California Quarterly, Vol. 47 No. 3, Autumn 2021
Edited by Konrad Wilk
Cover image: Arctic IV, oil on Board 5x5, 2017 by Danielle Eubanks
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Slavonia in my Mother’s Heart Sonia Sabanac 7
Chicago Sonnet #19 D.A. Hosek 8
The Game of Tag Jason Visconti 8
To Name is to Cause to Exist Estelle Bajou 9
Summer Vacations Jason Visconti 9
Mary Sidney Herbert Pleads with the Eglantine Growing in Her Brother's Garden Deborah. H. Doolittle 10
She Breathes Only Trees Jean Varda 10
Vows Haleigh Yaspan 12
Customer Service Andy Roberts 12
Talking to My Younger Self Ann Christine Tabaka 13
Signs Tamika Dooley 14
Becoming Tamika Dooley 14
Yancy Carter, In Memoriam Konrad Tademar-Wilk 15
Dream Horses Alun Rees 16
Wings Claire Scott 17
Metamorphosis Angelika Quirk 18
Why Alessio Zanelli 19
Message Bertha Rogers 20
Violets D. F. Walker 21
Factory Boss Charlie Brice 22
Digestion Comes Slowly Erika Goveia 23
Icarus after the Crash Patrinos Konstantinos 24
Dancing Ellipses Patrinos Konstantinos 25
Mountains Jeffrey L. Taylor 26
Variations on an Ode Amy Moore 26
Amargosa Delta Amy Moore 27
El Zonte Steve Lang 28
On a Fine May Morning Steve Lang 29
King Tide Julia Park Tracey 30
Perfect Day (A Minute) Emory Jones 30
2 a.m. Evacuation Cooper Young 31
Evacuating with Smoked Chickens Carol Park 32
Tiny Altars Marie Marchand 33
Allegro on Broken Piano Taeyeon Han 34
Reality Jane Stuart 35
Autumn Night Edward Garvey 36
Homecoming Mishra Debasish 36
At a Pullout Along Grizzly Peaks Cooper Young 38
Super Mario Mishra Debasish 39
Summertime Dinner Jes Burke 40
Quantum Birds Ida Marie Beck 41
To Drown in Asphodel Meadows Matthew Mayes 42
I Am Not the Center of My Own Universe Mary Ellen Talley 43
Desiccation Richard Dinges, Jr. 44
I’m Sorry, Mr. Webster… Judy Barratt 44
Homer’s Girl Christine Candland 46
Ghazal for the Quarantined Woman Mary Ellen Talley 48
First Memory Jerry Smith 49
You Can’t Tell a Venomous Snake… Cameron Gibson 50
Fred and Ginger Nowadays Craig Kurtz 51
Sonnet Pour Edith Piaf Robert Fleming 52
Sonnet for Edith Piaf Robert Fleming, tr. 52
First You Must Be Aware What Is Coming Patrick Meeds 53
A Perfidious Lover Nidhi Agrawal 54
Shiv Tattva Nidhi Agrawal 54
Learning to See Lynn Domina 55
Simchat Torah Maureen Sherbondy 56
Barganing with the Stars Maureen Sherbondy 56
His Head: Three Painting and One Mosaic Lynn Domina 57
Memory of 2001 Konrad Tademar-Wilk 58
Ellipsis Joel Schueler 58
© Danielle Eubank. Danielle Eubank, Arctic IV , Oil on board, 5x5 inches, 2017. Arctic IV is part of Eubank’s One Artist Five Oceans project. Danielle Eubank has painted all the oceans on the planet to help raise awareness about the state of our oceans and climate change. www.danielleeubankart.com.
Chaos becomes us. Poetry cuts through the chaos by creating shapes out of metaphors. California breeds both: chaos and metaphors. It is in fact its own metaphor, found in songs and in allusions in poems. I was struck by this season's poetic diction. An attempt to carve out sanity from a year full of frustration. Many of the verses I read struck at the nerve center of the heart. Some words were so poignant that I could not help but be arrested by them. The language of poetry is sometimes cryptic, but at once it has that sharpness with which to cut through the confusion.
I used a light touch. If the poem arrested me in my tracks, stopped me at the moment of turning the page, it demanded to be seen by others. If It caught my eye before I even read it, that certainly spoke to the heart, to the universal center of the soul. Upon a second reading, if it sang, or whispered something I didn’t see on the first read through, this was a suggestion, a strong one that the poem was good. Of course, there were some poets who submitted more than one good poem, sometimes all the poems they submitted were astonishing. Others submitted one amazing verse among weaker ones that were in its orbit. It was easier to pick the winner and put aside the satellites.
