Friday, October 20, 2023

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 3, Autumn 2023, Part II - Poems by Frank Iosue, Alice Pero, Beverly M Collins, and Nicholas Skaldetvind


Plum Delight by Iga Supernak

In time for the fall harvest—a crop of great poems and three book reviews. This time, we are featuring some of our own: Alice Pero, Chair of Monthly Poetry Contests since 2020; Nicholas Skaldetvind, who guest-edited the Fall 2023 issue of the California Quarterly and everyone liked his work so much, that he was invited to join the CQ Editorial Board; and Frank Iosue, who served as the Judge for our 2022 Annual Poetry Contest.  Three different voices, styles, locations. . . 

Alice lives in California, near the Los Angeles National Forest, close to nature, yet at the edge of a huge metropolis. We are neighbors and we love our land. Frank is in Arizona, and Nicholas travels a lot, from Sweden, to Greece, to California, to North Dakota, and home to upstate New York. As for the “poetic voices,” let the readers decide.  

The three book reviews, posted separately in Part II, present Distance by Deborah P Kolodji and Mariko Kitakubo (reviewed by William Scott Galasso) and Shimmer: An Ekphrastic Poetry Collection by Paulette Demers Turco, reviewed by Michael Escoubas, who also reviewed Gathering Sunlight by Silvia Scheibli & Patty Dickson Pieczka. Our illustrators are photographers Beverly M. Collins (whom we know as a poet often published in the California Quarterly and elsewhere), and Iga Supernak, both based in the Los Angeles area. 

Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President


Cover of Collected Poems by Frank Iosue


Frank Iosue, who served as Judge for CSPS Annual Contest in 2022, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1951. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing / Poetry from The University of Iowa / Writer's Workshop. He has studied Poetry and Creative Writing with many nationally-renowned and prize-winning poets. His poems have appeared in numerous publications and online journals. He has conducted writing workshops, organized and hosted a number of monthly poetry reading series, and has been a featured reader at venues around Southern Arizona. He has served as a judge for numerous national poetry competitions, and creates poetry-related video content for his YouTube Channel, ImUpToMystic. He is the author of 11 chapbooks of poetry, which have been assembled and published in his volume The Au Revoir of An Enormous Us: Collected Poems (2017). He lives near Tucson, Arizona. Links to some of his visual poetry projects are below.

1.  "Green Mountain Rhapsody" by Frank Iosue:

2.  "The Whitsun Weddings" by Philip Larkin:  

3.  "The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

4.  "The Poetry Man 20 Question Poetry Challenge" by Frank Iosue

5.  "Dreaming Dog, Astride The World" by Warren Andrle

6.  "The Idea Of Order At Key West" by Wallace Stevens

7.  "Autumn Begins In Martins Ferry, Ohio" by James Wright

8.   "Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman" by Anne Sexton

Pumpkins  by Iga Supernak


                ~ Frankenstein's Monster

There are these
walls of air
I wish through

to all you
unknown others.

        I've walked
        from death

        into the future,
        out of the flames,

        a cross-stitched,

                no further

                and almost

I have reached
the dead end

of all my
inward arrivals.

        I've learned
        nothing more
        than that
        a child

                will not

        float like a flower.

I am a mirror
in the stillness.

as a cloud.

As cold and alien
as an Alp.  

I don't
want to bear
my load
of breath

        I must try
        to reach you,

        a moment
        is not

        Can I touch
        the hem

of all
your thinking?

        Feed me

        Teach me
        to inhabit
        a room!

                I want
                to live!

                I want
                to live

                your mind!

Frank Iosue

Photo by Iga Supernak


Though you have digested all your deepest secrets,
and the stars have feigned
regalia for your anonymity.

Though each elation has emancipated yet another
metaphor, and everything's the matter.

Though you have shed the fewest possible tears
and have been always grateful, silently,
that others suffered more
than you might have or ought.

Though someone whispered, more than once,

what must be done, and you did
exactly as he pleases.

Though your mother may have loved you best
but could not love you better.

Though you heard so many church bells ring,
but discovered the path
of prayer went only everywhere
your blood was running.

Though the boats of summer kept on undulating
effortlessly underneath you when
they could just as easily have sunk.

Though the next step you took led in some

intoxicating new direction eerily
similar to the last.

Though every day you ate as if you wanted to,
but found that you grew
hungry out of habit.

