Thursday, December 23, 2021

Best Wishes for Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Wonderful New Year 2022!

Look! There are seasons in California. Fall turns into winter for a day, and then it is spring.  Today, we have a real autumn rain, with gold leaves falling to the ground, heavy with raindrops. Meanwhile, the narcissus and daffodils have started to bloom - so, is it really autumn? This year, I have not seen the snow yet; the photo is from two years ago from my favorite Big Tujunga Wash, when the sky was clear of striped artificial clouds, and the air crisp and chill.  

Last year, the monumental gingko tree at Descanso Gardens turned majestic gold. Let this gingko become the Holiday Tree this year for those who do not decorate their Christmas trees, let it shine with the brilliance of  autumn gold through the year of brightness and joy. 

Let us then share our best wishes of all happiness and joy through the holiday season and in 2022. I wish all the great poets and friends of California State Poetry Society and the California Quarterly  the blessings of creativity, inspiration, and delight with life. I would like to share the wishes I received in an email recently from one of our CQ poets. Enjoy!

"May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. 

This is the season when small children write cryptic notes to a white bearded stranger in the North Pole, and dream of lighted Christmas trees with bundles of colorful packages underneath: When the elderly dream of past Christmas dinners packed with relatives and children, and those long past times when the air was pure, and masks were only worn during Halloween. 

This is the season when a mystical atmosphere seems to form out of a sense of wonder and want, and a tiny baby in a stable becomes real again: It is a special time when we attend church in the late night to celebrate the coming of a baby who will become a beacon of hope and light

This is the season when a magical atmosphere develops bringing a sense of peace, and wonder to our hectic lives: When we actually wonder if enemies are really enemies, and if there may be a Saint Nick, that brings happiness into the lives of children.

This is the season when tree leaves fly about like young lads and lassies in their bloom: A time when we welcome the blue moisture of rain, and the whiteness of snow upon the earth to tell us all things can change.

This is the season when husbands and wives fall in love all over again, and the future appears brighter: When families get together in gratitude and love, sharing hugs and smiles. 

This is the season we yearn for all year long to do all those wonderful things we should be doing all year long: It is a time when we see each other in a different light, and candles in windows reflect the wisdom of our dreams. 

Thank you for publishing my poems, I appreciate it!"


James Piatt (published in CQ 46:3 edited by Terry Ehret)

Very nice.  I wrote my own reflection on Christmas celebrations as time for family, sharing, and contentment in my wishes to the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club, with two older poems I wrote on that theme, so I will not copy those here. You can read them, if you want:

Recently, I have written a new poem on a related topic of solstice, best wishes, and celebrations, but will include it in my issue of the California Quarterly 48: 1, Spring 2022, so here is another 2021 poem, added to the expanded version of my war-poetry book, The Rainy Bread: More Poems from Exile that I decided to enrich with a positive, uplifting conclusion, since the way out of darkness leads into light.


Chaos breaks out in our cities full of noise, 

toxins, radiation. I withdraw into my garden,

compress the sphere of attention, 

intensifying the focus on minute details.

The liquid patterns of finches’ song, repeated 

like a broken record. The sediment lines 

on the layered rock from Big Tujunga Wash.

The translucent oval of a quartz stone, 

smoothed by the Pacific on Oxnard Beach.

The imperceptible motion of leaves 

expanding skywards, while their roots 

stretch down invisibly, moist with dew.

Is it not enough to taste a pomegranate,

really taste each tart aril, bursting in your mouth? 

Is it not enough to turn your face up, 

to be kissed by noon sunlight?

“No fear, no hate, not even a slight dislike” – 

says St. Germain. We clear the rubble 

of memories of past pain, stronger, 

more clingy than the pain itself.

The mind is full of useless knowledge.

The body remembers on its own.

Pitiful. The heart locks itself 

in a hard shell of protectiveness.

We have to conquer this chaos within, polish 

the lamps, wash the windows into sparkling 

translucence, letting the light in, clear, 

diamond light – the antidote to chaos.

