Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Poetry Letter No. 4, 2021 - Poems by Judy Barrat, Dave Malone, Pamela Stone Singer, Bruce Gallie and Jeanie Greensfelder

From Ulysses's Journey by Toti O'Brien.

The winter edition of the Poetry Letter, No. 4 of 2021 started with an editorial and "Rules for Happy Holy Days" by the editor, Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President. 

It is a wonderful custom to wish everyone all the best for the coming year at least once a year. I also do it for Happy Birthdays. What’s the point of a one-day happiness? It is the whole year that must be blessed with joy, creativity, gratitude, generosity, health and all the good things one can dream of.  With the wishes, I’m sharing with the Poetry Letters’ readers wonderful poems by Judy Barrat, Pamela Stone Singer, Dave Malone, Bruce Gallie, & Jeanie Greensfelder. Previously published, these poetic gems surely deserve to be read again. In one case, we are fixing our own error, with apologies to the poet: “I’m Sorry, Mr. Webster” was published in the California Quarterly 47:3 without its last line. Here it is in its entirety. Daniel E. Blackston whose work was included in the California Quarterly 47:2 analyzed a poem by Marilyn Robertson, “Low Tide,” published in the same issue. We reprinted his reflections in the emailed Poetry Letter, but for the online version, it is not necessary. Poetry is a conversation and this is an excellent example of poets talking to each other. 

~ Maja Trochimczyk, Editor

Half of the issue was dedicated to book reviews, published on this blog on January 1, 2022, and the other half to poems by Judy Barrat, Pamela Stone Singer, Dave Mallone, Bruce Gallie, and Jeanie Greensfelder.

Poems  by Judy Barrat

Judy Barrat has been a writer of poetry and fiction most of her life as a hobby and began presenting her work publicly in Los Angeles several years ago at open readings, as well as at music venues, sometimes with a vocalist weaving a song around one of her poems. She has been a featured poet at several Los Angeles poetry venues and has performed three very well reviewed one-woman shows of her poetry and stories, with musical accompaniment, at The Gardenia Club in Hollywood. Her work has been published in several anthologies, magazines and on-line journals. Her poem “I’m sorry, Mr. Webster…” was  accidentally printed in CQ 47:3 without the last line ,so  it is reprinted here in its entirety.



but I must take issue with your 

authority as to two words you 

deem synonymous which, in my 

view, are not as inter-changeable 

as your famous book professes:

The words I refer to, if your please,

are “naked” and “nude.  At the risk 

of appearing argumentative sir, no 

one visits art houses to view 

famous Nakeds.  

It is the “Nudes” -- those entrancing 

figures of women and men, unclothed, 

baring their bodies that we seek. 

So you see “Nude” is art -- in the proper 

setting and in an improper setting 

which I will leave to your imagination 

“nude” may still be art though it may 

simply be embarrassing or even criminal.

“Naked” on the other hand I think 

is more synonymous with “exposed” 

for “naked” is so much more than 

baring the body.  Naked is devoid 

of the mythic mask one might wear 

to hide the truth of oneself from 

the world -- the pain, fear, shame 

or insecurity.

Oh, Mr. Webster, I have never seen 

some of my friends unclothed and 

may never, but I have seen them 

naked, stripped of the armor and shield 

which enable them through each day. 

I have seen in their eyes unshed tears 

which bespeak hearts that ache with 

the pain of caring too much or, perhaps, 

not enough.

However, sir, I concede that in personal 

relationships, nude is so much more 

delightful when both parties are naked.

~ Judy Barrat

Published in the California Quarterly 47 No. 3, Autumn 2021, 

with last line missing, here added.


The waves rise and fall 

in undulating swirls.  

I sit in the sand on this 

familiar expanse of beach.

This sand knows all my secrets, 

my past, my now.

I remember how, as children 

we played, you and I; 

laughing, crying, 

growing, changing.  

Only this beach 

does not change.

I see your blue eyes, 

dimpled grin, wild dark hair, 

muscles of your bronzed 

body rippling in the sun, 

as, unaware of your magnificence 

you run into the sea.

The waves roar 

reminding me 

they have taken you; 

I shout to them: 

“I’m here – Take me too”  

as I walk to the water’s edge 

and into the sea.    

The sun is bright;  

icy wetness bites 

my ankles, legs, hips. 

I dive deep into a wave.  

In the turbulent darkness 

I feel you near.

