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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #33

  • Section A: July 15, 2011
  • Section B: August 15, 2011
  • Section C: September 15, 2011
  • Section D: October 15, 2011
  • Section E: November 15, 2011
  • Section F: .................................................................. December 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    "It was at Tassajara that all of this started. I wanted to make a bell that I could stand in and this was the first model...alas the bigger one never happened, but the Buddha got me this one and a bronze one like it."

    [Steve's Bell]

    "I recently have been working on 'writing' with pen or pencil on paper. Getting closer to drawing the poems! This is one that I wrote just before I had my final (Chemo) session where I rang rang rang."

    [Steve's poem]

    Stephen Brown

    Monterey, CA


      Full moon opens her face to me
      As I thank her
      For her loveliness.
      Clouds pass in front
      Temporarily obscuring the view.

      November evening darkness
      Invites contemplation,
      Reliving of memories of
      Many other moonlit nights.
      Winter's approaching chill
      Brings me up silent, inquiring.

      Who are you, Moon?
      How is it that
      You possess such power
      Over ocean tides,
      Women's blood,
      Pranksters' antics.
      You pull me to attention
      No matter what face
      You present to me.

      I am aware that mysteries
      Surround you, and
      Your magnetic pull is
      Much more than gravitational.
      The higher you rise,
      The more I smile at your
      Generous face.

      Are you lonely, Moon,
      Or do you sense the millions of
      Beings who love the pure
      Sweet light you share?

      I am aware.
      You are one among many.
      As I bless you, I am blessed.

    Shirley Tofte



      He comes to me more often now
      when diaphanous clouds of gray
      protect the mysterious.

      He comes to me more often now
      on the salt of sea's breath
      on the edge of a gull's shriek.

      He comes to me more often now.
      Without his touch I feel
      his smooth fingers trace my face.

      He comes to me more often now
      through boxed photographs
      permanence amid impermanence.

      He comes to me more often now
      on the crest of waking dreams,
      in the essence of our family.

      He becomes the man
      who left too early,
      yet still remains.

    Illia Thompson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Slender sterns of field mustard
      raze my legs on the path
      from highway down to sea.
      Spears of gray sage flutter,
      counterpoint to the surge and murmur
      of fog-muffled surf.
      Across the bay a hemisphere moon
      floats over the ridges of Point Lobos,
      a half-balloon with no string.

      Riots of gold sticky-monkey,
      lavender seaside daisy,
      beaded pearly-everlasting,
      and paintbrush blanket the bluff.
      Warblers whistle in greasewood warrens.
      Warmth devours a filmy mist,
      lays passionate kisses
      on petals of yellow coreopsis,
      as if the hillside hoards
      a billion tiny suns.

      At the edge of the marshland
      gulls and pelicans assemble
      on a narrow sandbar.
      Air carries the mingled scent
      of salt and musk of river reeds.
      I unfold my notebook.
      Words cluster on blue lines.
      A grasshopper lands on the open page.
      I await his decision to leap,
      detect a hesitant poem.

    Laura Bayless

    Tucson, AZ

    I don't know if this is poetry, or just an odd story about an odd man. It was my best 2011 experience.

      (Benedictine Monastery, St. David, Arizona)

      First day out got a ride the first vertical thousand feet or so
      Leaving me to pedal to the approx. 4,500 top of Reddington Pass
      Nobody around as I make camp under some oaks

      Next day downhill and north, away from my southerly destination
      Finally I reach Reddington: a farmhouse with a defunct store
      From there the road heads south

      I talk with the farmer about how hard it is for the small farmer or rancher
      Always gambling on what crop prices will be when the harvest comes
      He lets me fill up my gallon water jug
      Then it's off down a washboard road so bad I just have to get off and walk sometimes
      Only thirty-something miles to pavement

      I am exhausted. I see some bluffs across a couple of washes
      And the dry corpse of the San Pedro River pumped out by agribusiness
      But here making a nice valley with green grass for the cattle
      I decide to knock off early—enough of that washboard road!

