Prior Features at Poetry Express

3/9/2020 Laura Schulkind  hosted by Jim

Laura Schulkind, an attorney by day, is entrusted with others’ stories. Through poetry and fiction, she tells her own. She has two poetry chapbooks, both published by Finishing Line Press, The Long Arc of Grief (2019) and Lost in Tall Grass (2014)Her writing has also appeared in numerous literary journals including The Dallas Review, Caveat Lector, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Evening Street Press, The MacGuffin, and Reed Magazine.

Her published work and reviews can also be found at:, along with musings on why “lawyer-poet” isn’t an oxymoron.

(Origins, 10/2018) 

Up on the twentieth floor,
needing to stir,
to flex and stretch,
I rise and pace along the glass wall,

and see the red-tailed hawk
that has suddenly soared into view,
catching an updraft with the barest tilt of his wings,
feathers splayed and radiant.

He moves in slow circles
above the pigeons, the people,
light, shadow, light, shadow,
his tail one moment fiery red,
the next burnt umber.

To see this world as he must.
All canyons and cliffs,
earth and sky,
friend and foe,
and no confusion over which is which. 

/16/2020 Lynne Barnes Was Canceled. Will reschedule later.

Lynne Barnes was born in Georgia and moved to New York City in 1968 with a front row ticket to HAIR, before migrating to San Francisco in 1969, two years after the Summer of Love. She was part of a commune that thrived for twenty years in the Haight Ashbury. She is a former psych nurse and librarian. Her beloved partner, Carole, created the cover art for her book.

FALLING INTO FLOWERS was the recipient of the 2017 Rainbow Award for Best Gay and Lesbian Poetry, a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, and received Honorable Mention in both the "Gay" and the "Poetry" categories for the 2018 San Francisco Book Festival.

Sunday in the Temple of Democracy

          The public library has always been a powerful force against inequality.

                    —Ian Frazier, The New Yorker,  June 2, 2014

Saturday we see 12 Years a Slave,
movie made from a memoir
of a citizen of New York 
kidnapped into the miasma 
of one race subjugating another.
After the lights are up 
and the theater is emptying, 
we struggle like swimmers in trouble
to come up to this century’s air.
After we rise from this rendering
of an American Holocaust, 
we walk out into the evening light 
that is just leaving us.

Sunday, back at work, I help 
a stooped African American grandmother 
who struggles to schedule an appointment online 
for a visit with her grandson in prison.
She frets in a lather of self-effacement 
over her troubles with usernames and passwords. 
She apologizes for taking up 
too much of my librarian time. 

Swimming in yesterday’s waters,
I touch her arm, catch her eye. 
I watch her shoulders loosen,
her texture go from burlap to velour,
her face lift and smile, as I tell her
You are my boss; I work for you.

2/24/2020   Scott Caputo hosted by Gary

Originally from Salem, Oregon, Scott Caputo has had a life-long love affair with writing poetry and creating games.   His work has appeared in Red Rock Review, Ruah, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and Saranac Review.  Blue Light Press published his second book of poems, The Bridge Under Construction, in 2019, and his first book, Holy Trinity of Chiles, in 2010.  "Memories of a Preemie" was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize.  He also has five published board games, including Völuspá, based on the Nordic epic poem of the same name.  He currently resides in Newark, California, with his wife and two sons.  

Memories of a Preemie

First memories
are newborn hairs
trailing off
soft infant heads.

So I hoped for my son
who lived his first weeks
in a heated box
hooked to heart monitors
a feeding tube
threaded up his nose
down to his tiny
walnut-sized stomach
all day a slumber
under bright blue
bleaching yellow
from his fresh skin
eyes closed
to the world.

Evenings after work
I scrubbed my hands orange
before entering the NICU
a room punctuated
by heart and breath
monitors beeping
suddenly screaming
before settling again.
Nurses rowed between
shuttered pods
cheerful blankets
hiding the one inside.
I held my son to my bare chest
let him feel my body heat
before putting him back
inside his incubator
for night after night.

My wife and I
hoped his first weeks
of solitude
would barely smudge
the mirror of his mind.

But months later
well after he came home to us
well after he learned to smile
we brought him back
to be with his former
roommates and nurses
a party with balloons and cake.

I did not expect how strongly
my son would embrace
his daytime nurse.
He last saw her when he was only
a few weeks old.
He gripped her with everything
a six-month old could give.
Somewhere deep inside
he was being held again
outside his glass box
human touch
timeless and warm.

3/02/2020 Ashia Ajani host Elaine

Ashia Ajani is an emerging Black storyteller hailing from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains. She is a graduate of Yale University. She is an Environmental Studies major with a specialization in environmental justice and food rights. Her work confronts Black environments and imaginaries, exploring the legacies of trauma and resistance in diasporic communities. She has been published in Atlas&Alice Magazine, The Journal, Pilgrimage Press, Sage Magazine, Brushfire Literature & Arts, and The Hopper Magazine, among others. She released her first chapbook, We Bleed Like Mango, in October of 2017. Follow her on Instagram: @ashiainbloom and on her website   

Photo cred for the head shot goes to Deanna Nagle ( 

2/17/2020  Dennis J. Bernstein hosted by Bruce

Dennis J Bernstein lives in San Francisco. He is the award-winning host/producer of Flashpoints, syndicated on public and community radio stations across the United States. Bernstein is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the 2015 Pillar Award in Broadcast Journalism. In 2009, Pulse Media named him one of the “20 Top Global Media Figures.” Bernstein’s articles and essays have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Denver Post, Philadelphia Enquirer, Newsday, The Nation, Dallas Times Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Mother Jones, Village Voice, The Progressive, Vibe Magazine, Spin Magazine, Toronto Globe, Kyoto Journal, Der Spiegel, and many more. Bernstein is the author of Henry Hyde’s Moral Universe, and the co-author of two decks of political trading cards, Friendly Dictators and The S&L Scandal Trading Cards. He founded The Muriel Rukeyser Reading Series in Park Slope Brooklyn, and broadcast it over public and community radio in New York City; the series was named after his friend and mentor, the late poet and biographer, Muriel Rukeyser. Bernstein also produced the first complete live, 35 hour broadcast of James Joyce’s Ulysses in the U.S. at New York’s Bloomsday Bookstore. He is author of the poetry collection Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom, which won the 2012 Artists Embassy International Literary Cultural Award. His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, The Chimaera, Bat City Review, The Progressive, Texas Observer, ZYZZYVA, Red River Review, and numerous other journals. Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, writes that Special Ed “is art turned to us through the eyes of love.” Carol Smaldino says in The Huffington Post that the poems remind us how “we are all connected to the sorrows as well as to the grandness of being human.” Bernstein’s earliest  poems appeared as a chapbook, Particles of Light, with woodcuts by Stan Kaplan. His artists’ books/plays French Fries and GRRRHHHH: a study of social patterns, co-authored with Warren Lehrer, are considered seminal works in the genre, and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Georges Pompidou Centre, and other museums around the world

Lenore Weiss Features Feb 10, 7pm

Lenore's poetry collections form a trilogy about love, loss, and being mortal: Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012); Two Places (Kelsay Books, 2014), and The Golem (Hadassa Word Press, 2017). Her most recent poetry chapbook is From Malls to Museums (Ethelzine, 2020), and her  prize-winning flash fiction chapbook, Holding on to the Fringes of Love, was published by Alexandria Quarterly Press. Lenore tutors middle-school and high-school students in reading and writing and volunteers at Chapter510 in Oakland, California.

Get Your Dervish On

The call to prayer resounds five ties a day. The calligraphic signatures of ancient architects appear on ebony doors encrusted with mother-of-pearl. Turkish is related to Hungarian, the same Ugric-Altaic language stem akin to Finnish, also possibly, Korean and Japanese. Think Mongolian. According to guides, the city is built upon layers of who did not like whom. Green and blue chariot teams once faced off along political lines. Ethnic groups fill out the corners of the city. Think Kurds, Greeks, Armenians. Scratch a civilization. Find a welt. We visited a Whirling Dervish ceremony. Ten dervishes appeared in black gospel-like robes, hands tucked across chests to signify the unity of God. One leader sat on a red sheepskin and kissed each hat as dervishes bowed. Save for black robes, everything else was white. Off with the black, spin toward the white. The fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve like atoms, something I heard from a yoga teacher. White skirts billowed into human planets of love. The ceremony ended with a prayer for peace.  Fade to black.

2/3/2020 Dee Allen & Heather Scott hosted by Elaine.

Session will start PROMPTLY AT 7PM to allow time for both features.

Dee Allen is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early1990s. Author of 4 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater and Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press ] and 24 anthology appearances [ including Poets 11: 2014, Feather Floating On The Water, Rise, Your Golden Sun Still Shines, What Is Love, The City Is Already Speaking, The Land Lives Forever, Extreme and Civil
Liberties United, edited by Shizué Seigel ] under his figurative belt so far. Allen’s fifth book, Elohi Unitsi, will be released Earth Day 2020
from Conviction 2 Change Publishing.

Heather Scott is a teacher in Oakland and sometimes writer. She writes about love and relationships. She received her MA in Creative Writing at the University of New Hampshire. 

1/27/2020 Dan Linehan hosted by Gary

A longtime professional writer, author, and award-winning poet, Dan Linehan often interweaves nature, current events, and far-flung lands. His poetry has been published widely in books, newspapers, and literary journals, including in The Anthology of Monterey Bay Poets. He is passionate about helping to solve environmental crises through creativity. Dan’s new multimedia serial novel The Princess of the Bottom of the World includes poetry inspired by his travels to Antarctica and Argentina. For more, visit:


by Dan Linehan

Sandra told me about her silver ring.
Her mother had said
            silver has healing powers.
I showed her my silver earring.
I feel like a pirate now.
She has a telescope back in Chile.
This is her last cruise.
She knows magic tricks.
We watched the comet,

            sharing a pair of binoculars.

1/20/2020 Caroline Goodwin host Bruce

Caroline Goodwin's books are Trapline (2013), Peregrine (2015), The Paper Tree (2017) and Custody of the Eyes (2019). Her recent poem, "Snaketime III", was runner-up in The Sewanee Review 2019 poetry contest, judged by Carl Phillips. She teaches at CCA, Stanford Continuing Studies and UC Berkeley Extension (in the summer). In 1999 she moved from Sitka, Alaska to California to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner Fellow; from 2014-16 she served as San Mateo County's first Poet Laureate.


If you show up
today I will open
the door, put on
the kettle. Familiar

as the net-vein willow,
catkin fur
we use for
wicks. At night

I can hear
the roots
beneath the floor. Girl
who sits humming
on the back porch,

tapping her hands
into fins.
If under
the lichens the weevils
are moving,
if under my
palms the water


A faraway flapping.
A trap door,
wind. The ways
in which the river
speaks. Open it up,

you’ll see. You’ll let it in.
1/13/2020Paul Jolly hosted by Jim

Paul Jolly was raised in Oakland, and, after a thirty year detour on the East Coast, returned to Berkeley in the summer of 2019.  His poems have appeared in Permafrost, the Columbia Review, and Straylight.  His first book, Why Ice Cream Trucks Play Christmas Songs, was published by Fernwood Press in December of 2018. 

Miracle drugs

Sunlight through clouds, taa-daa!  Trumpet
fanfares in the lab window, refracts
on beakers and test tubes.  Lab
drudges halt their rote to compare

charts with angels.  The apothecary
cleric’s shelf recently held a smatter
of cures: saints’ relics, holy
water, tinctures, unguent.  Now

many shelves hold baskets and baskets,
loaf baskets, fish baskets. 
High church muckety mucks
(mucks at least) preside at drug

trials.  The mucks want crutches
heaved by healed cripples, billion
dollar profits, Nobel prize, handicapped
stickers discarded from cars.  Proof

requires reams of forms.  Check
miracle type: blindness cure,
hemorrhage plug, cripples walk,
or the Lalapalooza: Lazarus alive

post-flatline.  And randomized
samples!  No chocolate sampler
was ever so random.  Did placebo
-takers get prayed at same as druggies? 

Did all the docs carry the same tracts
in their grand round lab coat
pockets?  Did prayer warriors spout
glossolalia in the same dead language?

Was there a between-shifts non sectual
moment of silence at the nurses station
in each clinic?  Identical hymns, time
-release capsules, scriptures, syringes,

Hallmark prayer cards, patches, inhalers,
beads, inhibitors, enzymes, chants,
implants?  Double-blinders want to know:
Was the philanthropist who endowed each hospital

faithish?  Does a buried urn in the arid
land of Genesis hold test results that went
wrong for pharma, papyrus

that proves placebo as helpful as drug? 

12/30/19 No PE, Happy Holidays host  S Clause 

1/6/2020 Kelliane Parker hosted by Elaine Brown

Kelliane Parker is a Bay Area poet and co host of My Word Open Mic. Her work has been featured  in local anthologies and she has performed around the Bay Area and. Her work gives voice to survivors of sexual abuse and other violent trauma to heal and break the cycle.

While the world sleeps
By Kelliane Parker
While the world sleeps, I negotiate and wrestle
I let go and become. The night person, sleepless.
Untamed and improper, irreverent and unmanageable,
Unpredictable and uncooperative. I unearth secrets
And deconstruct stories, stories carefully crafted and rehearsed
By the entire cast in the role of a lifetime
For a lifetime…a life sentence, really.
And I nurture and embrace The Survivor
The one who faced down monsters from untold fairy tales
Where the outside world finds most of us unworthy
Of be saved or believed. So again we save ourselves,
Unless we don’t. And then the body count is uncounted,
By the unspeakable cancer called shame.
And another is lost
And, another…is… lost
So, tell me your secrets, the ones you don’t even tell yourself
What could you lose to tell another unworthy, the familiar tale.
Only the cast member names are different, but the story is the same
So we share the secret handshake, to acknowledge our membership
Only this time, it is different, we are the majority
And the light no longer stings our eyes, or maybe it just makes us feel alive
To feel something, anything even pain is beautifully real
You, my sisters, count
I see you, I hear you
I will remember your name
And I, I believe you

12/23/19 Aileen Cassinetto hosted by Gary

Aileen Cassinetto is the first Asian-American appointed to the post of Poet Laureate of San Mateo County. Having grown up in the Philippines during Martial Law, she seeks not only to make poetry more accessible to people in their everyday lives, but to advocate for social justice and diversity. Widely anthologized, she is the author of the poetry collections, Traje de Boda andThe Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems, as well as three chapbooks through Moria Books’ acclaimed Locofo series. Aileen is also the publisher of Paloma Press, an independent literary press established in 2016 which has released 17 books to date.

Hate is lead-wrapped

follows a corkscrew path
all 1/25th of a human heart 
to tear apart skin, sinew
bone, prized tissue
rips as it leaves 
a bleeding vessel that is
the weight of someone’s love.

12/16/19  Andrena Zawinski  hosted by Bruce

Photo Credit: Don Dutra

Andrena Zawinski’s latest poetry collection, Landings, is from Kelsay Books (Hemet, CA). She has published two previous full collections of poetry: Something About (Blue Light Press, San Francisco, CA), a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award recipient, and Traveling in Reflected Light (Pig Iron Press, Youngstown, O), a Kenneth Patchen competition winner. She has also authored four chapbooks and is editor of Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry (Scarlet Tanager Books, Oakland, CA). Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern. She founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at

In Landings, Zawinski presents poems that embrace, in original ways and with deep-rooted emotional power, the worldwide condition of women, immigrants, and the working class alongside an abiding reverence for the natural world. Of this work, Jan Beatty says Zawinski is the necessary voice of the truth teller, speaking trouble among the beauty. Rebecca Foust lauds the collection as a book that offers wisdom and solace and one you will take comfort in reading again and again. Carolyne Wright goes on to say in these Landings, she embraces the richness of human experience and praises the courage of those who go on ‘living as if they could do anything.’
poem recited with images: 

Andrena Zawinski:

Sun spills silver stars of light along rippling summer waves.
A string of pelicans wing the horizon,
light in flight for all their heft.

Children squeal and squirm inside their plastic inflatable.
One slips over the side, feigns drowning, splashing and kicking,
holding onto his crying sister, jumps back in to tickle her side––
all of them then swimming in giggles and smiles in frolic and fun,
family picnicking at the shore, waving from bright beach towels.

Other children, roped onto rafts in flimsy life jackets, float in
from Aleppo across the Aegean away from bombs and bullets
to find a way out, forge a way in, whole families cattled
by smugglers, squeezed in dozens deep. But those who slip
into this dark sea cannot be rescued with innocent teasing and mirth.

A three-year-old washes up onto the beach face down on the sand,
limp body leaden in his father’s arms,
water lapping the wounded shore.

Publication Credit:
Reunion Dallas Review, Vol 6, 2017. Univ. of Texas, Dallas, TX

12/9/19 Becky Bishop White  hosted by Jim

The east coast, the SF Bay Area, and Lake Tahoe are threaded throughout the poetry of Becky Bishop White. An emerging poet, Becky won the 2019 First Prize in the Benicia Love Poetry Contest for her poem, Flying Start, and was Second Place winner for an unpublished poem, Ghost Fleet, at the 2019 Solano County Fair. Becky lives in Benicia with her husband, author James W. White, who is her very best friend.