There were verses that reached deep into the past, adhering to old forms and ancient rites. Others that were decidedly future looking, demanding a forward momentum to carry them to the pages of the quarterly. I didn’t flip a coin. I marked with a pen. I printed the poems, held them, often more than once. You choose that which demands to be chosen, set aside that which must be set aside. I am not partial to any mode of expression, but I certainly appreciate discipline which arises from a good use of metaphor, meter, style, rhyme, all the tropes and building blocks of poetry. But sometimes a poem without those does something new, speaks. The ones presented in this volume are eclectic. They reflect not only their own excellence but my mood, my reception at the time of the reading. They spoke to me, some even yelled so that I had to pick up a page... Read twice, some of the poems deserve a third or even fourth reading.
I want to thank Maja Trochimczyk for the chance to edit this issue. But also for her patience, the learning curve was quite steep, since the selections were many and varied, the effort needed was much bigger than anticipated. Enjoy its fruit!
KONRAD TADEMAR-WILK, EDITOR
Elected to the Board of Directors of CSPS in May 2020, Konrad Tademar Wilk is an American poet living in Los Angeles. His works range from single sonnets to epic poems on themes including current events, myth, and philosophy. In addition to American subjects, his work is strongly informed by international events and history, especially those of freedom and oppression. Tademar's early childhood was spent in Poland where he was particularly influenced by the rise of the anti-communist Solidarity labor union.
Following his return to the U.S., he studied philosophy and literature at Los Angeles City College where he was president of the Poet's Platform. He then went on to graduate from UCLA. His poetry book Fifty Sonnets, titles like labels only get in the way... is available for purchase on-line. Other poetry chapbooks are out of print. He is currently working on two epic poems "Prometheus" and "Trafficking In Time" - scheduled for release in the near future. He has appeared in Los Angeles venues such as the Onyx, Ground's Zero, Magicopolis Theater, Wilshire Art Gallery, Bolton Hall Museum, and Pig and Whistle. In 1991, he founded the Witching Hour Poetry Gathering which has met continuously for over 20 years.
Additionally, he is a founding member of the Pecan Pie Organization, dedicated to artistic promotion and stage performances. Mr. Tademar recently served as the artistic director for Warsaw 80/75 performance of poetry, dance and music, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII (German attack on Poland), and the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The event was held at the Santa Monica Playhouse in September 2019.
CSPS NEWSBRIEFS 2021 No. 3, AUTUMN 2021
By Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President
What’s going on? Fear. Virus. Propaganda. Shutdown. Ventilators. Nursing Homes. Governors. Empty Hospitals. Effective medications under attack. 90% false positives of PRC tests. Vaccine passports. Fake news. Censorship. Millions of protesters march in Italy and France. Australia under siege. Common sense triumphs in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Over 16,600 proven vaccine-linked deaths in VAERS. Billions in profits. Blood clots and heart damage for the young. Cages and masks for children. Medical apartheid. Habeas Corpus. My body, my choice. 1,800 Southwest flights cancelled. Pilots strike. Open borders. Planned erasure of nations? Thousands of Haitians storm Texas. Enormous wildfires rage in the West – forests into wastelands, homes & cars into ash, even metal frames melt… So much has happened in 18 months.
What language do we speak? What languages should we speak here in the U.S.? What is the best course of action for poets living in such a tumultuous world? Some poets reflect this turmoil in their work, take sides, or think only they know the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. The Left. The Right. Others seek to withdraw into the worlds of nature, beauty, or art; into the respite of long walks, working in the garden, or listening to music. They write about their childhood memories, or startling moments of bliss.
Still others fill their hearts with gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, and love. They pray and reflect on the meaning of faith, help others, put their faith into action. Some take advice from Toltec Don Miguel Ruiz, whose Four Agreements seem custom-made for our times: “Be impeccable with your word. Do not take anything personally. Do not make assumptions. Always do your best.” Hard, but not impossible.
It is not the first time that humanity willingly entered into such chaos, following its powerful leaders whose identities and agendas are hard to fathom. Just read Anna Akhmatova. Osip Mandelstalm who died in Soviet gulag in 1938, or Czesław Miłosz who escaped from the repressive Polish People’s Republic in 1951, taught at UC Berkeley, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. In China, Zhu Yufu and Lu Yang are arrested and charged with “subversion of state power.” Let’s not even think of Falun Gong and forced organ transplants. Evan Mantyk of the Society of Classical Poets warns: “The CCP must fall.” The ring of recurrence keeps turning; it has happened before, it will happen again. What do we do? We create. We write and with our words conjure new worlds into being."
