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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #26

  • Section A: January 15, 2008
  • Section B: February 15, 2008
  • Section C: March 15, 2008
  • Section D: April 8, 2008
  • Section E: May 15, 2008
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2008

    Carmel, CA

      LETTING GO AGAIN
      (Carmel Beach)

      tides rise up to the mountains
      of the moon

      waves arch over and disintegrate

      stars flare and fade galaxies fly
      faster and faster away

      aeon after aeon

      such thoughts twist and erupt
      behind my eyes

      birth and death on an unsafe planet

      clouds of sand flies flit around
      kelp strands glistening like diamonds

      blackbirds abruptly merge and diverge

      and this is what I must tell today
      of salt sea

      smell

    John Dotson
    flute@acharantos.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

    Looking back to my youth with Uncle Werner, these poems came!

      HAPPY 88TH BIRTHDAY

      On the farm, that summer,
      you arrive with sparkling eyes
      thirsty for family.
      You take me, only me,
      to hitchhike the ten miles
      to Auburn, I think,
      and although legal,
      the adventure carries
      an edge of the forbidden,
      I, your accomplice.
      I don't recall parental permission,
      which adds a touch of excitement,
      and a foreshadowing of future
      escapades with men with sparkling eyes.

      ONE SCOOP, VANILLA,
      SUGAR CONE, PLEASE

      Looking backwards
      into childhood
      eating an ice cream cone
      inhaling vanilla scent
      almost as delicate
      as frozen sweetness
      melting easily upon my tongue
      while heat wave
      waits at the door
      demanding equal bites.

    Illia Thompson
    Illia99@aol.com

    Colorado Springs, CO

      THE MEMORY BOX

      This box
      called memory
      is empty now.
      I have with
      eyes content
      photographed
      the pain and
      the joy of the past

      placed it in a
      large album
      and left it
      for others
      to praise
      or criticize.
      I have laid down
      the need to cling
      to that earlier journey.

      Here—I sit
      staring out at
      the world with
      its hurried pace
      no more
      will I clutter
      this memory box
      with the burden
      of things left undone.

      Instead—
      I will fill the
      bare walls of
      this treasure cove
      with my deepest longing
      and my greatest hope.

      And—
      this time
      I will save a
      place for me.

    Patricia Ann Doneson
    padoneson@earthlink.net

    Tucson, AZ

      UNTITLED 5/25/08

      they all run out man
      life
      everything

      i can't leave it stranded
      on the airfield

      if i cannot do it for another
      can i do it for ME?
      If I cannot do it for another
      But can still do it for me
      There is nobody home

      THE EAST WOOD

      When our children corresponded in their play
      At Hal Ketchum's Dennis the Menace Park
      I positioned myself stealthily
      Five feet to your right
      I didn't say a word
      But my stupid grin spoke volumes

      Now you are iconic
      Supreme over the Industry
      That fades in the intensity of your eyes
      Shurttered like the hurt
      In a Yeats poem

      Your million dollar baby
      Has been your dowry
      You will not blow away
      Like a rowdy cowboy on a drunk

      WHEN MY PAIR BEAT A FLUSH

      "Okay" she says
      "So you think you are Grande
      Master"
      I say you are Grande

      Charlie Chaplin will welcome you home
      I hope you two
      Enjoy each other's company
      As you join the company of petals
      In Dante's Rose

      I, Virgil
      Shall wander with Oedipus at Colonus
      Seeing your eyes like flints of love

      Respect is a word I seldom use
      Except in the presence of our silence

    Christopher Lovette
    cwlovette@cox.net

    Carmel Valley, CA

      WRECKAGE

      I have no quarrel with death,
      the snap of the latch on the last gate.

      My conflict resembles
      a dreadnaught,
      the slow inexorable
      siege of age.

      I fear the day
      when I am no longer able
      to ramble the root-stitched paths at Point Lobos,
      steep stairs at China Cove,
      when my tongue cannot taste
      the difference between sweet and bitter,
      when my ears shut up shop
      and my eyes cloud.

      At home a stranger dwells in my mirror
      reveals pale rumpled skin,
      puckers, folds, wilted breasts.

      Who is that woman
      with veins standing out
      on the back of her hands,
      thickening toenails,
      wattled neck.

      When do I cross the line
      between quantity and quality,
      trade what might be
      for what is.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2008

    Colorado Springs, CO

      LIFE

      This—
      is all there is.