Though the dream has yet to arrive
that will not save you.

Though you have admirably, and without fanfare,
conquered every piece of space
you have ever occupied,
and are to be
congratulated on the triumph
that has been your existence.

When you walk into the earth and finally drown,
your loneliness will free you
from your prosperity.

Frank Iosue



the air of
that devours
the green engine
of the leaf

the ages
of rain that
the pebbles in
the water

the sun that
seals the small
tomb of
the trodden flower

the avalanche
that is
a breath
as it
a skin

intractable terrain:

dried fields
and desolate

my heart:

the throne to
which every
absence has

Frank Iosue


Night. I traverse sleep's phantom atmospheres;
its unlit oceans and its vast frontiers.
I linger 'til the darkness disappears

and wake to some small wonder, some refrain
the world had long exhausted; some terrain
un-earthed somewhere between a now and then

that can't be found on any calendar.
How insubstantial and sublime we were,
old loves, old friends! And how familiar

each reassembled recollection seems.
Time, loss and absence: those recurring themes
that dwarf the fragile fiefdoms of our dreams

with their detestable supremacy!
Whatever hold they claim to have on me,
I revel in my heart's infinity—

beyond all skies; outlasting every sun
that's shone, and rarefied by everyone
I've loved. It's there we sing in unison

the anthems of our insignificance;
there we endure, and end, and recommence,
kaleidoscoped in memory's opulence,

forever. Everything we've always been,
astir inside the graveyard of the skin:
the soil we dream, and do our dying, in.

Frank Iosue


ALICE PERO joined the CSPS Board as a Director at Large in May 2019 and became the Chair of Monthly Poetry Contests in January 2020. She was elected the 10th Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga in April 2020. She has published poetry in many magazines and anthologies, including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, G.W. Review, and others. Her book of poetry, Thawed Stars, was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.” She also published a chapbook Sunland Park Poems, written as a dialogue with Elsa Frausto.

         Pero teaches poetry and is a member of California Poets in the Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering students to express their uniqueness through writing, performing and publishing their own poetry. She founded the long-running Moonday reading series and currently curates the Village Poets series at Bolton Hall Museum. Ms Pero has created dialogue poems with more than twenty poets. She also created the performing group, Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble and performs with them as a flutist.

        Read a recent interview with Alice for more information: 


I am sure that I would listen to you

if I weren’t sworn to finding
the fabric of me

not in
old bricks

I would be interested in hearing about the
composition of

rusty chairs
even raindrops

Except that I just sweetened the call
of that bird
without a single thing

Alice Pero
Published in Ellipsis Literature & Art, Vol. 47


The wind opens the door and I go out
looking for an old poem in the garden
A new one would be too fresh, too bright
I feel rusty in the morning before coffee and toast
have to do a slow dance in the wet grass
feel the sun touching yellow jonquils

I am rolling in old thoughts,
like a dog who remembers the hunt in sleep
I make little yips and jumps, a dance I have made before
a white scarf over my face, like a spider’s web

A friend will come and knock at the door
and I will invite her in
We will talk and laugh and forget all about poetry
but new words will appear over coffee
like warm mist rising
and I will copy them down

Alice Pero

Published in Spillway, Number 14

Dusk Ocean by Iga Supernak


At the beach all my exclamation points
turn upside down
I am caught staring
at the empty spaces sea pulls out of me
I fill myself with discoveries:
a monster mussel, ancient shellfish warrior
clinging to a huge mass of seaweed,
wiggling starfish
and dozens of delicate sand dollars

I am a sea relic addict
I can't stand the silence inside me
I scurry for tiny things
to clutter a mind washed too clean

The bucket fills with oddities:
a haul of clam shells covered in barnacles,
the barnacles wearing sea grass like mole hairs
and broken mussel shells all worn down to nothing,
blackened outer covering gone,
leaving pure mother-of-pearl,
a shining filling me up,
All those old holes mended

Alice Pero

Published in Harpur Palate, Vol 10 Issue 1


I think I would like a weather house
Each room hot, cold, rain or snow
at a flick of a switch
Clothes, neat, on a rack outside each room,
a place to stow winter gear and slip into a bikini
Rain boots, slush boots and thongs on racks
for quick changes
The rooms would be square, except for those
with kidney shaped pools
and fading ceilings that could cloud over or
turn stark blue
The ultimate Happening
Children stuck indoors on rainy days could frolic
in the Sun Room
San Diego citizens could stand in bliss in cool
Vermont spring rain
Montana men, weary of crisp clean air could breathe
deep in LA smog in the Smog Room
And then there could be the New York Traffic Room,
because all that noise is a weather unto itself

