Tuesday, May 24, 2022

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 2, 2022, Winners of Monthly Contest, January-April 2022 and Frederick Livingston

Andrena Zawinski, Love Bench, Half Moon Bay 

In the Poetry Letter No. 2 of 2022, the California State Poetry Society is pleased to publish the prize-winning poems from Monthly Poetry Contests held so far in 2022 – from January to April.  Congratulations to the poets and many thanks to Alice Pero, our Monthly Contests Judge. Our Featured Poet this time is Frederick Livingston and our guest artist is poet and photographer Andrena Zawinski.  In the email version later to be posted on our website, we also present three book reviews and a reminder about our Annual Contest with poems due by June 30, 2022. The reviews will be posted on the blog next wee. Meanwhile, enjoy the wonderful poems by inspired poets! 


Andrena Zawinski is a poet, fiction writer, and shutterbug whose photos have appeared as covers and on the pages of many print and online literary publications including Copper Nickel, San Francisco Peace & Hope, Caesura, Levure Litteraire, and others.


■ January 2022 - Theme: Nature, Seasons, Landscape. First Prize: □ Pamela Stone Singer,  "Forest Air" □ Second Prize: Jane Stuart, “On the North Side” 

■ February 2022 - Theme: Love. □ First: Jerry Smith “Lovers" Second: Jane Stuart, “Crossing the Moon”

■ March 2022 - Theme: Open, Free Subject. □ First Prize: Jeff Graham, "(A Certain Day’s Every)"

■ April 2022 - Mythology, Dreams, Other Universes. □ First Prize: Debra Darby "Awaken"

Andrena Zawinski, The Nesting Tree




You cannot see 

but know yourself as light.

Wings hoist you to the top of a tree.

You see meadows’ waves 

and luminous wildflowers.

Touch tongues of birds.

Swallow night air.

Cleanse your lungs.

Let forests’ darkness wrap your body.

Open your mouth to stars.             

Geese fly into autumn.

Their flight brings lavender sky

and iridescent feathers.

Soon branches will bend with winter.

Pine and wind-scented air     

remind the forest is near.

Pamela Stone Singer, Occidental, California




Walking through darkness

-another sleepless night—

my foot hits a star

But the wind blows shadows

across time…

and in the distance,

the moon sighs

and earth,

a painting,

comes to life—

shells in a bowl


still-life fruit

made of wax

The sky quivers.

I reach for

my bow and arrow—

nothing is there,

just the owl

and moss that grows

on the side of trees

Jane Stuart, Flatwoods, Kentucky

 Andrena Zawinski, Coastal Summer




She hikes to the waterfall twice a year

once when new-greens leaf the alders

and again as redbuds flame amber-pink


                                                                                       At dusk she lights a candle in the rock

                                                                                                  for wind from the falls to flicker

                                                                                                        She splits dark pools, gliding


Somehow together again, they

float the lips of the cataract

tumble down torrents


                                                                                  Her breasts engorge at the flood of him      

                                                                                                                      She suspends breath

                                                                                                                            shallow murmurs


Lying on black basalt beneath stare of stars

she rubs her skin with sage and slumbers

in the sand to rhythms of the roar


                                                                                           At dawn she drops the dying candle

                                                                                             into the dark, murky depths of that


                                                                                   Jerry Smith, San Luis Obispo, California



We met on a ship crossing the moon,

a cruise of moments

made of steel and glass

through deep blue seas

and mountains hard as sand

that has been packed

by hands in icy gloves—

Oh love is wild!

and this was our romance,

a foxtrot played and danced to

by the stars.

We moved above earth

in chiffon veils

and vests of champagne corks—

    Our glitter crowns
    shined in the shadows
    of a thousand tears
    because this was pretend
    and love moved on,
    leaving us a world of indigo
    and fading light.

    We don’t know why
    but the ship docked at dawn
    and we became fireflies
    in sudden flight
    on tomorrow’s wings
    that bloomed tonight.

                            Jane Stuart, Flatwoods, Kentucky

Andrena Zawinski - Sands




Neither late May rain, nor memory of,                   

nor memory of such scent,

but scent’s cataloging of recollections.           

Rain as timely as late May.   

Late May as sudden as rain at such a time.


Everything has led me yet ill-prepared me for this:                    

the sound of water taking in itself,

hybridized with the sound of the taking in of itself

          of water,

which lands into a backlash of rising,                    

to mix in with its mixed within.   