      Life! the gift giver.

      Not,
      torrents of rain
      failing from above,

      but single,
      pristine drops
      racing to touch solid ground.

      Divinely—
      unique in nature,
      yet part of the whole.

      Downpour,
      of evolution is hushed.

      As clouds part,
      and the sun slices through

      Individual prisms,
      painting a rainbow across
      patches of blue, and the world listens,

      Listens.

      As each,
      sovereign raindrop,
      announces to this kingdom,

      I am here!
      I am here!

    Patricia Ann Doneson
    padoneson@earthlink.net

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      UNTITLED

      the fishermen
      no longer fish
      but sit in
      the cafe
      and fish for
      memories
      in the net
      of ancient
      friendships

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      AUDIBLE COMPASS

      In childhood I wished
      for leaf-shaped fairy ears
      I found in storybooks,
      magic pixie listening
      to hear the language of the blackbirds
      dancing across our lawn,
      murmurs of the dead at dusk
      beneath the gray headstones
      in the cemetery beyond the woods,
      the mysteries of grown-up talk.

      I think of my ears
      as two humble shells that collect
      the thunder of breakers
      on the sloping shore.
      Their sculpted curves and chambers bring
      me the morning canticle of wild geese
      calling to each other in flight.

      Caverns of sound are my radar,
      my keys to counterfeit words,
      the feast of music,
      the foreign tongue of love.

      THEREFORE

      I live fiercely for my grandfathers
      and grandmothers,
      for my father
      who taught me integrity
      and my mother
      who taught me patience,
      for one sister
      who possessed wisdom and style
      and one who refused limitations,
      for my young son and daughter.

      What better shrine
      to shadows of the dead
      than a passionate life.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 8, 2008

    Colorado Springs, CO

      SOLITUDE

      Watching the swan
      I wonder

      does its beauty
      also elude it
      peering into
      the water
      does it say
      my neck is too long,
      my body is too large,

      I have no color.

      She floats solitary
      upon the pond
      while ducks
      gather in unison.

      The stillness
      reflects
      an image
      back to her
      and the kiss she
      delivers sends ripples
      of elegance to the shoreline.

    Patricia Ann Doneson
    padoneson@earthlink.net

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      IN THE MORNING

      in the morning
      when the light
      from the shore
      is right

      striking the spray
      on top of the wave

      the foam of surf
      bends the light
      in rainbow hues

      turning the hair
      of mother ocean
      to pearl

      filling the morning sky
      with its nacre essence

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Tucson, AZ

    The following poetry was written while in St. Mary's 2 North Psychiatric Unit, where I was locked away from fresh air for 16 days, March 13 thru the 28th, yesterday.

    I wrote all of these poems in stir. Did someone say "when poets bleed, they bleed poems not blood?"

    My wife had me committed there for observation (two weeks until a hearing in this great State of Arizona, then, for me, a couple more while I "stabilized"). Her complaint was that I was not taking Lithium Carbonate as has been prescribed for me. The Court ruled I am not a danger to myself or others, but that I am acutely and persistently severely mentally ill, and shall take 900 milligrams of Lithium Carbonate daily for one year, failure to do so having the consequences of being kept in a locked psychiatric unit away from fresh air for a period of 180 days.

      NIGHT SHIFT

      I have flashbacks
      To another incarnation
      I was a prison guard
      In the Roman Army in Palestine
      In the First Century

      I was stationed in Jerusalem
      Under the command of Pontius Pilate

      One night I was told to take
      Five picked troops
      And take them with me
      To guard the sealed tomb
      Of an executed prisoner

      I myself with two trusted men
      Was on watch while the other three slept
      When the likeness of a man in angelic form
      Struck the three of us waking
      Down asleep as if dead

      When I awoke
      The tomb was unsealed
      And the body had been taken

      Pontius himself ordered my five men killed
      But spared me
      But not my family

      I was transferred to Rome
      And hid in a jug
      Of the purest red wine from Nubia

      MURDER IN THE RUE MORGUE CATHEDRAL
      (written during the wee hours of Saturday morning
      following Good Friday 2008)

      Twas a night like no other

      No other would know

      Save the silence of the bells

      KING OF THE MENTAL PATIENTS

      Like the King of the Jews
      He kept a vigil at night

      Twas the night twas the night
      So long it was dark
      So long and lonely and cold

      I look out the window
      Of St. Mary's 2 North
      At a row of blinking red lights
      Between me and the Tucson Mountains