Alice Pero
Published in California Quarterly, Vol 29, No. 2      


Have you weighed the yellow of that bold-faced sunflower?
Taken the measure of white as daisy opened to your touch?
This is morning: serious business
Sun is not yawning; night's pleasures are done
Take out your yardstick now, your ledger
Geranium's red must be counted
Lobelia's blue cannot exceed regulation
Pansy's multi-colored madness should be neatened up
These colors must not leak or stain
Our minds are clear, our mission pure
Lest we run amuck
begin to barter with poems, trade pigs for pearls,
cell phones for peacocks, laptops for dahlias,
Lest we wander off course, stray from the plan
Let flowers rule us

Alice Pero

Published in North Dakota Quarterly, Spring 2007

Apples by Iga Supernak


Squeezing the last drops of summer
sweet and pungent, like a Chinese sauce,
savored with watermelon and lime,
we gallop down dusty hills, yell at the ocean,
claim a stretch of land, three acres
where eucalyptus stand like benevolent brothers,
A huge hawk watches from a tall pine,
marks us with the eye of the ancient god
we cannot escape
We lie in the arm of the hill, half crazed with sun,
drunk with late summer's slow nectar,
our mouths open to receive the offering,
then slap the hard dry earth, bold as dancers
daring the bull, we rush away,
 nimble as acrobats, thin as leaves,
we float off, disappear into hot air,
descend to drink cool evening moon,
full and fat, waiting

Alice Pero
Published in G.W. Review


leaves fall
over the telephone wires
with soft grace
or sense of haste
the yellow ones have the sun
burning in them
nothing urgent makes them
spin downward
in the passing breeze
they have mastered the plan,
the yearly dying
and what telephone lines carry
in scrambled complexity
are nothing to them
they fall in free time
and have no knowledge of the volts
and vexations of man
traveling in milliseconds
through telephone lines
they flit through these
vehicles of force,
insouciant, careless and free
mindless of electricity

Alice Pero
Published in Poet Lore


I lean over on you
and the wind shudders
Trees stand at attention
Branches, startled awake
sway, dropping apples like
small bombs
the children rake away and eat
delicious fruit
They wonder at the fertility
of trees

Alice Pero
Published in Thawed Stars


BEVERLY M. COLLINS is a poet and photographer, and the author of two poetry volumes, Quiet Observations and Mud in Magic. Her works appear in publications in the U.S., England, Ireland, Australia, India, Germany, Mauritius, and Canada. 2019 Winner of Naji Naaman Literary prize in Creativity (Lebanon), twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, prize winner for the California State Poetry Society; 2nd placed; June 2021 Wilda Morris Poetry Challenge (Chicago). Her photographs may be found on: The cover of Peeking Cat 40 (England),  Fine Art America products, iStock/Getty images, Shutterstock and more:


Friends bring a silent language both
learn to decode the fast and slow that
blooms tight in shadows.

Something known from long ago recognized
in a face that is new to us.

Some friends challenge who we are.
They press our grey view, see
through red anxiousness and
detect our basement we believed
to be hidden.

Each emerge from patterns that waited
to greet, like found puzzle pieces that
merge together. Companions in hunger who
understand seeds and the sun.  

Wings are stilled long enough for
breath to cut the waters, hear life’s
glisten, and tasty-haunt of a horizon.
A shell sees a flutter as the same heartbeat
like a drumbeat at the center of a jungle

Beverly M. Collins



NICHOLAS SKALDETVIND is an Italian-American poet and paper-maker who joined the Editorial Board of the California Quarterly in September 2023. He holds a M.A. (2019) from Stockholm University. Department of English and Transnational Creative Writing (thesis "The Spontaneous Poetics of Jack Kerouac’s Letters from 1947-1956: Repetition, Language, and Narration.”)  In 2015 he received B.A degree from Saint Louis University Madrid,  Department of Spanish Language and Literature, Department of International Studies, and Department of Ibero-American Studies. He is a recipient of numerous scholarships and grants, including Graduate ERASMUS  Merit Scholarship (September 2018 – January 2019) at Bath Spa University. Department of English and Creative Writing in Bath, England; as well as scholarships at creative writing workshops at Berkeley, CA; Naropa University, Colorado and book arts and papermaking workshop at Wells College in Aurora, New York. He also was an undergraduate Exchange Student at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Political Sciences, English Literature, Spanish Literature, and Historical Linguistics (August 2012 – May 2016) and took a writing course in Danish in 2015. 