(c) 2021 by Maja Trochimczyk

Best wishes for lovely, joyous and peaceful holidays and Happy New Year 2022! Here's my grandson as a baby Santa five years ago. Kids grow up so fast! 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Contents of California Quarterly Vol. 47, No. 4, Winter 2021, Edited by William Scott Galasso

California Quarterly Vol. 47, No. 4, Winter 2021

Edited by William Scott Galasso

Cover Art: Cloudless Sky by Vera Campion, Collage of acrylic hand-painted paper, 11" x 8.5", 2020. From Alice Pero and Vera Campion, Beyond Birds and Answers (Elyssar Press, 2021).


The Percolation Period  — Thomas Sanford Weir — 7

Memory on a Dream of the Future — Dorothy Howe Brooks — 8

When We Gather — Marilyn Robertson — 9

in creek shallows — William Scott Galasso — 9

An Impulse to Believe — Joan E. Bauer — 10

Left with the Sky — Kevin Thornburgh — 11

seven-year itch — Gregory Longenecker — 11

Birth of Venus — Doreen Beyer — 12

a white heron’s plume — Richard Matta — 13

Union Claire Watson — 13

train trestles… — Richard Matta — 13

So Little Time — Cordelia Hanemann — 14

Painting Moreno Valley — Joel Ferdon — 15

midsummer — Gregory Longenecker — 15

Desert Junk — Richard Nester — 16

Ironic Ashes — Claire J. Baker — 17

Breakthrough — Claire J. Baker — 18

Cartography of a Symphony — Ellyn Maybe —18

Air — Mark Newman — 19

The Size of It — Mark Newman — 20

‘Round Midnight — Joanne Sharp — 20

first notes — Renée Owen — 20

sheltering in place — Renée Owen — 20

The Snail Digger — Linda Kunhardt — 21

Transformations — Kath Abela Wilson — 22

Orca School — Jacqueline Schaalje 23

Hagabat, you bring — Lawdenmarc Decamora — 24

Pagoda of Pots — Paul Willis — 24

garden opening — Kath Abela Wilson — 24

Body Count — Dorothy Howe Brooks —25

Intention — Michael Sprake — 26

Here There Be Dragons — Robbie Nester — 27

Magic Time — Bibhu Padhi — 28

Valve Nutrients — Martha Webster — 29

Leave No Trace — Russell Rowland — 30

Standoff — Diane Lee Moomey — 31

indigo tinctorial — Renée Owen — 31

At a Certain Age It Seems …— Jane Hilary —32

Leavings — John Zedolik — 33

Burden — Marc Fisher — 34

Stitches — Michael Meyerhoffer — 35

Selcouth — Charles Wilkinson — 36

lifestyles of loneliness  — ayaz daryl nielsen — 36

I Am Rooted in the Wind — Lonna Blodgett — 37

Taking Flight — Gary Metheny — 38

sometimes — Gregory Longenecker — 38

Men at Work — Tasha Cotter — 39

the nail he was — William Scott Galasso — 39

New Dad — Danielle Lemay — 40

first marriage — Gregory Longenecker — 40

Night Without Walls  — Margaret Saine —  41

String Theory — Gloria Keeley — 42

A Late September Night… — Gabriella Miotto — 43

True Light — Dennis Ross — 44

The Well — Matthew J. Spireng — 45

my smile — Renée Owen — 45

Tatterdamelion — David Prather — 46

Hollow Bones Haiku for You — Joanell Serra — 47

Moving the Stars — Kathleen Gunton — 48

Pilgrimage — Bibhu Padhi — 49

October Trace  —William Scott Galasso — 49

Geochemistry — Michael Sprake 50

Snowmelt — Marianne Karplus 51

Return — Marc Fisher 52

35th Annual Contest Winners, Comments — 53

Three Men in a Boat — Robert Spich — 56

Snow (a tanka) — Bruce Gallie —57

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in … David Anderson — 57

Contributors in Alphabetical Order — 58

CSPS Contest Opportunities — 59

CSPS Newsbriefs 2021, No. 4 — 60

Publishing Opportunities with CSPS — 64

2021 CSPS Donors, Patrons, and Membership — 65

CSPS Membership Form — 67

Image by Vera Campion from a poetic dialogue with Alice Pero.


