Prior Features at Poetry Express




4/17/2017 Was: Tom Odegard hosted by Jan
(Need a prompt? "On an Island"  -- you don't have to use those words.) 

Tom Odegard (aka Tom/Ms.G) arrived in the Bay Area from Portland when he was eight, in 1948.  When he was 12 he set about writing a science book but soon discovered that he only knew enough to write the introduction at

which point he switched to poetry.  Since then he’s lived in many places in multiple states of mind, and written too many pages of words some of which he’s read at venues around the Bay or put into chapbooks.  He’s published two books: Friends Well Met – a collection of poems - and Past Lives Led – a poetic memoir both from Beatitude Press in Berkeley. He shuttles back and forth between Friday Harbor Washington and Oakland spending four months in California where he reads and writes and polishes his nest eggs. His poems have been published in a number of collections including, Spasso’s, Sacred Grounds, and Living in the Land of the Dead a production of Faithful Fools. In 2005 he discovered he was intersex and came out as a “Two Spirit”, Tom/Ms.G. He takes great delight in sharing his double gendered points of view with anyone who’ll listen.  Mark States favorably compared his poetry to e.e. cummings, to which accolade he remarked, “Yikes!”


“nothing but a deck of cards, you’re”

We were just 21 in a casino in Tahoe
knew everything and nothing as one does.
Long, long time later, truncated journals
would abbreviate echoes of the known world
city strife, foreign interventions, fanatic idealism
boiled down to twitter feed and sound bites;
but right there, at the black jack table,
in 1961 a drunk playing keno taught us how
to play if not win at black jack. He said,
“you gotta be drunk enough not to care”
at which point he won another keno jackpot
and opined, “See what I mean?”

Indigenous

We were all indigenous in Africa way back when
and the next chapter took us on long walk abouts
as drought set in

and we spread out and spread out and the meats
were sweet like lamb and we filled up the land
with bones we wouldn’t see again.

We were few on the ground,  particular as well,
claimed some territory ours, and sent visitors to hell,
cause now we were indigenous.

The land was ours; we spread out, we spread out,
ran buffalo over cliffs, counted coup on walk abouts,
bones to the brim, yes,yes, bones to the rim…

The land was ours ‘til strangers came on horseback
the Aryan horde, the Spaniard horde, on horseback
on sailing ships, again, again, again and again…

for land, slaves, treasure, and proof of might, proof of right
a place to waste, a place to destroy, keeping inflation down,
turning the middle into the poor while the wealth rode up.

Now the winds increase, oceans rise, tornados blast,
earth quakes,  bones pile up, the hunting is done
the fish are gone… ‘cause now we are indigenous
everywhere indigenous...

4/10/2017 WAS: Victor James Smith hosted by Jim


Victor Smith is [a poet and artist] newly transplanted to Oakland. [He] spent the past several years living amid sagebrush and dust devils. [His] work [is seeming] to reproduce that elemental sparseness and turbulence. [He] invites [you] to see what [you] think.

POEM (No title, call it AN INTERIOR DESERT if you want to)
An interior desert, a desert inside, the land, the border, an alien, a wind blowing in dust storm, blowing in cold, absent, no, presence of mind, mind on fire, no, mind empty blowing in dust storm, absorbent sieve adsorbent sorbet a mouthful of sand coarse grit grief anger in dessert. A huge sky cerebral, an open land trying to understand dormant cactus waking into bloom a wind overturning your soft shape inspiring travel setting down to take new root to grow anew to seed again to birth to decay to become elemental maybe rock maybe air space maybe me or you or the space between.



4/3/2017 WAS Founders Night – Mark States returned to feature!  Chris Chandler Co-featured.  Please contribute to his airfare with a donation during any of our sessions.  This session was held at Monkey House so as to accommodate more people1638 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703



3/27/2017  WAS: All Poets published in January 2017 PoetryExpressed.com  Magazine read as co-features. hosted by J.D.
(Need a prompt? "There May Not Be Time" -- you don't have to use those words.)

3/20/17 Leila Rae  hosted by Bruce
(Need a prompt? "Hot Water"  -- you don't have to use those words.)

