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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #34

  • Section A: January 15, 2012
  • Section B: February 15, 2012
  • Section C: March 15, 2012
  • Section D: April 15, 2012
  • Section E: May 15, 2012
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2012

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      when we climbed
      on top of the sky
      we saw beyond
      the universe

      the edge of the wheel
      moving slowly
      on its round
      in purple void
      of far away stars and suns

      a gentle rumble
      through its core
      as if it were rolling
      on a stone road
      through all time

      but it cycles here
      around the center
      to mark the edge
      in moving ways

      sail on the cosmic motion
      fly the universe
      through and through

      planets and life forms
      come and go
      spin the wheel
      ever more

    Stephen Brown

    Pacific Grove, CA

      (For Mark on His Birthday)

      I know the crowtalk in my 'hood
      'Cuz I listen
      To their crackers and sass
      And their "Who are you's?"
      And "Pass the peanut butter pretzels, please!"

      I listen.
      And I know they only say "Please!"
      'Cuz I speak Raven every day
      To bamboozle them.

      I know how to intone a perfect throaty call
      Of the bigger, smarter black bird
      Who, some say, created the World
      And stole the Sun.

      Then, I hear those crows talk funny
      In a language I do not know
      With pops and cracks
      Like a bonfire gone bird
      And I have no bamboozling idea
      What they say or what they mean.

      But I see they peck the peanut butter
      Clean out of my pretzels.

    Barbara Rose Shuler

    Carmel Valley, CA


      All day the damp blue towel
      danced against the deck rails,
      swayed by an east-flowing wind
      that sails up the valley.

      It witnessed a trembling cluster of alyssum,
      glossy crow tilting atop the pine,
      yellow bobcat as it stopped briefly to sip
      from the water bowl in a neighbor's garden.

      All I did is what I always do on a Tuesday.
      At sundown I held the blue towel to my face,
      retrieved what it had known.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2012

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Out on the coastal headland
      Australian daisies spill down a ravine
      across from the narrow waterfall
      that pools on the beach below.

      Inland the river trail is closed,
      the sound of the stream
      a deceptive invitation to explore
      further into the redwood forest.

      Dim light bathes the trees
      in a pallid afterglow.
      Patches of skyblue forget-me-nots
      surface among sorrel and yellow violets.

      I long to share
      this enchanted realm,
      as one would
      with a child…
            see this tall red tree,
            this feather-like fern
            silver stone, white water

      as if it were the first time either of us set eyes on such wonders.

            Storm-battered river banks,
            fallen bare trunks,
            exposed layers of granite
            lilies like white chalices—

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel Valley, CA


      There is something delicious
      in enhancing a garden
      gathering cuttings and plants
      randomly placing growth
      to further future growth
      trusting the tapestry
      to weave itself into beauty.

      Nature's shades more varied
      than dressmakers' samples.
      No clash of colors
      as red and pink and magenta petals
      proclaim their presence
      during spring surge.

      Proud yellows thrive
      among gracious greens
      purples await presentation.
      All brighter than Crayolas
      in a newly opened box.

      I imagine Beauty smiles
      upon being blessed
      breathes in amorphous affection
      exhales rays of gratitude
      to spark the surrounding air.

    Illia Thompson

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 2012

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      I want my poetry
      to not be about
      the cancer that is
      eating me up

      from the crotch
      to my brain

      I would suppose
      I don't really know

      it is just the word
      that takes over
      and begins to gnaw
      around the edges
      of my sanity

      but it is very hard

      really more than I want
      to think of its presence
      inside of me daily

      from when I awake

      to when I pop back
      into fitful sleep

      who wants to hear
      the pathetic death rattle
      and ruminations
      that accompany
      the march

      life is not about
      its end
      but more about
      what has come in
      in what form
      what feeling
      what strident reality

      off in the
      far past distance
      the sun rises once again
      to start the new day
      all things happen
      all things live

      why focus
      on only the end

      but think
      of the beginning
      from whence we came

      screaming and lubricated
      with the cake frosting
      of birth

      the squall was a good thing
      for most of the rest
      of life

      breathing in
      breathing out

      life time energy
      spread as sun light
      for the flowers to grow

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Garden shears in one hand
      flashlight in the other
      I walk toward small garden.