Your voice 

permeates the abyss:   

It implores me

“Reach for the sun, for life”.   

Tossed by the current, 

I reach out in panic 

and break the surface 

gasping in the sun.

~ Judy Barrat  


I left behind the street of childhood 

to navigate the highway of life,

exchanged dirt of backyard and joy of

sandbox for dust of the open road.

In a haze of youthful exuberance, I 

searched for adventure described in books.

I climbed mountains, crossed deserts,

sailed seas to cities and streets in lands 

far and near; encountered life, both sweet 

and simple, and also shockingly brutal and 

barbaric and stood impotent, in my naivete 

to do more than extend a hand.  But some-

times, only sometimes, that was enough.  

I found joy and generosity in places of dire 

need and deprivation, sadness and 

selfishness in the midst opulence and plenty.   

No longer do I walk carefree, inhaling 

nature’s bounty, but run, frantic, in an 

endless quest for-- HOME, as I mourn

the death of innocence and damn the 

dawn of disillusion.  

On this narrow track of time every now 

becomes then in the blur of contemplation 

of tomorrow.  And while each impediment 

on this path may proclaim: this Road 

Leads Nowhere, I find the fortune 

I believed this trip would provide when 

I or anyone extends a hand because 

sometimes, that’s enough.

~ Judy Barrat


Once I was a cloud 

afloat in the space 

between there and here; 

I faded into nothingness.

Once I was the earth, 

a blue spec in the universe

orbiting an uncaring sun;

it lost its grip and let go.

And once I was snail on the 

ocean shore, enticed into a 

wave to ride the tides into 

a thousand tomorrows.

Today I am drawn from forest’s

edge into its depths by whisper 

of breeze through boughs, 

a language of rippling grace.

The clean green scent of the air, 

solitude of sunlight through

treetops, splendiferous silence, 

speak karmically to my heart.

I am free simply to be; 

we breathe life to one another, 

the trees and me, and for these 

moments, as never before

       I am,   

             I am,  

                    I AM. 

~ Judy Barrat

From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.

ME ME ME – A Poem By Pamela Stone Singer


Tell the King; the fair wrought house has fallen.

No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves;

The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled.

It is finished.

Oracle of Delphi, 393 A.D.*

rain outside the high school

where I teach students to write poetry

at 3:00 p.m. they pour out of the building as though it were ablaze texting 

friends a few feet away, light years away, in a foreign country

some text over a hundred times a day

sleep with phones beside them as if the phones

were going to plant kisses on their lips

overhead, flocks of geese fly through downpours

a few students take pictures of the rainbow appearing

no one else notices

and there are 300 kids on smartphones, twitter, facebook, taking selfies

who rush from the building as though it were ablaze

i don’t understand this communication that negates 

the soft enunciation of vowels, the closed sound 

of consonants, the origins of I in our alphabet: 

Phoenicians used a backwards z called yod, meaning hand.

Greeks used angular versions of I, changed its name to iota.

Medieval times i became a line with a curl.

Today I stands boldly on a page.

eye, window of clarity in bony sockets of skulls

omniscient, like the Pythia of Delphi

Selli at Dodona who spoke through rustling leaves

imagine life with words only on screens

not feeling pages of books

not reading ancient texts for clarity

when life comes alive with words

I becomes we, me becomes us 

myself becomes the earth

* NOTE:  In 389 A.D., under the reign of Theodosius I, Christian attacks against pagan temples continued. The Emperor ordered all pagan temples closed. Within 20 years the Western Roman Empire fell. For the first time in 800 years no oracular statements were given.

~ Pamela Stone Singer

From Ulysses’ Journey  by Toti O’Brien.

Four Poems by Dave Malone

Dave Malone is a poet and filmmaker from the Missouri Ozarks. These poems are from his seventh volume, Tornado Drill, forthcoming from Aldrich Press in March and available for preorder. Dave can be found online in the usual haunts, particularly Instagram @davemalone. 


         At once whatever happened starts receding.

                                   —Philip Larkin

Last night I walked the woods

lit by the final moon of the month.

Days don’t count here

beneath the centuries-old pines

where my grandmother took her solace

on hard farm days, passing up 

the washboard or jam-making

for the eternal whooshing 

of the forest as much serenity 

as yearning. 

~ originally published in Spindrift


During my morning meditation, the neighbor

begins her leaf-blowing. She’s precise

the way she slides from side to side,

the way she forms right angles

as if acing high school math.