To try to set a problem right
requires courage. Some might
think to leave or just pout
in silence, but to talk it out
or try for a hug is huge.
You are no longer fugitive
from your best self.
You have broken the spell
that makes you think ‘other.’
But it’s not really another
who aligns with you.
Here is what is true:
The soul who makes peace is nearer
to the person in the mirror.

            © Becky Bishop White

12/2/19 Jeanne Lupton host Elaine

Jeanne Lupton hosted Second Saturday Poetry and Prose at Frank Bette Center for the Arts for 13 years until this month.  She writes poems and memoir and her tanka are published internationally.  She's happy to feature again at Poetry Express.  She gets great material from living at Strawberry Creek Lodge, senior housing in Berkeley.  

11/25/19 Dave Holt hosted by Gary

Dave Holt, born in Toronto of Irish/English and Ojibwe Indian ancestry, moved to California as an aspiring songwriter, then graduated from SF State University’s Creative Writing program (B.A. ‘93, M.A. ‘95). He’s won several poetry prizes, including a Literary/Cultural Arts award for his book Voyages to Ancestral Islands, and is included in several anthologies, most notably, Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California; Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of CaliforniaThe Wild, Marin Poetry Center Anthology 2019, and Descansos: Words from the Wayside, where his poem received a Pushcart Prize nomination. Also a musician & composer, he sometimes performs his poetry with Ojibwe drum or keyboard.

Bering Strait, Dakota Pipeline Straitjacket

I come from ice and snow, winter memories
carry me, crossing tundra to a new land.
Fleets of dugout canoes floated us through kelp forest.
Bass, crabs, otters fed us,
this history etched in our hearts like petroglyphs
pecked in stone by our native artists.
This new Turtle Island formed by Skywoman
and before then, he who descended to Earth
as if by a rope dropped through Bugonagiizhig,
“Hole in the Sky,” the seven sisters, the Pleiades.

A different people followed Giiwedin’anung,
North Pole star, brought trade goods from the south,
taught us their friendship songs,
gave us the three sisters: corn, beans, squash,
traded for gifts of the north, obsidian, copper, beaver furs.
They shared their strange stories of origin and creation,
here on this land, where they emerged like ants
from an anthill, from an underground world
into the fourth world of pueblos and mesas,
and Spanish soldiers offering Bibles.

We nodded, knowing that what we were hearing was sacred.
Like us, they came from the Star People
who gave us seven sacred laws, affirmed our place
in the sacred hoop, and another non-heavenly origin
in the land across the water, beyond snows and ice flows,
back in time where we were given stewardship of the earth.
Of the four races, the white race became guardians
of the fire, the spark at the center of things.

Carried here across the Bering Strait, to where our fight
for protection of the water has earned us pepper spray,
guard dog attacks, jail cells, federal prison sentences.
Of what crime, against who, have we been accused? 

11/18/2019 Joyce Young hosted by Bruce

Joyce E. Young is the author of How it Happens, published by Nomadic Press. Her writing has been nominated for both a Pushcart and a California Book Award
and has appeared in Smith Alumnae Quarterly, WORDPEACE, riverbabble, The New Poets of the American West, and elsewhere. She has received grants from the California Arts Council, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and Writers on Site residency program at the Oakland Museum and Oakland Public Library through
Poets & Writers, Inc. Joyce has been awarded residencies at Virginia Center for
the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Soapstone and Vermont Studio Center. She works as a Writing Consultant at John F. Kennedy University, teaches writing privately, and is currently at work writing poetry, essays, and Parallel Journey, a novel.
Joyce maintains regular Yoga and Chi Gung practice and is a semi-retired Afro
Cuban folkloric and modern dancer. She keeps lots of music in her life,
particularly Jazz, Salsa, Reggae, Samba, and combinations of notes that defy

category. In reality, though, she really doesn’t like to assign categories for music.


Like angels are supposed to
You don’t do it because
you want to be good,
get candy, or ice cream

You do it because you love
And forgetting all else
You tend to her or him,
watching, waiting, praying
for life, health, the best
for that person or persons

you love
11/11/19 Bruce Fessenden hosted by Jim

Bruce lives in Berkeley and is co-owner of Fessenden Firewood with his partner Christine.  He has been deeply immersed in the natural world his entire life through the activities of backpacking, climbing and skiing.  A book of his poems —“Crimson Coat” — was published in 2014 by Goldenstone Press.  Pieces of Bruce’s writings have appeared in a MoonShine Star Co. anthology called “What is Love”, and also in Richard Grossinger’s book “2013”.  A second volume of poems, titled “Bones” will be published shortly.


My Mothers’ Mother was a gentle woman
    I remember her deep set, brown eyes.
She had a hearing aid, like a little microphone
    all that was available in the 50s.
She had her hearing aid as long as I can remember
    her hearing impaired by typhoid fever
    is the story I was told.

An uneducated woman living in a rooming house
    as a boy I felt we were connected close.
Two quiet souls, filled with empty time
    and the occasional unfriendly ghost.
When in high school, I’d drive
    her to her solitary room
    in my fathers’ forest green sports car.
He never gave her a single penny
    he was blind in so many ways.

Often I wonder why a few rise up
    while the others struggle and fall.
Hands of the clock easily seen
    but the inner gears remain hidden.
I’ve heard it said
    broken ones of this world sacrifice themselves
    discarded fruit enriching the soil.
She liked menthol cigarretes and dime store crime novels.
Who was the kindly elementary school teacher
    who taught her how to read?
Welfare checks and food stamps, TV in the lobby
    Bathroom and showers at the end of the hall.

The last forty years of her life
    spent in that solitary room
    with her paperbacks, her cigarretes, her silence.
For the forgotten ones, its almost a blessing
    to be so broken, and disassociated from their grief.
She lived her life a little bit stunned
    in that way we are so much alike.
There was not a single instance her entire life
    where my father realized
    that she actually existed.

Its october now, my favorite time of year
    angle of the sun so sublime.
I don’t even have a photo of her
    my memory of her face grows hazy in my mind.
Too many people never find their place
    punch the clock, ground up for fodder.
A choir sings sweetly
    from the other side of the horizon
    I stand tall and take the next step.

11/4/19  K.R Morrison  host Elaine

Black & White Photographs by Michelle Kilfeather

When she’s not drumming in two feminist rock bands, K.R. Morrison teaches English Literature and Creative Writing to high school students at Galileo in San Francisco, CA.

Morrison recently featured on Bay Area’s podcast, Storied: San Francisco about being an educator, musician, and writer in a city that’s rapidly changing. She has featured for many curations throughout the Bay Area, most recently Bay Area Generations, Naked Bulb, and Red Light Lit. Apart from reading her poetry at art events in Los Angeles and New Orleans last summer, Morrison featured for curations in New York in June, 2019. Published by Switchback and Quiet Lightning, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal as well as New York’s Gasconade Review selected Morrison as their feature for their most recent publications. She’s currently searching for a publisher for her chapbook, “Cauldrons,” while working on a larger poetry collection entitled, “From Her Wrist.” Once the manuscript is finished, she hopes to have it published by a press that reflects the priorities she voices in her writing.


10/28/19 Grace Grafton hosted by Gary

Grace Marie Grafton's most recent book is LENS from Unsolicited Press. It features poems inspired by California artists, 1853-2010. She is the author of six previous collections of poetry. Zero won the 2000 Poetic Matrix Chapbook contest. Visiting Sisters is a collection inspired by the artwork of contemporary women. Other Clues consists of experimental prose poems. A chapbook, Chrysanthemum Oratorio, plays with language and concept. Whimsy, Reticence & Laud, also from Poetic Matrix, explores the sonnet form. Jester, from Hip Pocket Press, features surreal persona poems.
Ms. Grafton taught for many years in the California Poets In The Schools program, for which she was awarded twelve California Arts Council grants. She was named Teacher of the Year by the River Of Words annual student poetry contest co-sponsored by Robert Hass, United States Poet Laureate.

10/21/2019 Georgette Howington hosted by Bruce

Georgette Howington is a UC Davis California Naturalist of the Mt. Diablo Region.  Her poems are published in Iodine, Sleet, Poeming Pigeons, Sacred Grounds, among others.  Her poems placed at the North American Women’s Music Festival, Ina Coolbrith Poetry Contests and the Benicia Love Poem Contest 2018.  As a horticulturist, her niche is Backyard Habitat and secondary-cavity nesters.  She is a County Coordinator and the Assistant State Program Director for the California Bluebird Recovery Program ( and an activist in the conservation community in the SF Bay Area for over 30 years.  Georgette is also a published garden and environmental writer.  

“It Bears Noting the Wolf Moon”
   By Georgette Howington

When the ancient tongue of sage,
wormwood and rosemary drops
below whispers, we can trust them
to tend us.  The dry deep-rooted tangle
of cosmos and sunflowers stretches
the attention offering an unobstructed
view of the blue and vast winter world.

January exhales.

And the Wolf Moon yawns in a white
glow of a frost biting night, while the
garden leaps into the season with a
shiver.  How soft the earth is after
a first rain and how nothing listens
better than a quiet moment when
tendrils of silence leave room for

(Sacred Grounds Anthology, 2019)
Sunday, 10/20, at 2pm,
Zeigeist Press will hold a Julia Vinogad Book Release Party 
at Himalayan Flavors.

Zeitgeist Press is very excited to present two new Julia Vinograd books with a celebration at Himalayan Flavors. Publisher Bruce Isaacson has put together "A Symphony for Broken Instruments", a seminal collection of selected works along with a big section of previously unpublished poems. Never before has such a tour de force of Vinograd’s work been together in one volume, which is 384 pages in total, including art by Deborah Vinograd and Chris Trian. At the same event, editor Deborah Fruchey presents "Our Lady of Telegraph Avenue", the new tribute anthology of poems to, for, and about Julia Vinograd by a slew of friends and local writers.

Please join us for a festive afternoon celebrating the life and work of this remarkable woman who energized and shaped the poetry of the SF Bay Area for over fifty years.

Zeitgeist Press Presents:
Julia Vinograd Release Party – New Book and Tribute Anthology with Bruce Isaacson presenting "A Symphony for Broken Instruments: Selected and New Works by Julia Vinograd" and
Deborah Fruchey presenting the Julia Vinograd tribute anthology "Our Lady of Telegraph Avenue"
with readings from both volumes

Hosted by Bruce Isaacson, event is free of charge and books for sale at a one-time discount


Julia Vinograd, the popular poet identified with the streets of Berkeley, California, published 70 books during her life (1943-2018). She was raised in Pasadena and Berkeley, where her mother was a poet and English Professor. Her father was announced to win a Nobel Prize in Biochemistry but passed away before the award. Julia earned a B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.F.A. at the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. She won an American Book award from the Before Columbus Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and a “Lifetime Achievement Award as Berkeley’s unofficial Poet Laureate.” She was also famed as the Bubble Lady for her love of blowing soap bubbles for children on Telegraph Avenue. This book represents a life’s work of Street Poems that are accessible, charming, and deeply human.

10/14/19  Lucy Lang Day and Diane Frank hosted by bruce
 Fire & Rain book reading 

Lucille Lang Day’s latest book is Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, an anthology she coedited. She is also the author of ten poetry collections and chapbooks, most recentlyBecoming an Ancestor and Dreaming of Sunflowers: Museum Poems; the coeditor of Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California; and the author of two children’s books, Chain Letter and The Rainbow Zoo, and a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Her poems, essays, and short stories have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and her many honors include the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature, the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland – Josephine Miles Literary Awards, and nine Pushcart nominations. She is the founder and director of Scarlet Tanager Books.


Rust-colored ladybugs, clustered like grapes,
mate on horsetails that wave by a creek,
where silvery salmon spawn and leap
when the sandbar breaks at the gate to the sea.

The ladybugs have come hundreds of miles,
from valley to coast, for this singles bash.
The females are choosy:  they twiddle the males,
seeking appendages padded with fat.

And all around—high in redwood burls,
on elk-clover leaves, and in the rich soil—
the meaning of life is to stroke and prod
under a humpbacked moon, dissolving in fog.

From Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2018)

Diane Frank is author of seven books of poems, two novels, and a photo memoir of her 400 mile trek in the Nepal Himalayas, Letters from a Sacred Mountain Place (Nirala Publishing, 2018). Her new book of poems, Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines, was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2018.Blackberries in the Dream House, her first novel, won the Chelson Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.  Diane lives in SanFrancisco, where she dances, plays cello in the Golden Gate Symphony, and creates her life as an art form. She teaches at San Francisco State University and Dominican University.

A poem from Fire and Rain:

            In the Mendocino Woodlands

He walks into the forest
where trees are burning
finding his path in the silence.

Woodpecker, memory, larkspur
in the night of burning.

His eyes ask me to wait,
to keep the connection inside
the silent place where I find
pebbles of intuition, rose quartz.

In the morning, lupines on the trail
to the cliff where the giant trillium blooms,
kelp and seals swimming beyond
the tide pools below.

I run through Indian paintbrush,
milk maids, cinquefoil,
climbing the path where he finds me.

And what is love?
A fire walk initiation
from the ocean through a cathedral of trees,
fuchsia, wild grape, sudden
blue streaks on the wing of a moth
stellar jay wanting to fly free.

                        Diane Frank

10/7/19 Tom Stanton host Elaine

Thomas Eric Stanton [American, 1947– ]). Is primarily known as a California Surrealist. His works engage many mediums, and often emphasizes the aspects of 'Performance'. He has produced books of poetry, and his Paintings are included in many public, private, and museum collections. He lives and works in Benicia, California. He is the current Poet Laureate of Benicia, California 

9/30/19 Maverick Night :  STORY TELLING hosted by Gary

Bring your stories in any format -- Poems -- Prose -- Ad libitum -- Pictures & Dialogue

9/23/19 Sandra Anfang  hosted by Gary

Sandra Anfang is a poet, teacher, and visual artist. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including San Francisco Peace and HopeUnbroken Literary Journal, Rattle, and Spillway. Her chapbook, Looking Glass Heart, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016. Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape (Finishing Line Press, 2018) followed. A full-length collection, Xylem Highway, was released in March, 2019 from Main Street Rag. Sandra was nominated for a Best Short Fictions award and a Pushcart Prize. She is founder of the monthly series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma, California, and a California Poet/Teacher in the Schools. 

Core Samples

At the Nevada mining museum
our seven-year old has a chokehold on my arm
timid at first, his tentative eyes—
as if searching for rattlers—
sweep the iron-incensed bunker 
before they lock on the rows of core samples.
He pronounces the name
which doesn’t quite fit in his mouth
carves new grooves on his tongue.
The desiccated docent
voice bald as his quarry explains 
how cylindrical drills drone deep into stone
probe Earth's mantle
yielding smooth columns, pygmy pillars 
relics of a place where dinosaurs 
once cut their terrible teeth.
Drawn in, my child dons a scholar’s mask.
This is proof of something real
a piece of the fossil record
truer than anything I can give him
a staff to wrap his brain’s heart around
bed of rock his feet can trust 
no ephemera in this metamorphic floor.

I flash on the day I could finally read most anything 
the skeleton key of my brain cracking the code
translating the thatch of storefront signs
the irony of the missing “i” in “realty”
my hopeful eyes pleading with my mother:
can we bring some home? 
At five I knew we were already fresh out.

Sandra Anfang

9/16/2019 Juanita J. Martin  hosted by Bruce

Juanita J. Martin is Fairfield’s first poet laureate, 2010-2012. She’s also a freelance writer, and
performance artist. Her poetry book, The Lighthouse Beckons, was accepted into the Solano
County Library. Martin’s next volume of poems, Quiet Intensity, is due out in 2019. She’s
published in Blue Collar Review, SoMa Literary Review, and others. Juanita is active in Ina
Coolbrith Circle, and Benicia First Tuesday Poets. Juanita was also a longtime member of
Redwood Writers from 2007-2017. Juanita is listed with Poets & Writers Directory of Poets. She has read at the Frank Bette Cultural Center for the Alameda Poets in the Annual Black History event. She often reads for the Beat Poetry Festival and 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Juanita has been a featured reader with Healdsburg Literary Guild, Petaluma Poetry Walk 2007 & 2016, as well as Berkeley Poetry Festival. She has also contributed to Sonoma Discoveries Magazine, a tourist magazine covering North & West Sonoma County, and the Coast.

A Bittern Wades in Lonely Water
—Juanita J. Martin

Foggy blanket hovers piney timbers
The brave who cavort with darkness
A mind judges himself along the waters’ edge
Against dilapidated death
Against the briny stench 
Of a burg

A shale-colored moon spotlights
A bittern at one end
The lonely end,
Where the wine of antipathy
Pours into a tall glass

Ripples of water are soothing 
a mind massages the longing 
finds solace there
A break in the mundane silence of living

(Third Place Ribbon-Solano County Fair 2016)

9/9/19  Tureeda Mikell        hosted by Jim

Tureeda Mikell, Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Story Medicine Woman, published poet and writer, Qigong Healer, storyteller, lyricist, astrologer and performance artist, has published 72 CA Poets in the Schools student anthologies since 1989. Has performed at Lawrence Hall and Golden Gate Academy of Sciences, MoAD, Randell, Oakland, and The DeYoung Museums, and has been featured storyteller for National Association of Black Storytellers.    Her book, Synchronicity, Oracles of Story Medicine, soon to be published. 

   excerpts from
Spell’s Labyrinth

Why alter the altar?
Silence the Arc for an Ark?
Why douse sacred fire of every kind?
Who enters prize for this enterprise?