      In the dark I look out
      From the Ward at 2 North
      Locked here in worlds
      All our own

      THE AGE OF RADICAL SCEPTICISM

      When Carl Jung asked Groucho Marx
      "Do you prefer your cigars medicated or unmedicated?"
      He recognized the right of the patient to choose

      What Groucho answered is unknown
      But from looking at his films
      I suspect he was smoking something

      The traits of a king:
      Wherever he goes
      Women love him
      and men follow him

      If you can't laugh at yourself
      You are lost

      An existential situation or dilemma
      Forces us out into existence
      Born of our own choices and free will

      The existential dilemma
      Forces us to choose freedom or perish

      Will reason turn on itself?

      CAUGHT IN THE TRAP OF LOVE
      (for Rubi Carmen Sanchez)

      Like a bear reaching for honey
      And leaving a bear claw in the trapper's line
      Of mangling spring-loaded snapping shut jaws
      My Mother told me sex is nasty
      Back in the days when L.A. air was clean

      She did not know she had fallen into
      The cultural conquest of Native America

      I spent my life caught in between
      My abusiveness . . . and my guilt
      Til a letter fell from the Angel's Tower
      And told me what it's all about

      She said "I caught you in the trap
      Of my angel love, and
      That's where you're going to stay,
      For my love for you
      Is as yours for me
      And is forever and a day"

    Christopher Lovette
    cwlovette@cox.net

    Carmel Valley, CA

      TREE

      In this one lifetime
      you will have to choose
      over and over again,
      this way through the forest
      where shadows are caves
      or that path along the sea
      where sunlight strews chips of gold
      over the blue surface.

      You will have to choose
      which child to comfort
      when many more than one
      are wailing out their fear.
      A thousand times a thousand
      choices each day,
      this much food on the plate,
      one or two handfuls of seeds
      for the flock of quail on the slope,
      dust the furniture or read
      that half-finished novel.

      Already you are exhausted
      from making decisions,
      all the momentary this's or that's.
      Your mind is full of larger choices
      at the same time, the ones
      you cannot make in haste.

      So you go outside and sit
      under the diplomatic old oak and wait.
      You wait for the quiet to enter,
      for the tree to breathe in duet
      with your breath, for the questions
      and the choices to go silent.
      This moment of stillness
      the only choice you make.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2008

    Monterey, CA

      ODE TO NOTHING

      In times that are obscured by judgment's cloud,
      I search for words that somehow shine or please.
      I strive within, then ask for help out loud.
      Nothing comes to me with gentle ease.
      I listen for my muse to hear my plea
      And send me an idea of substance.
      I cannot see what's right in front of me.
      Nothing arrives entirely by chance.
      And so I yield to all that is not
      Within the space of all material.
      Nothing was as simple as I thought.
      And nothing could make everything more real.
      In the void, there is one thing I am sure,
      That nothing is as free as it is pure.

      VERSE OF INERTIA

      In the shiver of a chill,
      In the downpour on my will,
      I lie heavy without reason to move.

      When the passion has all drained
      Down the creek bed with the rain,
      I see the flow, but cannot find my groove.

      Out the window I can see
      Raindrops clinging to a tree,
      Dripping with gray light as they let go.

      When the drizzle nears its end
      I will venture out again
      To explore what was encouraged to grow.

    Laura Carley
    lcarley11@yahoo.com

    Pacific Grove, CA

    Insights from India

    As we circumnavigated the Mahabodhi Temple built to honor the Bodhi Tree, an off spring of which still shades the temple grounds, we were chorused by the shifting accents and tones of monks from Burma, Tibet, Vietnam, Laos, etc. The energy is strong and divers, the devotees as multitudinous as the hawkers and beggars surrounding this holy place of pilgrimage. There is much to see and take in. Obviously it is often overwhelming.

      FEAR IS MY TEACHER

      The gut clutch that takes over my breath,
      the feel of sun and breeze on skin,
      the sight of weeds arranged beautifully,
      the curve of an ancient Bodhi branch
      covered in soft elephantine skin,
      all fades, subsumed into sussiant slither of fear
      riding the tide of my veins, a slow smothering.
      sharp blackness controls my nerve endings
      blocking East, West, South and North,
      draws me into a vortex outside earth's orbit.
      If mind can cling for an instant to sanity
      before chemical floods wash tsunami style
      through my veins, I can crawl
      slowly back into my fuller senses,
      return the world to color and music,
      quiet and simplicities weaving
      their patterns into me.

