarterly has been an honor. As I read through submissions, I found myself entranced by many of the nature-infused images I discovered, reminding me of a quote by Mary Oliver from A Poetry Handbook: “I must make a complete poem—a river-swimming poem, a mountain-climbing poem.   Not my poem, if it’s well-done, but a deeply breathing, bounding, self-sufficient poem.”

There are many river-swimming, mountain-climbing, deeply breathing, bounding, self-sufficient poems in this issue, and I found myself walking by a lake and watching a cormorant, sunlight break through pine boughs, a moose on a hiking trail, seeing crocuses emerge from dirty snow, and floating in a cranberry bog.

Poems about aging, caretaking, and mortality also grabbed my editorial heartstrings as it is winter again, both in the seasonal sense with a poet’s wish to see egrets in the snow and with the thought of the approaching winter of our lives, as time becomes a gargoyle, we say goodnight to our mothers, are isolated in the last small town in Ohio, and ponder our own mortality.

  the cuff cold as I check

  morning blood pressure

                     potted amaryllis

It’s a short leap from nature poetry and natural science to science and I was entranced by images of the Big Bang and a climate scientist who wishes she were a mermaid or selkie, along with a fairy dust sprinkle of fantasy in a couple poems. 

As you settle down with your favorite beverage and start perusing through this issue, I hope you will enjoy reading the poems as much as I enjoyed selecting them.

                  Deborah P Kolodji                                                                  Temple City, California                                                                                           



Deborah P Kolodji is the California regional coordinator for the Haiku Society of America and moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group. The former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, Kolodji is also is a member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California, the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, Haiku Canada, and the California State Poetry Society. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Haiku North America.

Author of four chapbooks of poetry, her first full-length book of haiku and senryu is Highway of Sleeping Towns, from Shabda Press, which won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award from the Haiku Foundation.  Her e-chapbook of scifaiku, tug of a black hole, won 2nd place in the Elgin Awards by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and is available as a free download (

Kolodji has published more than 1100 haiku in publications such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Bottle Rockets, A Hundred Gourds, Acorn, Rattle, and Mayfly, as well as speculative poetry in Strange Horizons, Star*Line, Grievous Angel, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Tales of the Unanticipated, Tales of the Talisman, and Dreams and Nightmares. She has also published short stories in Thema and Tales of the Talisman and a short memoir in Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul. Her work has been anthologized in such publications as The Rhysling Anthology, Red Moon Anthology, Dwarf Stars, Aftershocks: Poetry of Recovery, New Resonance 4, and The Nebula Awards Showcase: 2015.



Tiffany Shaw-Diaz is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and two-time Dwarf Stars Award nominee who also works as a professional visual artist. She was shortlisted for The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Award for Individual Poem in 2020 and won in 2021. Her poetry has been featured in Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Bones, NHK World Haiku Masters, The Mainichi, and more than 100 other publications. Her chapbooks include: says the rose (Yavanika Press 2019), filth (Proletaria 2020), and tyranny of the familiar (Yavanika Press 2020). Her poems have been translated into French, German, Italian, and Mandarin. To learn more, please visit her website:

California State Poetry Society

NEWSBRIEFS 2022, NO. 4,  WINTER 2022

 CPSP is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 ANNUAL POETRY CONTEST, adjudicated by Frank Iosue of Arizona. The three prize-winning poems and the judge’s comments are included in this issue of the CQ. There is no need to repeat the same information in the same journal, however, for the record, the winners' names should be posted here:

FIRST PRIZE:  Jeanne Wagner – “Dolores Street”

SECOND PRIZE: Susan Wolbarst – “After”

THIRD PRIZE: Claire Scott – “Ariadne Auf Naxos”


1. Claire Scott – “S&H Green Stamps”

2. Claire Scott – “Motel Rooms of Last Resort”

3. Claire Scott – “The Sea Squirt Loses its Mind”

4. Susan Wolbarst – “Where’s Ginny?”

5. Claire Scott – “In the Revised Version: A Different Mother”

6.  Sunny Yim Alperson – “Husband’s Urn”

JUDGE’S STATEMENT: “I am proud, honored and humbled to have been selected as the judge for the 2022 California State Poetry Society Annual Contest. The poems submitted reflected an amazing diversity of subjects and styles, and the caliber of the work submitted, overall, was outstanding. I congratulate all the Winners and Honorable Mentions, and thank and commend everyone who entered. I wish you all continuing success in your poetic endeavors.”  ~Frank losue, 2022 Annual Contest Judge