      Autumn holds chard
      beginning kale and vibrant mint.

      Yellow and red tomatoes were
      swallowed by summer's lust.

      Crisp dried vines hang listless
      await their return to the earth.

      The moon signals approval
      as I collect sparse greenery.

      Gatherings mind not the slice of knife
      as I carve slivers to season broth.

      A simple supper for one
      salted with remembrance
      of when my table held many.

    Illia Thompson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      More often now I bear a likeness
      to late afternoon shade created
      by swaying tree branches that dance
      patterns of sunlight on the land.

      I go alone, that one shadow at the shore,
      a coastal ghost beside the vast bathysphere,
      a place of consolation and sadness.
      White wings of seabirds guide me.

      Like the motion of water over a rocky streambed,
      my vision becomes imprecise, distorted,
      eyes appearing as blue petals of periwinkle
      emerging from a furrowed field.

      I acquire contradictions and simplicities,
      as leaves almost ready to fall away in autumn
      reveal bare limbs of winter's respite,
      renewal which cannot occur without surrender.

      Like grains of sand flow back to fill
      whatever channel mined by the sea,
      I have been to solitary shores and found company,
      emerged from my broken shell more whole

      Some days I am waterfall and jungle,
      September light and rainbow arc,
      as if there really is a state of euphoria,
      a parallel resemblance to the planet.


      I wish strangers came with warnings,
      like a paper sign
      pinned to their back
      when they weren't looking,
      or listed in small print
      under a name tag at a conference.

      How about an invisible tattoo
      across a forehead
      that magically appears
      just in case
      a clue is necessary,
      like pathological liar
      for the lady-killer type
      who has just invited you to dinner

      or evangelical born again
      for the chap who hasn't yet mentioned
      his affiliation with a charismatic cult
      in eastern Oregon?

      It would be so helpful
      to be able to read the proverbial
      handwriting on their wall...

            boring Betty
            gloomy Gus
            starving artist
            right wing politician
            sports fanatic
            closet Satanist
            melancholy poet
            party pooper

      All of the above!

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel, CA


      the quest of the art is
      the movement of soul

      through these appearances

      to live what love is
      most deeply

      and nothing less will do


      and what comes to me is that
      of all

      immediately available
      to you and me


      is most full
      of our lying down

      our rising up

      our breathing in
      and rousing about

      this life's localities

    John Dodson

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2012

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      Through the glowing ice of time
      the purple river rises.

      Caressing in its gentle hands
      the bright spring flowers
      that show our love for one another.

      Stretching like a rainbow
      from the sphere of our iridescent joy,

      holding the life of our existence
      to show to the expanding day
      the bond that rushes from its soul.

      Spawning the rising of the golden sun
      for the yellow pink day
      of blossom trees
      of growing joy.

      Through the glowing ice of time


    Stephen Brown

    Piedmont, CA


      Outside my window— the park full of birds, chirping with the dawn
            some singing, some squawking, an occasional goose honking on its way to Lake Merritt

      I stretch and rise for the day
      Out the front door where the sun glows behind the redwoods on its way to light the day
      Down the flight of steps for the paper
      Waving at a neighbor walking his dog up through the park
      Taking a deep breath and pausing to look down Artuna Ave
            The park, with lawn sparkling from the dew
            The Hawthorne and Liquid Ambers, with emerald leaves glistening
            The myriad style of old homes: Tudor, prairie, craftsman, bungalow
      Back up the stairs, then gulping down my daily pills