    Varanasi, City of Light

    We leave behind the sun rising over the wide slide of water, bathers praying, lifting goddess Ganga (the Ganges) overhead, blessing her with flowers, candles riding leaf cups filled with marigolds. We walk up steep steps of the ghat, enter one of many narrow, narrow alleyways leading to the blue Mosque and a gold-plated Hindu temple standing side by side, surrounded by army with no-nonsense rifles aimed at preventing religious differences from flaring into violence. Along the narrow passage way, orange Ganeshe, elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvarti, adorn door jambs, tuck into candle-lit shrines. Also Shiva with his trident and Ganges springing from his head at her source, her birth in front of Mount Kailash. Or Krisna luring cowherd girls with his flute. Real life cows, dung, debris, dirt, smoke fill the alleys. Orange of marigolds against patina metal, worn blue painted walls and doorways, green shutters. Overhead balconies block the sky. Decay of metal. Decay of stone. Decay of marigold petals. How to keep body and soul intact walking among too many people for earth to absorb—like a membrane split open, spewing forth what it cannot hold, what it cannot heal into itself. A sore that blossoms into limbs of many hues, rainbow wealth that fades and falls as ashes into Ganga, Mother river of life, of death.

      HELLO SISTER

      Walking up the path to Kalachakra Cave
      (where Buddha meditated taking no food,
      no water for 6 years)

      "Hello sister, hellow sister." rushes past my ears
      like river water tumbled stone.
      Dark bodies of the earth arise
      small and wrapped in dust.
      In their laps, babies held like melons.
      Ragged children hold out hands
      "Hello sister. Hello madam"
      One breaks loose, trails beside,
      "Hello hello hello hello..."
      finally falls away.
      Another with polio legs
      wrapped in deformity
      around his skinny arms
      scoots arachnid style
      interceps my path.
      Another feigning blindness
      rolls his eyes upward
      calling "Blind blind"
      Around him girls giggle
      behind their hands
      at his pretense
      "blind, blind..."
      Their sorry lives tug
      my sense of shame.
      I want to wash and feed
      them all or sweep
      them clean away.
      Instead I walk in stoic haste,
      escape inside the tourist bus
      beyond their plaintive wails
      "Hellow Sister. Hello Sister."

    Sharon Davies
    sharondavies@sbcglobal.net

    Colorado Springs, CO

      CRY OF THE WOLF

      In this
      dark night
      the cry of
      the wolf
      calls to me
      human ears
      stand at attention,
      senses heighten.

      A familiar smell
      fills the air
      I inhale
      remembrance
      as animal instincts
      rise in human form.

      Somewhere
      deep inside a
      mournful howling
      breaks free and
      pushes through
      human lips as
      I call out
      to that
      which calls to me.

    Patricia Ann Doneson
    padoneson@earthlink.net

    Tucson, AZ

      NOW AND THEN

      Then I was young and in love with myself
      You were neither young nor old, mine yet not mine
      Insisting on being nobody but yourself

      You played the piano for me
      "Little Boy Lost" while you sang it
      And I drank your martinis dry

      I hurt you
      Not as much as I hurt myself
      But I was young and asleep and could stand a lot of pain

      I can't anymore

      And what else about now?

      Now we are only each other's memories

      You in your parallel universe
      I in mine
      You back in New York
      Me in the desert
      Neither of us ever wishing we had never taken that first picnic to Topanga Canyon

    Christopher Lovette
    cwlovette@cox.net

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      RIPPLES

      As the ripples expand
      From the spot on the water
      Where you entered the pond.

      Your soul slipping through the reflection.
      Moon light dancing among the reeds
      Purling toward the shore.

      Sailing the raft of love and care
      Standing in the bow
      As the ripples expand

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      THE BANDWAGON

      I've come much too far
      and grieved far too much
      to join the Hero of the Month Club.

      I listen politely as praises
      falter in the air around me
      extolling gurus of meditation,
      Deepak Chopra, whatever politician
      is the underdog in an election year,
      someone from Indonesia
      whose name I cannot pronounce.

      If it isn't exactly a person,
      living or dead,
      it's a new paradigm,
      workshop at Esalen,
      book about gratitude
      or simplifying your life
      that's THE answer.

