Wednesday, September 14, 2022

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 3, 2022 - Winners of Monthly Contests April-June 2022 and Jeff Graham, Featured Poet


Plums and Currants, image from a fruit plate.

Do you see how luscious the Italian plums, red and white currents are in this picture?  The author of this delightful painting remains anonymous and the painting itself is from my fruit plate with gold trim that I found in a California Goodwill. Too many “modern” sets are plain, white, thick, clumsy, and plain boring. These bunches of fruit envisioned by an Anonymous (the most prolific author of works of art in human history!) for placement on delicate porcelain, and then on dining room table, come from the still-life tradition in European painting that extends back to the Renaissance. Maybe it is time for it to be reborn? 

      Is everything new better? Is “modern” more praiseworthy for its Bauhaus-inspired simplicity than the overly ornamental Baroque? These currants remind me of a currant bush in my childhood garden and the joy of picking the ripest, golden drops of tart juice, still more sour than sweet. My Mom made the red and white currants into jelly, preserving them without cooking, to keep the Vitamin C and nutrients alive. In the Poetry Letter we preserve once-published poems and share the sweet and tart taste of words. After all, being fruitful means being creative. Enjoy the fruit of poets’ labor!

            ~ Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President



Jeff Graham studied English and Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. He is the author of the chapbook The Eye of Morning (Zeugma Impress Inc.) and one of 12 poets featured in Crystal Fire. Poems of Joy and Wisdom (Moonrise Press, 2022). His publications include appearances in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Indefinite Space, California Quarterly, Asheville Poetry Review and Grasslimb. Jeff is also a contributor to various haiku journals.



Slight breeze on a slight day.                            

The moth is on the bough.

The bough falls to the ground.

The moth falls with the bough.

Remnants of impact flutter upward.        

The sky remains the sky remaining.                                        


Nightfall’s fallen. First star lit in lanternglass.                    

The moth equatorially maps out the fiery.

Nightly happenings – happening happens. 

     Lantern-lined sky. First match’s last. 

Flicker of wings, of glint within glass fractures.

The moth equatorially crawls the skyline.                        

     No, it is the lantern that staggers 

     as on the horizon it passes past.                      


Between knowing what to do                              

without doing, and doing

without knowing what it does,

the moth falls not from,          

but within its capacity for grace,          

after singeing wing to star.


Night’s nix, dimlit wicktrim.                                     

The moth trudges the waxing moon

while traipsing through the wax:

     bothity of both.                                           

An unheld candle draws near the ever-

encompassing, all-                        



is snuffed by a clasping of patterned wings –        

is snuffed by claspings of patterns.                               


Stray wasp by night –                                                                               

     irregular flicker                                   

on and off the porchlight bulb’s 

     irregular flicker,                                

together with the usual moths’ usual.                     


motionlessness, though less                           

     than motion.

Swift kick of the leg of the collective 

     deckboard remainder.            

Small crawls 

     of a cenotaph of sunrise.                                                                       


The moth is born by end of day.                    

The moth is old by end of night.              

Fallings and Falls amid leaves 

     as (and as) leaves fall –                                        

hesitancy not of will but of lightness –                  

upon and in-with an indifferent stream                                    

that leads to a nondiscriminatory sea.                       

Of stars and of moons clung to by moths.              

Of the suns of stars and the star of the sun.          

The night is old with the moth’s decline.   

     The sea is young by morning 


NOTE: Section 3 is the edited version of a piece published in Common Ground Review, Fall/Winter 2018



Journey home.                                                                             

Canopy of bare branch above,                                                   

leaf over leaf over what unrevealed underfoot:

          arrival without leaving.  

                                                   NOTE: Published in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal 2021                                                


Between each stride lie random patches                                            

of winter grass, too green to be green          

beneath and between the sway of brown

of summer, made grey by summer’s end,          

grey-swayed by autumn-ending’s wind.

Between each grass blade waits the void.                                   

Between each void stands a patch of grass. 

                                                              NOTE: Edited. Published in Grasslimb Spring 2020                  


The shadow shared by the pine and me 

becomes the whole of night.

The shadow shared by the pine and me, 

who lean into each other’s shoulders,

dances as we dance like trees, 

lets fall its leaves as humans do.      


                                                          NOTE: Published in Blue Unicorn Fall 2021


 Kind thief, please take from my coffee cup                        

          the rippling moon. 

I have grown tired of sipping my gaze’s reflection,                                                                 

of eclipsing my reflection’s reciprocation

with the swish of a plastic spoon.

Dearest Macrocosm, pardon my gross negligence.                                                                     

I ended up swallowing night                                                         

and am drunk on the distant lights of stars,                            

          on light, 

          on distances.

                                                         NOTE: Published in Asheville Poetry Review 2021


Haloed moon and I – gratefully,                                   

none but the moon and I;                                                    

none but the moon and I to notice.

                                                 NOTE: Published in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal 2022

THE BANTAM HOURS 89                     

In the inch between autumn and the hour – 

miles of which ahead and behind,                     

miles of which wide.                                                            

My striding-through’s mutual interlude –                         

mutual, thus with                                               

(thus in, thus of)                                                                      




And as such, the inching of my steps –                                                    

mileage made up of autumn’s momentarilies.                                     

And as such, a momentary I.                                                     

                                                 The inching by

of Autumn’s catalogue of autumns.

                ~  Jeff Graham  


Alice Pero, Monthly Contests Judge, selected the following winners. For April,  the 1st Prize was awarded to “Awaken” by Debra Darby. For May (Personifications, Characters, Portraits) the 1st Prize went to Carol L. Hatfield  "Cloud on the Ground" and the 2nd Prize to Joan Gerstein "White on White."  For June (the Supernatural), the 1st Priz wineer was, "Buffaloes Escape" by Pamela Stone Singer.  



Wrapped in cloaks of snow, buffaloes

live in Moon’s lightning-green eye.

Embedded in their bones

palimpsests reveal eternal life.

Etched with star drawings, stick figures and shapes

from outer space, their horns speak stories of worlds 

where they travel calm plains.

Water songs and ceremonies, their messages.

Wander hills and valleys: cone flowers, golden rod, milkweed.

Speak the holiness of earth.


                                                    ~ Pamela Stone Singer, 1st Prize, June 2022


 (for my mule, Andromeda)

Never one to be


in fog - 

she calls


to her. 

She shines

white    as any opal -

     with a quiet


     in the belly.

The fog holds

the four-beat


of her pearl


and keeps it all

to itself.

The sky recognizes

her -

molds and


soft cotton


in her honor.


on the ground

she is - 

with one flick

of her tail

the rain


and we ride

the afternoon

on a veil

of grey….


at the core….

                                           ~ Carol L. Hatfield, First Prize, May 2022


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, First Prize, April 2022


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