Skaldetvind's research and teaching interests include: Twentieth-century American Literature, Transnational Studies, Epistolary Poetics, Life Writing, Literature of the American West, Papermaking and Book Arts, Fibers and Shrinkage, and Paper Drying Process. He is a multilingual poet and writer: native speaker in English, with advanced knowledge of Spanish, Danish, intermediate knowledge of Swedish, Portuguese, Italian and French.

Red Cherries by Beverly M. Collins


Because of where we walk, there is very little light, but your face shines.  
I turn to ask you if the Magna Graecia temples in ruin aren’t beautiful
and you say sì, sì.  I touch the gaping mouth of Neptune and he swallows
my hand, his face lighting up for a moment.  
For some things I have no memory –
where I left my car keys,
what my ex-lover wrote in a text last week,
why exactly I came here.
But I like to know the names of Greeks and what they did –
Sisyphus, Heraclitus, Asopus –
and later, I want to know the name of these columns that limitrophe
your house like a sort of fence.  Wide brick trunks opening into frames, branches
holding the field of corn and the stars I might be mistaking for planets
heavy next to us.

Nicholas Skaldetvind


The car door was shut and stayed shut until it was opened.
I am uncomfortable but still
can enjoy how of all the guests, only our red
Ford isn’t blocked in, so alive
I open the door and step out, so people
can go on deciding if they know me.
How you do one thing is how you do everything
reminds me where I was going without you
when I turn my face in the lone motion of a crush
amidst the vacuum of unmeasured leaving
the garden and the half-tailed cats via multiple rooms, whereas the whole party
was gladdened and still in motion.  The funny thing
between adoration and silence.
Crawled up the nape of my neck: a shadow did.
Closed the pantry door: a ghost to placate did.
Lodged in life, you were inside and dancing, I think.  The mystery remained
mildly erotic.  I think other shapes were shifting in the trees without touching.
Everything, turning in this light, to stones.
We make ourselves warm.  We make ourselves alone.  I try
to guess your discalced itinerary through the room still in motion the wind
knocks the heads of lilies together and I end
up counting bougainvilleas instead.
Earlier we’d left footprints in the stones of ourselves.
The tide was out.
Not a problem at all,
the mirror said, since you both look
the same from here.

Nicholas Skaldetvind


The past alive
warm sea water
eye-level rounding

the buoy
locking up the deep
end behind a screen

of autumn friezes
Zeus and Demeter left
lying in

white sheets under
dull-colored intrepid

vines, roses
standing nude
with my back

to the cliff
marble exquisite

tracing the sand
into twilight
pink and well-worn

tracery stone-scapes
grapes hang
before transparent glass.

Nicholas Skaldetvind

Published in the California Quarterly, 49:1 (2023)

Seascape by Iga Supernak


What can I do?  Wish the day over like macular clouds
making the palms waver under the pressure?
I look through a thousand fronds diffused with sun flashing
above visions of a beach set loose in the street
and dull surfboards.

Either she wasn’t at yoga

or the landlord snagged her to complain
about the neighbors, motorcycles, or her little dog,
but rarely about her
and her current situation, which means me.  
For this we’re grateful.

Twilight: filaments of pink
and blue tie-dyed cups –
the bra she’s wearing.

Nicholas Skaldetvind


She is always laughing when they meet.
They eat toast for breakfast as usual.
For 39 days he thought it was the Ionian at the bottom
of his heart blooming, still, dreaming under the heavy grapes.
While the unceasing grey of spectral faces pass in spate, he knows
she is smiling beside him.
Now as the bougainvillea and roses are in the garden, brilliant, and then not at all.
Behind him her Mycenaean eye scatters broken urns, a future setting forth
rock by rock, inch by inch collecting cicadas rallying against the gloam
in Metaxata.  Her face seethes still seraphim
in slow time about the beach villa
where she wrought summer's last warmth on linen.
They spent a night on the floor gravely mute discovering
themselves discovering the bright pulsation overcome
by landfall's dark pleasure giving way to presence.
Long afternoons turned leaves into autumn's fold.
Each ambitious for what is visible between them now
that winter has begun.