CSPS Member News. CSPS Board member Terry Ehret and her co-translators John Johnson and Nancy J. Morales recently won the Northern California Book Award for California Poetry in Translation for their work on Plagios/Plagiarisms, Volume One, by Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon. Poems from the forthcoming volume two have been published in Exchanges, Clade Song, Triggerfish, Caesura, and Poetry Daily. Ehret was recently featured with poet and translator William O’Daly in the series Poets in Conversation, hosted by Phyllis Klein. The program aired on September 25, 2021 and is posted online. In addition, Plagios/Plagiarisms was one of Camille Dungy’s picks for Latinx Heritage Month on Orion Magazine’s blog. William Scott Galasso’s poem The Year We Never Saw Coming was honored as the first poem in The San Diego Poetry Anthology for the 2020-21 issue by the editors. He was made a member of Marquis Who’s Who in America for his writing in 2021 and was featured as the Haiku poet of the month of June at the Mann Library at Cornell University. Ambika Talwar is recently published in these anthologies: Breathe Poetry; Ruddy Ravens, Cheshire Cats & Rusty Rats; GloMag August 2021; Pratik (Los Angeles edition); Paws Healing the Earth. She is also published in the popular online FASIHIMAGAZINE.com and in Online GloMag June and July 2021. Ambika’s art was featured in two exhibitions at the Neutra Gallery in Silverlake (July and August 2021).
The California Quarterly continues to collect accolades for the quality of its verse and artwork. The second issue of 2021 (Vol. 47 No. 2 edited by Maja Trochimczyk) featured a “Butterfly” by a Hungarian-American painter, Susan Dobay, on the cover and the readers commented about this “gorgeous” image, praising the poetry within as well. Madeleine Swift Butcher: “this is an amazing collection and I’m honored to be part of it.” Jackie Chou: “So happy to receive this journal and to have a chance to read some of the stunning poetry in it.” Sarah Platenius: “Looks amazing!! Thank you so much – grateful to be a part of this.” Kathi Stafford: “Great edition!! You’ve done a wonderful job on putting this together.” Kelley White: “Looks great. I’m delighted that I fit in with the mother/daughter theme.”
The Poetry Letter No. 2 of 2021 was emailed as PDF attachment to about 400 readers, with poems by Donna Emerson and Jeanine Stevens, as well as information about our Poetry Contests, and book reviews: Alice Pero’s review of Birds of San Pancho and other Poems of Place by Lucille Lang Day; Kathy Lundy Derengowski’s review of Flourishing - Florescence by Elizabeth Yahn Williams; Toti O’Brien’s review of Figures of Humor and Strange Beauty by Kath Abela Wilson; and Ted Smith-Orr’s review of London Manuscript by Anna Maria Mickiewicz.
The Poetry Letter No. 3 of 2021 was emailed with poems by Greg Gregory and Franklin Gillette, information about poetry contests, and book reviews: Anara Guardan Diego’s review of Blue Tin Sky by Greg Gregory; Jackie Kudler’s of Bye Bye Blackbird by Doreen Stock; Alice Pero’s of Speech Scroll by David Chorlton; Michael Escoubas’s of The Caregiver by Caroline Johnson and of We Are Here – Village Poets Anthology edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Marlene Hitt. Our illustrations were from California landscape paintings by Benjamin Chambers Brown, 1865-1942), Anna Althea Hills (1882-1930) and Selden Connor Gile (1877-1947).
Some recipients took time to comment. Joe DeCenzo: “This is truly wonderful! It’s so beautiful and artistically formatted.” Elizabeth Williams: “Lovely colorful art and poetry.” Sharon Chmielarz: “Thank you, Maja, for including the photos of the paintings. I enjoyed your comments, the poet’s work, and of course the paintings. Good that people still can see the work of these past painters.” The PDF version of Poetry Letters is posted on our website, CaliforniaStatePoetrySociety.org. Its sections, poems and book reviews separately, are published on our blog, californiastatepoetrysociety.com.
Feel free to submit poems and book reviews to the Poetry Letter, and unpublished poems and translations to the California Quarterly.
When all else goes to hell in wastepaper basket, poetry is alive and well. A testimonial to indominable human spirit!
~ Maja Trochimczyk