      I get off the road and had toward the bluffs
      Over fences or through gates, either way
      Careful to close all gates behind me
      There's not much barbed wire
      A small herd of cattle grazes where the River once flowed

      I find a good camping spot under the bluffs and some sycamore trees
      My backpacked sleeping bag and air mattress
      Quickly becoming a bed
      But not before I look around at this unique scene along the San Pedro River course
      Conveniently ignoring that it is all part of a ranch, private property and I have no invitation

      In the morning I pack up nice and early and gladly so
      When I see two cowboys riding out to the herd ripping my jeans
      On some barbed wire going over one fence lifting my bicycle over fences
      Away from the cowboys and the cattle

      Then I reach wild lands where no cattle care to find a path
      And the San Pedro River is running
      Conducted by a snowy or cattle egret
      Standing in the shallow river on its stiletto legs

      I use my water filter to top off my jug
      The water from the filter tastes blessed

      Soon I see it is best to head back to the road
      Back to the washboard
      South toward Benson
      Past ranches and play-ranches
      Until my neediness is exposed my water jug is empty

      I choose a house on a long driveway to ask for water
      A lady answers the door and is clearly annoyed
      She finally offers me a half-liter bottle
      I say "That's alright, if I could just use your hose"
      Which I do in front of a closed door

      Now with water, I am ready to make camp
      A few yards off the road, away from any houses
      Under some willow trees in a ravine

      Next morning the paved road comes a few miles north of Benson
      Thankfully for my back
      I find my way under Interstate 10 and to the road to St. David
      Deciding to make camp in a concrete culvert under the road
      Where I assume my goods will be safe in my absence

      I spent the next day and a half exploring Benson which is well worth exploring
      Friday night I decided to leave for the Monastery
      Using my bicycle lights
      And only having to stop once to ask if I was on the right road

      At the Monastery I went through some pecan or nut orchards
      Didn't talk to anybody
      And found a good campsite next to the Monastery water system's pond
      Not far behind the Chapel

      I was the unexplained guest
      Just a bicycle and a sleeping bag
      And a four pound Bible

      In the morning I found the restroom next to the Chapel
      And the times of Chapel services
      Which I attended each and every one

      I found the gift store
      And bought a crucifix (now on my personal Altar)
      And some Benedictine baked whole grain bread

      Eventually I met someone to talk to, a Monk-In-Training
      A very likeable fellow who let on that he worked in the bakery
      Very impressive after eating the bread

      But I had to play my old "religion" card
      If God is love how can He be just

      That was Saturday night
      On Sunday morning after the Chapel service I stopped him to talk
      Explaining that I now understood
      Jesus death on the Cross satisfied God's justice.
      He said "That's what I was trying to tell you last night!"
      I said it with my mouth but not with my heart

      Later that morning I waited in front of the thirty foot Cross done in a Modernist style
      Which contains a Reliquary, a very small piece of the True Cross

      At noon my wife came to pick me up in our Toyota
      We went home and the adventure was over

      Today I got a Christmas Card from the Benedictine
      With his blessings—and I sat down to write this tale

    Chris Lovette

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    Section E: .................................................................. November 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      I saw her sitting in there
      in the lobby of the hospital
      praying and rocking
      her hands folded before her
      until she stood up
      to adjust her skirt

      and I saw the phone
      in her hands

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      You become aware of light
      as it spills across the mountains,
      pours slowly like white wine
      into oak leaves, ignites
      pine needles with green radiance.

      On this early September day
      the angle of light differs
      from yesterday's morning light,
      a little softer, yet
      with promise of warmth.

      You can't wait to see
      how it will emerge tomorrow,
      next month's October mellow light,
      the flat light of late December,
      exquisite in its own way.

      Subtle alterations in strength
      arrive from moment to moment,
      a luster you drink like water
      from a crystalline spring.