Why did the son of the sun worship with warship?
Prey on those who pray for peace,
Set sail for sale of piece,
With pair-of-dice for paradise?

Governments profit
Gamble with prophets
Covenant of light

Will joules perish in parish of jewels?
Who’s good is sacrificed for concepts of god?

By Tureeda
9/2/19 NO PE, BAPC Picnic.

8/26/19 Jerry Ratch hosted by Gary 

Jerry Ratch published 18 books of poetry, and 7 books of prose including the novel: Wild Dreams of Reality, and the Memoir: A Body Divided, the story of a one-armed boy growing up in a two-fisted world. His work can be purchased through the author’s website: . and as kindle books on 

The Fly on Our Pickle

I think I know that fly
That fly followed us from our apartment
On W. 11th St
When I opened the door he flew right in
And when we left, he flew right out again

Followed us on the subway to Times Square
Took the Shuttle apparently
Followed us all the way through the tunnels
Up the escalator and into Grand Central Station

Then down to Juniors in the food court below
Where he joined us for lunch
The best Chicken Caesar Salad on the planet
So famous, even the flies know about it
We asked the waitress for an additional chair
But he took a seat on our pickle instead

“Oh, don’t worry,” we told her
“We know him. He normally lives
“Down in the Village”

The waitress eyed us suspiciously
“East Village or West?” she asked

“Come on!” we said.
“As if that really matters!”

8/19/19 Laura Schulkind hosted by Bruce

By day, Laura Schulkind is a school law attorney, privileged to represent public schools, community colleges, and creative educational institutions throughout California. And, as unlikely as it may seem, lawyers (good ones at least) are by nature frustrated poets. They believe in the power of language, and think people’s stories are worth telling. However, they are constrained to tell the stories of others; their own require another outlet. Laura finds hers in poetry.

Laura’s new collection, The Log Arc of Grief (Finishing Line Press), tells stories of grief—inspired and impelled by the loss of her parents, Herb and Rima. But just as they were her models for friendship, loyalty, and resilience, these poems move beyond her own grief to consider how we understand and support those we love in their grief, and ultimately how we all not merely carry on, but live.
Early reviews include:

Laura Schulkind's work radiates intelligence, compassion and a nuanced understanding of what it means to be a daughter, a mother and a friend. She's a fearless truth-teller, shining the light of her poetic language on details we well might have missed otherwise--the small, miraculous moments of discovery, heartbreak and redemption. Barbara Quick (Vivaldi's Virgins)

Laura Schulkind’s new book, The Long Arc of Grief addresses the sorrow of loss … But also present in these well-crafted and touching poems is great affection and devotion, and a wonderful generosity of spirit which lift the poems and the reader up.  Rafaella Del Bourgo (I Am Not Kissing You, and Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild.)

Laura’s chapbook, Lost in Tall Grass (Finishing Line Press), was released in May 2014. Her work has also appeared, or is forth coming, in numerous journals including Caveat Lector, The Dos Passos Review, The MacGuffin, Minetta Review, Reed Magazine, and Reunion—The Dallas Review. 
Her published work, and more musings on why “lawyer/poet” is not an oxymoron can be found on her website:

8/12/19 Lori Lynne Armstrong hosted by Jim

Lori Lynne Armstrong has been a scientist, a counselor, a mental health patient, and a painkiller addict. Her poetry spans these and many other realms with a style sometimes psychological, sometimes irreverent, but always searingly authentic. Her passions include promoting creative treatment options for the mental health and substance abuse recovery communities and promoting poetry availability for all communities. Her work appears in Poetry Expressed, The Abrams Claghorn exhibit "Have You Heard Us Yet?" and her first chapbook, Queen of Cups. She writes about her life and ongoing projects at
She is not what centuries of men expected to find, when they looked, if they looked, beyond softness, curve, survival smile
lines and planes, unrepentant, edged boundaries mark where she begins and ends. Colors of bruised plums, old blood, rich and dark
spots and patterns tell a story in a language no one but her can read— why these markings? why here? why this slanting angle, not one degree more, not one less, what does it mean, the men
wonder as they stand, lamps uplifted, and she does not speak to tell them, nothing, everything, I am not your puzzle to solve

these opaque walls will never lighten to clear quartz crystal  (never again)

8/5/19 LeeLee Aint Msbehavin   host Elaine

If you don't know LeeLee, you should and trust you are in for a treat. Three-time National Poetry Award nominee. Published author of "Untamed Pen", as well as an erotic cd titled "Freaky Tales". She's been featured on stages across the country and her voice has been heard around the world on several online radio shows. Her writings cover a variety of topics from the brutal reality of racism, to more adult content of a sexual nature. Prepare to go on the poetic ride of your life with the talented, the tantalizing LeeLee Ain't Msbehavin'

Photographs (Of You) I chased you in my dreams… Down hollow halls with walls covered with pictures of you From my birth to your death My heart wept because you’re no longer here It’s been twelve years… Twelve long lonely years of not having you near There was movement in each photograph that I passed Snapshots from my childhood Where you stood A constant fixture In my life I wipe the tears from my eyes That blinded my view of you All I could see were those pictures on the wall… Each was a happy memory replayed as I grew up with my siblings That loving feeling I felt when you hugged me Your presence when I gave birth to my sons Your smile beamed like the sun Which always made my heart dance I glance down the hall only to see you turn the corner Further away from my grasp This was my last chance to reach out and grab your hand I know that God reserved a spot for you in the promise land But I still need you… You were the super glue that held my heart together It shattered as I watched you go upstairs to Heaven You turned facing me Embraced me and stayed just long enough to sweep up the broken pieces Mending them back whole You hugged me one last time Telling me it was time to go home You said I won’t be alone because you inserted a piece of yourself within the valves that keeps me alive Inside of those picture frames are moments that will never die So for now its goodbye Don’t cry my love Because up above Beyond those stairs Is where I need to be You said to me as you walked away As I retreat down hollow halls with walls covered with pictures of you The sun shined brighter than it ever had Was momentarily sad But then I realized that all your years on this earth You prepared to be with Jesus You didn’t leave us Because your spirit will always be with us… I still dream of you though

7/29/19 Avotcja Birthday Celebration   host JIm

Avotcja has been published in English & Spanish in the USA, Mexico & Europe, and in more Anthologies than she remembers. She is an award winning Poet & multi-instrumentalist who has opened for Betty Carter in New York City, Peru's Susana Baca at San Francisco’s Encuentro Popular & Cuba’s Gema y Pável, played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bobi & Luis Cespedes, John Handy, Sonido Afro Latina, Dimensions Dance Theater, Black Poets With Attitudes, Bombarengue, Nikki Giovanni, Los Angeles' Build An Ark, Dwight Trible, Diamano Coura West African Dance Co., Terry Garthwaite, Big Black, The Bay Area Blues Society & Caribeana Etc. Shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Piri Thomas, Janice Mirikitani, Diane DiPrima, Michael Franti, Jayne Cortez, & with Jose Montoya's Royal Chicano Air Force & is a Bay Area icon with her group Avotcja & Modúpue.  Avotcja was the opening act for the legendary Poet Pat Parker the last three years of her life. She both composed & performed the film score for the Danish documentary MuNu. Her Poetry &/or music has been recorded by Piri Thomas, Famoudou Don Moyé (of The Art Ensemble Of Chicago), Bobby Matos Latin Jazz Ensemble, & performed by The Purple Moon Dance Project, and was the 1st Poetry performed by New York's Dance Mobile. She's appeared at The Lorraine Hansberry Theater in S. F., The Asian-American Jazz Festival in Chicago, as well as The Asian-American Jazz Festival in San Francisco.  She's been featured 5 times at Afro-Solo, twice at San Francisco's Carnival, The Scottish Rite Temple & Yoshi's in Oakland & San Francisco, Jose Castellar's play "Man From San Juan", Club Le Monmartre in Copenhagen Denmark, Stanford University, at San Francisco’s Brava Theater For The Arts with Cine Acción, New York's Henry Street Settlement Theater and The Women On The Way Festival in San Francisco. Avotcja a is popular Bay Area DeeJay & Radio Personality, and the founder/Director of "The Clean Scene Theater Project (AKA) Proyecto Teatral De La Escena Sobria". She continues to teach Creative Writing, Storytelling & Drama in Public Schools & thanks to the California Arts Council she was also an Artist in Residence at the Milestones Project & San Francisco Penal System. Avotcja is a proud member of DAMO (Disability Advocates Of Minorities  Organization), PEN Oakland, California Poets In The Schools,  IWWG & is an  ASCAP recording artist.
On May 10th 2014 the 12th Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival honored AVOTCJA with its Lifetime Achievement Award for the truly valuable creative and community work that she has accomplished. 


7/22/19 John Argue hosted by Gary

John Argue taught acting for many years, and in the ‘80s started doing drama therapy with children and with hospitalized adults. He shifted over completely to working with Parkinson’s people in 1985 and continued for 32 years. He retired two years ago and returned to his first love, poetry.

Foregiveness is not
some words you say
to the one who wronged you
Forgiveness is
giving up
your revenge.

7/8/19 Barbara Atkinson hosted by Jim

Barbara Atkinson identifies as a  bicoastal writer and performer, transplanted a few times between Bucks County PA and Berkeley CA. She is also a scientist, social organizer, and dance enthusiast. After teaching herself to read, she earned a Bachelor of Rhymes degree from kindergarten, her most prized diploma. In the many intervening years, she has written numerous poems (rhyming, metered, both, and neither), short stories, cartoons, songs & song lyrics, tributes in verse, and paraphrases of popular classics. Sometimes this erupts into spoken word, with venues ranging from summer camps to PTA benefits to soccer team family picnics to holiday parties at her workplace and more. 

Barbara's poetry has been occasionally published, beginning with the Nutshell literary magazine of Moorestown Senior High School in New Jersey, then the Penn Women's Literary Magazine in Philadelphia, and a chapbook entitled "Poets in the Pews" by the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, and most recently in Turning Point Journal, Elders Action Network Spring Issue on Earth Relations. Ms. Atkinson volunteered in Nicaragua from the 1980s through 2000s on solar energy projects, traveled and worked in Central and South America, and composed a few of her poems in Spanish. Her current labor of love is being full-time mom of a teenage daughter, some of whose multiple talents are writing and drama. "Poetry is when the family reunion in your head stops and it's just you talking..."

Solar Benediction

            we are           
                        gasping for comfort
                                                             of warmth and motion
                        we have burned our ancestors
                                     spilled poisons in the waters
                                     cracked earthquakes underground
                                     squeezed the last drops from the sands

As the majestic icebergs melt
    and tempests violently toss the air
           roaring louder

We look upward to the sun
            burning out more slowly than any
            generating winds
                        and tides
                                     and green food

Lunches are never free           still
            humble            desperate
                        we raise our arms
                                     trying to catch
                                                 the loaves and the fishes

7/15/19 Robert Coats  hosted by Bruce

Robert Coats has been writing poetry for 40 years.  His work as an environmental scientist takes him outdoors and sometimes provides inspiration and material.  He is drawn to poetry rooted in the West and reflecting a strong sense of place. A native Californian by birth (his great-grandparents having come by covered wagon in 1859), he spent part of his youth in the deciduous forests of Maryland, and the mountains of northeastern Nevada. His poems have appeared in OrionWindfallCanarySong of the San Joaquin, the Pudding House anthology Fresh Water and a full-length book—The Harsh Green World—published in 2015 by Sugartown Publishing.  Awards include first and third prizes in Menlo College’s “Wallace Stevens Where Are You” contest (1998), first prize in the 1994 contest of the American Society on Aging, and first prize in Word Worth’s 2010 poetry contest.  Details of his professional work can be found at


Go to Rock Lake, Plumas country.
Before sunrise, stand
on the slate ledge that juts the lake.
Look to the western shore,
watch sunlight creep down
the red bank of schist.

Now turn east, look up
to the canyon rim
where Jacob’s ladders converge
at a dark hemlock
against the bright sky.

In the moment before
the sun crests the wall
the entire tree--bole,
branches, foliage--
will flash
into silver filigree.

Then the orb’s leading edge
will clear the jagged ridge, shooting
gold deep into liquid indigo
warming your face
flooding you
with light.

                                    --Robert Coats


7/1/19 D.L Lange hosted by Elaine
We are back at Himalayan Flavors back room, 1585 University Ave.

D.L. Lang is Poet Laureate of Vallejo, California. She has authored eleven books, one spoken word album, and is the editor of Verses, Voices & Visions of Vallejo. 

Lang has been a featured act at numerous events in Vallejo and poetry shows around the bay area. Her writings are a blend of memory, history, imagination, reality, politics, and spirituality. Her poems have been transformed into songs, liturgy, and used as a means to advocate for causes. Her website is:

6/24 We will be at 1800 University ave, berkeley, 
Due to remodeling at Himalayan Flavors.
Doors to side room slide apart, do not swing open. 

6/24/19 Kitty Costello hosted by Gary

Kitty Costello's recent poetry collection, Upon Waking, is gathered from writing done during the 40 years she has lived in the Bay Area. She's a tai chi teacher and psychotherapist, and she worked for decades for the public library. She has served for nearly 30 years on the editorial board of Freedom Voices, whose mission is to publish works that speak to and from communities on the margins. She is currently coediting a collection called Muslim American Writers at Home.


If we can meet
and find our own dark treasure,
heal our own dark scars,
our hearts will be mending

cracks in the world.

06/17/2019 OPEN MIC NIGHT
Fire & Rain book reading by Lucille Lang Day & Diane Frank . Feature to be rescheduled 

6/10/19 Lydia Hirsch hosted by Jim

6/10/19 VENUE MOVED TO NATIONS GIANT HAMBURGERS 1800 University Ave, right side room, due to remodeling at Himalayan Flavors. Hirsch 6/10

Lydia Hirsch is a poet and writer who lives in LA and the Bay Area. She has published journalism, self-published two books of poetry, and is working on a collection of short stories. 

The Sea in Brighton
In anguish I loved you-- but today I love you 
The color of the sea,
The color
Of the sky an hour before sunrise.
The sea in Brighton
On a day in November, seeming almost spring. I miss you
With the sweetness we miss childhood with, Remembering with longing but not pain.

6/3/19 Bruce Isaacson Plus Julia Vinograd Retrospective  host Elaine

Bruce Isaacson met Julia Vinograd in 1985 during SF’s open reading / spoken word resurgence.  He earned degrees from Claremont McKenna, Dartmouth and Brooklyn College, where he submitted a thesis to noted American poet Allen Ginsberg.  Julia first introduced him to Ginsberg’s work.  Together with Julia and the poet David Lerner, Bruce co-founded Zeitgeist Press, which started as the house press for the infamous Cafe Babar readings, as David Lerner called it, Gladiator School for Poets. Today, Bruce serves as publisher for Zeitgeist, with over 100 poetry titles to date. He has lived in Michoacán, Mexico, New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley-San Francisco, and Leningrad, Russia.  He lives today in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was the first Poet Laureate of Clark County, Nevada, a community of two million souls encompassing the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip.  His latest book is Crossing Over, which includes stories of Julia, Lerner, and the poet David Gollub.

Here is a one page poem from the book:

My Heart When It’s a Whale

after David Gollub

Mostly roaming silent in dark waters
It is as   a thing put steaming
To cool in a tub    darker
Than time,   times to come, that is
Not times past   which are placed
In the afternoon light of memory   like
Family photos   framed on a
Shelf no one looks at,   or a
Cup of wrong coffee,   you look
Knowing it’s yours   while saying aloud
To no one   ‘that’s not mine’   that’s my
Heart holding its breath   in the
Deep, lost, with nowhere to go,   looking up at
Desire like the sun   seen through
Three miles of water,   remembering how
Fabulous it was to be young,   now that
Murder’s at the border   of your
Eyebrows like overgrown bushes
Trimming them’s like   trying to walk a cat, like
“Trying” to save a marriage,   like trying to
Raise a child   when you
Already raised   a monster,  Dreamzilla’s
Little brother    playing with
Firetrucks with an   x,   t-r-u-
Ex-wives and   ex-lovers,   ex-
Communicado’d saints,   shining hopefully at
History   while lost in language,   like
A whale,   who comes to   the surface   and
Blows,   grateful to breathe,   but still
Lost   in the wallows and wonders

of the deep.

We are celebrating the poetry life of Julia Vinograd. 
   Here is a poem appropriate to the moment by Julia:


You must feel loved when you read this.
Lean against the hand
stroking the back of your neck.  Relax.
In the pocket where you once kept marbles
is a small bag full of kisses.
Open it.  Let it go.
Someone's humming in the next room
with a throaty laugh at every missed note
because mistakes don't matter.
No, don't go see.
You don't even have to listen.
You are loved.
There's a warm smell coming from the kitchen
and the puppy's nibbling your slippers
but you're too comfortable to get angry.
There are so many people who want this.
Just this.
Believe me, they are not your enemies.

5/27/19 Zephir O'Meara hosted by Gary
WE found the restaurant closed and thus Zephir will be rescheduled. We did hold a small 13 person session at a nearby house.

Zephir O'Meara is a bay area page poet with many children and pets in his care. His ongoing quest to disrupt and subvert bio blurbs has thus far worked for him. So he's probably gonna keep doing it. It's almost a thing at this point. 