Her noise travels into the hollow

louder than semi-trucks howling

from the bypass. She blows

into blowing into blowing

until a vortex of leaves

half-eaten by mower and storm 

form in the narrows. 

Here is a full sound. Here is

the aum I must have been waiting for.

~ Dave Mallone,

originally published in Midwest Review


I startled the great blue heron

when my kayak scratched stones

in the river’s low summer water.

With little effort, like the way

one takes off shoes, the grand bird

flapped long arms, held steady,

until she found the shore opposite me

and slipped into the sycamores

below the bluff. She stayed there

a long time, longer than my life. 

~ Dave Malone

originally published  in Right Hand Pointing  

From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.



It is the light I think 

I recall. Was it church

or vacation Bible school,

the desks like pews,

when the sun’s morning rays 

ached to rest on shoulders

while the teacher dimmed

at the front, barely perceptible

like God. I remember now

the gospel the instructor ignored—

how the cypress floor danced

with golden dust in its hair.

~ Dave Malone, 

originally published in Right Hand Pointing

From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.

A Poem by Jeanie Greensfelder

Jeanie Greensfelder’s poems have been published at American Life in Poetry, Writer’s Almanac, and Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Persimmon Tree, and others. She served as the San Luis Obispo County poet laureate, 2017,18. Jeanie’s books are: Biting the Apple, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith and I Got What I Came For.  Website:



The sky solid blue, your gallery

disappoints. I await the next show. 


Give me a full circle exhibit,

a different artist in each direction, 


a cumulus haven where sun-lit gods

and harp-playing angels lounge.


Surprise me with a Mount Shasta mirage,

a Disney display of dragons and dinosaurs,


or the drama of an El Greco storm, one that

reduces me, puts me in my place. 


Let me study the brush strokes and guess

artists from baroque to surreal.


Show me an orange, yellow, blood-red sunset,

invoking nature’s Edward Munch scream.              


Bring on Georgia O’Keefe puffballs,

Van Gogh swirls over grassland,


even a Rothko mist, but please no grey washes,

those ho-hum shows that go on and on.


~ Jeanie Greensfelder

 published in Birdland Journal 2019

From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.

Three Poems by Bruce Gallie

Bruce Gallie started writing poetry right after high school and has continued to do so with several long and short hiatus.  He has been in the army, a cook, and an electrician throughout his career. He retired in 2010.  He published many poems in the California Quarterly since its genesis.


Evergreen last seems long ago

been Christmas scent and scene -

Lucky, old sweetheart, old friend passed

the grains aligned well before the end

                I knew what would be... 

                You softened the roar             

               salvaged the moods,

               when lost in the woods

                your timbre was with

                mine —

                pine, Lucky


 ~ Bruce Gallie         


Ol' Sol will rule the roost

in his own steady way

he beams through the evening window

turns the wall gold from gray

the shadow line climbing

to a sepia toned portrait —

an old baby picture

hanging less than straight

the dresser in the corner

lost a knob, a trophy sits on top —

batter at the plate.  There's a vase

with a paper daisy, a Baby Ben stopped

on a bed, a dusty quilt

and old magazines strewn

some Elvis 45's with worn jackets

there's the title: "Blue Moon"

as evening falls, the shadow

crosses that chromatic display

the child's flushed cheeks fade

to the background, hair to gray.

~ Bruce Gallie


From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.


     ~ thanks to Sir Thomas Moore


"Tis the last rose of summer" Mom would sing to me

"all her lovely companions are left faded and gone"

when I was but five felt kindred to this song

as the years bore me up in a see saw sea.  

With weakness and strength, full of folly and free

spent time in kinship if not more alone.

"Tis the last rose of summer" sing to me

"all her lovely companions are left faded and gone."

With the years wisdom waxed slowly

sure as time erodes the bone.

We fall alone but stand as one -

this is the law that lets us be.

"Tis the last rose of summer "-

sing, last rose, sing to me.

~ Bruce Gallie

From Ulysses’ Journey by Toti O’Brien, 2002.


Toti O’Brien’s mixed media have been exhibited in group and solo shows, in Europe and the US, since 1995. She has illustrated several children books and two memoirs. Her artwork is on the cover of several books and it was most recently featured in pethricor, Two Hawks, Arkana and Argo. More about her work can be found at

O'Brien is also an award-winning and critically-acclaimed poet and writer of short stories. She published many books in English and in her native Italian. A list of her publications may be found on her website:

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