Nicholas Skaldetvind

Monday, October 9, 2023

CSPS Poetry Letter No. 3, Autumn 2023, Part I - Reviews of Books by Kolodji&Kitakubo, Turco, and Sheibli&Pieczka

Photo by Iga Supernak


n time for the fall harvest—a crop of great poems and three book reviews. [...] The three book reviews present Distance by Deborah P Kolodji and Mariko Kitakubo (reviewed by William Scott Galasso), Shimmer: An Ekphrastic Poetry Collection by Paulette Demers Turco, reviewed by Michael Escoubas, who also reviewed Gathering Sunlight by Silvia Scheibli & Patty Dickson Pieczka. Our illustrators are photographers Beverly M. Collins (whom we know as a poet often published in the California Quarterly and elsewhere), and Iga Supernak, both based in the Los Angeles area. 

Maja Trochimczyk, CSPS President


Distance. Tan-ku Sequences and Sets by Mariko Kitakubo and Deborah P. Kolodji, Shabda Press, Duarte, CA 2023, 93 pp.$18.00 U.S (softcover), print 2023932505, ISBN:978-1-7377113-6-0 

Deborah P. Kolodji is the longtime Moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, a member of the board of directors for Haiku North America, and the inaugural recipient of The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association’s Presidents’ Lifetime Service Award. In addition, her highway of sleeping towns haiku poetry collection was awarded a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award from The Haiku Foundation.  Mariko Kitakubo of Tokyo, is renowned for seven tanka collections, three of which are bilingual Cicada Forest, On This Same Star, and 2016’s Indigo. Needless to say, given their combined literary pedigree, their collaborative work Distance sets a high bar concerning one’s expectations. 

Fortunately, Distance, subtitled Tan-Ku Sequences and Sets (for tanka and haiku), not only meets but exceeds these lofty expectations. These longtime friends, one might suggest (twin daughters of different mothers) have esteemed one another’s work for years. Each sharing their work and experiencing travels back and forth from the U.S and Japan between 2007-2019. 

Then the pandemic struck and most conversation frequently expressed in verse (haiku by Deborah and tanka by Mariko), became their modus operandi. The first of seven sections, we hold virtual hands illustrates how these gifted poets formulated their dialogue. One would text, the other would respond and bridging the time and distance between them literally and figuratively. They did more than cope with different time zones, they excelled in creating unexpected connections. 

The still waters of their call and response formula regardless of the specific subject matter inform each other and grow with each reading. Each of the seven sections is distinct in focus, yet they achieve synchronicity when considered as a whole. Here are some samples of their sets and sequences. I’ve chosen shorter pieces (primarily the sets) as examples due to limitations of space. However, the reward of reading the sequences contained this work is equal in terms of consistent quality.

Photo by Deborah P Kolodji

This piece is from the initial section, we hold virtual hands:

                                    Connecting Souls

                                    there is 

                                    an invisible thread

                                    between us…

                                    quietness of

                                    the pearl oyster

                                    closing my eyes

                                    I see your face

                                    Vermeer’s earring

And this from the second section the eternal wind focused on Deborah’s battling illness:


                                     wind will bring 

                                     the summer storm

                                     my garden

                                     bordered by living

                                     cadmium yellow

                                     wild mustard

                                     growing out of control

                                     clinical trail 

 And section three presents us with a classical Japanese reference:

                                      Forest Bathing

                                      uphill path

                                      I slow down to breathe

                                      the pine scent

                                      she perches

                                      at the edge of                                                        

                                      my straw hat

                                      a butterfly’s siesta

                                      in emerald breeze

Each section gives us a deep sense nature’s healing power and inherent beauty, a part of Gaia’s treasured gift to us, her children. Hence, reminding us of our own responsibility as stewards of the earth. Here are two more samples that conjure two very different strands of the emotional spectrum the first derives from traces of us, the second from the section entitled my words drift.

Photo by Deborah P Kolodji

                                       End of the Tunnel             

                                       no one knows…

                                       I escaped from 

                                       his violence 

                                       silent night

                                       holy night

                                       no more scarves

                                       to hide the bruises

                                       New Year’s resolution

In contrast with the celebratory…

                                       9th Inning

                                       losing streak

                                       the crack of his bat

                                       hits a foul ball

                                       every motion

                                       stops and restarts


                                       we catch our breath

                                       Gyakuten Sayonara!