      You pay attention,
      notice a brighter sheen,
      realize the sun has risen
      past the hills in the east,
      beams further westward,
      more replete into the ravines,
      and along the valley floor.

      Awake now, you are
      lambent with offerings of incandescence
      daylight's largesse.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section D: .................................................................. October 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    [Gerry Wasserman]

      WASSERMAN 1920-2011

      beside the silver sea
      ocean waves

      dark green
      to white foam

      duel upon the sand

      image flickers
      on the horizion

      looking for
      but not seeing

      staring at the color
      bouncing off the canvas
      linen stretched
      the mirror of a soul

      forms will blend
      the nascent vision

      slips into
      and begins to rise up

      to take the brush
      and make the statement
      yet to see

      looking in every corner
      at every tree

      the religion of image
      taught to be


    Stephen Brown

    Monterey, CA

      MY SONG

      A song runs along inside me.
      It seems a melody always called to me.
      As a tiny infant kicking and crying,
      music pulled me from the nether world into form.

      Music has been there through all the stages of my life
      in joy, tears, laughter and song.
      I remember almost every song I learned as a child
      from my mother and the Hit Parade on the radio.

      Today I listened inwardly to one song that I wrote
      years ago when new love stirred within me.
      Soon another melody held me captive
      in a warm embrace.

      Music flows beneath my thoughts
      and all the quiet chores that need doing.
      Melodies measure my steps as I prepare meals,
      wash and dry dishes, pull weeds in the garden.

      My soul is on a quest to explore life's possibilities
      and all the while music accompanies me.
      Who is orchestrating all of this inaudible sound?
      Music is my heart's voice.

    Shirley Tofte

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    Section C: .................................................................. September 15, 2011

    Piedmont, CA


      He is 38 or 40
      In tight-fiting jeans
      White t-shirt
      Marine Corps cap on his head,
                  A source of pride.

      He is on the mound
      Intense brow
      Prominent cheekbones
      Strong chin, faint smile,
                  A glint in the eye.

      He is all arms— muscular, sinewy, strong
      He winds up
      Arm back, leg up
      Then steps and hurls the small baseball;
                  It streaks toward the plate.
      His top student— determined to hit
      Stands with bat back— then swings
      "Strike one!"
      Kids cheer;
                  I smile.
      He has drawn a crowd
      Kids from other classes find excuses to come out and watch
      The ball, tiny in his hand, is drown back
      Thrown, the arm muscles ripple;
                  "Strike two!"

      His student grimaces;
      The PE teacher— eyes dancing!

    "I will tell you why I ended the poem after the second strike. In the baseball incident, after the second strike, he blew the whistle for the end of the period to go change clothes. I don't remember him ever losing a challenge he made, but I never remember an incident when he actually won one either. Consequently, He had a remarkable relationship with his students."

    Pam Quesnoy

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      September 11, 2002
      while swimming in the slime
      of commercial exploitation
      of a horrific event
      I crossed the street
      in silent prayer
      when a fire truck
      pulled up to the stop sign
      and waited for me to cross.

      My heart cried
      in reverent remembrance.



      The town was split
      each taking their side
      against the others
      once committed to one
      against the other
      they played the role
      as blood pressure rose
      teeth clenched so hard
      they did not hear
      the approaching wave
      crashing upon them


      Beside the River Styx
      waiting for Charon's boat
      to cross back
      to our side
      a thunder clap
      sounded behind me
      pounding trough my heart
      I turned in fear
      from the mist
      there came ghostly shadows
      of soldiers
      killed in war
      there wounds apparent
      but standing tall
      they advanced toward me
      silent shuffling
      muted marching
      their dark eyes
      piercing accusing
      they took their place
      beside the River Styx
      waiting for Charon's boat


      They carried no crutch
      but helped each other
      those broken bodies
      moving on and on
      there was no passion
      for those who sent them
      no hiding place
      from the ancient truth
      these broken bodies
      wreathed in courage
      were sent to this
      the darkest place
      by graft and greed
      money driven
      marched to die
      They carried no crutch
      but helped each other