I’m going to start with what might appear to be an odd choice…a quote by North Carolina’s basketball coach Jim Valvano who was suffering from cancer at the time he made it. I’ve never forgotten what he said: You should do three things every day, laugh, think and cry—because that’s a “full day.” 

As poets we do not merely rearrange words found in a dictionary or thesaurus and call that exercise, poetry. We engage heart, mind and spirit, hopefully expressing ourselves artistically through our shared love of language and a certain musicality. Further, we share a sense of community and a desire to be part of the natural world on a unique and beautiful planet now threatened by climate change and our own counter intuitive will to dominate the very force that gives us life.

Clearly, we live in a complex modern world admixed with light and darkness. One of the elements apparent in the work that follows is that we, in contrast to many, are aware of our own contradictions and in search of harmony. Sometimes we achieve it, sometimes we don’t, sometimes we falter,  sometimes we rise. As editor, I wanted to include poems that were at once topical and of the moment, yet timeless. In doing so, I sought to achieve balance between what we must endure and the inspiration that gives us the strength to do so. 

In addition, I am pleased to introduce work by poets not previously seen in the California Quarterly including Mark Newman, Ellyn Maybe, Richard and Robbie Nester, Gabriella Miotto, Jane Hilary and Mike Sprake and I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do. Further, I take full responsibility for the choices made and have no doubt other editors might choose differently, but it is that diversity that enriches poetry and makes us who we are. 

Finally, it was an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to read such fine work. And, frankly, it was a challenging undertaking due to the number of quality poems received. To all the poets who submitted and the staff that guided me in the process, my most sincere gratitude.

William Scott Galasso, Editor 

Laguna Woods, California


William Scott Galasso is the author of sixteen books of poetry, including Silver Salmon Runes published in 2016; Rough Cut: Thirty Years of Senryu and Mixed Bag, A Travelogue in Four Forms, a collection of Haibun, Haiku Sequences, Tanka and Short Poems (2018). His most recent book is Legacy: 30 Years of Haiku (Galwin Press, 2020), described as “a collection of over six hundred poems, ranging from classical nature to personal, intimate haiku… This lifetime achievement stands out as a treasure to stir your senses and heighten your awareness of earth’s nature and our humanity.”  In this book, Bruce H. Feingold writes, “Galasso invites us into a world of quietude, beauty and humility and has mastered the art of saying so much with so few words. His images stand out like exquisite carvings, and he demonstrate[s] the hallmark of great haiku…”

An active member of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, Galasso is the contributing editor of the SCHSG anthology, Eclipse Moon (November 2017).  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hofstra University, and worked for 25 years as an actor for Kim Brooke Group (1990-2015), while also providing event security for Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC as a team captain, or staff member.  As a volunteer, he supported the Hopelink Foodbank as the coordinator of collection and distribution of donations, also supervising other volunteers, as well as assisting special needs clients, especially the elderly and the disabled.

one breath
the difference between
I am and I was

The Journey by Vera Campion from a dialogue with poet Alice Pero.

NEWSBRIEFS 2021, No. 4, Winter 2021

By Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President

The English language is taking over the world through its versatility and capacity to mutate. Sort of like a virus. Other more complex and stable languages disappear in the fog of time. Let’s look at new words
in Merriam-Webster Dictionary, that publishes short stories about them twice a year, each time adding about 500 words. In 2019, deep state came out of obscurity, escape rooms became a popular form of entertainment, haircut affected businesses losing value, snowflakes became human, yet we relished fabulosity. In April 2020 among 535 new words, we found verbal horrors: deepfake, slow-walk, microtarget, latrophobia, and truthiness. Among the 555 new words in 2021 there are monstrous succubus types, both in sound and meaning (superspreader, deplatform, bit rot), but also amusing ones (teraflop, oobleck), and the beautiful (digital nomad, and amirite for am I right?). The “amirite” – the new mineral of being right… 

35th ANNUAL POETRY CONTEST. We are happy to announce the winners of the 2021 Annual Contest, administered by Joyce Snyder and adjudicated by Georgia Jones-Davis. The contests are judged blindly, the Contest Chair prepares and sends the entries to the Judge. It must have been a surprise for Georgia to find out that the three best poems she selected were written by men! It does not
happen very often, since we have so many female poets; poetry, like teaching and nursing, seems a very feminized profession. 