      I'm just not the jump
      on the bandwagon kind,
      always more than half suspicious,
      not ready to face east and chant,
      change my name to Shakeela,
      which means something significant
      in another language.

      I don't worship at the altars
      of athletes or actors,
      distrust the piety in divinity.
      I always seem to find
      the flaw in the newest fad,
      toning for the tone-deaf,
      past lives for those
      who are simply on their first.

      MEANWHILE
      (Meanwhile the world goes on...
      Mary Oliver— Wild Geese)

      Something terrible has suddenly trespassed
      in your otherwise customary existence.
      You become stunned, unable to collect your thoughts
      into any resemblance to reason.
      Vaguely you remember what life was like
      before this moment and
      will never be quite the same again.

      Meanwhile the world goes on.
      The sun rises and sets, long-grass grows
      in the meadow in spring, turns to straw in fall,
      other people show up for work, the phone rings.
      You are angry in spite of how much you hurt.
      You are functioning in a trance.

      Meanwhile the world goes on,
      continuing conflict, poverty, and genocide
      in third world countries, political debates,
      stock market losses, tornadoes in the mid-west.
      You can't dredge up the energy to care,
      to move from the corner of your couch.

      Meanwhile the world goes on.
      The moon is in its third phase and sailing
      in and out of wind-driven wooly clouds.
      Nocturnal creatures hunt in the corridors
      under the greasewood and sage
      and the barn owl flies from the pine.

      Though you believe you are lifeless
      you go on. Your breath travels in and out
      of your lungs, your eyes blink, heart drums.
      Whatever misfortune has come will play out
      with time and the world goes on.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 2008

    Monterey, CA

    [Drum] [Drum]

    THE MOON DRUM'S TALE

    It was in the first month of autumn when I was conceived, near the time when the Caretakers of the Earth honor those who have walked the red road before them, then left their skins behind and returned to live among the stars.

    As the Full Moon was making Her journey across a Starlit Sky, my maker was given a vision from the heavens. Before slipping away into the Dream World to receive his gift of renewal, he saw the phases of the Moon orbiting around a sacred shamanic drum with a white goatskin stretched across a golden Cypress hoop.

    On the following night the vision came again and was clearer. With it came the knowledge and inspiration to shape and shift his vision into reality.

    My sacred hoop, which represents the journey of all life, was created from hand-timbered Cypress, the resting place for many crows thought to be the keepers of Sacred Law. The healing oil of Cypress relieves fatigue from sore muscles and joints.

    The Eastern Maple Moon and Stars follow the path of a Redwood sky shadowed by strips of Black Walnut. Redwood is my conifer cousin. We are known as the Standing Tall People who help shelter the Creature Teachers. We sing the Wind's song, and breathe life back into the sky.

    Red is the color given to the South on the Medicine Wheel of life and the place of trust, humility and innocence, a time for blossoming and growing.

    Eastern Maple is honored for its strength and beauty, and gives its gift of sweetness to the two-leggeds. East was given the color yellow by the ancient ones. Its element is fire and its power is illumination and higher vision.

    Black walnut is rooted in the west, land of the setting Sun, direction of introspection, intuition, change and transition, a time for going within, knowing oneself, and listening for the Great Mystery's guidance.

    The white goat whose hide was lovingly worked and stretched across my sacred hoop, danced its own sure-footed and sacred dance within the circle of life, giving of itself to those who were giving and to those who were not. This Creature Teacher speaks to us about seeking new heights and perseverance.

    White is the color of North and represents the season when death comes and things no longer needed fall away, making space for new beginnings. The North wind purifies and cleanses. The Spirit of the North is rest and renewal.

    The Black Acacia Turtles that follow the path of the Moon and support my Cypress cross bar, are my maker's Clan Totem. These Turtles are a symbol of stability and our connection to the Earth.

    My Cypress talking stick with its hand-carved Owl is a gift from my maker to the Shaman who inspired my creation. May the Owl medicine guide Her and others in following their own wisdom and uncovering their hidden truth.

    I came into being with the purpose of healing the spirit of those in need by inspiring them to dance to the beat of their own hearts and to follow the path of their own true nature.

    Patrick Maiorana
    patshirl@mbay.net

    Monterey, CA

    WARRIOR WOMAN

    Deep within the layers of my skin there is a woman I know. She is quiet and watchful and waiting. She is listening for me to call. Waiting for me to speak her name.

    The space that her silence occupies inside me is growing. It grows within me such that I now feel I am pregnant with her position inside me.

