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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #38

  • Section A: January 15, 2014
  • Section B: February 15, 2014
  • Section C: March 15, 2014
  • Section D: April 15, 2014
  • Section E: May15, 2014
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2014

    Fair Oaks, CA


      The moat circles,
      like a rabid dog,
      marking territory
      with his cold depth,
      daring each visitor
      to cross the line,
      just to be devoured.

      Sunlight glistens
      on each wind-capped wave,
      a shoreline dancing
      to the mystical songs of seagulls.

      In the shallows,
      the snow white stone
      whispers of places
      hidden from its heart,
      longing to leap
      from its riverbed grave.

      Under the egret's
      watchful eye,
      a marsh snake
      freezes in place,
      wishing he could
      turn into stone.

      From eagle's height,
      the ice blue lake
      calls for rest,
      and sings him home.

      I sit on the ridge, dirt and broken leaves at my feet, my grateful legs stretched and relaxed after an afternoon of hiking. Behind me, I hear the gleeful snuffle and snort of my canine companion as she pursues endless sensuous smells among the gently waving grasses. She doesn't need to rest, but I do, and I am happy to stop.

      Below me the fat lazy river sings over a city of stones. Dying salmon flip and flop in the shallows like children playing at the beach. The air is heavy with smells that rise and fall as the breeze changes direction: deep mossy green, lighthearted florals and that unmistakable scent of water.

      I breathe it in, fill my lungs and let the sigh escape my lips with enough sound to stop my dog in her tracks. She comes to my side, tongue black from rooting in the soil, and slurps a wet, reassuring kiss along my sweaty arm. It's ok, her brown eyes say: we can rest here.

      Dancing sparkles seem to fill a narrow band on the moving river. The sun has positioned herself just so—an actress calling for attention on the watery stage by flinging gems of light all around. The glitter of it makes me catch my breath—who is this beckoning dancer whose movements tangle in my heart?

      The touch of such sparkles cracks me open and I flow soundlessly into a new realm. God is here, the flickering lights gently shout. God is here.

    Carol Mathew-Rogers

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      Pausing at the Solstice

      waiting to greet the sun
      the seventy second time

      on this day I find
      that it was Helios
      not Apollo
      who drives the chariot sun
      across the heavens

      the mist of time
      had swirled the stories
      together into

      like rivers flowing into
      each other

      the gods flow
      along the shore

      splitting apart
      coming together

      cleansing the ego
      away from the scene

      this play
      on this stage
      has gone on
      since life began
      the actors never change

      it is just their name. . .

    Stephen Brown

    Salinas, CA


      The law of the sacred is not found in a library

      It is written in the wind,
      Etched in the vein of a leaf,
      Whistled in a cool brook, and
      Relayed by the not so common crow.

      The law of the sacred is delivered in Sunshine,
      But understood in Moonlight.

      It is the law which cannot be enforced, using force or punishment.

      It's only interpreted in a spiral dance of color and words.

      The law is bound in love—A love which is released in the dance of creation.

    Laura Carley

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Morning's fire lights up earth
      with a burst of dawn.

      Air paints its moment
      across the hills.

      I break my fast with
      a red-fleshed grapefruit,

      lay pen to blue lines,
      sip a sea breeze even miles inland,

      as if the ocean scent travels
      on the downdraft

      and blurred edges
      of a butterfly's wings.

      Daybreak carries a spark
      leftover from evening's
      firefly dusk.

    Laura Bayless

    Marina, CA

      I AM FROM

      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

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2014

    Fair Oaks, CA

      (a poem for Richard)

      His heart
      is bigger than
      any azure blue sky
      by doubts
      or worry
      or pain.

      In quiet moments
      between busy days
      he drops it into
      my aching
      without hesitation
      without fear.

      Strong warm arms
      hold me close
      I taste
      his love
      on my lips.

    Carol Mathew-Rogers

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    On the 10th of May I attended the Memorial Service for a long time friend that had become one of the people who mentor me on living. As always, in the face of what I don't under stand I (write) poetry.


