One Poem by Janet Lar Rieu Pantoja

A native Californian, Janet is now a resident of Washington State, a life-long poet, children’s story writer and cellist. Her poems have appeared in Rattle- snake Review, the Ophidian 2, and DADsDESK-lppj.

Say Goodnight to the Stars

Clear sky, full of night lights—
wind holds fog at bay.
Star patterns woven by
Divine millenniums ago
…even before time.
The Big Dipper, also Orion
with three-star-studded
belt, and one bright star seen.
Countless others shine like
sequins on black velvet.

Alone
on my balcony,
I breathe chilly ocean air…
say goodnight to the stars.

Two Poems by Ann Privateer

For Ann, poetry is a grounding influence in her life. At twenty she spent time hiking, jotting down thoughts and creating word lists. She lived looking up at the canopy of maple leaves in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. During college she moved to Los Angeles where magnolia trees provided new experiences and new words. Now that she is retired she spends part of the year in Paris, France with her family. Her poems have appeared in Manzanita, POETRY NOW, Tapestries, Entering, and Tiger Eye.

Taking Flight

Flying recently, ebulliently
recalling feathers battened down

no hairless look for this bird
nix the prim and proper, propel

her in red and yellow, stay true,
stay jaunty, shoehorned between

the window and a man asleep
in his hood, who when he awakes

is my brother. I gaze down
Colorado’s pink rock erosion

river’s ribbon near cliffs, perfect
circles, ruler straight lines

a musical geometry
of unintentional chaos.

Dancing Bear

I’m dancing with a bear.
My hand is in his pocket.
He has nothing to sell, no
reason except to dance.

We circle the floor, once,
twice, three times then back
unaccustomed to chilly night
air. My hand is in his pocket

and people stare. Do they envy
us, do they care? The answer
is unimportant as long as we
continue to dance, because we

must. We are from the same litter.
I wonder why some litter
mates are different. Some
dance, others don’t have pockets.

I’m dancing without thinking
and wondering where
thinking might get me.

Two Poems by Matthew Travieso Williams

Matthew is a CSUS student finishing his BA in English, living in West Sacramento. His work has appeared in Collective Fallout and Calaveras Station.

Pond Crossing

Across the pond he sees a woman. Dress
and hair afloat the water’s ripple. Wake
and tide unveiling white flesh—drifting, pressed
against the dirty glass surface. A cake
of scum and weeds and dirt is spread across
her still, diminished face. The open eyes
skyward. The sun adrift her pupil is lost
behind a charcoal cloud. The shrouded sky
releases rain. The man, unsure, refrains
from calling out. His boat ungrasps the shore.
His hands go pale with grip against the rain-
slick metal. He squints into the deluge, sure
she just had bobbed and waved her head. He
breathes,
exhales, and edges the skiff over to see.

Keloid

Years after
she left
her husband,
she finds
a bit of broken
glass hidden
in her knee’s crease.

The hard tissue
has buried it.
A small mound,
the black-brown
of upturned earth.

Digging it from her
skin, she wipes
Blood from her leg,
remembers
the glass bowl’s flying blur
shining in air an instant
in the kitchen

like the phantasmic
glow of residual image
imprinted behind
closed eyes.

One Poem by Vince Storti

Vince has produced poetry reading series at Yakety Yak Coffee House and several other Bay Area venues. He received a first prize in the Bay Area Poets Coalition’s Maggie Mayer Poetry Contest. As the publisher of North Coast Literary Review he has had good fortune to publish the work of a great number of fine poets, writers and artists. He is currently working on a second chapbook of his work, which he hopes to publish in the near future.

The old way from the 1950’s,

when things were simpler and everyone
drank like fishes

and the streams of sounds reminded me
of sleigh bells and hayrides and
clops of horses

and later, the glasses clinking,
and eggnog cups full of bourbon
when the vodka wasn’t boutique
and there wasn’t the idea that

freedoms had drifted past
when it was good cheer and
holiday smiles

and we went to church and
sang out melodies and
heard our voices strong

when now, we text message
our dreams and watch the
Chinese lift rockets to the moon

when everything’s still cool
even though I don’t always
understand all the signs that drift
from me to you.