    She is wise and understands the dreams of a wounded bird. Like a mother, she has cared for my broken wings. Like a sister, she has bathed my soul many times in the tears that flowed from my heart. Like a midwife, she understands that the tears of pain will water that which needs to grow. And, like a friend in need, she is a phoenix rising from the fires of my illusionary world and she carries me in safety to the top of the mountain.

    I do not know what she looks like but I do know what she feels like. I feel her in the flash of a moment when my arm is straight like an arrow, and dripping, with sweat, and my muscles quiver to sustain my gaze as it travels the length of my arm. She is beyond my fingertips as I focus upon the wooden wall. She is siting my dreams at the end of steady fingertips. I feel her fire and I know her strength and in that moment I am this woman inside of me.

    What shall I call her? Surely not mother or sister or midwife or friend, for she is more than that to me. She is the Cry I have longed to shout from the top of the mountain. She is the Fighter I became long ago when life taught me how to survive. She is the Strength I know I suppressed in order to shelter those weaker than 1. She is the Fire I feel for the child who was frozen in deceit. I shall call her Warrior Woman. And I shall dress her in garments that flow in the wind. A ribbon of rawhide around her waist and a necklace of abalone shell remind her of those with whom she shares the earth. Her spear of light pierces the emptiness of the past and protects the power of the present. And woven within her black hair is the feather of her future.

    As I turn to greet her, she holds her hand up like a mirror for me to see. I look for myself in the reflection, but I only see her. I press my hand to hers and an eagle emerges from our fingers and soars circling above us. She lifts her spear into the air and ribbons of light cascade across the sky. She moves her bare feet upon the earth and slowly circles in place. She chants softly as her head drops first to greet the earth and then lifts to greet the sky. I am calling her now and she is smiling. She is my Warrior Woman and she is dancing.

    Elizabeth Schonwald Jannasch
    ejannasch@mac.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      SHE'LL BE AS GOOD TO ME AS I LET HER.

      These words, spoken across the miles,
      my son talking of his girlfriend,
      linger on my pillow before sleep
      pull me into dreamtme.

      Barely three decades, his life,
      and he already unwraps the secret,
      one that it took me so many years
      to unfold from protected layers.

      It is oneself that creates one's life
      not the whims of others on our path
      nor the flow of random chances
      as our years unfold into lengths.

      The door we open within ourselves
      allows entrance of enhancement and
      we may choose to open wider or shut out,
      easily, an uncomfortable intruder.

      So I paint with these words in mind
      "She'll be as good to me as I let her."
      and find the colors flow, embrace each other
      gracefully, clearly becoming a bouquet.

      A Valentine at the end of January
      full-fashioned to allow love to impress
      no matter that the stormy season
      strongly holds the breath of cold.

    Illia Thompson
    Illia99@aol.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      DIAMONDS AND PEARLS
      She's got diamonds on the soles of her shoes—Paul Simon

      I find a calling card
      in the form of a red maple leaf
      long before autumn's arrival.

      Often I hear humming,
      some long forgotten
      tune from childhood.

      Something else is there
      in the crunch of twigs under my feet
      when I amble along
      without intention on a trail
      by a stream.

      It's a passive thing,
      simply waiting nearby
      for me to notice.

      Bits and pieces dash by,
      a Scrabble board with a few xyz's
      no consonants.

      So many other affairs
      on my mind, I decline
      to pay attention,

      though I know
      one day, like the bothersome
      grit in an oyster,
      it will be something more
      than a stone under my shoe.

      THE EXTRA ROOM

      The extra room is where the gray fox my grandson named Scoutv shows his face at my glass door after dark,
      where the old yellow bobcat waits
      at the corner of the deck post for me to leave in the morning,
      and flocks of quail hide in the dense chaparral.

      This is where the sticky monkey shrubs grow wild
      on the weedy chalkrock slope, their yellow-orange trumpets
      standing out from long brown stems,
      where all the different shapes and hues of green leaves
      and dead leaves assemble frames for snapdragons
      and geraniums in pots and planter boxes,

      where red-capped woodpeckers, iridescent green hummingbirds,
      Lake Tahoe blue scrub jays, and pint-sized gray titmice
      with their regal crests show up for seed and nectar,

      where a lounge chair sits empty and an Adirondack chair too,
      because I cannot sit in two chairs at the same time,
      where the brown hillside, the neighbor's garden below,
      and an entire valley doze in the spaces between the deck slats.