      When I knew
      I went into the kitchen

      To sit in my chair
      One of the legs was missing

      I hope I catch myself

      Before I fall...

      4/25/2014 5:04 AM

      We came to wait
      beside the bed

      in the rush of what could be
      or should have been

      the path was fogged
      in the collision of yesterday
      and tomorrow
      that we call the now

      Oh Great spirit
      we give to you
      a mentor
      that showed the path
      that leads to

      his dogs
      are there
      to guard the way

      lead him on
      toward the sun...

      In the Navaho way

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Along Soberanes Point
      sword ferns have dried
      to brittle brown lace.
      Two oceanside crumbling
      gray stumps reverberate.
      Particles of decay
      collapse into powder.

      Innocence erodes
      under the weight
      of two fallen towers.
      Dust confiscates
      new meaning.

      Above chiseled sea cliff
      and seismic-slanted granite
      coyote brush yields
      patient new sprigs
      among fall's auburn ebb,
      unfurls its runty white
      blooms into tufts
      of untidy lint,

      Still the humble
      and imperfect flourish.

    Laura Bayless

    Monterey, CA


      I don't want to write
      About the many ways
      I fail to measure up to
      All my standards and ideals,
      To admit that sometimes
      I lie, I hide my faults
      Like stubbornness,
      A certain kind of laziness,
      Complacency, defensiveness
      And self-delusion.
      I wallow in self-pity,
      Waste my opportunities,
      And have a huge appetite
      For chocolate, chips
      And ice cream
      Which I sneak when
      No one else is looking.
      I want to blame someone else
      When something goes wrong.
      I'm insecure and nervous on the phone.
      I sometimes wish
      I could lounge, read books,
      Eat Godiva chocolates,
      And travel to Europe on a whim.
      I wish I were extremely rich,
      So I could have anything I want
      And never need to wonder
      Where the money was coming from.
      Yet I understand the real truth.
      I am a spiritual being who never really left
      The loving arms of my Creator.
      I created all my flaws for a time.
      I am sometimes my best friend,
      And sometimes my harshest foe.
      I want to live to a ripe old age,
      Smooth off all the rough edges,
      Accept myself just as I am,
      Then I'll know
      Heaven will be the perfect place for me.

    Shirley Tofte

    Salinas, CA


      The winds of Spring carry the goldfinch song, BR> Across the canyon onto the grassy knoll.
      A titmouse struts in sync and tweets along,
      While blue tailed skinks go lunging toward a hole.

      The winds of Spring that stir wildflower dust,
      Disturb me in a deeply, restless way.
      I search for serene beauty that I trust
      To calm the agitation of the day.

      The winds of Spring die down before the dusk
      A quiet sets upon the grassy hill.
      A spotted towhee scratches at a husk.
      Beyond this sound, the neighborhood lies still.

      How can a breeze which sings the songs of Spring
      Blow counter to the peace Spring's beauty brings?

    Laura Carley

    Marina, CA


      Dark side, wild side trapped deep
      underneath layers of perfectly polite living,
      behind civilized veneers made of fragile silk
      and the "Pleases" and "thank yous" of
      empty communion.

      But like any caged thing
      the urge for freedom runs bone deep,
      felt only as vague stirrings
      behind the carefully sculptured masks facing
      placid vanilla lives.

      And soon, In the shadow of moments,
      comes the need to shatter the fetters and boundaries
      that hold wild things snared and hidden
      and release them into life fully lived,
      into words wholly made of true liberty and light
      not fleeing so as to crush or harm,
      but to escape into mouths and pens
      trembling with the exultation of release
      into the free air, and, finally, to come alive in me.