I opened up this email to send you a poem

I was going to copy and paste something

short and sweet nice and neat

Something with some rhythmic grace

some outer space retro vibe

Glimpsing the infinite

but still staying intimate

Here and now you and me our eyes lock briefly

Flicker away in the breeze

We cinder

We smoke

All our lives could matter in one kind passionate word

I lay at your feet a red carpet

dyed in my blood my heart's blood my soul

my word my bond

But I didn't really know how to finish it so I never sent that email

I guess it's saved as a draft somewhere

5/20/19   Carla Williams-Namboodiri hosted by Bruce

Carla Williams-Namboodiri is a humanities teacher and former journalist. Carla's manuscript novel, South Side Blues, set in her hometown of Chicago in the 1970's,was recently named a semi-finalist in Hidden River Arts inaugural Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction. She will be reading from new work, On Bus Line No. 6, a play in three acts, as well as poems (see below)

Tell Me Again

By Carla Williams-Namboodiri

What did you say?
Say what?
Tell me again what you mean
When you say
Make America great again

Do you mean great
Like the buffalo that roamed
the prairies of my heart
Or the once crystal clear
Great Lakes?

Or great like the voice
Of Tecumseh, who warned,
“Brothers, the white men came among us feeble, and now we have made them strong”

No, that doesn't really sound like who or what you mean

Tell me again what you mean,
When you say you want to build a wall
To keep our lives from coming in
Against the laws those great forefathers
Wrote to steal land Fair and Square

Can you explain, in polite terms,
Where and how you made
Was it before the Civil War or after it?
Was it when the Constitution
Settled on counting Africa’s children
As the three-fifths human
Or after blood and terror
Set us free?

Do tell, just once more,
Is your great America lily white,
With small apartheid “black spots”
Reserved for first nations,
“Hispanic-Latinos” and “inner-city blacks”

Or is it a modest version
Of a whitewashed college campus
After rolling back affirmative action
Rolling back to them good old days, ain’t it?

Down at the country club
Or was it the golf club,
With that private spa,
With the black attendant

How fun it was!
How he had to hold the towel,
while you jiggled your pecker,
And how you all called him Charlie Brown, laughing together

Though his name was Charles Brownstone,
After his father the master mason,
Like his fathers before him,
Who worked to buy freedom

Tell me once more,
What you really mean
About “Make America Great Again”
Do you mean like,
The Beach Boys
Or Chuck Berry singing,
“Rock and Roll Music,”
Crisscrossing color lines

When you say America,
It does not sound
Like me saying it

When you say
make it great
It sounds like
Of nuclear bombs
On Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Nothing at all like the greatness
By the truths we hold
To be self-evident
That we are all equally
Endowed with
Certain liberties

The America of which you speak
Was discovered
By Christopher Columbus
Who got lost
Because he thought
The world was flat

Carla Williams-Namboodiri is a writer and humanities teacher working on surviving the next four years.

5/6/19 Jan Dederick  host tba

Jan came out of the poetry closet at Poetry Express just a few years ago. Well, maybe more than a few by now…Since then she has found many voices she had no idea she had. Her work varies from rant to rave, from ode to lyric, from sacred to profane, from humorous to brainiac science-headed.   
Her work is inspired by nature, both human and the rest, healing, science, the Big Questions, the usual suspects. 
She’s earned a number of prizes in local contests, but doesn’t seem too interested in ‘getting her work out there’, i.e. the publishing thing. Or maybe just not organized enough.
She has self- published 2 chapbooks,  Ear to the Rail  and  Between a Rock and a Soft Place, and a full length memoir in poetry, Hammer It Into Horseshoes.  She is incubating another book,The Anatomy Poetry Book.

Jan was for several years a co-host of Poetry Express, and is on the editorial board of Poetalk, journal of the Bay Area Poets’ Coalition.

Cinquaine series:
my breath
the in the out
I sit to notice it
cool coming in, warm going out.
to sit
to watch and wait
how long will this itch last?
nothing lasts forever, nor this.
the high and low
there lies the middle road
Buddha recommended this route:.
Good luck!

5/13/19 John Garry hosted by Jim

John R. Garry has made his way across 9 countries by train, plane, automobile and by foot. His poetry is informed by his travels and his work as a licensed clinical psychologist in the community, with our military and in our prison system.
His published works include: 2009’s “Regalos de la Isla: Gifts from the island”, and 2015’s “Lean In: Live from Everywhere”.
His performances are a melodic blend of emotion and deep reflection that will make you think, feel and leave you wanting more.


I literally have a jar marked golf money filled with the wishbones of rotisserie chickens going back to 2015. I carried these from apartment to apartment, across state lines. They sat in storage for 10 months while I traveled the globe. It's a jar full of unused wishes, bones for conjuring new ways to fight off patterns that are ever present.

There is a 4-by-2 bin full of poems next to my bed; a pile of notebooks that, boiled down, are just ink and papyrus, emotional hand cramp manifestos. It's a tupperware bucket of unicorn ideas, flightless thoughts tied down with time and self-deprecation.

There are #revolutionarystew mind dumps on Instagram. It's an exercise in public masturbation that we have allowed as normal – all in the internet ether, the globe's electronic closet – full of porn, socks without matches and shit that no longer fits, but isn't thrown away.

I have 82 bowties in my closet and still my wardrobe is repetitive. I have maintained my weight only so that I do not have to buy more pants. All my sweaters from high school remain with me and, like them, I too go in and out of fashion regularly.

I am a pile of skin and bones, bowties, poetry and unused wishes. I spend more time thinking about what I have yet to let go of than using what I already have, and wondering who will throw out my things when I die.
All the things.

4/29/19 Maverick Night:  host  Gary   Other People's Poems  Guess who wrote it? hosted by 
Bring 2 poems printed out with out your name on them. We will put in a bag or box or hat and other people will draw out, read. Then we will attempt to identify the poet who wrote the poem.  We have been doing this once a year for years and it is great fun.

4/22/19 Judy Wells hosted by Gary

JUDY WELLS was born in San Francisco and raised in Martinez, California.  She received her B.A. from Stanford and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Judy has 12 poetry books to her credit. Her latest collection, Dear Phebe: The Dickinson Sisters Go West is a memoir/novella in poetry and prose about her New England-to-California Dickinson ancestors in the 1860s. She was thrilled to have access to real letters her Dickinson ancestors sent each other.
Her eleventh poetry collection, The Glass Ship, completes her trilogy of Irish-themed works, including Everything Irish and Call Home. Other works includeLittle Lulu Talks with Vincent Van Gogh and I Dream of Circus Characters: A Berkeley Chronicle.
Judy taught creative writing, women’s poetry, composition, and literature at various Bay Area colleges, before a career as an academic counselor and faculty member at Saint Mary’s College of California, working with adults returning to school.  Now a full-time poet, she lives with her husband, avant-garde poet Dale Jensen, in Berkeley. Her website is  


Last week at Whole Foods
as I was reaching
into the refrigerated shelves
for the coldest tofu
with the most future
expiration date
a yellow gloved hand
from the other side
laid itself on mine.
I nearly jumped a mile.
"Oh sorry!" said a woman's voice
from the other side.
A man behind me laughed.

This week as I walked by
the same tofu
I heard a disembodied voice
from the other side say,
"I needed you,
and you have never
been there
for me once."
“Yes, I have,”
I wanted to protest.
“Last week!”

From I Dream of Circus Characters: A Berkeley Chronicle
Beatitude Press  

4/15/19 Diane L. Moomey hosted by Bruce

Diane has lived and wandered around the US and Canada, and now dips her
gardener’s hands in California dirt. A regular reader at San Francisco Bay
Area poetry venues, Diane has published prose and poetry, most recently in
Mezzo Cammin, The Sand Hill Review, California Poetry Quarterly, Caesura
and Red Wheelbarrow, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. In
2016, 2017 and 2018, she won prizes and Honorable Mentions in the Sonnet
and Creative Non-Fiction categories of the Soul Making Keats Literary
Contest. Her most recent poetry book, Nothing But Itself, is available now.
To know more, please visit
Diane is also a watercolorist and collage artist, an experience that both
seeds and is seeded by, her poetic imagery. To view her artwork, please visit

4/8/19  Reginald Edmonds hosted by Jim

Reginald Edmonds is a poet, activist, and educator based out of Richmond, CA. Reggie was a member of the 2018 Berkeley Poetry Slam team and runs both the Rich Oak Alchemy Slam and the Oakland Poetry Slam and wide open mic. In their free time, they enjoy long walks through quiet graveyards, Hennessy with limes, and listening to trap music. They have two self published chapbooks, I’m Too Black For This Shxt (2017) and Sad Boi(2018).  Their poetry is map of intersections that illustrates the complexity of the human experience. Through their work, they hope you will come to understand how much we all contribute to the degradation of humanity, as well as what we can all do to turn this back around.  
All of My Fish Die In the Middle of the Night and I Imagine Myself Alongside Them.

I awaken to twelve glimmering bodies bobbing on the surface. Their eyes 
Are just as soulless in death as they were in life, bulging 
Pupils staring into the void. A 5-year-old probably shouldn't bury 
Pets by himself but nobody really gave a shit about lasting psychological 
Harm in the early 2000’s so I had a toilet bowl funeral 
Alone. Cried over the time spent excitedly pointing at the fish tank 
Like “look at how responsible I can be mama? Don’t that make 
Me a man now?” But haven’t I always tried to flush 
 My boyhood down the drain too early. Wasn’t I, in my foolishness,
 Craving manhood with my morning cereal. The same masculinity that is suffocating
 Me today. I should have learned that all That glitters is not
 Gold… fish. sometimes, they are just pretty Things waiting for a prettier 
 Death. And what's more beautiful than a Broken dream? Than my body 
 Floating alongside twelve nuggets of gold? Mama says that ​gold look good 
 On us black folks. ​ And don’t I look good, Mama? Am I 
 Man enough for you, now? Wrapped up in so much Masculine gold 
 That nobody hears me screaming? That nobody notices me choking? Will anybody
 Even know that I’m dead until the sun rises in the morning?

4/1/19 PoetryExpressed magazine release reading hosts Gary & Bruce

All poets who are within are invited to read their poem at this session. Open mic, if any, will be limited to any time remaining after all of our Poetry Expressed Magazine published poets have read. This should be a well attended evening, come early if you are dining so that you can find a table seat.
The work with is excellent! 

Poets include: Adele Mendelson, Andrena Zawinski, Barbara Saunders 2019, Britt Peter, Bruce Fessenden, Bruce Isaacson, Carol Criss, Cathy Cade, Chris Chandler, Chris Dupuy, Chris Warren Smith, Clive Matson, D. Jayne McPherson, D. Leah Steinberg, Dale Jensen, Dan O’Connell, David Zeltzer, Deborah Fruchey, Dee Allen, Dorty Nowak, elana levy, Florence Elon, Garrett Murphy, Gary Turchin, Grace Marie Grafton, Gray Rosado, Indunil Madhusankha, Jack O’Neill, Jan Dederick, Jan Steckel, Jean Biegun, Jeannette DesBoine, Jim Barnard, John (Jake) Cosmos, John Rowe, Juan Sequeira, Judy Wells, Kelliane Parker, Larry Beresford, leoroarbig , Lori Lynne Armstrong, Marilyn Flower, Marty Williams, Melissa Hobbs, Mimi Gonzalez-Barillas, Richard Loranger, Riss Rosado,
Saswati Das, Sharon Metzler-Dow, Tureeda Mikell Story Medicine Woman, Yarko Sochynsky,
Zephir O'Meara

3/25/19 Mary Mackey  hosted by Gary

In The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams, Mary Mackey writes of life, death, love, and passion with intensity and grace. Her poems are hugely imaginative and multi-layered. Part One contains forty-eight new poems including twenty-one set in Western Kentucky from 1742 to 1975; and twenty-six unified by an exploration of the tropical jungle outside and within us, plus a surreal and sometimes hallucinatory appreciation of the visionary power of fever. Part Two offers the reader seventy-eight poems drawn from Mackey’s seven previous collections including Sugar Zone, winner of the 2012 Oakland PEN Award for Literary Excellence.

     I have a lot of good news. It's been a wild ride since September when Marsh Hawk Press published my new collection of poetry The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams: New and Selected Poems 1974 to 2018.
        First, Jaguars sold out the day it was published. Then it made the Small Press Distribution bestseller list. A few weeks later it won a California Institute of Integral Studies Women's Spirituality Book Award.
      Since then, I've been on public radio three times, done 36 events, and given talks on everything from creativity and craft to Mirabai, army ants, and Goddess worship in Prehistoric Europe.
     Jaguars is now into its 4th printing. On May 9th, I'll be in New York where Harpers Magazine is sponsoring a reading and interview with me at Book Culture on Columbus. But my favorite event title is the one the librarians at  California State University Sacramento came up with for an event I'm doing for them on April 10th: "Jaguars in the Library: Poetry, Passion, and Archives." Librarians you rock! It just doesn't get better than that.

"Fever and Jungles: On Becoming a Poet": I describe the strange things I see when my fever rises above 106 degrees and how these visions, combined with the jungles of Costa Rica and Brazil, turned me into a poet.

Listen to me read 27 poems from The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams at, and check out Chaucer and Emily Dickinson while you're there.

3/18/19 Lenore Weiss hosted by Bruce

Lenore  recently won first prize in the Alexandria Quarterly Press small stories series for her flash fiction chapbook, Holding on to the Fringes of Love.  Lenore has read in different cities across the country and performed on the radio. Her three poetry collections form a trilogy about being mortal: Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012); Two Places (Aldrich Press, 2014), and The Golem (Hadassa Word Press, 2017). In reviewing Two Places, Nina Serrano wrote, “Weiss’ mind travels like the speed of light from the real, to the symbolic and the surreal.” Lenore tutors middle-school students and volunteers at Oakland’s writing center, Chapter510.

Black is the Color

Black is the color of my true love's hair
and Marlon Brando's motorcycle jacket,
each tooth a silver zipper.

Black is the color of roadies
drinking beer down the street
at the Big Dipper.

Black is the color of Johnny Cash 
who kept praying for 'Nam
to be over in a flicker.

Black is the color of T-shirts
of high-tech workers
designing glass slippers.

Black is the color of a woman
stoned on a red carpet
because a veil didn't fit her.

Black is the color of people who fade
behind the sidelines of center stage.
Black is the color of our grueling age.

And sorry, I drive a Ferrari.
Bob Dylan (or insert another name)
didn't wear black to the Grammys.

He wore gold.

3/4/19 D. R. Goodman & Judy Bebelaar hosted by The Last Word Reading Series

D. R. Goodman and Judy Bebelaar will read at 7 pm on Monday, March 4th, at Himalayan Flavors, 1585 University Avenue, cross street California, in Berkeley, as part of the Last Word Reading Series, with thanks to Poetry Express and Himalayan Flavors for their hospitality. Cafe phone is 510-704-0174. There is also an open reading.

D. R. Goodman, author of Greed: A Confession (Able Muse Press), is a past winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award and two-time winner of the Able Muse Write Prize for poetry. Her work has appeared in many journals across the U.S., and has been selected for inclusion in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and in the anthology, Sonnets: 150 Contemporary Sonnets, William Baer, editor.  A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, she now lives in Oakland, California, where she is founder and senior instructor at a martial arts school. She is also the author of The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists, from North Atlantic/Blue Snake Books.Goodman claims she always meant to be a poet, but got distracted and went for more than twenty years without writing – until one day while driving, she heard Kay Ryan reading on KQED. She laughed out loud, turned the car around and drove to Berkeley, where she bought the only two Kay Ryan books she could find. She soon began writing again, and has been at it ever since.

Judy Bebelaar's poetry has been published widely in magazines and online, and has won many awards, most recently a first prize, two thirds, and the Grand Prize in the Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest. Her work is also included in many anthologies, among them The Widows’ Handbook (foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsberg) and River of Earth and Sky. Walking Across the Pacific is her first poetry chapbook. And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown, non-fiction, is about the students from Peoples Temple she and co-author Ron Cabral came to know before most of them were sent to Jonestown. Ron and Judy were recently named Library Laureates 2019 by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

The Last Word Reading Series is now presented by Himalayan Flavors, a restaurant that serves Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese cuisine in a beautiful and colorful atmosphere. Dinner here is wonderful and should not be missed. Admission is free, but a one-drink or one-plate minimum is suggested. There is ample parking in the lot next to the restaurant.

3/11/49  Collin Edmond hosted by Jim

Collin Edmonds, also known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Cornrow Collin, is an activist, singer, and poet hailing from Richmond,Ca. He is one fourth of the Rich Oak Alchemy Slam and Oakland Poetry Slam organizing crew. In his spare time he enjoys writing poetry (duh), critiquing societal norms, listening to loud hip hop music in affluent white neighborhoods, and shattering expectations of black men in America.

2/11/19 Carl Kopman hosted by Jim

Carl Kopman is a writer living in Berkeley, California.
He is the publisher of ~ ~
a community based web journal for writers and visual artists.
He is a founding member of The Elk Kelp Choir.


It is not me who can explain this mystery

which bemusedly I deflect with charming excuses  
explaining away a growing history
of what to some have become my many abuses.       