      Finally relaxing in the recliner, always eager to read Jon Carroll's column
            Did he write about his cats, Poncho and Bucket, or is he on a tirade involving politics?
      Always checking the weather, not just in Piedmont,
      But on the other side of The Calclecott as well
            Could be 90 to our 75—always hotter and always colder!!!
      Now I know what to wear for the movie and lunch with friends from work

      Then as I stand in the shower with water sliding down my skin, my eyes fill with another liquid
                  Ten months and tears still spill
                  Ten months and memories still pour
                  Ten months and heart still hurts

    Pam Quesnoy

    Tucson, AZ

    "I just wrote this two part meditation this afternoon on a beautiful spring day here in Tucson while I was out in the 'Desert Gardens' with my journal."


      Can be a
      Man's best friend
      or a rabid dog
      (a police officer
      once told me
      most crimes are committed
      by someone who'd been drinking)

      The ancients knew:
      "In vino veritas"
      A drunk tells the truth
      —sometimes—almost never—
      but if you are astute
      you can see right through
      the inebriated
      into the very soul
      of a human being
      with troubles like your own
      and yes,
      — tears and laughter —
      and alcohol brings
      those to the surface

      in my case
      not the tears
      I was brought up
      to know that boys don't cry

      the few times I have cried
      in my adult life
      were a blessed few

      And laughter?
      Sort of a reserved amusement
      is more like it
      a Henry James type of thing

      The breeze blows through
      each creosote bush distinctly
      even though they are only
      inches or feet apart

      The day is heaven
      the Santa Catalinas smile
      into the Tucson Valley

      even the trucks on
      Interstate 10
      Remind me of Robert Heinlein's
      "The Roads Must Roll"

    Chris Lovette

    Carmel Valley, CA

      TIME OUT

      At the summit of Whaler's Knoll,
      I rest, survey a portion of coastline,
      a single egret, sleeping harbor seal,
      line of pelicans skimming
      the water in fluid formation.

      I feel the sun on my skin,
      an ache in my lower back,
      rumbling of hunger
      before I dig into my lunch,
      apple and cheese,
      ripe cherries and almonds.

      Now and again I need more time
      to watch breakers roll in,
      crest out beyond islands of stone,
      assimilate the rumble in my body,
      listen to the white foam sigh.

      I find I'm in no hurry
      to leave, to budge
      from my hilltop refuge,
      trek back down through the woods
      to the rugged north shore,
      return to whatever consequence
      I have left behind.

    Laura Bayless

    San Jose, CA


      A month ago the giant umbrella
      Of the Mimosa tree was tattered
      To shreds. The skeleton of black branches
      Inching slowly across the pavement
      Advancing to our door step.

      Today Gaia's axial tilt has stopped
      The sun is stuck on the horns of Capricorn
      The hands of the black branches
      Are stopped in their tracks
      On this shortest day of the year

      Now we hope now we pray
      Gaia may find her momentum
      Opens again her eye to the arctic night.
      The sun will rise up from the horns of Capricorn
      the black shadows will retreat from our door step.

      After a few more days of suspense
      We will know if the shadows grow shorter
      If the shortest day will become longer
      If the longest night will become shorter
      If there will be another spring.

    Franz Spickhoff

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 2012

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      My life has too many pockets
      like those pants or jackets
      where the phone rings
      and you do the pat down dance
      till you find it.

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel, CA


      A moment ago I saw something
      Almost everything in the world grows lowly
      The jade bushes in the back
      Stuck in the ground three years ago

      I could easily have tossed them into the recycled waste
      But why not just stick'em in the dirt?