Mr. Iosue also commented about the winners: “The mark of a truly outstanding poem is its capacity to elicit sensations, emotions and intuitive associations that grow richer and more inexhaustible every time it is read. To my mind, these three winning poems all share that quality.” He was also quite surprised that he awarded the third prize and as many as four out of six honorary mentions to the same poet, Claire Scott.  The contest was judged anonymously and Mr. Iosue had no way of knowing that these poems were penned by one author; in fact, he selected them because they were so different from each other! On behalf of the CSPS, I’d like to express my gratitude for his insights, hard work and dedication. He reviewed over 120 poems, reading through anonymous submissions multiple times.

We are happy to announce CSPS nominations to the Pushcart Prize selected from among poems published in 2022 in four issues of the California Quarterly, Vol. 48: No. 1 (edited by Maja Trochimczyk), No. 2 (guest-edited by Margaret Saine), No. 3 (edited by Bory Thach) and No. 4 (guest-edited by Deborah P Kolodji). The nominated poems may be read on this blog:

1. From Vol. 48 No. 1. “Waterfall Symphony” by Dana Stamps II

2. From Vol. 48 No. 1.  “Light” by Frederick Livingston

3. From Vol. 48 No. 2. “The Land I Long For” by Michael Fraley

4. From Vol. 48 No. 3. “The Calling” by Ella Czajkowska

5. From Vol. 48 No. 3.  “Tule Elk Preserve in March” by Vivian Underhill

6. From Vol. 48. No. 4. “Morning at Moore's Lake, Again” by Kimberly Nunes

CSPS POETRY LETTERS continue to be published online, with PDF versions emailed to about 440 poets and poetry lovers; and the online posts divided into two, book reviews and poems. The Poetry Letter No. 3 presented two book reviews by Michael Escoubas, of In January, The Geese By B.J. Buckley, and Dearest Water by Nancy Takacs. William Scott Galasso reviewed Bright Skies by Maja Trochimczyk. The poetry section included work by featured poet Jeff Graham, a frequent CQ contributor, the author of the chapbook The Eye of Morning (Zeugma Impress) and one of 12 poets featured in Crystal Fire. Poems of Joy and Wisdom. As for the Monthly Contest Winners, selected by Alice Pero, in April,  the 1st Prize was awarded to “Awaken” by Debra Darby. in May (Personifications, Characters, Portraits) the 1st Prize went to Carol L. Hatfield  "Cloud on the Ground" and the 2nd Prize to Joan Gerstein "White on White."  In June (the Supernatural), the 1st Prize wineer was, "Buffaloes Escape" by Pamela Stone Singer.  The Poetry Letter No. 3 was illustrated with photographs of delightful and highly decorative fruit paintings on antique porcelain plates from Bavaria, a disappearing art in the era of sterile Swedish design and very appropriate for the time of harvest.

We are very grateful that our list of supporters and generous benefactors, that is members of Gold Circle, Silver Circle, Patrons and Donors (names listed in this CQ) has increased this year. The CSPS is deeply grateful for a generous anonymous gift of $2,500, sent with the following note: "This donation is made with special appreciation for the dedication of Maja Trochimczyk, the Board of Editors and guest editors who all work tirelessly to bring diverse poetry to the wider world. Happy Holidays and thank you!"


Terry Ehret reported about her book reading last summer after the Fall issue of the CQ was sent to the printer. Here’s her report: “On Wednesday, August 17, Heal the Bay Aquarium at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier hosted the Southern California book launch for Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volumes One and Two, by Mexican poet Ulalume González de León; and Beyond the Time of Words/Más allá del tiempo de las palabras, by Chilean poet Marjorie Agosín. Both books were published by Sixteen Rivers Press as part of their ongoing translations project. After a lively reception with refreshments in the courtyard, author Marjorie Agosin, along with translators Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman, Terry Ehret, and Nancy Morales presented the poems to a standing room only crowd in the aquarium. The special guest was Los Angeles Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson, who opened the reading with her inspirational poems. This was a first for Heal the Bay, a nonoprofit environmental organization, which has hosted many events at their aquarium, but never a poetry reading. It's our hope that this is the first of many more!”