Toothpaste tubes left uncapped,

cookie crumbs on my lap,
messages prematurely erased from an answering machine, 
“Someone called, dear, but I can’t remember who”
inbetween increased doses of Ginko Balboa
and a wifely reminder my mind is much slower.

No this cannot be me walking this cast                                    

confusing names first and last
having to create detailed lists
of whom I liked and who I kissed
when I was young and twenty-one
and knew the difference between humiliation and fun.      

Who could have foretold that this would be me

searching the forgotten for his destiny
forgetting his keys or misplacing his morning cereal     
Wiping his mouth on inappropriate material

No this is not me growing so old

becoming a story soon to be told
by those who capture 
the generational baton

leaving behind 
what cannot move on

2/18/19 Jan Steckel  hosted by Bruce 

Jan Steckel is a former pediatrician who stopped practicing medicine because of chronic pain. Her latest poetry book is Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, December 2018). Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, New Verse News, November 3 Club, Assaracus and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Oakland, California. Her newest book is just out in December, 2018.

2/25/19 Juba Kalamka  hosted by Gary

Juba Kalamka is most recognized for his work with performance troupes Sins Invalid and Mangos With Chili, and as cofounder of the queer hip hop group Deep Dickollective (D/DC). Kalamka's personal work centers on intersectional dialogues on race, identity, gender, disability, sexuality and class in popular media.  

His essays and creative writing appear in numerous journals and anthologies including Working Sex:Sex Workers Write About A Changing Industry (2007), Vi är misfits! (2009),The Yale Anthology of Rap (2010), Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Menand Queer and Trans Artists of Color: The Stories of Some of Our Lives (2014).    His third solo album Nguzo Sabatage: A Jig School Confidential and first collection of poetry, Son Of Byford, 
will be published in late 2019.


Late for the study job
Where i contemplate 
Bout the lil’ thang-thangs 
That doo rag bruh-bruh
like him cross the aisle from me trades in
So despite his tea being clocked
He’s right on time
Right next to sistah girl
We gonna give our seats up to homeslice
His skinny seed holding the right hand tight
His youngest holding the left
Sitting in the wagon smiling while

Radio Flying to Sunnyvale
2/4/19 Ivan Arguelles and Neeli Cherkovski 

Ivan Arguelles and Neeli Cherkovski 

This reading is the result of a rescheduling of the reading that was originally planned for January 11th at the late and lamented Nefeli Caffe.

Innovative and prolific Mexican-American poet, Ivan Argüelles, is the author of many books and chapbooks of poetry. Long associated with the "West Coast surrealists", he has also extended his vision into epic, book length poems. Included among his many books are: "That" GoddessMadonna Septet; Comedy , Divine , TheFIAT LUX; Orphic Cantos; and Fragments from a Gone World. His most recent publication comprises poems all in Spanish, Lagarto de mi Corazón. His collection, Looking for Mary Lou, won the 1989 William Carlos Wiliams Award from the Poetry Society of America. In 2013 he received a lifetime Achievement Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A retired librarian he has resided in Berkeley since 1978. He is the identical twin of New Age Prophet José Argüelles (d. 2011). 

Neeli Cherkovski was born in Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles State College (now Cal State Los Angeles).He is the author of many books of poetry, including Animal (1996)Leaning Against Time (2005), From the Canyon Outward (2009), and The Crow and I (2015)He is the coeditor of Anthology of L.A. Poets (with Charles Bukowski) and Cross-Strokes: Poetry between Los Angeles and San Francisco (with Bill Mohr). He has also published bilingual editions in Austria, Mexico, and Italy. A facsimile edition of one of his notebooks was published by Viviani Edizione in Verona, Italy. Cherkovski also wrote biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Bukowski, as well as the critical memoir Whitman’s Wild Children (1988). His papers are held at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Cherkovski received the 2017 Jack Mueller Poetry Prize awarded at the Jack Mueller Festival in Fruita, Colorado. He has lived in San Francisco since 1974.

The Last Word Reading Series presented, for now, by Himalayan Flavors, a restaurant that serves Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese cuisine in a beautiful and colorful atmosphere. Dinner here is wonderful and should not be missed. Admission is free, but a one-drink or one-plate minimum is suggested.

1/28/19 Rose Mark and Larry Beresford hosted by Gary

Larry Beresford is a freelance medical journalist and author of two books of poetry, Under a Gibbous Moon: The Adventures of Mister Funky, issued by Broken Shadow Publications, and Family Poems, published by Redheaded Press in 2010. He's been an honorable mention in Dancing Poetry (2014), the Benicia Love Poetry Contest (2018) and the Berkeley Poets Cooperative (1982). He lives in a cohousing community called Phoenix Commons in Oakland, Calif., with his wife Rose Mark,a writer and poet, and their three-legged dog Maggie. Their widow/widower creative writing project was first performed at Bay Area Generations in 2018.

Life’s Currency

I don’t regret marrying you, I explained.
Not a bit of it. I never rued that day.
Even despite, she posed
with a wave of her hand, all of this?

Oh, that’s just life’s currency,
you know, the harum-scarum.
What do you know about harum-scarum?
she asked, eyebrows on full-dress parade.

Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of harum-scarum.
I’ve been around the track, across the street,
through the ringer, up the down staircase,
in the out door, up the creek,

out of luck, in the soup,
through the looking glass,
where the wild things are.

Well, she said, what did you bring me?
Attachments area
Rose K. Mark writes about relationships, people, love, gratitude, food, erotica, disease, death and design. It’s all so connected.

Her work can be found in several anthologies:  Oakland Neighborhoods, Dirty Old Women- Elder Erotica and Bay Area Generations. Her food and travel articles have been published overseas and locally. Her book Tasting Life, contains stories, poems and recipes about food. Her newest book, Interior Design for Small Dwellings, co-written with Sherrill Baldwin Halbe was published by Routlege Press in November 2018. This is a book for beginning interior design students and laypersons interested in personalizing the interiors of their small home using participatory design. Our philosophy of living simpler by choosing more meaningful design is shared within the book.

Rose has read and performed her pieces throughout the San Francisco and East Bay Area. She’s won 2nd prize in several Poetry Slams much to her surprise and is lately enamoured with sharing her work at a reading series called “You are Going to Die”.

Her life partner/husband and writing compadre is Larry Beresford. They live in a cozy 627 square foot condominium unit in a co-housing community next to the Oakland Estuary in Jingletown. Life is good.   

1/21/2019 Sharon Coleman & Lisa Rosenberg 

1/14/19 Diane Frank hosted by Jim

Diane Frank is author of Letters from a Sacred Mountain Place: A Journey through the Nepal Himalayas, (Nirala Press, DelhiIndia, 2018), with stories, poems and 53 color photographs. She is also author of 7 books of poems, most recently Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). Her first novel, Blackberries in the Dream House was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

About her book:
Walk with Diane Frank, poet and novelist, on a 400 mile trek in the Nepal Himalayas.  With photographs and her beautifully written narrative, she will take you to many Sacred Mountain Places. You will trek on mountain trails around Annapurna, with an ascent of 17,800 feet to Thorong La, and anoint your spirit in the sacred fountains of Muktinath.   You will climb the Everest trail with astounding views of the mountains and go on pilgrimage to Buddhist temples and monasteries.  The rushing water of sacred rivers will sing to your imagination.  With each step of your journey, you will be transformed by the magic of the mountains. 

            Dreams of the Ecliptic

To change a girl into a kite,
            tell her that love is the moon.  

To teach a tree to sing,
            put a harp under its branches.

To change a bowl of dust into a planet,
            paint watercolor rings around the ecliptic.

To change the sky into a dream,
            put a song into a hammock.

To melt an ice cube,
            light a fire under the map of the constellations.

To write a symphony in a major key,
            plant a rainbow under an apple tree.

To create a universe,
            ride on a meteor shower
                        as the archer shoots a path of light
                                    across the sky.

When the sun rises for the first time,
            fill the sky with your singing.

                                                            ~ Diane Frank

1/7/19 Adele Mendelson

Adele Mendelson was born in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in Oakland, California.  She writes both fiction and poetry and has produced three volumes of work.  Her strongest conviction about writing is that it should never bore the writer or anyone else, that it should be sexy, have something at stake, and the dark side should be lurking just beneath the cover.
12/24/2018 NO PE H A P P Y    H O L I D A Y S hosted by Upta Yu

12/31/2018 NO PE H A P P Y    H O L I D A Y S hosted by Upta Yu
12/17/2018 Barbara West & Grace Loescher hosted by bruce

Barbara West and Grace Loescher began collaborating last year, when they were 50 and 25 years old respectively.  Barbara works part-time as a nurse, while Grace is a full-time activist for social justice issues in general, homeless youth in particular, and cultivating the arts in all of us.  When Barbara published a book, Grace put out a spoken word CD and enjoyed live audience and social media success, accompanying herself on piano and guitar.  Dec. 17th in Berkeley will be their fifth collaborative performance.  They expect to start off with a lively voice/guitar/washboard duet and then mix it up with a combination of solo and joint pieces.  Topics range from preventing/mourning suicide to an unusual request by a hospice patient, and will include love and other activities of body, mind and spirit.  

Barbara West is the only parent of a 21-year-old son and works as a Wound/Ostomy/Continence Nurse, with prior work in Hospice.  Previous publications include Full of Crow, Brevities, Medusa’s Kitchen, Sacramento Voices, and Davis Shambhala Center Newsletter.  Her first book "...and I felt the simple sweetness of me" was published last year by Cold River Press.  She is currently working on a memoir “Hunger to Help: Sorting Extraordinary Legacies”which explores the tension between Christian/Buddhist directives to “help others” and 12-step Recovery work which directs her to “focus on yourself.”  Thanks to a background in theater, and some time singing with a band, Barbara often recites from memory, usually without a mic, since her voice is plenty loud. She also enjoys windsurfing.


Fly flew
at my

then swerved
past my left
ear like

on his home

including me

the thrill.

12/10/2018 Chris Chandler hosted by Jim

Celebrating 30 years on the road! Few musicians can claim "on-the roadisms" the way Chris Chandler can. He is a true veteran of the road, traveling across The United States of Generica for many years. His anthology of road tales transforms into a flock of doves beneath the musical high-wire act. He has worked with everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Ani DiFranco and Pete Seeger to Mojo Nixon.  Utah Phillips says, "Chris Chandler is the best performance poet I have ever seen."
Originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia the son of a Baptist minister, Chris has been on or around the stage his whole life. As a teen-ager he was in the bars and on the road working as a roadie for bands like the Georgia Satellites. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Performing Arts in 1988. That summer - which was supposed to be a "summer away from college" he hit the road as a street performer to fund his way to audition as a lighting designer in Theaters across America. He actually landed a job on Broadway no-less but turned it down to become a performer in his own right. He has been on the road ever since.
For the first few years he was living in his car and stopping in every town from Bangor to San Ysidro where he opened his guitar case and waxed the manifesto electric sporting a sign that read "Stranded Musician Needs Gas Out of Town." Eventually he hooked up with a group of performers busking in Harvard Square where he joined a commune of other traveling street musicians. These nomadic experiences naturally fed him into the world of activism. Since then he has performed at thousands of festivals, colleges, and bar rooms across the US and Canada.

Poetry Express is proud to be able to present Chris as a featured poet/performer. 

Paradise Found

By Chris Chandler
Oakland, CA
Thanksgiving, 2018

as we walk through the streets of San Francisco,
Oakland, Sacramento...Berkeley...
complaining that the elastic band
on our N-95 masks fits too tight...
... then remembering the lives that have been more severely impacted than our own.

Loss of life...
loss of family..
loss of home...
loss of community...

Big Picture stuff...

But every big picture is composed of many smaller ones.

Smaller ones that depict lives impacted in ways we don't even think of...
can't even think of...
even though... it is the smaller picture that depicts the greater reality.

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.

In Paradise California,
before the fire...
like in any community...
everyday dramas were being played out on a routine Sunday morning sidewalk basis.

"Ya know what pisses me off - is that they do the trash pickups on Mondays - and almost every Month has a Monday holiday.  Veterans day... No Trash Pick up?  Whats up with that?
Do you think they will ever fix the potholes?
"Hey, did you see the Paradise Adventist Academy had advanced to the Northern California Semi-Finals?"

"Paradise Adventist?  Really?  Do they even have a football team?"

Girls Volleyball."

Before the fire
these were the buzzes of front porch
morning coffee neighborhood chit chat.
The stories on the local AM radio station,
the front pages of the local newspaper
"The Paradise Post"
that is now in ashes.

And although in ashes The Paradise Post - through the help of her sister paper The Chico Enterprise-Record continues to publish as they had...
Now there is no town to deliver to, so they deliver... to the evacuation centers.

we all know...
what happened...
over a two day period...

What started as a small brush fire well west of the town...
swelled into a bonfire...
that turned Paradise...
into Hades...
in a matter of hours.

Potholes  and Volleyball are no longer on anyone's mind.

Grab your family and escape...

But not all of the pre fire drama
of Paradise's "Refuse to Die Community"
was turned into floating ash
that settled on to your car windshield
in Berkeley.

There are twelve players on
The Paradise Adventist Academy Girls Varsity Volley Ball Squad... (GO COUGARS!)

They and their families all made it out alive...

Eight of them
and their families
had lost their homes.
Lost everything.

They were all spread out - staying in shelters or with relatives
from Shasta to Stockton.

How could there be a Volley Ball game?

But, this is the semi finals.

No sport in the school's long history
had ever made it that far.

Their opponent...
The Forest Lake Lady Falcons assumed that the team would have to forfeit, and the Falcons began preparing for their next opponent.

But the Cougars refused to be defeated!

The Cougars had no equipment,
no uniforms,
no place to practice.
No Homes.

But these girls?  Now, that is a different story.

Thank god, on Thanksgiving that they don't see things
like you and me.


under-estimate the power of young women.
These girls took to social media and they let it be known that THEY needed the game to go on!

In Solidarity, the Lady Falcons agreed to host...

The Lady Cougars...
their lives in total chaos...
arranged for transportation from points unknown to...
Auburn, California....
Home of the Forest Lake Christian School.

The twelve girls
met in a parking lot for the first time since the fire...
they linked arms.... United.  Defiant.

Together, they marched into the opposing team's gym....

There they were met with something that few "visiting teams" receive when they walk into an opposing teams' home:
They were met with a standing ovation.

They were also met with much more...

Within 24 hours of the devastating fire,
the Forest Lake Falcons had collected donations of $16,000

Laid out on the visiting bench...
were new knee pads,
and most impressively...
new  uniforms.
Each matched with the players' number and name on the back.....
matched perfectly
with what they would have worn
if the fire had not happened.

Instrumental in this act of generosity was Forest Lake coach Travis Smith
who had recently retired from coaching...
but was asked to return for one more season.  Initially, he was ambivalent, but his wife had had a premonition that he needed to do this.
So he agreed - for this - his final season.

When he
was asked to address the crowd...

the applause calmed into an appreciative hush.

"I had been looking for a reason to have returned as coach this year... and I think this...
this moment right here...
is it.

The Paradise Lady Cougars went on to win that game against the Forest Lake Falcons.
They won the game, but not the match.

But in truth, they won much more
than any volleyball squad could.

They are the champions of my heart!

It would be poetic to say that the Lady Cougars went on to win the state championship
but in a way they did.

Instead, (sorry for the pun)
Paradise Lost.

They had to...

because, my friends,
this is not Hollywood.

This is Paradise.

12/03/2018  Barbara Saunders  hosted by Jan 

Barbara Saunders is a poet and solo performer from Westchester, NY. She followed the Grateful Dead to California and stayed. Her work explores themes of family, biography, and identity. Barbara has featured recently at the Last Word and Saturday Night Special poetry series, That Really Happened storytelling series, and Monday Night Marsh. 


Ripened on the tree
The apple drops at her feet
Juicy bites bring joy
11/26/2018  Juan Sequeira hosted by Gary 

Juan R. Sequeira M.D. was born in Nicaragua. He was raised in the Mission District of San Francisco. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of San Francisco and obtained a Medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco. He is a practicing Physician. He has a lifelong interest in poetry. His work  appeared in Alive, Black Bear Review, Blue Unicorn,

California Poets, Carquinez Poetry, Mobius, Poet Talk, San Fernando Poetry, ZYZZYVA among others. Two collections, Marimba Dreams 1999, and Jaguar Footsteps 2006. 2017 1st place BAPC contest 2nd place Poets Dinner.

11/19/2018 Joyce Young  hosted by bruce

Joyce E. Young currently lives and writes in Berkeley, California. She has read and performed at venues as diverse as The M.H. de Young Museum, Intersection for the Arts, La Peña Cultural Center, Art & Soul Oakland, Mills College, and Smith College, and elsewhere. She has taught with California Poets in the Schools, The Museum of Children’s Art, The Oakland Museum of California, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Youth Speaks. She was an English teacher for Mills College Upward Bound for 3 years. She is founder and facilitator of Write in Peace. She has received a California Arts Council Artist in Communities grant. She was awarded a Writers on Site residency through Poets & Writers, Inc. and has also been awarded writing residencies at Hedgebrook, Soapstone and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has most recently appeared in riverbabble, The New Voices of the American West, Temba Tupu! (Walking Naked): The Africana Woman’s Self-Portrait, The Berkeley Daily Planet, Paint Dreams on and Her Mark Gallery Datebook. She currently serves as a writing consultant at John F. Kennedy University, teaches privately and is at work on Parallel Journey, a novel.