Rain round and about rain,                                         

falling as fallen-upon mid-fall.                               

Drops just amply to hear,                            

scantly such so that impacts dry                    

before spaces between connect.

Not too much, yet just enough                          

to linger with and within                                      

without the want for more,

for more than enough.                                                 


Light rain landing on light rain landing.                       

Rain between rain’s between,                                    

forming course mid-fall, fall-formed,                  

following through its follow-through                                        


leaf to leaf to loam to the ever silent                             

symphony of the seed, the sweetest

brutalities of the seed’s destitchery.                               


Rain and the scent of rain and the taste of rain                              

slides round and down partly parted lips

to fall to, land amid, and settle with(in)                                                                                   

what buried’s soil of making and taking,                                                                   

tilling the grave’s cradle of what was –

          existing as is,

          becoming what come.           


Of the hundred things I wanted to say,                                   

nothing came out of my mouth.                                                             

After that came after that, and after that                               

came the day cradled in soft though ceaseless                                 


When the conceptual of what was unutterable 

became such silence said, 

the cosmos collapsed and reconfigured 

into the gloss of a miscellany of intentions.  

Jeff Graham, Walnut Creek, California

Andrena Zawinski, Monterey Morning at Del Monte Beach



Find the strings

Ride the gleaming scales of the fish

blazing melon, gold, scarlet

nocturnal sapphire

before vanishing into the ocean at dawn.

Mooring the dreamless

dream remembering in tow

listen to the tides of morning.

The fishtail reveals its secret.

Awake to awaken

In waves of shimmering water,

The mystical call of the whale 



Find the strings.

Debra Darby, New Hope, Minnesota 

Maja Trochimczyk, Sunset Beach


CSPS is pleased to present the Featured Poet for Poetry Letter No. 2 of 2022. Frederick Livingston lives in Mendocino, California and often writes about the natural world that surrounds us. The following poems have been previously published in other journals: “Gnat Creek” – Garfield Lake Review, Spring 2020; “Pear Blossom” – Bacopa Literary Review, October 2021 and "Changing Names" - Writers Resist, March 2022.


three blue jays

take flight from limbs

of red alder

just as my eyes

alight on them

let me never say

I made up a poem

but if I listen

I might catch a few

and write them down

before they elope

with the boundless sky

Maja Trochimczyk, Boundless Sky


after how many years

does “drought” erode

into expected weather?

and then what name

when the rains do come

startling the hard earth

the exhausted aquifers?

we’ll sing to the deep wells

the quieted fire and clean sky

“winter” brittle in our mouths

holding vigil for rivers elders

insects lovers lost forever

when will grieving season begin?

what one word could walk

between delight of sun

hungry skin and unease 

in receiving unseasonable gifts?

what of the breath we held 

together as cold certainty melted

whispering “who burns this turn?”

when the broken record

record breaking 

dips into new palettes 

for our purple summers

cycles tighten

into teeth clenched

against unwavering anxiety.

in which season do we open

our jaws lungs ears hearts

speak our fears

how it feels to be alive 

on Earth still 

blooming and unraveling

naming petals 

as the wind claims them?

Maja Trochimczyk, Tree Spring in White


this tree could be dead

or dreaming

dark gnarled bark

ringed in rows

of holes where

long-flown birds

searched for worms

in depths of winter...

until sudden flush

of blooms consume

lichen-crusted branches

with white five-petal

promises of summer

swollen eat-me sweets

well before

glee-green leaves

greet sun

spun into sugar

proving dreams

precede the means

where is fear

of late-season frost

shattering this frail unfurling?

where are the rations

siloed inside against

lingering winter?

here instead is

chirping of birds returning

laughter-yellow daffodils erupting

at the tree’s feet

and a question

whispered low on cold breeze:

what would the world look like

if all of us had such courage

to offer our most tender selves

not only when spring is certain

but when we can no longer bear

our hunger for a more fruitful Earth?

Maja Trochimczyk, Sun Stream


This is no

imperceptible wind showing its course

in shifting smoke rising

from our fire

No this is

plunge into river bringing mountains

down to show us

what cold is

This is no

opalescent dew collecting on

artist conk underbellies

No this is

fistfuls of bright huckleberries

ornamenting the understory

This is no 

subtle poem

No this is 

waking up in your arms

Maja Trochimczyk, Mountain Lake


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