In the last couple of months Alice Pero, 10th Poet Laureate of Sunland/Tujunga,has had poems accepted in Vilas Avenue, Dodging the Rain, Southern Arizona Press, Wonders of Winter and the San Diego annual anthology. Five of her students' poems from Fair Oaks School in Altadena were published in Fly Like the Clouds of Time - 2022 California Poets in the Schools State Anthology, as well as one of her own. Alice was also proud to be one of the 12 poets published in the beautiful new anthology Crystal Fire. Poems of Joy and Wisdom (Moonrise Press, 2022).

The 12 poets in this volume included four members of the CSPS Board and 11 contributors the CQ. The volume contains 144 poems by 12 poets: Elżbieta Czajkowska, Joe DeCenzo, Mary Elliott, Jeff Graham, Marlene Hitt, Frederick Livingston, Alice Pero,  Allegra Silberstein, Jane Stuart, Ambika Talwar, Bory Thach, and Maja Trochimczyk. I edited this anthology of “positive poetry” and it is illustrated with 14 paintings by Ambika Talwar. Initial two readings were associated with Sky Garden, an exhibition presenting artwork by Ambika and my photographs. It was curated by gallery owner Hungarian American painter, Susan Dobay and held from 16 October to 20 November 2022 at the Scenic Drive Gallery in Monrovia.

We are grateful for the hard work of our Editors this year, including two guest editors, Margaret Saine for issue no. 2 and Deborah P Kolodji for issue no. 4. Deborah also selected cover art, a vibrant watercolor by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz called “You Push and You Pull” (2020).  You can see more art at Celebrating creativity with more creativity… not such a bad idea, after all. So let’s celebrate poetry selected for this issue by eminent haiku author and editor, Deborah P Kolodji by creating more poems!

 ~ Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President 

You, by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz, watercolor on paper, 2022

Friday, December 2, 2022

Pushcart Prize 2022 Nominations from the California Quarterly vol. 48, No. 1-4

A Question Mark in Flight by Maja Trochimczyk

California State Poetry Society is pleased to announce the following nominations to Pushcart Prize from the California Quarterly, vol. 48, issues no. 1 (edited by Maja Trochimczyk), 2 (guest-edited by Margaret Saine), 3 (edited by Bory Thach) and 4 (guest-edited by Deborah P Kolodji), published by the California State Poetry Society in 2022. Copies of honored poems are posted below.

1. Vol. 48 No. 1. “Waterfall Symphony” by Dana Stamps II

2. Vol. 48 No. 1.  “Light” by Frederick Livingston

3. Vol. 48 No. 2. “The Land I Long For” by Michael Fraley

4. Vol. 48 No. 3. “The Calling” by Ella Czajkowska 

5. Vol. 48 No. 3.  “Tule Elk Preserve in March” by Vivian Underhill

6. Vol. 48. No. 4. “Morning at Moore's Lake, Again” by Kimberly Nunes

Winner of High Honors from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Pushcart Prize XLVII includes over 60 stories, poems and essays from dozens of small literary presses published in the calendar year 2022. The Pushcart Prize won the NBCC Sandroff Lifetime Achievement award, The Poets & Writers/ Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers citation and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the seminal publications in American publishing history.

In last year’s Pushcart Prize, editor Bill Henderson noted that the Pushcart Prize, “the small good thing, has evolved into an international prize drawing nominations from small presses around the globe.” As always, the selections are made by a distinguished panel of Guest Editors and hundreds of Contributing Editors. The list of authors selected and encouraged over the decades, is immense. (An index to previous volumes is included in each edition.)

While I do not believe in poetry prizes, as comparing apples to oranges to mountains to seas is a futile operation, our nominations are fantastic, so enjoy reading them

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1, edited by Maja Trochimczyk
Cover Art by Diane Lee Moomey



                                           Droplets drum against

             rocks, a blue dragonfly’s 

                                   enchantment dances,

                              lilies perfume the amphitheater sky, 

                                          coconut sun —

                      screen slathered on,

                                   and nude sunbathers splash

               as they surface,

                                 then dive


                                        underneath. Echoes  

                   from a chorus of jumpers, 

                                  the jagged cliff’s ledge a stage

                      as summer mist—an ovation 

                                           as happening wetness hits— 

           croons its steamy scores.


            Dana Stamps II

  Riverside, California


Going Somewhere... by Maja Trochimczyk


Mendocino, California

sunbeam alone
               is a poem
but on this fallen log
              with you

everything is
              tongue tip

who was I?
              sweating brick 
by brick
             in gilded cities

as if 
     to impress 
the heavens
     with my cleverness

as if
     to invent 
             as alive

as this urgent
melting into
             our veins

             pine-steeped air
Earth was made 
             for breathing

     I become
             and cloudless

Frederick Livingston
Mendocino, California

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2, edited by Margaret Saine
Cover Art by Michael Kostiuk



The world I want lies under the waves,

Under many chilling leagues of water,

Beyond the reach of common daylight.