      Rows of roundhead nails raise up in dry floorboards,
      a symmetrical pattern under my feet, and deck beams and joists
      form a ceiling, light sifting through thin gaps...
      and on three sides windows without glass,
      the squeaky lip of the stairs an open portal I go through
      each time I leave the room and return to it again.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2008

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    This poem is an Homage to the American Surrealist Joseph Cornell, written while admiring an exhibition of his work at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in December 2007.

      JOSEPH'S POEM

      climbing the
           stairs
      toward

      Utopia Parkway
      Flushing, New York

      into Joseph's
                mind

      Poor people
           try
           to
      explain
      in
      ciphered
           digital
                detail

      why
           what
      for reasons
      unexplained

      boxes
      and
           dancers
      ballet

      a way to place

      things in space
      and time
      eternal

      glow in the dark

      bits of graphite

      falling 3 floors

      ...climbing the stairs.

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Pacific Grove, CA

    Yesterday I took the beautiful trek to Mount Madonna... to witness David Whyte again for the day. He had just returned from Ireland where he had attended the funeral of John O'Donahue who had died suddenly in his sleep...Today, as my unconscious seeped in the experience, I wandered to my computer and found myself writing for the first time in over a month. I would like to share... with a wish for blessings and wealth of experience in 2008.

      UNTITLED

      It isn't that I don't want to write,
      to open myself to the great
      movement within.
      The tides pull sharply
      draw me in an undertow
      almost like fear of darkness
      leftover from childhood,
      an unknown monster
      lurking beneath my bed,
      shadowy ghosts stirring
      curtains before myopic eyesight.

      I find other things to do.
      Games to play.
      Tasks of relative unimportance.
      But sometimes, in the lull of my mind
      sorting numbers or letters or color,
      a great pull within me moves
      up from my belly into my chest
      and words seek to burst forth,
      some form of management,
      understanding of the emotional tide
      swamping me from within.

      And so I write, or take a walk,
      or simply continue sorting numbers,
      card suits or words into a crytogram,
      a game of solitaire with myself.

    Sharon Davies
    sharondavies@sbcglobal.net

    Santa Paula, CA

    Homage to my Father & Mother.

      THE MORNING AND THE EVENING STAR
      (by Rock and Roll Spot.)

      Augustine speaks in dialogue:
      Adeodatus, do you see the two fold division of your life?
      There are THINGS and there are SIGNS

      THE MORNING STAR,
      The land cries "Holy" ever crying "Holy"
      Great consecration is the banner,

      Desert stones all hold within them children of God,
      Grandchildren of God.

      "Let's put two stones together and watch the beauty burst open like sunrise!"

      The morning star, at once a lord and magistrate, has ever
      Like an earthquake breathed his great body
      Down rivers and canyons,
      Calling to himself the oils of anointment,
      The oils that within seven days leave little pink fingerprints
      We'd gladly never see again.
      My father, the morning star, anoints himself like a king in California,
      With the prophets oil pressed Prom. waxy three-leafed oak,
      And the holiness of where he has set his life
      Pours down his beard
      (this a high mystery, the oil of Chrism in the beard of Aaron)

      What a wild winding road is my father,
      Tracing the patterns of his rising at the dawn,
      Across a thousand landscapes, across a thousand beautiful creations.
      Now I see that though I think in maps,
      My father has his eyes upon the cliffs,
      Upon the architecture.
      My father has made his heart to hold the desert,
      The valley,
      The mission,
      The ghost town,
      The ruined saloon,
      The long cathedral.
      My father has said:
      "See, this is beautiful, this thing is beautiful, look here, it is beautiful."
      My father has taken all things and he has set them up as monuments.
      All things are the stone of Bethel, propped upright in memory,
      All things make altars:
      Caves are altars,
      Broken arrows, altars",
      National guitars and reservations, altars,
      Old indian men who love menudo, altars, the seat of angels.

      My father, the morning star, sees clearly to the quick,
      Bounds like a lion to the highest point of everywhere,
      Wants all things, and keeps them holy for the mind of God.
      And in holding, willing all that is beautiful,
      The morning star, my father, is the basket or the strong clay jar,
      That keeps forever in his heart,
      The beauty of the works of God.
      Amen.

