Wednesday, September 25, 2019

California Quarterly 45:3, Autumn 2019, Edited by Maja Trochimczyk

California Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 3, Fall 2019, 


Some people say California has no seasons, only an endless summer. When envisioning this Fall 2019 issue of the California Quarterly, I sought out poems about autumn: harvest, Thanksgiving, fruit, and, by extension, fruition, bearing gifts at the end of life when all we worked for is done… This was not an “official” call for submissions, though, as we are open to all themes and genres. Still, remarkable synchronicities emerged.

Poetry evolves with the poets, as they grow and mature: from the delights of travel and discoveries in Delphi or Cambria, oceans, deserts or forests, the nostalgic end of the summer, folding “the tempest of ripples” of a lake into a suitcase (Rosenheim). Poets explore “the mystery of time” (Mickiewicz) where “raindrops glisten” (Schick), “Casals plays” (Schmidt), and birds “scold us” (Shea) “beneath the long sigh of sky” (Zawinski). They may watch bobcats from a kitchen window (Friend),  encounter a coyote in the desert (Rosenthal), discover islands (Jean), or enjoy domestic pursuits of canning apricots (Bachels Schmidt) and making dill pickles (Potts).

There is lots of fruit in here, fragrant and flavorful: figs (Zheng), peaches and pears (Zaro), summer apples (JonesDavies), and the exotic sapote (Wilson). We are thankful for this feast of sweetness, but even more so for the people we remember through things – father’s lemons (Olivi), mother’s blanket (Samkow-Frausto), or the friends’ “house of air” (Rogers). Strengthened by the “density of yesses…greening the earth, greening us” (Moorehead), we grow in the awareness that loss is inevitable; still, we know that what we have “is enough for now” (Zawinski) as “we live suspended in our bestiary of souls” (Saine), able to climb mountains (Bowman, Zheng), or listen to ocean waves (Galasso, Zanelli). We admire cathedrals (Musser) or the mystic lives of trees (Schick, Dinges, Salamon, Turner). While “folding laundry” we make a “satchet of memories” (Martin).

Poets share free verse, haiku and haibun (Martin, Schick, Stuart, Zheng), tanka (Wilson), pantoum and villanelle (Zawinski). Their vibrant imagery brings to life the abundance of vivid, experiential language in the verse by Russell Salamon, a long-time CQ Editor, who died in 2018. We honor  Russell with our words.

Maja Trochimczyk, Editor
CSPS Acting President


Russell Yaroslav Salamon served on the board of the California Quarterly for many years. He worked closely with then President, Kate Ozbirn, as a fund-raiser, CQ champion and dedicated associate editor. If you met Russell, you would never forget him. He was tall like the redwoods he loved—quick to laugh and as quick to love. Perpetually inspired, he wrote daily. Russell was born on December 6, 1941, in Berkasovo, Yugoslavia, as it was then, about sixty miles west of Belgrade in a hamlet of about 200 people near the Orient Express Line. As he tells it, huge steam locomotives thundered through without stopping at Sid (pronounced, Sheed), a town of about 2,000. This life up to age twelve is recounted in Breakfast in the Twelfth Century, a book of poems.

In October, 1953, he migrated to Kent, Ohio, and soon after moved to Cleveland. This part of his life is summarized in Descent into Cleveland, a poetic novel about events in the 1960s. Part memoir, part prose poem, it’s an epic journey through the deep Cleveland movement and his relationship with D. A. Levy.

Russell studied under Lewis Turco, the formalist and self-ascribed form collector whose invented forms are part of textbooks all over the world. Russell invented a form under his tutelage, and his work can be found in many university libraries. To say that he loved nature and especially the great redwoods of Northern California would be like saying Shakespeare liked words. His book Redwoods in the Rain is a collection of love poems to those great giants of the natural world.

Though we lost Russell on December 21, 2018, I know he would have much to say on the theme of Thanksgiving. His work was an homage to man’s endless abilities and spiritual elan, and, though he was sometimes angry with our constant wars, he never lost faith in man’s essential goodness and immortality. A prolific writer with over 18 collections published over his lifetime, he featured at many venues in California and New York.