      By the hundreds
      by the thousands
      coming from eternal fog
      nothing more than
      digit ciphers
      totaled up
      to fill
      the bottomless
      no God was left then
      to put asunder
      no one left to fill the void
      By the hundreds
      by the thousands


      Darkened clouds
      began to thunder
      lightning flashed
      across the sky
      booming sound
      fill up the heaven
      yellow dark and
      purple light
      take hold
      the night
      all that's left
      began to vanish
      sailing off to caress the night
      waiting forever
      beside the river Styx
      Darkened clouds
      began to thunder


      Waiting there
      beside the ocean
      waiting there
      beside the sky
      holding breath
      for scented moments
      closing eyes
      against the night
      terror came then
      in the void
      waiting there
      beside the ocean
      waiting there
      beside the sky.

    Stephen Brown

    Marina, CA


      I am from books,
      from pages swirling at the center and edges of my life.

      I am from backyard fruit trees,
      from walls that strain to contain joy,
      from shelter, from sanctuary and hope.

      I am from pine trees and campfires,
      from leaves playing with rivers,
      from a bedraggled flower clutched in a little boy's hand.

      I am from Christmas lights and Thanksgiving dinners,
      from laughter,
      from a child's hug and a husband's refuge.

      I am from Wizard games and flashing screens,
      from shifting schedules,
      from disparate lives flowing seamlessly into one.

      I am from farm stories,
      from ancients fishing in crystal waters,
      from sailing ships full of perfumes and spices and continental tales.

      I am from god questions and faith in the power of thinking.
      I am from possibilities for the answers to all things.

      I am from tropical island soil,
      from violent hurricanes,
      from repression marching in the streets.

      I am from chocolate, and cheese, and birthday muffins.

      From a child's early birth,
      from a man with blue eyes and kind heart,
      from families old and new and families yet to be.

      I am from scrapbooks and memories,
      from fragments of stories,
      from tumbling bits of half-forgotten lore.

      I am from the luck that gives me this life.

      And, most crucially of all, I am from the love that rules it.

    Olga Chandler

    Carmel Valley, CA


      My body falls away from my spirit.

      My mind becomes the detritus for my wall.

      My mouth is stranded on a desert of drifting words,
      and sitting on my shoulder is the leering face of nothing

      Dullness slithers in, wallowing in words of self-pity.

      But slipping in under the screen door
      when I'm not looking are phrases of ingenuity.

      When I look to see who's there, they are gone,
      but I can smell their lingering sweet odor,
      and I am seduced.

      As I sing my song
      the past becomes the ghost notes
      as I sing grace notes of hope for the future.

    Susan Sutherland

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    Section B: .................................................................. August 15, 2011

    Carmel, CA

    "This is one of my poems...It is one I composed while working apart from my wife while in Puerto Vallarta — a way to tend to keep our love for each other alive."


      Unhurried, pinkish orange in descent
      This faithful daily companion
      Moves to set
      Becoming soft purple radiance—
      Reminding me of you.

      And then
      It gently touches silvery clouds
      The mane
      Of a woman's silhouette
      Extending inland to the east.

      I intend your presence
      Invoke your spirit
      Envision you—
      This sensual being
      Gracing the skyline.

      Magnificent orb
      Brightening as it touches your silky hair
      A gem
      Adorning you
      Filling me with awe.

      This glow
      Illuminates a path over the water
      Directly to my heart
      As waves ripple through the constant beam
      Connecting me to you.

      Ah—my passion, my love—
      So warm, so full
      So precious!