Prize Winners
  • 1st Prize: “Three Men in a Boat” by Robert S. Spich, Los Angeles 
  • 2nd Prize: “Snow” by Bruce Gallie, Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • 3rd Prize: “Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in a Tub” by David Anderson, Lincoln, California
Honorable Mentions
  • “Winged Sandals” by Claire Scott, Oakland, CA
  • “A Snake in Pajamas” by Louise Moises, Richmond, CA
  • “I Don’t Know Why” by Livingston Rossmoor, Modesto, CA
  • “Wish” by Susanne Wiley, Hot Springs, AR 
After managing the Annual Poetry Contest for 2021, the Contest Chair, Joyce Snyder, has decided to step down from her role and leave the CSPS Board. Although it happens just once per year, the Contest requires at least six months of volunteer service, so we appreciate Joyce’s hard work since 2016. Thank you so much! 

LIFE MEMBERSHIP. During its October 2021 Board Meeting, the CSPS Board decided to award Life Membership to Margaret Saine in recognition of her many contributions to the organization during decades of volunteer work as Editor, Board Member, and Secretary. The Board minutes stated: “The Board expressed gratitude for the multitude of services offered by Margaret Saine to CSPS and its publications. For many years, she served as the Board Secretary/Historian, Editor of the California Quarterly, proof-reader, Editor of the Poetry Letter, as well as a frequent contributor of translations to the CQ, soliciting submissions from great poets around the world and translating their work from German, Italian, French and Spanish. She also managed the mailbox of the Society (a time-consuming task), sent contributions to other issue editors, and assisted John F. Harrell with mailings of the Quarterly.” The Life Membership means that the Members do not have to pay CSPS dues and will continue receiving our publications. Personally, I am particularly grateful for Margaret’s dedicated and tireless work for CSPS, since she introduced me to this wonderful organization and helped me learn how to edit the CQ and manage the CSPS. 

The CSPS may bestow one Life Membership per year. Our organization, so far, has recognized few other poets with this honor: Gwen Castilli, Torre Houlgate-West, Joyce Odam, Kate Ozbirn, and Russell Salamon who died in 2018. In 2019 we recognized the distinguished Los Angeles poet Suzanne Lummis as our first Honorary Member.  

AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS. The distinction between Life and Honorary Membership was finalized in the Amended Constitution and Bylaws, that were approved by all Members after a long editorial process initiated by the Board in 2019. Most of the amendments correct the language to adjust it to the actual practice, like changed dates for Board meetings  and elections, or expanding the number of CQ Editors to a maximum of eight (we currently have four Editors, so we have ways to go!). There was information about the CSPS no longer mailing the Newsbriefs, Poetry Letters, or NSFSPS Strophes that used to be inserted into each issue of the CQ. Another item was to formalize submission requirements, raising the limit from five to six poems. 

The first new idea in Amended Constitution and Bylaws was the separation of Life Membership from Honorary Membership in the Article III of the Constitution, as follows: “a) Subject to the approval of the Board, one Life membership per year may be bestowed upon an outstanding person who has made substantive contributions furthering the purpose of the CSPS. Life Members shall be exempt from payment of dues. b) Subject to the approval of the Board, one Honorary membership per year may be bestowed upon an eminent poet to honor contributions to poetry in California. Honorary Members shall be exempt from payment of dues and are invited to contribute poems to the CQ in the year of their recognition.”

The second new idea in Amended Constitution and Bylaws was the removal of the position of Editorial Chair that had duties overlapping with that of the Managing Editor. Instead, the responsibilities of the Managing Editor are described in detail. The Managing Editor oversees the production, publication, and
distribution of the CQ, and all tasks associated with this process. The President may also serve as Managing Editor with the Board approval, as is currently the case. The confirmation of this role is scheduled every two years. 