The final line means “coming from behind,” a “goodbye,” a homer with the bases loaded that give a team the lead. 

Photo by Deborah P Kolodji

Finally, I would be remiss not to include a sequence, from as the road bends: 

                   First Blanket


                   pale cloud face

                   the dignity

                   before perfection

                   chestnut moon

                  waiting, waiting

                  the slow rise

                  of the sun     



                  what do you


                  smiles for the sky

                  newborn baby

                  first blanket

                  your face peeking out

                  from its folds                                                                                                                                                       

This collection Distance is full of quiet beauty and a wide range of subject matter comes Highly Recommended.

~ Book review by William Scott Galasso,

 author of Saffron Skies



Shimmer: An Ekphrastic Poetry Collection by Paulette Demers Turco. 24 Poems ~ 25 art images ~ 81 pages.  Kelsay Books. ISBN: 978-1-63980-317-0.    ISBN: 978-1-63980-333-0

Shimmer, by Paulette Demers Turco, excels on two fronts: First, it is a superb work of art; second, and perhaps more importantly, it is a work of the poet’s heart. Turco’s professional resume  includes a career in both clinical and academic optometry. Her  life has been about vision, about helping people see the world with clarity. I have no idea whether Turco associates her career endeavors with her art. What stands out to me is Paulette Turco’s visual sense with both brush and pen. My goal in this review is to juxtapose both the “art” and the “heart” accomplished in Paulette Turco’s latest collection.
Design — The book is organized into six sections: I. Waves, II. Wishes, III. Flight IV. Flow, V. Beacons, and VI. Home. These economical section headings add to the charm and simplicity
 of design. Each heading contains between three and five poems. The book stays within its prescribed lanes. That is, both design and content are like a well-trained athlete: no fat or flab, just energy and precision.
Nuances in Forms — Most of Turco’s poems rhyme. This is a  maturated skill. I found the music of her rhymed sequences delightful to the ear. Even her non-rhyming poems resonate with internal rhymes together with excellent end-line decisions; all strong compositions. Shimmers features four triolets, numerous sonnets and even a double-sonnet. Her free verse poems remind me of Emily Dickinson’s style, particularly in her use of the em dash.

Heart and Art Juxtaposed — I lead with Shimmering Plum Island Dawn, the collection’s title poem. It is one of several triolets which the poet judiciously places within the whole. Triolets feature prescribed line-repetitions and rhyme-schemes. These spare poems pack a creative punch while leaving room for expansive sounds and visual effects. I felt “time” melting as if I were present as the tide came in, castles disappearing. Is the poet’s heart conveying a subtle life-lesson?                                                         

Shimmer, Acrylic on Canvas

Shimmering Plum Island Dawn

Sunrays shimmer in the air,
Time melts as foam-topped waves crash down
on sparkling sand as on a dare.
Sunrays shimmer in the air.
At high tide, castles disappear.
My child’s towel becomes a gown.
Sunrays shimmer in the air.
Time melts as foam-topped waves crash down.

In section II, the poet turns her attention to family. I sense her heart in these poems which feature a young girl’s aspirations for ballet. Visually challenged, the youth must cope with whether to wear eyeglasses on stage. Two graphite drawings of a ballerina’s feet combine perfectly with sonnets that chronicle her inner conflict.

In the same section, the artist draws February Lilies, a combination which offers valuable insights about Turco’s artistic process:
Sepia ink on Bristol paper

February Lilies

Lilies in a vase,
lit with morning light
through a mullioned window,
beside drawing paper
with pen and ink supplies

to try—one stroke, then more,
strong and gentle, curved.
Accentuations, shadows
extend across a sheet
of thick white Bristol paper.

After a quiet hour,
lines transform to stems,
leaves, alabaster
blossoms, vase, translucence—
fragrant scent of spring.

Section III. Flight, features color photographs of sand dunes, ice-glazed holly berries glistening red, waiting for, “cedar waxwings / flitting in, / grasping orbs, / crisp and sweet, / sharing in pairs, / beak to beak.” You won’t want to miss the other lovely images and poems in this section.