    Norm Nelson

    Berkeley, CA



      Home at noon, tiny iridescence, a shimmering, half-turned
      body, long spike of a beak—I nearly missed him, this bird
      on our path, hummingbird, resting—can it be? Almost always

      they're unseen, a flicker or a flash of color, heart-beating
      breast, undulating in midair, hovering above us, beat of wings
      aligned with breath, muscle flexes under feather and bone,

      invisible harmonies of design, nature, but the bird is wounded
      unsteady, and perching on the path to the river house. I go
      indoors, put down my notebook, and return, still he's there, body

      two inches long, pristine and infinite, territory of color upon color,
      a royal robe, world map in miniature, olive flecked, sheen and gloss,
      of green, the brown wings with charcoal grey, edged in reddish brown.

      Sensing me, and startled, head and body twist away, his breast, white,
      dark and olive, wine-red the center tufts, flanks awash in red and pink,
      Why now, here, Truckee River and time, blue sky afternoon rushing by?

      At dinner, David thinks the bird may be a Stellula calliope. A juvenile.
      "He may been injured, skirmishing with other males, their beaks long
      and sharp, they clash, dancing those pendulum like, U-shaped dives."

      Always in flight, after nectar, the birds named for Calliope, lyric muse
      and mother of Orpheus, who with his lyre charmed rocks, and the wild
      oaks on the Thracian shore—how will this one, earth-stranded, survive?

      Someone told me there's no such thing as coincidence, now at my door,
      not the muse, but messenger of one who called me poet, who in dream
      took my arm, guided me through rooms filled with histories and books.

      In the dying light, his chest labors, heaves, as his energy ebbs and flows,
      what may be done for him? Can he survive the cooling night? I leave
      not to interfere, to go inside, and let night and work honor the muse.

    Larry Ruth

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      The bear with
      many faces

      Stands before us

      Trying to tell us
      all we need
      to know

      The spinning crystal
      has many facets

      Each reflecting a
      different color
      flash of light

      Some can see it
      some will not

      They stand on a
      different point
      of land

    Stephen Brown

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    Section A: .................................................................. July 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      The bear with
      many faces

      Stands before us

      Trying to tell us
      all we need
      to know

      The spinning crystal
      has many facets

      Each reflecting a
      different color
      flash of light

      Some can see it
      some will not

      They stand on a
      different point
      of land

    Stephen Brown


      MAY 21, 2011 AT TOR HOUSE

      Translucent bunnies remember womb's warmth
      I slipped out of mother months before my time.

      My strong voice knew my small body wanted to live.
      Exactly at crow's call, a wet nurse ran across the fields.

      I believe I was meant to survive over and over again
      during my life.


      After painting dark clouds, acrylics ask for more
      A bright yellow circle arrives
      Asks me to place it well
      Won't tell me if it is the moon or the sun.

    Illia Thompson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      December rains have painted
      the rolling hills green velvet.
      Groves of eucalyptus edge the highway,
      reveal previews of plowed fields.
      Coffee-colored soil contrasts
      with gray roads and emerald slopes.

      I play John Denver songs,
      sing at the top of my lungs,
      set the convertible on cruise control.
      Near San Ardo iron elbows pump oil.

      Leaving the freeway
      I pass expansive realms
      of winter bare vineyards.
      At the apex of Highway 46
      I exalt the wide view of ocean,
      glance left to the crown
      of the harbor at Morro Bay,
      right towards my destination,
      raise my fist
      in celebration of escapes.

    Laura Bayless

    Piedmont, CA


      Driving past the District Office,
      hearing his whisper, "I love you"
      after Sport's Night In February 1975 ...

      Curled in his recliner, while watching
      Jason Lee sing his favorite Elvis songs
      on "Memphis Beat"...

      Racing down 800, while Ricky
      Martin belts out his favorite song
      "La Vida Loca" ...

      Sitting at a table In Benihanas, his favorite
      restaurant, surrounded by babble and sizzling
      hibachi cookIng ...

      Finishing my morning walk in front of Artuna
      Avenue, looking up at his silent deck chair
      no longer rocking ...

      "Mom, are you crying?"
      I feel the tears slide down my cheeks.

    Pam Quesnoy

    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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