 Her poetry chapbook, How it Happens is forthcoming from Nomadic Press in September 2018.

11/12/2018 Sophia Moore  hosted by Jim

Sophia Moore is 20 years old and attends UC Berkeley for English and Gender and Women's Studies. In high school, she sat on the Alameda Island Poets Board and served as the Poet Laureate at her school, Alameda Community Learning Center. Additionally, she interned at the Dancing Poetry Festival and performed in a number of the dances at Palace of the Legion of Honor. 
The Possibilities of Half a Tank of Gas and Two Healing Hearts

There might be beauty in the way she cries,
In the way blood leaks between ribs from her breaking heart.
There might be beauty in the security of a setting sun.
One golden horizon intertwines at the top of their fishbowl
With the deep blue of another skyline,
But when she looks up, she only sees his eyes.
Oncoming armies melt away into the fickle clouds.
There might be beauty in the way the dawn lifts the twilit dew into a burning night.
The ghost of an undetermined future sits in the driver’s seat of a motionless car.
The passenger closes her eyes, bathing in each pulse of electricity,
Clinging as if the beat of her heart relies on every shock.
A fog climbs down the mountain in waterfall determination,
While calloused memories slip down the rocky slope in a bubble of giggles.
There might be beauty in the silence of their conversation.
Every spoken phrase already known between them:
“Hide your eyes so they don’t know this is private property.”
There might be beauty in the way she wishes on shooting stars,
There might be beauty in the way she falls deeper into her own heart with each breath,
There might be--
There might be--
There might be beauty in the way she cries,
But it might be the glimpse of a dream-- intangible as the burning sky.
There is beauty in the way she falls asleep alone, asking still for tomorrow’s blessing.
Next time these piggybacking fictions hop from one island of light to another,
I promise not to leave the stitching between their hearts so unfinished.

11/05/2018  elana levy   hosted by Jan

elana levy is a recent transplant to the land of her daughter, of avocados and redwoods from the northeast, of snow lakes and green. Legacies and Heresies with blessings is her latest collection. She has also translated from the German the much heralded 20th century Jewish poet Rose Asländer. Elana taught math a community college for two decades. She was firs photographed by the FBI in 1959. Student and teacher of Jewish meditation and Kabbala; factory worker, social justice activist, radio producer, video director; embraces silence one month yearly. Still studying hard, knowing there are no easy answers. She doesn’t Capitalize her name.

10/22/2018 Andrew J. Thomas  hosted by Gary 

Andrew J. Thomas was born and raised by a couple of hippies in a small Alabama town. And if that wasn't confusing enough, he joined the Navy and traveled all over Europe before relocating to Oakland, California. Married too young, he soon became a dad, got divorced and found a "real" job. Eventually he remarried and settled down in the Bay Area brackish waters known as Vacaville. These days, he is a sad man full of sad words that he sometimes shares in order to make you sad.

When he's not enjoying your tears, he's busy parenting two young adults, or professionally bullshitting for a living. He's the webmaster for various poets and small presses and a founding member of The Beast Crawl Literary Festival. His book, Strangeland, was the inaugural publication from Naked Bulb Press, even though he is generally unpublished due to laziness and fear. Unable to completely abandon his Southern roots, he still enjoys politeness, fried food, and whiskey.

The Myth We Lent to GodTo Hart Crane

In pieces now, slowly dissected, a little less there each time
I drive across the bay from east to west.
At night, a silhouette of what once was, the shadow of a beast, 

that grey metal testament of man’s faith in man,
stretching from crane to crane.

The replacement, a white lighted beacon of hope 
suspended on the precipice of disillusion;
Rust already eating away at the unseen foundational cracks, 
as man is no longer capable of such impossible feats.

And yet we witness the reversal of construction,
a more intentional disassembly than Loma Prieta.
There is a metaphor here about the limitations of belief, 
another about impermanence.
The myth is being forgotten.

We are owed an explanation that will never come, 
because man, like God, won’t make good on his promises.

10/29/2018 Other People's Poems  Guess who wrote it? hosted by 
Bring 2 poems printed out with out your name on them. We will put in a bag or box or hat and other people will draw out, read. Then we will attempt to identify the poet who wrote the poem.  We have been doing this once a year for years and it is great fun.

10/15/2018  Garrett Murphy hosted by bruce
Garrett Murphy is known throughout the greater Bay Area as (the "King of Political Satire," (much to his utter surprise)
sharing tongue-in-cheek observations about political and other forms of human nature.  
He is the author of the poetry anthologies "Noe Showing" and "What We Claim...What We Are," the prose
collection "The Ugly Salon," and the novel "Yang But Yin: The Legend of Miss Dragonheel," in addition to
appearing in various other anthologies.



No buzz?

Where’s the beeper?
The shock?


Was there not supposed to be some sort of catastrophe?
Some earth-shattering cataclysm?

But all that can be heard
is some faint,
feeble-minded inept hissyfit
from a most miniscule gallery
which one would not dare offend peanuts
by naming it in their honor.

Perhaps if they had chosen
a few slurs instead…

© 2018 Garrett Murphy

10/8/2018  Saswati Das hosted by Jim

Saswati Das, an engineer by profession and a poet by heart, lives in Milpitas, California, and writes poems and fiction in both English and Hindi. She publishes her poetry in local magazines and anthologies. She has recited her verses in cultural and poetry events such as Lit Crawl, 100k poets for change and Oakland Poetry Slam. She has published a poetry book in English captioned “Fragrant Flute of Fire” which is available in Amazon. She maintains a blog at

Struggle for Liberty

Oh listen, listen to the voice,
For there the cuckoo cry-
We'll have to sail through the ocean of blood-
For the deep blue sky.

Here's misery and whips of tyranny,
Pains, pathos outcry-
There the bird of liberty and freedom
Throughout the day fly.

Exploit us they, our feet chained
But amidst darkness, the candle flames-
Every drop of blood that runs through the veins
Sings, Sings and says again-
Thousands of blazes is the demand of the day
Fight we must, die we may.

History of Justice always summons
Sweat, tears and martyrdom
Let’s measure the nights of mourn and sacrifice,
The brilliant sun there arise-
To heel our hearts and charm souls with gaiety
By the songs of love and liberty.
10/01/2018  Marvin R. Hiemstra hosted by Jan

Marvin R. Hiemstra appeared a valiant Leo in the Year of the Rabbit and was instructed by a tiny prairie grass frog on his wrist at age three.  Honors Graduate from Iowa Writers Workshop and founding Editor-in-Chief of the Bay Area Poets Seasonal Review with work in Caveat LectorAmsterdam QuarterlyThe SatiristNorth American Review, and elsewhere Marvin publishes and performs around the world. Dana Gioia called the DVD French Kiss Destiny, “superb work.” Shawn Pittard, The Great American Pinup, said, “What I hold closest to my heart is Marvin’s reminder of the importance of human affection in this totally terrifying 21st Century.”  Library Journal reported, “Whimsical poet/humorist Hiemstra shares his thoughts and observations on society: a very agreeable addition to contemporary American literature.”


The last bowl of red cherries
for this year means autumn.
Oops!  One clever cherry escaped
the bowl.  Everyone laughs.

I am carefully arranging wildflowers
in a boat-shaped basket.
Wind hits verandah, twists
arrangement.  It looks better.

Pure wind from the North
transforms a quiet hill of flame
maple brocade into a shimmering
spirit forest, all ablaze.

It’s time to put fresh white paper
on all the shoji.  No more
patches!  Oldest tree in the garden
wears brilliant persimmons.

“Pearls!” shouted Yogi when snow fell
through a ruined thatch roof.
Pearls tumble through our sun yellow

wisteria leaves.  It makes me blue.

09/24/2018   Missy Church  hosted by Gary 

Missy Church runs Naked Bulb open-mic, now on it’s seventh year in Fruitvale. She founded Naked Bulb Press and helped to bring the first lit crawl to Oakland. Missy has appeared in numerous readings in the Bay Area over the last ten years and her first full length book, CHURCH, by Paper Press can be found on her mom’s book shelf or at

Looking Back and Thinking, What Was I So Worried About

To be bare and so far apart
our bodies, a panic attack
magnets propped up
in just the right way
skin on skin

I whisper, I love you
with the night ears
of cotton swabs
bee’s wax and
the intermittent breath
from my muscle memory
to yours

09/17/2018 Clyde Always hosted by bruce

Clyde Always (the Bard of the Lower Haight), being the All-American tall-talesman and dime-a-rhyme vaudevillian that he is, has successfully provided audiences, both at home and abroad, with the refreshing splash of laughter and the snug comfort of joy; to inspire creativity is his primary objective here on planet Earth.  You can catch his act any Friday evening at Cafe International where he serves the community fostering new talents as host and ringleader of the weekly open-mic showcase. His writings and artwork have recently been accepted to exclusive publications: Poetalk, The Broke Bohemian, 17 Very Funny Very Short Stories and others.  Melanie Bell and the Story Salon, the bard’s debut novel, published by Rational Malarkey Inc, placed as a semifinalist in the Faulkner Society’s William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in 2017.  He lives in San Francisco with his wife Haylee the Ukulele.


What ruthless warrior am I,
to cause this crimson flood?
Remorseful now, I stand and cry
above a sea of blood.
Oh, slaughterhouses everywhere
will crumble down in shame;
and Tarantino’s kiddie fare
seems infantile—tame.
The Chupacabra’s drank a sip
compared to all this swill.
Count Dracula would curl his lip
and call it ‘overkill.’
Was Gettysburg a lousy joke?
Were Spartans rarely rough?
Felt Caesar but a measly poke?
Was Patton just a puff?
Attila’s savagery’s now moot,
that tender, gentle Hun…
and Genghis Kahn would lick my boot
to see such horrors done!
            Perhaps a tiny trickle fell
            from Christ upon the cross,
            but none have raise such gruesome Hell
            as I, who’s tried to floss.

9/10/2018 Truly Edison hosted by Jim

Truly Edison is a senior at Alameda Community Learning Center, and the current poet laureate of her school. She lives in Alameda with her parents, her three siblings, and her pet dog. She has been writing poetry since middle school, and is very active within her school's poetry club. She describes her writing as a form of dreaming while awake; a method of processing outside images and sensation through words.


My heart is no organ of fire
Because I'm much too shy
It's more of a deer at the side of the highway
Wandering the dying grass with headlight eyes

It lives only at dusk and dawn
Creeping into the light when all others lay still 
Decaying in the shallow end of sleep

In my mind I conjured up a collage of you
Eyes and ears and tongues disconnected 
Out of context
But what finally did it was
A single strand of my hair on your bathroom counter
And the fraud of intimacy
It so coyly implied
08/27/2018  Clive Matson hosted by Gary 

Clive Matson hung with the Beats in New York City in the early 1960s and he reconnected when he performed “Hello, Paradise. Paradise, Good-bye” at the European Beat Studies Network in 2017 in Paris. The passionate intensity that runs through us all emerged on a backpacking trip in the southern Sierra when he saw trees and mountains and smoke from a wild fire – and began that poem. He won the 2003 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award and the City of Berkeley Lifetime Achievement award in poetry for 2012. Visit him at or wikipedia.

09/03/2018 Labor Day, NO PE, BAPC Picnic instead, see Bay Area Poets Coalition for details.

08/20/2018  Judy Bebelaar Reads from Her Book About the Children of Jonestown.
hosted by bruce

Of the 918 Americans who died in the shocking murder-suicides of November 18, 1978 in Jonestown and Georgetown, Guyana, one-third were under eighteen; more than half in their twenties or younger. And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown begins in San Francisco, at the small school where Reverend Jim Jones enrolled the teens of his Peoples Temple church in 1976. Within nine months, most had been sent—many disappearing over that summer —to what Jones described as a jungle paradise.

A Bay Area Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Judy Bebelaar’s poetry has been published widely in magazines and in three anthologies. Walking Across the Pacific, a chapbookwas published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. She and Ron Cabral are co-authors of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown.
Ron Cabral, a teacher and administrator in the San Francisco Unified School District for 35 years, served in the Reserve programs of the Navy and Coast Guard. He contributed writing and photography to the Coast Guard magazine and is the author of Country Joe and Me, about his friendship with Joe.

08/13/2018 Avotcja hosted by Jim


Avotcja has been published in English & Spanish in the USA, Mexico & Europe, and in more Anthologies than she remembers. She is an award winning Poet & multi-instrumentalist who has opened for Betty Carter in New York City, Peru's Susana Bacaat San Francisco’s Encuentro Popular & Cuba’s Gema y Pável, played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bobi & Luis Cespedes, John Handy, Sonido Afro Latina, Dimensions Dance Theater, Black Poets With Attitudes, Bombarengue, Nikki Giovanni, Los Angeles' Build An Ark, Dwight Trible, Diamano Coura West African Dance Co., Terry Garthwaite, Big Black, The Bay Area Blues Society & Caribeana Etc. Shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Piri Thomas, Janice Mirikitani, Diane DiPrima, Michael Franti, Jayne Cortez, & with Jose Montoya's Royal Chicano Air Force & is a Bay Area icon with her group Avotcja & Modúpue.  Avotcja was the opening act for the legendary Poet Pat Parker the last three years of her life. She both composed & performed the film score for the Danish documentary MuNu. Her Poetry &/or music has been recorded by Piri Thomas, Famoudou Don Moyé (of The Art Ensemble Of Chicago), Bobby Matos Latin Jazz Ensemble, & performed by The Purple Moon Dance Project, and was the 1st Poetry performed by New York's Dance Mobile. She's appeared at The Lorraine Hansberry Theater in S. F., The Asian-American Jazz Festival in Chicago, as well as The Asian-American Jazz Festival in San Francisco.  She's been featured 5 times at Afro-Solo, twice at San Francisco's Carnival, The Scottish Rite Temple & Yoshi's in Oakland & San Francisco, Jose Castellar's play "Man From San Juan", Club Le Monmartre in Copenhagen Denmark, Stanford University, at San Francisco’s Brava Theater For The Arts with Cine Acción, New York's Henry Street Settlement Theater and The Women On The Way Festival in San Francisco. Avotcja a is popular Bay Area DeeJay & Radio Personality, and the founder/Director of "The Clean Scene Theater Project (AKA) Proyecto Teatral De La Escena Sobria". She continues to teach Creative Writing, Storytelling & Drama in Public Schools & thanks to the California Arts Council she was also an Artist in Residence at the Milestones Project & San Francisco Penal System. Avotcja is a proud member of DAMO (Disability Advocates Of Minorities  Organization), PEN Oakland, California Poets In The Schools,  IWWG & is an  ASCAP recording artist.

07/23/2018  Coleen McKee  hosted by Gary 

Colleen McKee is the author of five collections of memoir, poetry, and fiction. Her latest book is called The Kingdom of Roly-Polys (Pedestrian Press). For upcoming appearances, visit


When I was little, a wild hill girl
of sun-scratched prairie
and shadowy woods cool
with the breath of the river,
I would spend hours in the tall tick-filled grass
just thinking about giraffes,
the mahogany and pale gold fur,
the arch of their necks bisecting the sun,
their elegant limbs listing and loping—
I’d dream of the giants of Africa
and play with the critters of Missouri,
walking sticks looking with paranoid eyes
at the tiny brown twig of my finger,
dizzy at being lifted
a mere two inches
from the dark grass.


Solace is a Small Gray Stone

Solace is a small gray stone
at rest in the palm of your hand.

It is smooth. Curl your fingers
around it, but slowly. How solid

it is. Unlike sorrow, the stone
is finite. It can be weighed.

Feel the way
it carries the sun

even in the shade
of your thumb.

07/30/2018 StoryTelling / Flash Fiction Night hosted by Jim

08/06/2018   Steve Arntson & Loie Johnson  hosted by Jan

Steve Arntson came to writing after musical studies at the University of Washington - he became interested in poetry as read at some of the open mics in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s while he would always love to read poetry before, it was only after hearing others share their work at places like Cafe Babar and the Old Spaghetti Factory and myriad other open mics around town that he committed to writing himself he believes in writing each day if possible and cites journaling as a way to realize that end

Lately he's enjoyed the experience of writing short stories as well and finds them fun to do after the stricter demands of imagery and metaphor

Over time he's narrowed the scope of the writing to geography, especially the Oregon coast and the open spaces of Nevada where the Burning Man Arts Festival is

He's grateful to many friends and writers who have influenced and also continues to study music

Loie Johnson is a local Bay Area poet who lives in Palo Alto.  She has been a writer and 
an artist beginning in childhood.
Loie has been published internationally, and in many Bay Area anthologies.
She was a Feature at Kepler's in Menlo Park, and did a special Poetry Feature with a
 Shinto Art Presentation at the Waverly Writers after a visit to Japan.
She has also been a Feature at other Bay Area venues.
She and Elyse Garlock, a theatrical Mime, collaborated for many years, doing performances in
 Palo Alto, and Santa Monica.

07/16/2018 David Zeltzer hosted by bruce

   I started writing poems in grade school and I've never stopped. My writing continued but slowed down in grad school, and during my years in Boston working on human/computer interface design.   I’ve returned to the Bay Area, writing at full speed, and reading everywhere I can.