Those who love lighthouses will delight in an entire section devoted to them. Orange Sky on Charlevoix is among my favorites:

Orange Sky on Charlevoix

She never could imagine this Great Lake,
illuminated by the setting sun,
bright as a centenarian’s birthday cake—
candles all aflame. This day’s not done.
This lighthouse, water surface, cloud-filled sky,
capture this slant of light for moments here—
before the lighthouse beam will blink its eye,
as if afloat, for mariners to veer
their ships around threats hidden by the night.
For now, the miracle of waves of light
meanders through the surfaces she’ll view
without him—pleased to be among the few
to capture this collage of orange red.
It will not last, nor change what lies ahead.

 The term “Ekphrastic” derives its meaning from a Greek root meaning “Description.” However, there is more to it than mere description. At her best, the ekphrastic poet pours her heart into description. After the Lightning Storm speaks volumes:

After the Lightning Storm

Thunder shakes the air, the ground, the oaks,
as bulging, smoke-gray clouds spew giant glops
that soak the withered garden-yellow sundrops,
while jagged light from cloud to cloud now stokes

fear among some families. We help coax
some to shelter with their beach bags. Shops,
though closed, are havens till the lightning stops,
the gusting northeast wind abates. Like strokes

of brush, the late day rays are swept through mist,
lightning clouds that fill a brightened sky
with purples, pinks, and apricot, and gold,
while tall oaks appear as silhouettes
in filigree—surreal to the eye—
a bold celestial canvas to behold.

I close my review, as the author does, with her acrylic 
on canvas creation: Dusk in Marblehead Harbor. 
The curtain falls ever-so-gently with this excerpt 
from Turco’s sonnet, “On the Edge of Light,”:

The harbor surface holds the rim of day,
Reflected in each ripple, every ray
Remaining in an iridescent sky,
Dimming as a gull or term coasts by.



Excelling in both brush and pen, in art and in heart, Shimmer: An Ekphrastic Poetry Collection 
shines with excellence.

                                                                             ~ Reviewed by Michael Escoubas


Gathering Sunlight by Silvia Scheibli & Patty Dickson Pieczka  104 Pages ~ The Bitter Oleander Press ~ ISBN: 978-1-7346535-7-1 To Order: or

In Gathering Sunlight, two poets from divergent backgrounds and contrasting styles, combine their skills. The result is an engaging and wise collection which sheds fresh light on the human condition. The book is all about the hard work of “gathering.” Scheibli and Pieczka, have something to say. 
They are realists. Their poems face life with all its challenges, failures, and sufferings. Poetry is a sanctuary of sorts. Poetry can and should be enjoyed for its magic show of language. However, I hasten to point out that poetry, for Scheibli and Pieczka, is also useful. My goal in this review is to share the harvest Gathering Sunlight has had in my life. 

Backgrounds — Among the standout features of Gathering Sunlight are interviews with each poet by the publisher The Bitter Oleander Press, (BOP). Digesting these educational interviews prior to reading  the poems increased my enjoyment. From the interview I learned about Scheibli’s love for tropical areas of Mexico and Ecuador. I learned that she is an avid “birder” having compiled a listing of over 500 exotic birds during her intercontinental travels. I learned about a real-life mystical figure named “Chakira,” whose influence permeates much of Scheibli’s work.

Patty Dickson Pieczka’s interview with BOP is no less interesting and brings out both similarities and differences between the two artists. “Beyond These Poems There Be Dragons,” introduces Pieczka’s superb contributions to Gathering Sunlight. I was fascinated by her response to why she chose those particular words. Additionally, Pieczka like Scheibli, is a woman of the earth. She spends time in Shawnee National Forest near her native southern Illinois home. She avers, “Nature has always been important to my sanity and spirituality and is often woven throughout my poetry.”

My favorite part of the interviews is when each poet discusses her unique views on the writing process. I found their practical insights helpful.

 Diamond Net, Photo by Iga Supernak

Poems by Silvia Scheibli. Part I—Duende poems

Chakira, tell me once again

Oh, tell me how the moon
opened your eyes and showed you
a change in consciousness

How you wished that every coyote
should have a black-tipped tail

How the oriole’s hood
was dark until you changed it
to reflect indigo sunlight

Nothing appears natural now—
Now you dream the raven in silver.

How do you dream only in silver, Chakira?

Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca has described the duende form “as a force not a labour, a struggle, not a thought.” Further via Lorca, duende is “an upsurging, inside, from the soles of the feet.” The duende, new to this reviewer, allows the muse to basically take over and drive the poem. One more example:

Seascape in Blue, Photo by Iga Supernak

My friend, Chakira, gave me her chisme  
“Listen,” she said.

Pelicans glide on wings
as straight as paddle-boards.

Aero-dynamic frigates ascend
immense, azure skies.

Supplicant, boat-tailed grackles
seek verdant, queen palms.

Caffeinated kiskadees
exclaim an immanent sunrise.

You need to visit Nayarit—
opaline goblet of barefaced dreams—
more often.

             Editor’s note: “Chisme” is Mexican slang for gossip.

Such is the mystical nature of much of Scheibli’s work, utilizing as it does, tropical surroundings, feathery creatures and an innate capacity for dream. In all, twenty-five poems comprise this section with titles that drew me in: “Ode to Iguanas in Nayrit,” “Jaguar Crossing,” “Under the Palapa,” and “Song of the Orange-fronted Parakeet.”

Photo by Iga Supernak

Part II—Ecuador Poems

Without a doubt Silvia Scheibli loves the people of Ecuador. This hospitable land with its “lush corn fields & many-colored roses, / ruby bromeliads & golden bananaquits, / scent of cocoa & coffee plantations” holds a large fragment of her heart. Six poems comprise this section. “Echos on the Road to Babahoyo,” reveals the poet’s heart for the land and its people:

Geese & dozens of jungle chickens
scratch endlessly on hillsides
of banana trees.

Escaped sugar cane & emerald mist
engulf abandoned houses.

Bromeliads perch on telephone wires
like mourning doves.

With partially opened wings
black vultures cast a shadow
over yellow hibiscus.

Delicate roof ferns
volcanic rock & golden bamboo
fade into midnight
with our café
con alma socialista.

Poems by Patty Dickson Pieczka: Beyond These Poems There Be Dragons

Like a child, I’m captivated by dragons. Pieczka “Had Me From Hello,” with her title poem which I share in full:

Drifting on an ocean’s
silk and shells, sea-foam
lacing pearls along the shore,

I follow a dream back
to its home in the dark,
unlace the night
to find forgotten things:

half-vanished thoughts, time
curled within my roots,
words melted by a long-ago sun.

I drift to the ceiling
to watch you sleep.
Your dream breaks
over shoal-bound rocks,

shaking loose a school
of silver fears
and familiar strangers

who sail angel-winged ships,
read the 16 points
of a wind rose to navigate
through the moon’s veil

and ghosts of fog
to the farthest edge
of the subconscious.

 Unity by Iga Supernak
I found, within the dreamy cadences of alternating tercets and quatrains, challenges to my conventional ways of thinking. Did I note above that poetry should have an element of practicality? Gently, the poet prods me to probe life “to the farthest edges / of my subconscious.”
Pieczka’s poems are preceded by a quote from Dante Aleghieri: Nature is the art of God. With that as a baseline, the poet skillfully weaves nature and human spirituality into a seamless and coherent whole. Her practical mind gifts readers with down-to-earth titles: “Misplaced” is about her father’s question which indicates that he does not know his own daughter. He asks, Who I am? With a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s, this poem speaks to me where I live.
A distinctive feature of Pieczka’s work is the “linked poem.” These poems utilize the last line in the previous poem as a springboard to the following poem. This formulation, as far as I know, is unique to Pieczka. At least, this reviewer has not encountered it before. There are a total of four linked poems in the collection; each superbly conceived and written.

Pieczka’s final poem, “At Horseshoe Lake,” shows both the mind and heart of a poet at the height of her craft:

I pull sunlight from your hair
to make our shadows pour
into the cypress swamp,
where rivulets spill back
to the time we met.

Tupelo leaves brush the colors
left by secrets barely whispered—
words beyond flight
and dream, strung to
neither root nor bone,
words tumbling in shapes
never recognized before.

We unbutton the hours
until day and night
meet briefly at the horizon;
they kiss, still making
each other blush
after so many years.

Gathering Sunlight, taken as a whole, is poetry that satisfies this reviewer’s mind and his soul. Scheibli and Pieczka have created a triumph of the imagination.

~ Reviewed by Michael Escoubas 


To Capture the Dawn, Photo by Iga Supernak