CSPS ELECTIONS. The bi-annual CSPS Elections of Officers took place in October 2021 and the ballots included option to approve these Amendments, the full text of Amendments, along with original versions. The Amendments were approved by 100% of voting members that returned their ballots. Amended version of our Constitution and Bylaws will be posted on our website.  The CSPS Elections confirmed the currently serving CSPS Officers for the next two years, to the Fall of 2023:
  • President, Maja Trochimczyk, 
  • Vice President/Communications, Richard Modiano; 
  • Vice President/Membership, Richard M. Deets; 
  • Secretary/Historian, Ambika Talwar; and 
  • Treasurer John Forrest Harell. 

We thank CSPS members for entrusting the Society to us for two more years.

CQ EDITORS. When I joined the CSPS Board, there were only women serving as the CQ editors. I decided to add some younger men of diverse backgrounds and as a result we now have three new editors who have published their first issues of the CQ: Bory Thach (a Cambodian refugee from Vietnam, U.S. veteran with an MFA) edited No. 1, Konrad Tademar Wilk (Polish bilingual poet, grandchild of Righteous among Nations) edited No. 3, and William Scott Galasso (a “refugee” from Seattle, author of 16 poetry books) prepared for print the CQ No. 4. It has been a grand adventure to work with them and read the poetry they selected.

THE POETRY LETTER. In the world of words, poets are digital nomads and our journeys take us far and wide. In 2021, I started sending the Poetry Letter to our email list, so this quarterly publication of poems and book reviews has expanded its reach – in addition to being posted on our website and in sections (book reviews and poems separately) on our blog, In its previous incarnation, edited by Margaret Saine, the Poetry Letter was printed and inserted in the California Quarterly mailings, along with the CSPS Newsbriefs and the Strophes, the NFSPS newsletter, now available only on NFSPS website.

PUSHCART PRIZE 2022 NOMINATIONS. Finally, the editors of California Quarterly selected six poems published in 2021 for nominations to the Pushcart Prize, a tradition of small presses and poetry journals. You can read these poems on our blog.
• Vol. 47, No. 1: Sheer Optimism by Lavina Blossom and Blue Fantasia by Ruth Holzer
• Vol. 47, No. 2: Providence by Diana Donovan and Tree Songs by Dana Stamps II
• Vol. 47, No. 3: Quantum Birds by Ida Marie Beck
• Vol. 47, No. 4: Intention by Mike Sprake 

Congratulations to all the poets!

~ Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President

Image by Vera Campion from Beyond Birds and Answers dialogue book with poet Alice Pero

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Pushcart Prize Nominations from the California Quarterly 2021

The editors of California Quarterly published in 2021 - Bory Thach, Maja Trochimczyk, Konrad Tademar Wilk and William Scott Galasso have selected the following poems for nominations to the Pushcart Prize, a tradition of small presses and poetry journal publications. 

Vol. 47 no. 1: Sheer Optimism by Lavina Blossom

Vol. 47 no. 1: Blue Fantasia by Ruth Holzer

Vol. 47 no. 2: Providence by Diana Donovan

Vol. 47 no. 2: Tree Songs by Dana Stamps II

Vol. 47 no. 3: Quantum Birds by Ida Marie Beck

Vol. 47 no. 4: Intention by Mike Sprake

The nominated poems are reproduced below.  Congratulations to all the nominated poets!



Blue that dwells in larkspur and iceberg,
in herons, little and great,
in swaying lupine, and wood thrush eggs
nestled on the forest floor;

on the magisterial covers
of the Oxford English Dictionary
and in faded hydrangea petals
pressed between its pages;

in first prize ribbons,
copper sulfate crystals 
and the iridescent wings
of the morpho butterfly.

The hue of lobelia and gentian,
of faceted sapphire,
wild chicory at summer’s end 
and juniper berries in fall,

is the color of mussels clattering in a bucket,
not dreaming of steam, of eyewash cups,
varicose veins, surgical scrubs,
cigar smoke, gas flames, exhaust;

the color of the policeman’s uniform
and his cruiser’s flashing lights;
of bruises, winter prisoners,
the eyes of their guards, tattoos.