Two Poems by Dianna MacKinnon Henning

Dianna’s work has appeared in: The Spoon River Quarterly, Crazy horse, The Lullwater Review, Poetry International, Fugue, Swink, the Asheville Poetry Review, Red Rock Review, South Dakota Review, Hawai’I Pacific Review and the Seattle Review. Her recent work can be seen in FutureCycle, on-line and in print form. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her book THE BROKEN BONE TONGUE was published by Black Buzzard Press 2009. She has written a young adult novel that takes place in Nova Scotia and is currently shopping it around.

Over the Weather Lurks Nothing But Calm

Arriving sopped, we found Bristol’s Bed & Breakfast
deluged with leaks. Sorry for the inconvenience, said the hostess.

Sometimes, it’s best not to know a thing in advance,
like the cancer that later wrings you obsolete.

Thanks to the rain, we canceled the bed & breakfast,
headed for another place, and discovered a cabin

by the falls to which we returned year after year.
Decades later, visiting Vermont’s Lincoln’s Gap,

the torrent pouring down became water over the dam;
happiness, a stone we once skipped.

No one says he’s beside the weather, but I was
close to you while the damp air wrapped us in its oil-

skin slicker. The weather slept with us that first night
and although you are gone, I feel your return in the rain.

Taking Out the Trash

Should I place a menu, post it for the bear’s
next visit, put out napkins and paper plates,
and what about a table cloth so the bear
is then accommodated by the niceties of polite

dining? I imagine him telling his friends that our
house is the best hit, always plenty to maul over,
and he invites them to dine after his nightly rounds;
plastic bags torn open, strewn across the yard,
looking like gutted ravens, orange peels,
tea bags and coffee grounds ignored.

I’ve tried to catch him in his act of busting open
the trash’s lid and have waited late into the dark
hoping to see this king of thrifty enterprise,
yet I’ve not caught a single sight of him.
There’s something thick about the boundless

night that makes me hesitate. It’s as though
the pliable world is less so in darkness—so I
fidget, horrified to break a path through air,
place one foot upon the porch—the burning eyes
of bear turning me coward at my front door.

Two Poems by Julia B. Levine

Julia is the author of three previous poetry collections Ditch-Tender, Ask (Tampa Review Prize) and Practicing for Heaven (Anhinga Prize). She was also a recipient of the Discovery/The Nation Award and the Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod. Her work has been widely published in journals such as The Southern Review, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from University of CA, Berkeley, and works and lives in Davis, CA.

Leave-taking

How suddenly goodbye occupies the deepest place in us.
So the shy ghosts of deer stop and stare

at chrysalis and leaf jitter shifting in the vast fires of wind.
All being is processional. It makes a sound like a scar.

Already our truck, loaded with mattresses and cookpans,
grinds one last time over the cattle guards onto the highway.

Behind us, darkness plumps the emptiness.
Touches with all its plant and animal hands

through a diaspora of doors. If only we could stay,
listening to claws clicking on the linoleum,

mandibles dissembling the timbers—
we’d see the outside has waited so long to enter

that now it arrives like prophecy, a wild fecundity
taking up where it left off—

woodrats weaving strands of our hair into nests,
bats chiming through shattered windows,

comet scars ripening in a roofless bowl of sky.

In the Real Paradise

There are seven strings of birdsong

of percussive flash
as Stellar jay and nuthatch brawl inside a pine.

And of course, there is our youngest,

the child we almost didn’t have,
throwing driftwood off the dock.

There is a hatch of flies to swoon and plummet
in the seaweed, the musselled crust of shore.

There is everything we desire,

but still don’t have.

Like the farmer’s cows our daughter has wanted
more than half her life to touch.

Or, in the hour of her deepest sleep,
you and I, unclothed. After all these years,

still unsure. Still a little shy.

President’s Message: January/February 2014

A little poetic history…

35 years ago, a group of poets formed The Poet Tree, which later became the Sacramento Poetry Center. Their plan was to help poets, put on readings, get funding, do workshops, and publish poems. For the ensuing 35 years, that’s just about what has happened. SPC has hosted William Stafford, Anne Waldman, Jane Hirshfield, Michael McClure, Maya Angelou and many more. Much has changed in 35 years, but we’re still at it. This February, with help from the Sacramento Public Library, we’re bringing Stephen Dunn to read in Sacramento. Tule Review turns 20 this year as well. The poetry center has provided a place for hundreds of poets to speak out, from first-time open-micers to nationally renowned wordsmiths. Thanks to all the volunteers, donors, organizations, and most of all, the poets who have made this possible – let’s see if we can do it for another 35 years!