    Olga Chandler

    Tucson, AZ


      There is a pack of wild javelinas
      Who live in the desert
                    less than a mile from my house

      There is never any water in the desert
      Except when the summer monsoon
                    or the scarce winter rains come

      Where the birds, bunnies, jackrabbits
                    coyotes and javelinas
      Get their water the rest of the year
      Is a mystery


      One warm May night
      As I was very quietly walking through
                    a stand of mesquite trees
      I spied a band of javelinas
                    in the moonlit clearing ahead
      And at least part of my mystery was solved

      The fat ugly things were drinking beer

      I walked home and went to sleep
      Only to dream I was at the javelina's party
      Surrounded by them
      Eating my intestines
      And drinking the blood
      From my still beating heart

    Chris Lovette

    Carmel, CA


      Oh Martha Stewart
      can decorate
      and make a place all homey
      but I just lounge
      on chairs I scrounge
      and feast on Abalone.

      Oh some do stare
      at her hair
      and the seven veils of Salome.
      She just holds
      out her plate
      "Please more abalone."

      Oh some folks ride
      expensive mounts,
      dappled lovely ponies.
      But I just pedal
      down the road
      munching abalone

      Groovy gals
      and bar room pals
      love to feel all stoney.
      But I just grin
      and smoke my pile
      of first class abalone.

      Some fancy folks
      set up their rides
      six speakers and a Sony.
      But I just like
      to improvise
      odes to abalone.

      Oh, some do plant
      and water and weed
      a plot of soil all loamy.
      But I just gaze
      out into space
      dreaming of abalone.

      oh some folks laugh
      at those who take
      the subway out to Coney.
      got a problem with that?
      you dirty rat,
      ahh, baloney.

      Society, propriety
      is fine for those born tony.
      I'm plain and simple
      with a dimple
      full of abalone.

    Helene Constant

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 2014

    Fair Oaks, CA



      It burns inside
      fed by feelings
      too large to hold
      born from rage
      and pain
      and grief
      yellow smolder
      creeping angry
      red tinged
      with black
      touching innocent
      whose liquid walls
      cannot quench its thirst.

      consume and conquer
      peaceful places
      into sulfur lakes


      What does it feel like
      to swallow a sword of fire?

      Do the tight
      moist muscles of
      the throat
      gasp in pained surprise
      as the flaming
      metal slides inside?

      Do the crackling
      red and orange
      tongues of fire
      casually lick
      the thick padded
      tongue of flesh,
      their searing overcome
      by nervous spit?

      Or does the
      burn take hold,
      flow as lightning lava
      down to thumping core
      igniting heart cells
      that long to die?
      Dare I try?


      He lit the fire with matchbox strike.
      She lit the fire with smoldering kiss.
      They burned their fire entwined together.

    Carol Mathew-Rogers

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      life's succulent versa
      across the morning shine

      the poet stood
             battled and battling
      curses of age
      staunch and solid
      given to pain

      fluxed gathering
      memory moments
      polishing them
      with remembering

      the patina of recall
      to sort them into place
      warm heart shaped

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Olivia left this realm
      as day broke over the Monterey Peninsula.
      As easily as chickadees awaken
      to a jaunty search for sustenance
      without the distraction of blue jay chatter
      Olivia's spirit found freedom in the beyond.

      This thread of life
      connected to death
      severed supremely.
      Seams needing mending
      carefully crafted into completion.
      Not one stitch out of place
      in the texture of her being.
      The gift of time sewn into her passage.

      My untrained had painted "heaven"
      before our last conversation.
      Olivia smiled and spoke approval
      of the gentle destination,
      held my hand more fully
      as she announced agreement.

      Four decades of friendship,
      waves that met in unison
      when time and place allowed.

      Invisible threads still weave connection.
      For that, gratitude prevails.

    Illia Thompson

    Monterey, CA


      A few moments are all I have
      For contemplation before we go
      Out into the world of people and artful
      Superficial conversations.
      Here on my couch,
      Music accompanies my musings.
      There is no yesterday, no tomorrow,
      Only now with its heartbeat,
      Its in breath and out breath . . .
      My pen resists my writing.