The great Ray Bradbury said it best. “Russell Salamon... your poetic images float above the earth without touching; you are a poet from the marrow out.”
 Lois P. Jones
 South Pasadena, California

Painting by Debby Beck


Strands of air and sun water
and lines of pelicans pull evening
out of rain clouds. Mirrors tremble
on sea winds. But this is not a sea
but a mind placing statements
out of old starlight and forests
looking from time.

A heartbreak listens for the touch
of eyes. Large mountains block
the southern passes. If you are
still there, if you feel with skin
cherry petals falling in minds,
if you hear the eyes of rivers
opening curves of land—step
here in the taste of wind and
sway in unfolding light air.

Do not touch me now, I am
the voice of complete silence
descending on lost lands, my
hands among stars, by touch
feeling for silences of lost eyes.

It was before the beginning,
the look of simple knowing
shut distances between us
and left us awake in moon’s
thoughts rooted in trees.

Russell Salamon

Painting by Debby Beck

California Quarterly, Volume 45, Number 2

Remembering Russell Salamon - Lois P. Jones 7
Redwood Trees - Russell Salamon 8
Lament Flight - Russell Salamon 9
Nocturne 8 - Russell Salamon 10
Nocturne 16 - Russell Salamon 11
Serenity at Dawn - Jianquing Zheng 12
folding laundry - Willitts Jr. Martin 12
Context and the Seasons - Sandra Kolankiewicz 13
Near Delphi - Jane Stuart 13
Roman Holiday - Leslie Hendrickson-Baral 14
On the Capitoline -  Ruth Holzer 14
Kuramathi Dawn - Alessio Zanelli 15
Lake Willoughby - David Rosenheim 16
Wash Wonderland - Pamela Shea 17
Seeing - Jianquing Zheng 18
Cambria - William Scott Galasso 19
Patience after Basho - Carla Schick 20
The Breath - Maggie Hawthorne 21
The Mystery of Time - Anna Maria Mickiewicz 21
Casals Plays the Cello Suites - Deborah Bachels Schmidt 22
Sapote - Kath Abela Wilson 23
Summer Apple - Georgia Jones-Davis 24
Canning Apricots - Deborah Bachels Schmidt 25
Three Deliveries and a Room... Mariano Zaro 26
Mama - Susan Keyes Morrison 28
Today - I Put Up Dill Pickles Lynne Potts 29
Eri un maestro potatore - Terry Olivi 30
Il primo fiore di limone - Terry Olivi 30
You were a master at pruning - Margaret Saine, tr. 31
The first lemon blossom - Margaret Saine, tr. 31
At the Funeral - C. Dodds Musser 32
Anatomy of a Blanket - Elsa Samkow-Frausto 33
Ardoch Homestead - Susan Keyes Morrison 34
I know the figs are ripe - Kath Abela Wilson 34
La fin du monde - Mick Kennedy 35
Mom’s Word - L. Hendrickson-Baral 36
The German Chancellor... Sharon Chmielarz 37
Sserenity in Bend - Mary Jo West 38
Moving through the Lawn - Joel Fry 38
We Exist - Margaret Saine 39
It is Enough for Now - Andrena Zawinski 40
Cosi esisti - Paolo Staglianò 41
This is how you exist - Margaret Saine, tr. 41
One - Jane Rosenberg LaForge 42
End of the Line - Mark Belair 43
Fox in the Woods - Brendan O’Tuathalain 44
Eyes of Love - Emory D. Jones 44
Tree Rings - Richard Dinges, Jr. 45
The Cathedral at Chartres - C. Dodds Musser 46
Patchwork Dream Pantoum ... Andrena Zawinski 47
(Abecederian) Bird Feeder - Guinotte Wise 48
Bobcat and Two Cubs - Annette Friend 49
Partons à la découverte des îles - Éliphen Jean 50
Let’s Go & Discover the Islands - Margaret Saine, tr. 51
Coyote - Ed Rosenthal 52
Mountains - Clint Bowman 53
in this windfallen - Kath Abela Wilson 53
Carving the Mystic Wood - Brian K. Turner 54
Unbroken Circle - P.V. Beck 55
A House of Air - Susan Rogers 56
Greening - P.C. Moorehead 57
After Climbing - Jianquing Zheng 58
a guttural cry of geese - Willitts Jr. Martin 59
The Day after Thanksgiving - Jessica Day 60