             While I was living in Eugene, Oregon, I co-founded the editorial collective that published 10 Point 5: A Magazine of the ArtsWe published 7 issues from 1976-78, including poetry, images, and interviews with local filmmakers, dancers, Robert Bly, and the novelist Ursula Le Guin. My poems have appeared in Troubador Anthology, The Goodly Company, Mr. Cogito, Echo, 10 Point 5, Uut Poetry and Fur-lined Ghettos. You can get my digital chapbook, Realtime Babies, from iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and amazon -- you can hear me read all the poems in that volume at   On May 30, 2016, I was the featured poet in the San Francisco Open Mic Poetry Podcast TV Show on youtube, in the segment hotsted by Clara Hsu.

melt the poured titanium

overgrown life has graves

growing normal pilots in paris

i can’t find trees inside us

to reach molybdenum anywhere

or salvage the ancient robot wheatfield violin dances

there’s not enough mustard gas

in the student aircraft wires

to guide us through the stalingrad meteors

i talked to her this week so please rescue us

and start over

tiny little machines listen to my favorite dying hole

the laser found my hot

stellar tape will say my name

and push the wrong button under the green bushes

i like to think i have no friend to meet

someday all my radios will sing stillness

stop the microscope satellite

under small trees

and marry the silent deathbed

gathered in dark mountain gunshots

— san jose

may 2015

07/9/2018 Leticia Garcia Bradford hosted by Jim

Leticia Garcia Bradford is a poet, playwright and publisher. In 2014 she founded B Street Writers Collective (BSWC), Hayward, CA- a community of writers both amateur and professional. Her poems and stories have been published in local and national journals. She edited BSWC’s anthology FLY WITH ME which she is, also, the publisher for MoonShine Star Co. BSWC’s new anthology WHAT IS LOVE debuted this spring for which she is also editor and publisher. In 2017, Leticia toured around the entire SF Bay Area with her poetry and stories at open mics and readings. Check out her blogs: MY NEW ADVENTURE, living without a place to call home at, and LETICIA’S BLOG at has her poems and other stories.

Poem for Christopher
(and Kason)

I want to be alone
Life outside heavy and hardening
Driving streets freeway and stoplights with
fears of bumper to bumper
A terrifying scream from way down deep
Easier to sit inside
Inside I have my cat, my Lazyboy
My blanket which to hide beneath
My pillow where my lover rested his head
Alone I am safe and free

Safe and free

I want to be free
Escaping a past that haunts me
Nightmares of the restraints coupling my wrists
Cutting deep chafing my unprotected skin
Painfully reminding me that the release remains
elusive at the same time comforting
Letting go of the ills of my shallow heart

Shallow heart

I want to be a heart
blood pooling coursing to and fro
Dripping via veins arteries capillaries
Threat of vulnerability bearing down
Combined with insecurity of touch
Trusting you my friend
I’ve been here before
the rhythm the pounding
bathed in warmth 
Capture a dandelion, unpredictable wish

Unpredictable wish

I want to be a dandelion
Wisps of fuzz and seeds hidden in my wallet
A part of you I don’t know why
The night my nephew had had enough of this world
I found myself walking the neighborhood
Searching for soothing moonlight

Moon  Light 

I want to be the moon
With cows and cheese
Teasing stars with
tickles and butterfly kisses
Tears sprouting laughter
The man’s luminescent teeth hearty
like a lover on the horizon

the horizon

I want to be loved
Know that I am worthy
Quirkiness and all
Respect for the life giving muscle
Transversing between time with patience and perseverance 
To find I’m alone

Leticia Garcia Bradford
© February 2018

07/02/2018  Roopa Ramamoorthi hosted by Jan

 Roopa is a biotech scientist and poet who grew up in India and calls Berkeley home. She was a finalist for the National Poetry Series in 2011 and her work has appeared in the anthologies, 'She is Such a Geek', 'Dismantle' and 'Red Skirt Blue Jeans' and on Perspectives on NPR and in  India Currents, Berkeley Daily Planet, Khabar, Ursa Minor, Spectrum and other venues. 

Family Tree
By Roopa Ramamoorthi

Few weeks ago I spent two days in Mendocino 

tucked away on California’s northern coast 

Heard the waves lashing the rocks, saw a red-breasted robin 

ready to take flight, a young seal on the rocks 

sunning itself, then setting out for a swim 

When I hiked in fern canyon  

I touched the trunk 

Of one sturdy redwood tree 

Climbing the narrow trails, inhaling the misty air 

I saw nobody else out there this Tuesday 

Only those ancient pteridophytes  

Layers upon layers of green 

Beckoning and bewitching from the other side of time 

I descended back to pygmy forest 

Nature’s bonsai of acorn and cypress 

Stunted trees adapted to the saline soil 

five hundred thousand years old 

The landscape here became more stark, less serene 

I stood transported to a different tree, a different time 

A photocopy in charcoal black, empty white and shades of gray 

From five full years ago. It could have been  

a Japanese artist’s ink brush drawing  

A single tree standing on a winter’s night, severe and still 

Or a botanist’s sketch of a new species 

with nodules narrowing four branches 

But no, it was my mother’s arteries 

Captured from her angiography 

In Jaslok hospital, Mumbai 

soon after her heart attack 

I took that image—consulted cardiologists  

In Palo Alto and San Francisco 

A month later she became ashes sprinkled in the Godavari River 

Traveling to where the Arabian sea kisses the star-studded sky 

Becoming engulfed in the universe’s eternal canopy 

A black and white sketch that still breathes in a cardboard box of mine 

Along with the torn black book of her recipes and her childhood photos 

One of her sitting in her chubby frock at one 

Another of her watering young saplings 

as a girl of eleven 

One more at twenty-four 

Holding her newborn baby 

standing next to a budding jasmine tree 

This poem was published in 
06/25/2018  Sandra Anfang  hosted by Jan 

Sandra Anfang is a Northern California teacher, poet, and visual artist. She is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, two Healdsburg Literary Guild anthologies, Unbroken Literary Journal, Rattle, and Spillway. Her chapbook, Looking Glass Heart, was published by Finishing Line Press in early 2016. Road Worrier, her new chapbook, is due in March, 2018. She was nominated for a Best Short Fictions in 2016 and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Sandra is founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma, and a California Poet/Teacher in the Schools. To write, for her, is to breathe.

Board of Directors

The first one I'd appoint is Rain, for humility.
I'd taste my tears, bled from the mask
as they roll down to court heaven's effluence
watch as both commingle in a stormy sea.

Next, I'd seat the Moon, for mystery
who rules my dreams and guides my pen.
I want to climb inside her iridescent skin
to die before I parse her essence
into tiny, measurable things.

Finally, I'd invite the Sun, for kindness and for love
the warmth of his beneficence
the way he enters me, encircles grief
melts the ice-glass curtain of the heart.

These three would be
the only guests I'd need
my pantheon
my holy trinity.

Sandra Anfang --Author of Looking Glass Heart, a poetry chapbook, published by Finishing Line Press © 2016. Available at and My new chapbook, Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape, is forthcoming from the same publisher. Pre-order by January 26, 2018, at a discounted rate:
06/18/2018  Tongo Eisen-Martin hosted by bruce

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker and educator. His book titled, "Someone's Dead Already" was nominated for a California Book Award. His latest book of poems “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” was published in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series.

06/11/2018  Nancy Schimmel hosted by Jim


In the juncture between two narrow roads
The last fragment of a once-great circle of trunk still stands
Shaggy redbrown bark worn down
The tallest part upthrust higher than a person’s head
But not by much
Around the tip of this finger of wood
Someone has wrapped a telephone line

A redwood must be even slower to anger than I am
But as I stand in the road
It is clear to me which finger
It holds up

05/28/2018 Memorial Day  NO PE

06/04/2018  Ken Risling   hosted by Gary

Bay Area singer-songwriter Ken Risling has been having a love affair with music since childhood: singing before he could talk, learning his tribe’s traditional dances, and playing instruments -- piano, trumpet, French horn, guitar, bass -- at every chance he could grab. But it was grief that broke the dam and released the songs within him. He was 40 before he finished his first testimonial to loss, “Down To Jonestown”; it's critical acclaim signaled the emergence of his voice from the ocean of silence, and so began the gentle rain of songs. There are many, now, in all manner of style and subject. It is the delicate pas de deux between words and music that fuels his enthusiasm for the art; and it is the connection with the audience through songs that feeds his love for performing.

05/21/2018 Marty Williams hosted by bruce

Oakland poet, Marty Williams's work appears most recently in Atlanta ReviewThe Heron Tree and Poetry East, as well as in anthologies, Bearing WitnessPoetry By Teachers About Teaching and Winged: New Writing About Bees. With the Bay Area Writing Project and Amherst Writers and Artists, Marty leads writing workshops through Room to Write for writers of all ages. She also co-coordinates the monthly Bay Area Writing Project reading series, Teachers Write – Writers Teach. Marty is currently working on a manuscript, The Forest Within, poems about hometown Oakland, California, and her homeground, Alaska.

That year, well before thaw, he cleared

a path through scrub alder and spruce,
halted where the slope flattened out,
drove a stake into the hard ground.

He sunk pilings for a foundation and returned

to build a cabin on the bog. Alone, foot stopped
on the shovel, he heard a loon. Knew the raunch
of bear nearby, outside the circle of light.
Season after season, he left his work in town,
went there to that clearing. Peeled back the trees
with his axe, salted the bog with gravel
from the lakebed. There were summers
full of sawdust and hammers,
wheelbarrow handles cleaved to his palm.

Warm in the snug, square cabin he dreamed a garden

full of flowers and daisies gleamed
bold and white in the evening. Made a home
for themselves there. In the face of the mountain,
on the shore of the lake.

In the afternoon, all wood smoke and gin, he watches

the young birches grow, block the lake from
his view. He sits there, still, into evening,
waiting for the loon or the bear to return.
Gravel sinks, the woodpile falls out of its rows.

Trees creep back into the clearing.

05/14/2018  Marilyn Flower    hosted by Gary

Marilyn Floweris an active member of Alameda Island Poets even though she lives in Oakland.   Her passion for drama improv translates into a love for performing her poetry out loud in front of audiences.   Hence, her poems are meant to be read out loud!!!!   When not writing, reading, or leading workshops, she spends her time taking classes at Stagebridge school for performing arts, writing the great American political satirical novel, and being the change she wishes to see in the soul of our country.

Southern Magic

She sits on the porch eating watermelon
and when she goes to spit the seeds,
flocks of birds fly out of her mouth —
tiny green-winged hummingbirds —
with tear-shaped spots on ruby breasts,
praising the sun with iridescence.

she rarely talks,
but when she does…
poems stand up and salute.

05/07/2018  Richard Loranger  hosted by Jan

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

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.

04/30/2018 PoetryExpressed Mag poets read from their work published in the mag hosted by Gary 

04/16/2018 Jeanne Lupton hosted by Bruce

Jeanne Lupton is a writer and poet living in Berkeley.  She has hosted Frank Bette Center for the Arts Second Saturdays poetry series for eleven years and leads a weekly memoir writing group at the North Berkeley Senior Center.  She is delighted to feature again at Poetry Express. 

73rd spring

honeybees wild
in yellow blossoms
i was born
for growing old  

04/23/2018  Paradise     hosted by Gary 

Paradise the Poet of a thousand poems is president of the International Black Writers & Artists, and was recently honored by the City of Oakland with his own day, Paradise Day, October 6, for his many years of community service in the local arts and poetry scene. He competed with the Berkeley team that finished 12th in the nation in Seattle. He is currently starring in his one man show, How to Be a Black Man in America, which includes him singing, dancing, playing the people and sharing his art. He has been called the Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson of the performing arts! And is known for such classics as, Beloved: A Love Letter to the Goddess in Every Woman, You Should be Concerned that it Takes  Team of Scientists to Make Your French Fries, A Woman is Made of Love, I Love Everything About You, But You, Everybody Needs a New Name, and Why Oakland Has No Record Stores. 

His work, called JazzFunkHipHoPoetry, has inspired the establishment of a new record company:


I remember before you were born
There was no sunshine, no light
You are the reason the Sun comes up
In the morning and the Stars come out at night
You are the reason God said
"Let there be light!!!"
So he could feature you
And be inspired to writes uni
Verses across the skies at night for you!
So while others dream of Heaven
Heaven dreams of you
And although you are God's gift
To himself - it's true!
God so loved the world
He gave us....YOU!

04/09/2018  Sharon Metzler-Dow hosted by Jim

Sharon Metzler-Dow is an internationally published poet and writer.  Her poetry was published in the anthology Eternal Snow on world tour, 2017-2018. Based on her research in France, her poem “Beyond the Cave Wall,” was published in 2016 for international readership on The Leakey Foundation website, a major global anthropology organization. She was the 2014 Conference Poet for the annual International Conference for Women's Reproductive Health. Her poems have been published in Bay Area Generations chapbook and The Berkely Daily Planet.  Her story, “Banda! in Kathmandu” published in the memoir anthology Subject to Change. She performed her short story, “Wait 'Til You See What's Next!” at San Francisco's Book Passage. Sharon is collecting her poems and short stories for book publication about her adventures in South Korea, China, India, Nepal, France, and Amsterdam.  She lives in Oakland.  

At age 15 Lynne Cox swam across the English Channel and shattered the men’s and women’s world records swimming from England to France in 9 hours, 57 minutes.


It’s another year
and time to swim the English Channel.
Safety boats at distance follow 
but not near.  At anytime a shark
can mistake us for a seal and devour
our whole estate for his next…
we wonder what’s nipping at our heels.
Higher, lower, faster, slower, 
night’s tides test our willpower.

We navigate by watching moving sign-posts 
in the black firmament above and below
and by currents pushing our back
then our toes
for good or detriment.
Hold onto the stars to avoid vertigo!

Liquid laps our skin, enfolds us.
Phosporescence scintillates.
Neon prosecco. Firefly fish.
Blue tears and blue comets.
from Dover to Calais
treacherous and luminous.

A lot can happen
swimming to another continent.
40,000 armstrokes.
It’s all in the mind.

                                                                   Sharon Metzler Dow    ©  2018

04/02/2018 Maria Rosales hosted by Jan

Maria Rosales was born in London, and lived in EuropeNorth AfricaCanada, and Hawaii before settling in California. Her poems have appeared in Meridian Anthology,  Byline, Poetry Depth Quarterly, Poetalk,  the Nashville Newsletter, The Dirty Napkin Online Magazine, The Contra Costa Times, Medusa’s Kitchen, Brevities, The Art of Awe  and several Anthologies.  Her book “Time to Fly” was published with Small Poetry Press.  She has received many Awards from the Ina Coolbrith Circle, Artists Embassy International, and contests sponsored by Benicia Historical Museum, City of Pleasanton and Livermore Arts.   Maria hosted the successful PrimoPoets series for several years, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Ina Coolbrith Circle since 2007.   She currently hosts the Writing in Paradise salon in her home in Paradise, California.

A Pantoum

“Even puddles touch the sky”
he said, “Despair is not the end…”
His cigarette burned, but the ash did not fall.
She watched transfixed.

He said despair is not the end, but
she held her breath anyway,
watching transfixed, as something between them
detached in slow motion…

Anyway, she held her breath
because suddenly there was no air…
oxygen molecules detached in slow motion.
The sidewalk became a cliff.                                                                                                  

Suddenly there was no air beneath
the tightrope of silence strung
across the sidewalk cliffs --
the chasm of fear widening.

Silence.  The tightrope strung
between his words sagged. She exhaled --
saw the ash fall finally, land at her feet in a puddle.
Sure enough, ripples reflected the sky.

                                                                        Maria Rosales
03/26/2018  Grace Marie Grafton hosted by Gary 

Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently 'Jester' from Hip Pocket Press. Her themes range from lyrical sonnets to sestinas to experimental prose poems, with a concentration on response to fine art. Her poems have won honors from The Bellingham Review, Sycamore Review, Keats Soul Making contest, The National Womens Book Association, and Poetic Matrix Press. Poems recently appear in Fifth Wednesday, The Cortland Review, Ambush Review, Sin Fronteras, Basalt, Mezzo Cammin and Canary, among others. Through her work with CA Poets in the Schools and the CA Arts Council, she has taught thousands of children to write poetry.

The knell of winter

At 4 pm on a Tuesday, air almost bite-able,

you think maybe you could play with it, invisible

man-of-air or un-see-able woman singing her

sharp cold note, tickles you down your neck. You

wish you knew the words in the dark colors pulled

up out of the pit where the days are stored. The

draftsman of the future down there, drawing the plans

in his blind state, feeling his way, trained from his

birth to do this each year as the light grows

wan and the chill undresses the trees, the waters

forget their underground ancestors boiled

by fundamental lava. The future's plans all there

in his unreadable notebooks. And now the council

of the creators will spend ninety long nights

arguing about details and which of them must

roll naked in the snow to bring the future into being.

For Roy De Forest, 'Dogcart From Hell'

How black is the jest,

how red-wheeled the cart,

earth-brown the driver who doesn't

know right from wrong but,

like a passionate pilgrim, drives on

smiling ignorantly, just happy

to have a job and a dog to help.

If help is what this trip can be called.

Do we want to call it anything?

Can labels do any good?