Leila Rae is the editor/publisher at Pandemonium Press, located in Berkeley, CA. She edits and publishes three (3) online journals: riverbabble, Doorknobs & BodyPaint , and Day w/o Art . She also publish poetry small editions of monographs, chapbooks, and anthologies.  Forthcoming this summer Lulu & Ramón, her latest poetry collection.  Leila received her MA in English and Creative Writing from CSUEB. She has lived in Berkeley, CA since 1956.




3/13/2017 WAS: G. Macias Gusman hosted by Jim
(Need a prompt?"Spandex"  -- you don't have to use that exact word.)



G. Macias Gusman is a factory dog, a backhoe for the sun, a champion for splinters and blisters looking for homes on working hands: A Poet growing organically. G. Macias belongs to Davenport Iowa but as given his soul over to Oakland Ca. G Macias Gusman has been a feature reader at Bay Area Generations, Get Lit, Passages on the Lake, Saturday Night Special an east bay open mic, Write from the Gut, and read in the first leg of 2016 Beast Crawl Lit Festival (let’s be truthful if there’s an open mic you’ll find G. Macias) and has been publish in The Borfski Press Magazine, Red Fez, BayAreaGenerations. 

Cost of living 
The last thing I got me was an Aqualung before I quit my day job. 
It only cost 23 hours under the sun at a landscapers pay rate. The 
screen that’s holding in my atmosphere last 3 days before a red 
dwarf star tittering on super nova implodes in my right writing 
hand, burning bigger holes completely through it. I use a left palm 
readers’ influence every other odd day turning into S, but like a 
leap year birthday I rarely break even. Reminiscent of a hole in the 
heart, screens don't burn evenly; they will smolder away entirely; 
eventually. A brass screen is a necessary obsidian evil like sea 
green cash and, existing ain’t cheap when you’re not cheapening 
your existence. I wish things we needed came for free but the stuff 
that's free, costs a great living; still, I sold my soul to the words on 
credit. You see I like being broke but unbroken, untethered and 
free to roam around like a good life recorder should; record-play                           
are we rolling?                                                                                                
Life yielded a pink slip, hand-job, a little bit of dough, and told me 
good luck out there. We parted ways on friendly terms. We’re both 
wild cards unable to work together. Sometimes though I hate to 
admit, I miss that 12.50 an hour my bad back and simple sweat 
brought in when “A Living” sends the red wolf to the black door 
and I don’t have that umber rake or tuscan sun shovel to save me 
no more as I try to write these poems to the cost of life.  


3/6/2017 WAS:  Rose Black    hosted by Jan
(Need a prompt? "Drink Coupon"  -- you don't have to use those words.)

Rose Black lives and works by the railroad tracks in East Oakland. With their mountain dogs, 
Basho and Dante, she and her husband operate Renaissance Stone, a studio and supply source 
for stone sculptors. Rose's poetry has been widely published, and she is the author of three books,
Clearing, Winter Light, and Green Field. Her first two books, Clearing and Winter 
Light, are included in Yale's Beinecke Library for the Yale Collection of American Literature.

Rose currently teaches poetry at Salinas Valley State Prison. Her extensive article about the poetry
workshop there, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, is featured in Red Wheelbarrow, 2015, literary

magazine.



Silver Spring             

When the rains come in early spring, water seeps up through the basement floor, murky and foul. It creeps into corners, flows under the washing machine, under the old gas stove, across the mud sill into the plant room, and under the crooked door that leads outside.

The old woman hobbles down to the basement with a long-handled mop. She mops the floor, wrings the water into buckets, then pours it all down the cast iron sink.

She cannot keep up. Soon the water is to her ankles. Outside,  the water swells into little rivers. At its lowest point, the yard itself begins to fill, and a pond appears, then slowly spreads across the grass.

Underneath it all, the silver spring, for which her neighborhood is named, will continue to wind its way under everyone's floors and basements, rising and falling like the breath of the earth and its oceans.