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia


All endings temporary.  The very idea
shunned.  Pauses become the new edge,
more fender, cushion, and curve, so that
the minute and second hands swerve slowly
and always return.  What were once breakdowns, now
commas, naps, momentary gaps in a sub-category
of continuum.  Words like
death, fail, cease, redefined to synonyms of
seam, open shining doorway, soft lifting kite.
Consternation become akin to
mixing bowl, with an alternate meaning
of swirling multi-colored lights.  And dread
conveying a type of shivering that warms.  All
prophesies, except those that equate with
everlasting joy--gathered up and tossed.  Zero
re-assuming its role as place-holder for those
vacationing, still in touch.  Done, done with.
Loss, a beloved pet, ever young.  Gain
and renewal, inevitable as the rising sun.
A chorus not unlike birdsong or bees
foraging, joined by hopeful amens,
hope having been raised up
many rungs to become far less
tentative, much nearer to certainty.

Lavina Blossom
Riverside, California



This evening when you were tuning your guitar
and the dog began to howl from his spot on the Turkish rug 
I drifted back to our grad school days in Providence
before everything started coming down—the Berlin Wall
the Twin Towers—each memory a burst of color
our pale pink Victorian on Hope Street
the lavender mailbox with its duct-tape roof
the flock of escaped green parrots on the telephone wires
their bright hues flashing, rising into an indigo sky
and the yellow velvet couch on the porch
beckoning neighbors to stop by with tomatoes and lettuces 
from their gardens, musical instruments, and bourbon
those warm summer nights before grievances had hardened
when the world was ripening before us
and anything—everything—was still possible.

Diana Donovan
Mill Valley, California


Alive, the California forest knows
how to orchestrate itself, curate, permeate, and germinate,
a permanent, sly installation,

yet every faithless flower has reverence for the air,

and I would swear an oath, John 
Clare, that I’ve heard the voluptuous trees sing, members
of the adagio Earth Choir,

contributing with the birds, frogs, a great hawk ballet,

and this music is a per diem Art work, naturally
I listen, agog, in Yosemite to redwood General Sherman’s arias, 
and others, nameless, participate, too, 

and the forest invites this bohemia, this perfection 

of trees, and I know if I were undeniably one
of them, strong rooted, I’d sing to cultivate an audience stand-
still … in bluesy Gaia’s auditorium.

Dana Stamps II
Riverside, California



It lies beneath.
You get to it by digging
to the drumroll of hummingbird wings.

I sought it deep
in the quantum realm, the wave

function, the answers

to the galaxy of starling murmurations,
to the kotuku in that faraway lagoon,
an apparition in nebulous plumage from the spirit land.

That elusive oracle tells all the truth, but slant,
metes out mere probabilities
to even the most meticulous mind,

entangles me in the duality of
defeat and awe.

But a bird is greater than the sum of its parts
—the bluebird that fashions his cloak
from a piece of sky, the green heron
stealing a ray of sun to iridesce between the reeds.

In the quantum world, a bird
may be alive and dead.
There is no certainty.

When you cage one truth,
the others fly.

Still, the sandhill cranes will alight
on the river basin
and start to dance.

Ida Marie Beck
Livermore, California



I have traveled all the way to the rainforest
hoping I might capture some of it 
in line and color. I watch distant thunder clouds 
sweep across the tree canopy until they reach me. 

In the humidity, watch tree branches laden with orange flowers 
become engulfed with strange birds, 
while a hoop-skinned snake sidles its way 
past the indigenous-wood door, flicking its tongue.

Weeks have passed since I first arrived,
the painting set and empty sketchbook remain 
as if held by a tenfold gravity to the pine-top table.
The idea of picking them up and simply walking 

to the edge of the garden where the wilderness takes over, 
is overwhelming. This might have been how artists 
felt who accompanied Darwin to the Galapagos, 
or Amerigo Vespucci to the New World.

But they with pen and ink, gouache and watercolor
brought back images of unfamiliar flora and fauna, 
the lay of the land, something of the people. 
And I’m running out of time, next to this unfamiliar world 

luring me with its beguiling perfumes, its racket of unfamiliar birds,
this unknown nature breathing within its own body -
this symbiotic place that I find so hard to disturb -
this place should I enter, will be changed forever.

                          Mike Sprake                                                                                    
                          Costa Mesa, California

California sunset photos by Maja Trochimczyk