      Life can be a game or a struggle,
      Maybe both. I love it anyway.
      Angels whisper in my ear,
      "It's alright.
      Everyone gets there eventually.
      ItŐs all so neat and tidy,
      So don't fret."
      Okay, I will go along
      Swim in the river of life.
      Merrily, merrily I will row.

      WHAT IS AGING? I am approaching birthday number 74,
      And I feel young, energetic, vital, and strong.
      When I saw my grandparents at this age,
      I thought them very old.
      Now that I am here, I see that "old"
      Is an opinion, a concept, not a fact.

      My face and hair are altered.
      Lines on my skin mark the passage of time,
      My white hair announces that
      I am a senior to all who see me, yet
      To me these things mask the youthful girl inside.

    Shirley Tofte

    Carmel, CA


      sanctuary bells
      altar bells

      ship's bells

      locomotive bells
      from Chicago

      to New York

      I hear them all
      all that are

      all that ever were

      all that ever will be
      they ring like stars


      burning each for a billion

      or sixty billion

      as I hear

      the dear

      little morning finch
      at my window


    John Dotson

    Carmel, CA


      A samurai in the kitchenette,
      I swing my long sharp blade.
      at the sweet potato.

      I heard its cries
      as it was pulled out
      of its black bed.

      as its tendrils lost
      their grip
      on life.

      When I peel away
      the rind of my passions
      I see
      the fruit of my soul.

    Helene Constant

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2014

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    Topical to us in California


      on the vent
      of the stove
      in our kitchen
      dot dot
      clicks of rain
      pause the dry spell
      that scared us all

      water from our sky
      so precious

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel, CA


      the situation is

      how am i choosing
      to make things happen?

      and to let things happen?

      accepting my actual

      is taking a stand


      times i can feel i am crazy, but i know i am not insane
      indeed, i accept the responsibility of being miraculously sane
      and awake wherever awake may be leading

      i can feel overwhelmed to the threshold of despair
      but i feel this supersaturation is actual aliveness
      and despair is not my destiny for which i am grateful

      is more of a lifelong intimate relationship
      but never as exciting as beheld and celebrated
      as this morning i am blessed to wake up and look around

      much of my self-doubt is only the debris of chronic and residual inflation
      while my genuine commitment is to our common Humanity
      midst the injustices and atrocities we do bring to life and all living

      as we are heartbeat by heartbeat becoming what we know not
      and i find myself shockingly still to be
      very much involved

    John Dotson

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 2014

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      (An epically tiny poem tossed into the universe from this rock flying at the face of time)

      here we are
      in a boat
      on the ocean

      tossed and thrown
      beyond into
      over and under

      the sound
      of thunder
      just unheard

      waiting for
      the stream
      to pass

      toward the sea

    "Pete Seeger is dead, long live Pete Seeger."
    The voice of song for my generation about community justice and what is right.


      the poet song bird
      singing our history
      for all to remember

      to clear the mystery
      for each generation
      legends pass

    Stephen Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      I take a seat in a temporary storefront
      wine bar in downtown San Luis Obispo.
      Sunlight diffuses through black mesh
      window shades onto silver tables.
      Matte-brown walls display paintings,
      only color in an otherwise dismal venue.
      Two women chitchat at full volume
      while an aging bleached-blonde drinks
      white wine from a wide bowl glass,
      then forgets her purse when she departs.

      A couple with numerous instruments
      in battered cases is told to wait
      their turn in a narrow backroom closet.
      Two young potential performers linger
      on stools at the wine bar counter.

      A mediocre musician has gathered
      singer/ songwriters to showcase
      a range of innovative talent.
      Organizer of the afternoon event,
      Steve occupies the corner stage,
      guitar perched under his double chin,
      belly covered in a close-fitting
      rust-colored shirt over customary black jeans.
      Amid a plethora of sound system gear
      and serpentine cables, he croons
      about a cliche bird in the hand,
      strums only two chords throughout

      A city bus passing on the street
      blows exhaust in the front door,
      final comment on this miserable affair,
      along with the closing next week
      sign on the back wall.