Pale stars illuminate its deep blue sky

And trees of giant girth cover the ground

They’ve occupied for countless years.


The land I long for is wakened at dawn

By the clear notes of flowing birdsong

From the leafy crowns of the trees.


The story was never told to me in school,

I only know it to be true because...

My blood and bones have taught me so.


         Somehow I will find a way

              To reach the forest floor

         Through a door I cannot say

              Is made of gravestone or of wood,

         But which is no less real to me

              Than any ordinary day. 


Michael Fraley

San Francisco, California


California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, Edited by Bory Thach
Cover Art by Ambika Talwar



Take my hand, we shall drink golden starlight

from the brass chalice of curiosity,

adorn our hair with stars' glittering light.

We shall clothe ourselves in silver moonlight

and blush our faces with sunlight’s kiss,

and dance through the dust of time unmeasured,

whirl till we are dizzy with awe

and drunk on the songs of the universe.


I have not truly known freedom until

I have shaken off the chains of attachments

to this world, this low-land

—of biological, mechanical, electric—

of static, of moving,

till I felt the seductive

beckoning of the ephemeral,

the limitless melody of cosmos.


I measure myself in dawns and twilights,

in inhales and exhales, breathless moments,

in dreams and daydreams and nightmares

as I unravel into blooming.

I am a flower eternal, floating,

drifting soundless in space on the waves

of the darkly enchanting oceans

of nebulae in purples and pinks.


And I dare you to not heed my calling,

and I dare you to resist the pulling,

the fire, the resonance in the bones

which leaves the traitorous flesh a-trembling.

And I hail to you: Come! We shall walk down,

down to the center, down to the core,

down to the end of all, down till it’s up,

until it becomes the beginning.


                                                                      Ella Czajkowska  

                                                                      Beverly Hills, California

The Spiral by Maja Trochimczyk



Here it is midmorning and the valley is singing to itself.

Listen to the bees

thrumming to the trees in bloom like a hum in the chest

for comfort. The hawk unfolds from the cottonwood

a mosaic of pottery shards and the ravens

croak like stones dropped in water, down the back

of the throat. Feel the earth pulling you close.


It is not nostalgia, to cling to the marshy ghosts

of a parched lake, the water snakes who swarmed

through the rattling reeds.


The breeze picks up and the hawk returns.

The heat rises and the plains begin to wave.

One shell-white egret sits in the shush

of leaves still translating wind into sound.


Someday all this will have silted away, the halo of song

arcing above this small pond, the calf chasing the birds.

The birds translucent below the sun.

Once this was underwater

And is

And will be again.


                                                             Vivian Underhill                                                                                                                                            Allston, Massachusetts

Gold Waves by Maja Trochimczyk

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4, edited by Deborah P Kolodji
In Production - Artwork not selected yet


By eight a.m., the mist, like ghosts exiting, bustles and fades
in every direction, spheres barely there,
until they aren’t.
            Quickly, slowly, the sun casts in.
The lake turns dark mirror, speckled with night dust
and featherings—the occasional dragonfly
stringing along morning’s heat. Reflections of trees—
and clumps of trees, borders
            onto other realms, all the same as this one.
Sudden sounds—a cormorant propels
the surface like an engine. At the floating dock, hops
to join another, then settles, observes the air, the sky,
            all the nothingness of the world before them.
Black from beak to tail, to webbed toe, yellowish dob
on the other one’s head, he has not moved, but to nibble a wing.
The wet one holds her wings aloft, waggles tight,
steady beats in eastern sun, diaphanous, melting to brown,
            she continues, thus—I know so little—
have gendered them to my own pleasure.
With pen and notebook, sun hat, and poncho
over my pajamas, shoes
            I slide on and off in cool sand.
The birds contemplate—an avian thought matrix, untouched.
            One steps a quarter turn, intent, drying her body.
So much patience here. And time.
And yet—I can see the watermark on the shore reeds, the lake
            is lower than last year, that much dangerously
lower. There’s a flash of red
on one cormorant’s bill, somewhere, the same bullfrog sounds
at a depth that matters, somewhere out of sight.

Kimberly Nunes
Ross, CA

Autumn Lakeshore by Maja Trochimczyk