Cover Art: Fruit and Teacups by Debby Beck

Maja Trochimczyk, photo by Susan Rogers


Maja Trochimczyk is a Californian poet, scholar, translator, photographer, and non-profit director from Poland. She studied musicology at the University of Warsaw, and sound engineering at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, leaving  Poland in 1988 with two M.A. degrees. In 1994, she earned her Ph.D. in musicology from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Dr. Trochimczyk published five books of poetry (incl. Slicing the Bread,  2014; Into Light, and The Rainy Bread, 2016). She also edited three poetry anthologies: Chopin with Cherries (2010); Meditations on Divine Names (2012), and Grateful Conversations (2018, co-edited with Kathi Stafford).  Her poetry and photographs appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in English and Polish: California Quarterly, Cosmopolitan Review, Magnapoets, Quill and Parchment, Ekphrasis Journal, Edgar Allan Poet Journal, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Literary Review, Loch Raven Review, Lummox Journal, Quill and Parchment, Phantom Seed, Pirene's Fountain, poeticdiversity, Poezja Dzisiaj, The Sage Trail, The Scream Online, Spectrum and many anthologies. She also published seven books of music studies and hundreds of articles on music, immigration, and Polish culture. Dr. Trochimczyk is a recipient of PAHA's Creative Arts Prize (2016) for her two poetry books about WWII experience of civilians. She has served as Acting President of CSPS since February 2019 and edited volumes 44:1 and 45:3 of the California Quarterly.

More information:

Fruit by Krystyna Urbanellis, Chicago, Illinois (Oil on Canvas, 16X16)
Photo by Anna C.  Harley-Trochimczyk

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Winners of Our Monthly Contests, March to July 2019

The California State Poetry Society supports poetry and poets by organizing Monthly Poetry Contests
on a rotating series of topics, open to all poets, not just CSPS members. All poems must be the original work of the poet, in English and, except for the December contest, previously unpublished.There is no limit to the number of poems one can submit, but each poem must be less than 80 lines (two pages).

Contest rules, submission information and full list of topics are posted on our official website:

The CSPS Vice President for Communications, Richard Modiano selected the following winners of contests for the months March through July 2019.

March 2019: Open Topic. 
First Place Winner: Greg Gregory for "Mojave"

April 2019: Travel, History, Mythology, Other Cultures (other times, places, alternate worlds)
First Place Winner: David Anderson for "Returning to Ruins"

May 2019: Portraits, Persons, Characters (with portraits of animals, objects, places with character)
First Place Winner: Jane Stuart for "Italian Memories"

June 2019: Open Topic. 
First Place Winner: Hanh Chau for "Refugee"

July 2019: Childhood, Memoir, Lessons of the Past. 
First Place Winner: Tanya Whitney for "Pages of Life"



The sun is sinking over this expanse of undulating desert.
We pull into a familiar motel near Barstow for the night,
driving to visit my wife's sister & brother in Arizona.
We have done it for years, before her parents died.

The sun stretches our clay-colored building
into shadows on empty sand as it finally sets,
then erases them as well. We are here, but invisible.
Death Valley waits just to the north of us.

I once visited there, stunned by my first sign
of the dunes as the sun lowered. They crept diaphanous
in the fading light, in sage-laden breezes, intricately
winding into each other into the twilight.

The bedside alarm clock ticks.
A little fine sand sifts in from the window's edges.
It forms small dunes on the sill. I brush them away
and crack open the window to let in the cool night air.

The alarm clock glows and I drift off. The dunes
drift back, beautiful. They persist, tangible souls
still wandering the desert. They travel, ephemeral
winding into each other.

Half asleep
she folds her arm around me.
A scent of sage drifts in from the open window.