Her neighbors try to divert the unwanted water this way and that, away from themselves. The old woman rests her mop against the wall, opens her arms, says, Come. 
                                                                                 Rose Black 


2/27/17 WAS:  Camille Miller   hosted by J.D.
(Need a prompt? Look at Camille's poem and riff off it)


Camille Miller is a poet who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been active in the open mic scene for three years.  Her favorite poets are Maya Angelo and Langston Hughes. She enjoys entertaining a crowd with lyrical and thought provoking verse .  She is an active part of the Valona Poetry community in Crockett.
                                                                          I lost my toenail
                                                                        Running a marathon
But it was worth it
'Cause it will grow back
But I lost my youth
Worrying about the future
And that is part of my life
I'll never see again
(Except in my memories)
So attack each day 
With a sense of passion
'Cause age will come
And it will crash in
So keep on living
Until you die
And try
Not to lose a toenail.

2/20/2017 WAS: Hollie Hardy hosted by Bruce
(Need a prompt? Look at Hollie's poem and riff off it)


Hollie Hardy is the author of How to Take a Bullet, And Other Survival Poems (Punk Hostage Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Annual Poetry Center Book Award. She teaches writing classes at the SF Creative Writing Institute, SFSU, and Berkeley City College. She hosts Saturday Night Special, An East Bay Open Mic, curates Litquake’s Flight of Poets, and is a founder and core producer of Oakland’s Beast Crawl Literary Festival. Her website is www.holliehardy.com

HOW TO FEND OFF A SHARK

Wet fists in your eyes. The thump of undrumming
A figure in your peripheral vision

Here is the rind of night. Facing off on a rock of ice
Nightgown whipping, ragged around your thighs

Because silence is an expression of fear
Unwave that flag, unsmoke that cigarette
Unfuck that friend
These desperate little fistfuls of defiance

This jazz song does not belong to you
Warm, the sensation of sleep. Threadbare
The quality of wishing

Because police are at the door again
This wrecking ball in your bedroom
This fresh fountain of silver in your hair

Blue, the function of smoke. Rumpled
The flavor of resistance

There are things that vanish unexpectedly
The stone talisman you carried for luck
Photographs burned in a fire
Bewildered, the pillow of regret

Because our experiences overlap. Bodies at rest
Hoarding dreams like stolen rainwater

HOW TO SURVIVE IF YOU ARE BURIED ALIVE

Sit down by the window’s heartbeat

to listen for rain

fingertips brush the body as Braille

seeking cracks in the façade

or an egress

from this book of wind

breath recurs often

brazen as the north star

a test of endurance

through layers of weather

how many stones are required

to collapse a lung



or a desire


2/13/2017  WAS:  Richard Loranger  hosted by Jim
(Need a prompt? Try "Fresh Out Of Luck"  -- you don't have to use those words.) 


Richard Loranger is a writer, performer, visual artist, and all around squeaky wheel, currently residing in Oakland, CA. His recent book of flash prose, Sudden Windows (Zeitgeist Press, 2016), has been warmly received. He is also the author of the Poems for TeethThe Orange Book, and nine chapbooks. Other recent work can be found in Oakland Review #2, Overthrowing Capitalism vol. 2 (Revolutionary Poets Brigade), and the new anthology The Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker (great weather for MEDIA). You can find more about his work and scandals at www.richardloranger.com.


Excerpts from Sudden Windows


And clouds roll in and I am glad, for autumn rain smells like the start of everything. And darksome days are time for all the dust to settle, sweet sweet the air and safe to open chest to amity. When trees drink clouds and dry ground soaks and we can sense effulgence down the road, how can we not enjoy the dropping of all things and the sleek sweep of pungent breeze? I’d like to lie down in the street and shine.


*          *          *


Early plum is bitter, early rose is tart, April light roves from sharp to glow as the month matures. Fleeting rain pelts the windows, then lifts infused with jasmine and fresh grass. Bougainvillea stuns. Clouds break, and the softest breeze strokes the arms and face. All the air sublime. Sometimes we need profundity, and sometimes just a lavender day.


*          *          *



I take myself to task, and find a tisane in the tin shack mine. The method to divine adumbra of the swale’s lost path is simply one of sniffing rasped grass. We are never truly lost until we find ourselves bereft of cause – no green, under air, dry as dirty docks. And even then the thirst might eek us out, the rancid grain slake need for friction so the loose shoot may flail. May tendril on. We soar on tin lid sleds and take the dawn. And in the meantime, watching from our table the adept bright rain, we take to task, wrap hands around sweet steam.