The tree, passed by, is in disguise

as a famous actor, the Devil presents

a facsimile moon as prize to

the acting-tree who, we know,

has sold his soul. It's a reunion

of sorts: the beans of life sorted

to one side (the right, the wrong?),

the stones of death to the other.

They talk, the driver, the acting-tree

and the Devil with the moon prize

but they can neither be heard nor


3/19/18 Naomi Quinonez hosted by Bruce

Naomi Helena Quiñonez is a poet, educator and activist.   She is the
author of three collections of poetry, Hummingbird Dream/Sueño de
Colibri, The Smoking Mirror and The Exiled Moon.  She co edited
Invocation L.A: Urban Multicultural Poetry which received the
American Book Award.  Among her achievements are the American
Book Award, the Rockefeller Fellowship and the California Arts
Council Award.  Her poems and essays have appeared in many
journals and publications such as the Colorado Review, Paper

Dance: Latino Writing in the U.S. and Infinite Divisions.

03/12/2018 Cathy Dana hosted by Jim With a Mini-Feature by Bruce Isaacson

Cathy Dana, President of Alameda Island Poets, just became Alameda's new Poet Laureate.  She founded and runs The Mighty Pens poetry club and high school poet laureate program at Alameda Community Learning Center.  2014 Dancing Poetry Grand Prize winner and first prize winner of the 2013 Benicia Love Poetry Contest, it's no surprise Cathy titled her first book of poems "My Dad Believed in Love." 

Empty Nest
Still Not Ready to Say Goodbye
The morning after her son left home for college far away
she noticed a crying baby had taken up residence
in her heart.
Everywhere she went in the house
she found remnants of him:
the sprouted-wheat bagels he’d introduced her to
the carton of eggs he scrambled for breakfast
the lonely hook where his egg-frying pan had hung
the heavy whipping cream he put in his coffee
the green-leaf houseplant from his room
now seated by her picture window.
Not to mention his disheveled but vacant room.
She already missed his deep bass voice, ordinarily so logical, so rational,
so full of facts and theories and techie tidbits,
but surprisingly soft and teasing when he would come up the stairs
in that certain mood, saying,
“Where’s that boy-o?  Where’s that kitty?  Where’s that boy-o?”
He would find Raffi, scoop him up,
cradle him upside down like a baby,
start rubbing his tummy
and bring him to her, holding Raffi so she could
stroke his head, ears, neck—all his favorite spots.
Her son would become the voice of Raffi feigning resistance.
“No.  Stop.  Don’t,” the voice protested in mock indignance,
even as the cat closed his eyes dreamily and purred.
Continuing to stroke Raffi’s tummy
her son would assume Raffi’s voice:
 “I’ll give you an hour to stop that and put me down.”
Trying to hold back giggles,
they would stand cuddling their kitty in the kitchen.
The morning after her son left home for college
she slipped into her bedroom to begin her morning ritual,
straightening the covers and pillows,
opening the curtains to let the light in.
Every day, she gathered up from her husband’s nightstand
the stuffed animals she placed together on the bed:
her son’s long-ago toy, a tall cloth doll Pinocchio
and, on either side of him, a mama and papa teddy bear
to watch over him.
But this day, as she looked toward the nightstand,
there, for the first time in Raffi’s three-year life--
the first time ever--
she saw their kitty lying on top of the nightstand
snuggled up with Pinocchio and the teddy bears.
She stood there looking, shaking her head,
leaving the stuffed animals where they were.
Then she leaned in close.
“Make sure he’s safe,” she whispered to Raffi.
“Make sure he’s okay.  He’s our boy-o.”

3/12 Mini-Feature Bruce Isaacson:

Bruce Isaacson is a poet and publisher of Zeitgeist Press, with over a hundred poetry titles to date. He’s known in the Bay Area from the Cafe Babar 1980s poetry community.  He earned degrees at Claremont McKenna, Dartmouth, and Brooklyn College, where he submitted a thesis to noted American poet Allen Ginsberg. More recently, he was the first Poet Laureate of Clark County, Nevada-- a community of two million souls that includes the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip.  

From: The Last LieZeitgeist Press, 2017
Unnatural Selection

One poet after another
up to the mike we're like penguins
waddling to the edge of the ice
Like dice thrown against night sky
Like a transistor radio in a demolition zone
It's hard to hear your true voice
As cars screech & crunch on Flamingo
As people cope with treatable diseases
in the bathroom of the public library
As if we needed metaphors for suffering
As if Crete were an island
We humans are made to love truth
and tell lies. 

Ode to a Diet Cherry Coke

O dark, fizzy syrup—
bonded to clear water.
O faintly fruity eau—
You explode on my tongue
with taste, a virtual
bomb of refreshment.
You darling of the Coca
corporation, made rich with billions of
momentary satisfactions, like little mini
taste-gasms leaving syrup to rust in
the machinery of my body.  Yet how I
love you, fizzing in front of me I
sharply realize that you are
master and I indentured to
your momentary pleasure. 
My stomach lining gets a
hole the size of a dime, my energy
sapped for hours after fix of fizz,
but I do not blame you,
brown and bubbling beverage,
whatever my body is, it was made to
live, die, drink.

03/05/2018 Bruce Fessenden hosted by Jan

Bruce lives in Berkeley and is co-owner of Fessenden Firewood with his partner Christine.  He has been deeply immersed in the natural world his entire life through the activities of backpacking, climbing and skiing.  A book of his poems —“Crimson Coat” — was published in 2014 by Goldenstone Press.  Pieces of Bruce’s writings have appeared in a MoonShine Star Co. anthology called “What is Love”, and also in Richard Grossinger’s book “2013”.  A second volumne of poems, titled “Bones” will be published shortly.


People are sick these days
    you can hear it in the coughing
    at the coffee house, behind the words
    you can hear the phlegm
    from rushing around too fast
    chasing after what they already have.
Inside lung and organ tissue, inside marrow of bone
    unseen surfaces, stairways, hidden windows
    are already here in the world
    patiently waiting to be found.

It’s not that I’m rough all the time
    it’s something else, something that doesn’t quite fit
    or is a little too silent
    some part of me a little awkward
    a little alien; never feel quite right
    in the light of the everyday world.

I’m not a misfit, not a stranger
    I fit in, in a different sort of way
    like a crystal, opaque and transparent simultaneous
    almost black, but inward, not glowing
    more like an emphasizing
    the innerness of the stone
    a soft radiance, like an animal
    attentive, alive to its world
    just noticing, nothing more.

My darkness is the glade
    on the western side of the ridge
    where nobody goes.
Or the wild desert, a land of extremes
    harsh at high noon; yet crystalline purity
    with the early morning light.
Caravansari of old brought a human exchange
    all the remains is the sand, the dunes
    nights littered with stars.
What is exchanged now?  Where there is only wind
    and endless quiet, where footprints
    are erased in an instant.

What is my last day?
    Is it the holly tree, with its deep greens
    and reds; luscious growth and a steady joy?
Or is it the aurora borealis, with crackling mystery
    and otherworldly colors: lime, magenta, pink?
What have I released back to the
    ground, to matter, to the mother
    to the innerness of all things?
What gesture was I making inside
    the arc of my days, that others may have noticed
    which I could never see.
But love is not for understanding
    love is an activity; love moves.
Ashes to ashes, the course of my days
    a hollowing, for innerness
    a hallowing, full circle, the shape that
    holds the sacred, like a garden
    sifting, reflecting, dreaming
    then releasing.

02/26/2018 Chris Warren Smith hosted by Gary  

Chris Warren Smith has been a featured writer for Steve Arnston, Gina Goldblatt, Paul Corman Roberts, Bay Area Generations and Charise Sowells Malouf(Lake Lady)
He has been published in the Oakland Review, and East Fork Press. He first kid's book: A Tennis Lesson can be found in the Magic Blox children's library.
You can find more of his writing at his blog on

Human Nature is smiling, holding out a closed fist.

Inside is a coin.

On one side is love and the other is fear.

Until she opens her hand the coin is two sided, representing duality.

It is in a state of superposition.

Only when she opens her hand will you witness your truth.

And you will see either fear or love.

Because observing the system changes the system.

What will you change today?

The Earth gave you your path to walk.
The World put in a toll booth.
The Earth created beautiful women.
The World made you shy.
The Earth gave you a mind to be free.
The World gave you an ego to be it’s slave.
The Earth gave you a voice to speak your truth.
The World gave you an ear the didn’t want to hear.
The Earth gave you eyes to see your vision.
The World gave you rules to keep it at bay.
The Earth gave you a beautiful child.
The World took him back.
You say “ you’ve had enough of this life”.
And I say to you “You don’t belong to yourself.
You belong to the Earth and you belong to the World”.

02/19/2018 Andrena Zawinski hosted by Bruce  Jim

Photo Credit: Don Dutra

Andrena Zawinski’s latest poetry collection, Landings, is from Kelsay Books (Hemet, CA). She has published two previous full collections of poetry: Something About (Blue Light Press, San Francisco, CA), a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award recipient, and Traveling in Reflected Light (Pig Iron Press, Youngstown, O), a Kenneth Patchen competition winner. She has also authored four chapbooks and is editor of Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry (Scarlet Tanager Books, Oakland, CA). Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern. She founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at

In Landings, Zawinski presents poems that embrace, in original ways and with deep-rooted emotional power, the worldwide condition of women, immigrants, and the working class alongside an abiding reverence for the natural world. Of this work, Jan Beatty says Zawinski is the necessary voice of the truth teller, speaking trouble among the beauty. Rebecca Foust lauds the collection as a book that offers wisdom and solace and one you will take comfort in reading again and again. Carolyne Wright goes on to say in these Landings, she embraces the richness of human experience and praises the courage of those who go on ‘living as if they could do anything.’
poem recited with images:

Andrena Zawinski:

Sun spills silver stars of light along rippling summer waves.
A string of pelicans wing the horizon, 
light in flight for all their heft.

Children squeal and squirm inside their plastic inflatable.
One slips over the side, feigns drowning, splashing and kicking, 
holding onto his crying sister, jumps back in to tickle her side–– 
all of them then swimming in giggles and smiles in frolic and fun, 
family picnicking at the shore, waving from bright beach towels.

Other children, roped onto rafts in flimsy life jackets, float in 
from Aleppo across the Aegean away from bombs and bullets 
to find a way out, forge a way in, whole families cattled 
by smugglers, squeezed in dozens deep. But those who slip 
into this dark sea cannot be rescued with innocent teasing and mirth.

A three-year-old washes up onto the beach face down on the sand,
limp body leaden in his father’s arms, 
water lapping the wounded shore.

Publication Credit: 
Reunion Dallas Review, Vol 6, 2017. Univ. of Texas, Dallas, TX 

02/12/2018 Alameda Students: The Mighty Pens  hosted by Jim

With the hope of sharing a lifelong love of poetry and the exquisite beauty of words, in 2012 Cathy Dana, teacher of Creative Expressions at charter school, Alameda Community Learning Center, founded a school-wide poetry club called The Mighty Pens. The group meets weekly to write and share poetry, culminating each year in a book of student poems, entitled “Wandering Minds, Dancing Words.” Students have read poetry at the Art and Diversity Night, Books, Inc., the Ina Coolbrith Circle, and the Dancing Poetry Festival. Each week, the Mighty Pens choose a “poet of the week” to read a poem to the entire school.  Here are their names:
Gavin Barron, Sophie McCain-Novakowski, Truly Edison, Miranda Rittenbach, Liam Foster, Oxford Lewis, Cayden Lewis-McCabe, Killian Connolly, Tay Lew.

The Ocean Depths
by Liam Foster

I live in a little house on an island in a great black sea.
Every night, I dive into the inky darkness beneath the stars.
I search for the dim lights of the fallen, like dying quasars.
I know not where they come from, nor where they go.
But I bring them to shore, solid rock and a warm glow.
That's enough for me.

02/05/2018 Ralph Dranow hosted by Jan

Ralph Dranow's widely published poems focus on exploring our common humanity and the poetry and beauty of everyday life. His most recent books are A New Life and Love in Unexpected Places, a limited edition letterpress book. He works as a freelance editor and ghostwriter.
They never market themselves,
Post of Facebook
Or tweet on Twitter.
Yet day after day,
Like alchemists,
These majestic beings
Take in carbon dioxide
And breathe out oxygen.
Their sturdy trunks, strong roots
Are barriers to soil erosion, floods.
Leaves provide shade,
Bark valuable medicines,
Branches sweet fruits.
Communal creatures,
Inspiring role models,
Trees share water and nutrients with each other.
And like Jesus,
They die for our sins,
Not only for houses, furniture, paper
But the insatiable, fanged maw
Of profit.
I nominate trees for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ralph Dranow 
Editing, Ghostwriting, & Writing-Coaching Services

Author ~
A NEW LIFE: POEMS, by Ralph Dranow
$14.95 / print edition
The 76 vivid poems in this book offer a unique and compassionate view of what it is to be human. "Ralph's poetry is tender and honest and bittersweet, like sweet-sour candy melting on the tongue. His poems nestle into the heart in a genuinely comforting way." ~ Shonen Bressler 

01/29/2018 HA HA night--bring your humorous work hosted by Gary

01/22/2018 Mare' Simonet  hosted by Gary 
Need a prompt tonight? Pick one from the words & images in Mare’s poem.


Mare’ Simonet is a poet and multi-media artist, living in Berkeley, CA. Her series of essays, Confessions of a Dopamine Addict,  as well as her first poetry book, The Poet Next Door, are due to be released in early 2018.  Both works include many humorous references that reveal aspects of life with Parkinson’ s Disease.

While Ms. Simonet has said she dislikes being labeled as a disabled artist, living with Parkinson’s Disease has influenced her choices of
subject matter and the desire to create a mythology with a  message .

Mare’ has said that poetry is  “ without linear parameters .. One can disregard, recreate, bend, flex, or falsify time in a poem.”

After she presented a poem written two days after her husband passed away, a recent reviewer had this to say :

… I heard the writings of a friend (of his) who had lost a loved one recently, and her words, like a gale, swept powerfully through the room but exited gently and with such raw elegance that it left me wishing I knew how to write.

During the program, Mare’ will read excerpts from her essays and book, as well as new works dedicated to her late husband .


my mind is inoperably bound to memory 
I try to hold on when the ascent is threatened
try to stay calm, find a portable bridge
to negotiate that rotten crevasse

filled with the carcasses of lost phrases,
today's to-do list, yesterday's memos

sometimes the tightly wrapped package
becomes unbound
the flow of remembered occurrences 
stretched out in one long straight line

coyly teasing the telomeres, trying to outrace them
01/15/18 Fred Dodsworth hosted by Bruce 
(Need a prompt? "The name I don't call myself" -- as in any use or thought of it -- you don't have to use those words.)

Fred Dodsworth As a 30 year publishing professional Fred Dodsworth has launched and or edited or published more than a dozen magazines and newspapers and three books on California Indians. Six years ago he decided to go to college, graduating magna cum laude from SFSU in 2013 with a bachelors in Creative Writing (concentration in Gender Studies). He earned his Masters in Poetry from SFSU in 2017 and is now pursuing an MFA in Fiction.

Formerly a high-school drop out, front-page daily columnist (SF Examiner), award winning art director, sandal maker, and truck driver (not in that order), in his professional career Fred was fortunate enough to work with renown designer Roger Black and to publish work by Alan Ginsberg, June Jordon, Kim Addonizio, Amy Wallace, Garrison Keillor, Corby Kummer, Ginu Kamani and many other accomplished and beginning writers.

Co-host of the 8th 9th & 10th Annual SF Beat Poetry Festival, board member of the 20th Annual Watershed Ecological Poetry Festival, co-organizer of the Northern California Book Awards, collective member of the Beast Crawl Collective for 5 years (now retired), founding board member of Bay Area Generations—A Reading Series For The Ages (now retired), for the last six years Fred Dodsworth has worked with Sharon Coleman producing Milvia Street, the venerable Peralta Colleges literary magazine. He is also publications advisor to Joyce Jenkins of Poetry Flash.

Fred has been a featured reader at the 2014 Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival, East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, Art of the Muse, Broken Concrete, Literary Speakeasy, Red Light at the Battery, Pandemonium Press at the Spice Monkey, Moe’s Books, Writing Without Walls, the MFA Reading Series, Velvet Revolution, Rolling Writers, Nomadic Press, riverbabble, Red Light Lit, the Aesthetic Union, The Battery, XYZ at the Stork, the SF Beat Poetry Festival, Rolling Writers, Heart of the Muse, Black Health Matters, Naked Bulb, and many other reading series events. 

His stories and poems have been published in Red Light Lit, Rag Mag, Troop, Oakland Review #3, riverbabble, Transfer, Milvia Street, Bay Area Generations, Writing Without Walls, Saturday Night Special, Something Worth Revising, US Represented, 11-9 the Fall of Democracy, RISE!, and others. He’s currently finishing a book of poems, a book of short stories, and his first novel.

01/8/18 Julia Vinograd hosted by Jim

Julia Vinograd is a Berkeley street poet.  She has published over 59 books of poetry and won the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.  A Pushcart Prize winner for "The Young Men Who Died of AIDS," she has a Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Berkeley and is one of the editors of the anthology New American Poetry Vol. I: The Babarians of San Francisco -- Poets from Hell. Her latest chapbook "Look Out"has just been published in October, 2016

2017 is listed at _