By Greg Gregory (March 2019 Contest Winner)

A contrapuntal poem for two voices

                   includes phrases found in Caelinn Hogan's "Life Among the Ruins,"
                   National Geographic Magazine, 2018 Mar: 233(3): 60-67.

             tall buildings fallen, toilets and kitchens buried inside
the bride lays her hands on the groom's shoulders

            a grenade launcher sits on a casing-strewn schoolroom floor
his arms on her waist, he dances in the folds of her floor length dress

             laundry hangs from a few apartment balconies
their dance is slow, the music a love song in Arabic

             in not-quite ruined buildings, store fronts wield fresh paint
her bridesmaids circle them, aglow in petticoat netting

            one light in one room's broken chandelier works an hour a day
the strobe light spreads colors across their faces and the floor

            first thing mornings, children stand to sing in new classrooms
every day Citadel Square fills with chatter from sellers and barterers

           the sky fills and lightens with broken clouds
children return from school on streets between collapsed and still-standing buildings

            in the outskirts, returnees shelter in warehouses
daily, people in twos and threes fill all the benches in the public park

            and come night, with no water or electricity
mosques are being rebuilt in neighborhoods of rubble and debris

            they clamber in their dreams over the tourist attraction
and surveyors from Damascus traverse the city with maps to chart a future

             the giant letters that spell out I 💛 ALEPPO.

By David Anderson (April 2019 Contest Winner)


The wind blows through time
sticking under chilly rocks
where the ginestra bloom

Wooden fortress walls,
painted windows, heavy doors
golden winter light

Frozen mountains soar,
splintered ice slides over trees -
the moon closes her eye

Shortly after dawn
starlit shadows cross the sky...

A fiery red sun
rises over yesterday

...tomorrow brings new dreams

By Jane Stuart (May 2019 Contest Winner)


When is asked what is your name?
                                              I reply it is refugee.

And oh why is that?      The reason is I am a man that lost his homeland to war

To escape away from a thousand miles

                   To find a secure place with a sense of belongingness and acceptance

      Even in the cold stormy weather, sickness, vomiting and hunger I endured

My strong-willed and determination pursue me to carry on to hope for a 

                              brighter future and promises

You see I came across to the land of Great America . . . that it embraced me with

humility to open a new door with a greater opportunity to rebuild a prosperity life
                            in which I called my second home

Only to know that I must start from a scratch with a bare hand and feet

That was my goal and inspiration to witness for my children to live

surpass me.

            It has given me the voice to speak, the freedom to express, opportunity to look

                           How can I not be grateful, indeed I am

                   So when you see other refugee out there

                             DO NOT JUDGE ME as I plead

                            I have learned to be on my thick skin

                        to stand high and seize with every second chance

                            never to take anything for granted

                       When life is tough and knock me down

                I carry myself back up and stand tall and be tougher than life itself

                         I am humble to call myself an American

                    to learn the true value of freedom and its meaning

In a place that filled with a melting-pot and multi-cultural diversity

                                For that I salute to you

                            the Great America you are,

                                 in all we stand together

By Hanh Chau (June 2019 Contest Winner)


As a child I traveled alone
To faraway places and times
From the heaven of my bedroom.

The descriptive words drew pictures
Of the many lands and oceans
Detailed in their written pages.

I was immersed in the stories,
Becoming anyone I wished
To be in my lonely childhood.

I rode once with crusading knights,
Sat in King Arthur's knightly court
With those gallant and noble men.

I piloted an aero plane
Over the Pharaoh's pyramids
Awestruck by the Egyptian tombs.

The wonders of Rome and Athens
Ancient  temples of marble stones
Built in my imagination.

I served Alexander the Great
Stood on the deck of the Pinta
And fought with valor in the war.

I was an Indian princess
Helping settlers in the New World
And searched for clues with Nancy Drew.

On safari in Africa
Hunting for lions and tigers or
Looking for Doctor Livingstone

My reading adventures took me
Whitewater rafting down rivers,
Passing steamboats on a log raft.

By Tanya Whitney (July 2019 Contest Winner)

Photos of Yucca in Big Tujunga Wash by Maja Trochimczyk