      THE EVENING STAR
      (to honor my mother with the sight of my MIND'S eye),

      She who named me Gabriel,
      She who said "Just give this boy a trumpet, give him a trumpet and kick him outside
           or he'll crawl across my free time like slug,"
      She who taught me to speak, who first took me on her lap and said "SPEAK,"
           and I did),
      She who first unraveled the word bandages,
      She who said "The mind is a creature that creates, the mind bears the form of God,
           (the pictograph is: ARIEL and air),
      She who said the word is a creature that consumes,
      She who is my Rome, my senate, who is my Cicero, my marvelous advocate,
      She who is my Athens, my symposium, who is my Heraclitus,
      She who knows that all things burn with significance and the way up
           is the same as the way down,
      She who first said "A river is a thing you communicate,"
      She who knew the answers,
      She who was my Alexandrian, the keeper of my great library,
      Holder of the scrolls (Ethics, Politics, Poetics),
      She who built my house in much of the classical sty1e,
      She who told me the MYTH: When the children were in pain,
           the giver of intellect descended with a torch and touched fire to the mind. She who is bright-eyed, cunning and sparkling
      She who is Owl and Mentor,
      She who filled my agentiality with alpbabets and cyphers (and this is the diagram:
           The line between two points, Epicures and Puck, is Graceland,
                And such is bounded by a CIRCLE)
      She who is the circle is the evening star = my mother.
      Q.E.D.

    Gabriel Mamola
    Mungthekilted@yahoo.com

    San Jose, CA

      GRANITE TIME

      Ascending, the mountain rises before you
      meeting your foot in mid-air.
      Shifting the back pack over your knee
      you make one breathless step up.
      Always already the mountain waits
      to meet the other foot,
      Until at last, heart pounding,
      you must stop and rest.

      Descending, the mountain raises behind you
      falling away from your foot
      suspended in mid-air.
      Knee flexed to absorb the shock
      when heel pounds onto granite
      again and again.

      You sleep at night
      on granite gravel
      pushing into shoulder and hip
      until you wake up once more
      in a cold and bright landscape
      without color, without sound
      suspended in the light
      of the full moon.

      For days you ascend,
      you descend and sleep.
      Once more you stand on the shoulder
      between two mountain peaks.
      Cloud's Rest rises close by
      today without clouds.
      In the middle distance
      the polished granite of Half Dome
      rises timeless
      over Yosemite Valley
      crowded by visitors
      reduced to a harmless illusion.

      Surprised you notice
      Mumbay, Madrid,
      London, Babylon,
      New York and Jerusalem—
      all man made places—
      erased from your mind
      against this endless horizon.
      Time stands still.
      Shattered granite, polished granite,
      marks of changes
      your eyes can not see,
      your bones have absorbed.
      You have found that place in mind
      where being there, out of breath,
      is enough and bliss.

      ORION

      The bow of Orion lies broken
      in the black pine trees
      on the Eastern horizon.
      The rusty ship of the old Moon
      is sinking fast—heavy with umbra.
      Cassiopeia struggles hard
      to make her shiny crown
      stand out against the Milky Way.
      He closes his eyes and sees
      the starry sky behind his eyes.

      Invisible—he may not exist.
      To find himself
      he travels to Orion.
      Here the Sun is a faint beacon
      among so many,
      Gaia a minute disturbance
      of the Sun's radiation.
      The chill of the immense silence
      settles in his bones
      like a familiar friend.

      He steps through the membrane
      of their tiny tent,
      dives deep into the warm pockets
      of their sleeping bag.
      Her warm breath on his cheeks
      blows out the starry sky
      behind his eyes.
      The chill in his bones evaporates
      when she pulls him closer
      into the warmth of her body.

    Franz Spickhoff
    franzox@gmail.com

    Colorado Springs, CO

      POETRY

      Where do you go
      for these words?

      Into dark places
      you would not care
      to enter, or would
      you care to see.
      In this space
      souls have
      been lost
      and are
      screaming
      to be free.

      I sit, as others
      have before me,
      looking into hidden
      parts of self.

      Steal,
      as a thief
      would steal, all
      the pain of the past,
      all the hope of the future.
      When I have gathered,
      without judgment, all
      that I can hold

      Then
      and only then
      am I released to
      set my pen to paper.

    Patricia Ann Doneson
    padoneson@earthlink.net

    Thank you for your creative offerings!

    I invite readers to share their own creative works (poems, stories, images, comment, etc.) in Letter Box On Line (LBOL). I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.

    The Editor

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