2/6/2017 WAS: Deborah Lee Fruchey  hosted by Jan
(Need a prompt? Look at Deborah's bio and riff off it)
PHOTO BY RONNA LEON

Deborah Fruchey was born. It wasn't her idea. After that she spent too much time in churches, mental hospitals, and 12 Step Groups, in that order. Finally she graduated to poetry readings, where she lurks to this day. She also writes books once in a while, and one of them even won an award, but let's not mention that. Deborah is hiding out in suburbia, but she only hangs out with writers and musicians, so any hopes of reform are obviously misguided. She studies Shamanism, and daydreams of a cult following and a flat stomach, but is considered unarmed and mostly harmless.
1/30/2017 WAS:   Leah Steinberg hosted by Jan



Leah Steinberg has been writing poetry for decades and recently published a non-fiction book, Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb: Children of the Manhattan Project.  She is the daughter and niece of scientists that worked at the University of Chicago Metallurgical (Met) Lab a branch of the Manhattan Project during WWII, the secret project that researched and developed the first atomic weapons.  The book is part memoir, interviews, history, with some poetry as well.  She will read from her new book.  Leah is a published poet, a nature photographer, and music lover.





1/23/2017 WAS: Lori Lynne Armstrong hosted by J.D. 
(Need a prompt? Look at Lori's poem and riff off it)



Lori Lynne Armstrong has been a scientist, a counselor, a drug addict, a singer, a home teacher, and a mental patient. Her passions include promoting integrative treatment options for the dual diagnosis community. She began writing Not This Song, a blog on the subject, to reach out and encourage others. A few years ago, an important essay got stuck in her throat and would not budge until she coughed it out in the form of the first poem she’d written in twenty years. There was no going back. Her thoughts on poetry and creativity can be found at her writing site, Not My Last Words.

The Mirror
                           
I was not born naked
It took long years to know
I was not born naked
I was clothed within the womb

Clothed in expectation
Adorned with brute conception
Afloat in some past toxin
I was supposed to bear

Now my mirror shows 
The beaded fear designs
Stitched into my skin
By some experienced hand


Now my mirror shows
My cheeks are smeared with red
Red tribal paint with meanings
I must break rules to see.


1/16/2017 WAS: MK Chavez hosted by Bruce






MK Chavez is the author of several chapbooks, including Mothermorphosis, her full-length collection, Dear Animal, will be released by Nomadic Press in October 2016. Her writing has been published in many online and print journals. Her most recent publications can be found in Story Magazine, Jam Tarts Literary Journal and Rivet. Chavez is co-founder of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges, and co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and recipient of a 2016 Alameda County Arts Leadership Award.
12/26 Holiday, No meeting. H A P P Y    H O L I D A Y S !

1/2/2017 No meeting    H A P P Y    H O L I D A Y S !

1/9/2017  WAS: Sharon Elliot hosted by Jim


Sharon Elliott has been a poet activist over several decades in national and international social justice concerns, especially the rights of women and girls.  Her activism began in the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s and 70s, and she spent four years working with women and teenage girls in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador, especially in multicultural women’s issues.  She is a Moderator of Poets Responding to SB1070, and has featured in poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in several anthologies and her poem “Border Crossing” appears in the anthology entitled Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, Francisco X. Alarcón and Odilia Galván Rodriguez, eds.  She has read it in Los Angeles at AWP and La Pachanga 2016 book launch, in San Francisco and at the Féis Seattle Céiliedh in Port Townsend, WA.  Her chapbook, Jaguar Unfinished, was published by Prickly Pear Press, 2012.  She was an awardee of Best Poem of 2012 by La Bloga, for The Day of Little Comfort.  She loves to mentor young poets and assist them in spreading their creative wings.  She is studying indigenous traditions of Scotland and Norway and is searching for the home of her heart with the guidance of her ancestors.  She is fluent in Spanish and is learning her traditional language of Scots Gaelic.  A true child of the north, she loves cats, stormy blustery days by the sea, and blueberries.

she wears
her morning coffee
like

a tea stained dress

warm

audacious

chimera

fond of peaches

and dark chocolate


Copyright © 2016 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.