In conjunction with Turning Point Community Programs and 916 INK, SPC has been providing one-on-one poetry workshops with at-risk youth for the last year. This program, called Real Poets, has served dozens of young people, many of whom are composing their own poems for the first time. The counselors at Turning Point are excited about the progress their young writers are making, and SPC hopes to expand this program in 2014. Alex Russell, who facilitates the program, has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $3800, which will be used for supplies, publishing costs (Real Poets printed two chapbooks last year), and nominal stipends for the poet-mentors. This program would not have been possible without lots of help from volunteers – special thanks to Katie McCleary, Diana White, Kamila Baker, Denise Lichtig, Cathy French and all the therapists and staff at Turning Point Community Programs.   Please look for Real Poets on Kickstarter, beginning January 25th, if you can help with a donation.

A Poem by Joyce Odam

Joyce has a passion for the relevance of Art in one’s life—any chosen art. Her poetry explores relationships, the subjective, the observational, and the purely imagined. Joyce is editor of REVITIES: A Mini-Mag of Minimalists Poems, and has been previously published in EKPHRASIS, RATTLE, RED OWL, SEATTLE REVIEW, SONG OF SAN JOAQUIN, and RATTLESNAKE REVIEW. She is a frequent contributor of Medusa’s Kitchen Blogspot. She recently won the grand prize for Ina Coolbrith.

It Is the Violet Time of Evening

It is the violet time of evening.
The day slows down. Quickens. One is
the other. The color of night begins.

I stretch out one hand toward nothing,
feel myself begin. It is the tone of silence,
that hum… that feeling… that spiral…

gray light in swirl and vibration…
ascending and descending in a single
motion, caught by the target of sleep.

Coolest blue light, a wash of miracle,
creates morning one more time.
Dark streaks of song are heard—

birds of delirium. The wakened
do or do not notice. What is there
is there. What is gone is gone.

There is no cry of envy.
The dead have not released themselves.
The living have no such power.

I pull the effort after me. It is death
and life. It is rag of prayer.
It is word of vast commiseration.

I wipe the silence clean, like a counter,
look into the mirror of myself and
become at once what I have never seen:

invisible, spectrum of chaos,
fastened to life by a single image,
the violet time of things.

A Poem by Sy Roth

Sy spends his time writing and playing his guitar. One of his poems, Forsaken Man, was selected for Best of 2012 in STORM CYCLE. Twice selected Poet of the Month in POETRY SUPER HIGHWAY, and Poet of the Month in BlogNostics. A Murder of Crows was named Poem of the Week in TOUCAN.

Spider’s Web

Just caught the edge of its silver span.
It shines an SOS,
Mosaic of strings dangling tautly
Against the morning sun
That leave my face
With a lukewarm splash of water.

The spider busy with its spade
Digs gluey masses of silk from its spinnerets.
Insect construction crew passes a cup of dew,
Warily watching him.

I snap the longest strand as I pass,
A sojourn on my bicycle.
The wind catches the thread as I drive through,
Sliver whips my shirt sleeve
Glued as if to reel me in as some future meal.

Flaps a disdainful tongue in my wake.
The spider rests somewhere on the other side.
Opens its vents to exude another bridge to somewhere.

Gatling gun sprays bridge trusses,
a fly leap to reconstruct it.
The spider hungers.

A Poem By Jeff Ewing

Jeff’s work has appeared in BARROW STREET, CRAZY HORSE, 2RIVER VIEW and TULE REVIEW.

A Neighboring Field

Fog rises in skeins downstream
of the bridge arcing from null
to null, the trees on shore formed
vaguely as afterthoughts—a lone
fisherman, a pair of ducks.

I follow a ribbed hawser of
wild grape down into a thicket
woven from the hard roots
of disappointment and the
angled trunks of cottonwoods

where I clothe what needs to be
shed in the skin of a black-tailed
deer, pull the tendons tight
and give a kick. Regrets crash
through the brush, lost chances

and bad decisions lope off into
a neighboring field fevered with
star thistle in yellow tufts that
crumple underfoot now but will
rise hard and sharp in summer,

tough enough to pierce a boot
sole through. My burdens bound
from the river I once lost myself in—
the water my skin grafted from
granite slabs and rusting chassis—

pausing halfway to the road to
watch their tracks undone by fog,
ears twitching at the perfection
of rings fleeing from a rising fish
or a flung stone falling short.