      I looked at them just now
      I looked very closely
      They stand like small monuments
      Superbly carved
      Every detail itself a small monument

      They have grown beautiful and wise unnoticed
      Each day they have grown imperceptibly
      Impressing no one
      Going nowhere
      And not needing to

      In these three years
      I've grown as well
      But quickly
      As if to beat someone to something
      I've read books
      Changed Jobs
      Taken lessons
      Written letters of protest
      Traveled to other continents
      Plotted outcomes
      Lots and lots of outcomes

      In these three years
      For all that effort
      I'm having trouble seeing where it went
      And Jade bushes
      Just stuck in the dirt
      Grow strong
      Going nowhere
      Every detail
      Every curve
      A monument

    Wayne Martin

    Carmel Valley, CA

      WHAT I WISH TO SEE, 2012

      The whole flower
            not just the bloom
      that nods and smiles
      but the whole flower
      dependable stalk
      leaves and roots.

      The whole view
            not just a postcard
      with waves at rest mid-crash
      or silent birds aloft
      poised in perpetual flight
      eloquent in stillness.

      The whole earth
            not just the text
      and photos displayed
      gloriously graphics
      arranged and spliced
      in shades of Crayola colors.

      The whole person
            not just the body
      face and arms and legs
      but the entire person
      with dreams and aches
      and story under the skin.

      The whole love
            that wraps and warms
      without a touch of harshness
      soothing liquid so clear
      it travels easily and wide
      scented with perfume of caring.

    Illia Thompson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Brine-bleached logs and driftwood bundles
      festooned with webs of snarled kelp
      tossed ashore by winter storms
      converge in scrambled compositions.
      Gray stick forts built by beachcombers
      invite entrance, shelter.

      I commune with debris,
      equivalent lifework wreckage,
      stroll south in shifting sand,
      leave deep footprints.

      In shadowed alcoves
      multi-colored pebbles find refuge
      under sandstone bluffs
      draped in dense robes
      of sea fig and coreopsis.

      I collect stones carefully—
      brown, red, black-speckled,
      polished and pitted,
      one the jade green color
      of breakers just before
      they dissolve into crests of foam—
      consider what I might leave behind
      in the ebb and flow
      along the arc of a coastal curve.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2012

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      Rain will fill the garden
      upon the grass
      the voice is singing
      passing sound
      Autumn here

      Drink the ending
      fill the grass
      voices are singing
      land is turning
      Autumn here

      The earth is giving
      to be receiving
      fallen rain
      a voice is singing
      Autumn here

      Earth receiving
      male singing
      rain is given
      voice the sun
      Autumn here

      The earth is giving
      to be receiving
      fallen rain
      the voice is singing
      Autumn here

      Tears have fallen
      upon the garden
      I hear her voice now
      the cricket singing
      Autumn here

      Earth shall given
      land of sun
      time is passing
      now it’s gone
      Autumn here

      (Standing on the deck at Tassajara in the Santa Lucia mountains)

      Funeral for a Blue Jay
      Time lashed and rock bound

      You luscious green velvet fish spell bound below the kitchen deck
                Zen like in dappled grace
                But stone bound still
      straw yellow grass

      Green Water
                The raucous blue sky moves the bell
                Redwood stained
       the poppy grows

      Cloistered motion towards the sun
                that sun

      Hand clasped walls
                of growing stone

      Yellow bells
                Blue jay song

    Stephen Brown

    Big Creek, CA


      After all the winding pain of getting here, I’m down by the water
      Which is bouncing along toward the sea.
      I find a fallen redwood to perch upon. I have time.
      But it is not time on my hands, as so many say. It is time all around me.
      Everywhere I look I see time. And I think
      It is like the creek below, which is bouncing along.
      Yes time, I think, is bouncing along, a bumpy ride to the future,
      But that may not be entirely true.

      Here where I sit near the water.
      Here where I sit, yes, time is all around me.
      But it is not exactly like the water on its way downstream.
      Rather it is it is pushing its way into the future , and I feel it.
      And it is gurgling its way into the past, and I can feel that, too.
      Like the creek below it bounces along….but it is, wait, bidirectional.
      A word like that barely makes it into a real.
      A poem may have to be a little drunk to let a word like that in.
      There is time all around me, the stream of it flowing both ways . Each way.
      Back and ahead. Ahead and back.
      The fallen redwood I sit on begins to tell me of its former life,
      Tall, erect, a home for its family of crawling and nest denizens.
      It takes me into its spirit, though it barely knows me.
      “You should have seen me,” the tree says, then corrects itself.
      “You should have been here.”
      “I wish I had been” I respond aloud. “Will you let me be there now?” (Pause)
      There is a silence, and it speaks again
      “And now,” the tree continues, “And now as time moves ahead,
                 Let us too move ahead.
                 Now you cannot sit on me. You would not even see me.”
      Time has lengthened its stride forward, and this gracious forest bench explains
      That it is no longer a perch for the curious.
      Instead in the very soil beneath us it provides a feast for a whole new family,
      Serving daily, hourly meals to a grateful linear neighborhood
      Thriving on its delicious bounty.
      The very soil in which it now rests
      Sighs with satisfaction: “Ahhhh.”

      I wonder
      Can it be true elsewhere
      Beyond this sylvan temple
      That the thing we call time
      Moves in both directions
      And has a soft voice
      That tells its srories
      Behind and ahead?

      Creeks may flow downstream
      As they bounce and laugh their way
      Over the round stones to the sea.
      But time? No.
      Time flows, laughs,
      Bounces, weeps both ways.
      I feel my grandfather here
      Though he died eleven years before I was born.
      And he speaks—
      “Thank you for all you have done for me.”
      “What exactly have I done?”
      “Well, you’ve done what I couldn’t do.
                 Thank you.”
      “And what exactly was that?” my response..
      “You loved your father.
                 I could not do that.”
      “What difference does that make now?
                 You’re dead.”
      “Not exactly, grandson.”
      “Do you know the words spoken by Moses
                 Right after the Shema?”
      “Remind me.” And he does.
      “The sins of the fathers shall be visited
                 Upon the third and fourth generations.”
      “I know the passage. What about it?”
      He thought. He really thought.
      “The reverse is also true.”
      “I really don’t know what you mean. (Pause)
      “I mean this. While the sins of the fathers
      Are visited upon the third and fourth generations,
                 It happens that the love and forgiveness and care
                 Are revisited upon the fathers.
                 Yours has reached me. I wanted to thank you.”

      There I sat,
      On the tree which had just offered me wisdom,
      While time had brushed by me
      On its way ahead and
      On its way back.
      Did it teach me, this tree? This creek?

      Could it be that pardon, amnesty, redemption
      Are gifts that travel like time
      In both directions,
      And that in living pardon,
      In living forgiveness, mercy, courage, grace, love,
      We live them into the light before us,
      And we live them as well into the darkness behind us,
      So that who and what may have been on the hook,
      May be taken off the hook,
      Is no longer on the hook.
      And in that great sweet day that waits,
      There are no hooks.
      That is, if time can flow both ways,
      As it indeed does in this sacred place
      On a redwood log by a creek in the forest.

    Wayne Martin

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Just off Elkhorn Road the trail turns
      west on a weed-choked track
      toward five fingers of a wetlands marsh.

      Meadow barley, salt grass, and wild radish
      merge with dense woodlands
      along shallow mudflats.

      Tiny suncups edge an overgrown path
      down to a gray weathered dock,
      its bleached legs anchored in rusty pickleweed.

      A painted lady, wings motionless,
      feeds on a hillside pasture
      buttered with blooming field mustard.

      At the promontory of Parson's Slough
      three gulls notch the sky, glide and dive
      over receding estuary channels.

      Itinerant flocks of shorebirds
      dine on burrowing invertebrates
      on the ebbing tide.

      In the distance a breeze carries
      the desolate wail, clang, and rumble
      of a passing freight train.

      Your mind drops a stitch,
      loves the lonely whistle of the kestrel,
      the bristly beauty of the cobweb thistle.

    Laura Bayless

    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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