      At a sparsely populated
      Chinese fast food café
      in the shopping mall
      I sit in a plastic booth,
      feast on my two-item,
      plus fried rice, entrée.

      One man, nearly bald,
      with comb-over fringe
      and thick glasses,
      sports three versions
      of plaid—shirt, pj pants,
      and a red plaid blanket
      pinned with a gold circlet
      over his shoulders,
      dines single, like me.

      Across the room, a lady
      wearing a gray felt toque
      trimmed with crystal beads
      in a filigree design & a large
      silver bow in the back,
      makes a distinct impression
      in a crocheted black poncho.
      She's accompanied by
      a diminutive woman
      attired in a pink tasseled headscarf
      and long black sweater.

      I compliment gray hat woman
      on her panache, have a brief chat,
      consider again how
      eating alone in strange places
      has entertainment value.

    Laura Bayless

    Piedmont, CA


      White sands are gray at water's edge.
      The young lady, barefoot
      Strolls along, thinking.
      She spins, kicking up the sea,
      splashing, dancing along.
      Her blouse billows out behind.
      She glances out across the steely
      waters, letting sandals dangle from one hand.

      Her aunt stands on the shore with silk scarf
      floating in the breeze, tapping
      on her phone, staying in touch with
      She smiles up at me as I begin to
      trudge back up to the foot of
      Ocean Avenue.

      I pass sunbathers, chilled under the
      gray, August clouds.
      The niece scurries up the hill as I trudge.
      The aunt, as I,
      slips, slides, plods
      up after me.

      The three of us stand at the top,
      staring back out to sea, enjoying
      the afternoon
      along the Pacific coastline.


    Pam Quesnoy

    Carmel, CA


      the synchronicities
      in full flow


      even when


      breath giving
      even more


    John Dotson

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2014

    Del Rey Oaks, CA


      into the golf resort
      who's name we cannot say
      because they will sue us.

      Located on land
      that was stolen
      by the Spanish

      from the Indian people
      who had been here
      since before time.

      Then it was stolen
      by the Americans
      for Manifest Destiny.

      Then stolen
      by the Railroad
      for fortune.

      Then stolen
      by the rich
      for themselves

      there is a dead skunk in the middle of the road

      (A journey to the sea)

      there is a rock
      on the table

      the size
      of a chicken egg

      sitting on the
      white surface

      making shadows
      of the light

      it came to be there

      with out arms
      or legs

      starting the journey
      much larger

      a mountain
      of granite

      on its way
      to the sea

    Stephen Brown

    Fair Oaks, CA

    Standing on the creative edge!

      [Standing on the edge!]

    Carol Lynn Mathew-Rogers

    Carmel, CA


      poets don't have to be good—most aren't
      or rich or famous—almost none are

      it's a close call between curse and blessing

      any true poet knows this
      and trudges along

      worst best of things

      just screwy

    John Dotson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Autumn gilds earth's daughters,
      presents black cottonwood and hemlock
      in fair-haired shades of gold.

      Leaves, topaz gems,
      sparkle in slanted sunbeams

      A deep blue dome contrasts
      with the remains of faded greens.
      Three crows pursue a Cooper's hawk.

      Sparse park visitors this season,
      weekday defections late in the year.

      November paints trails in quiet light,
      even midday tender on the landscape.

      Blue elderberry and sycamore
      display thready crown branches,
      precursors to winter's bare limbs.

      I, in my golden years,
      am conscious of harvested grace,
      the pace of fall's endgame.

    Laura Bayless

    Salinas, CA


      A gravel wash is now the safest route—
      For all of us who shunned the dire warning.
      Assuming we could make our own way out,
      But finding that the last road closed this morning.
      As whirling fear creates its own dry wind.
      Tall flames saltate across containment lines.
      An austere outlook threatens to rescind—
      The promise of tomorrow's grand design.
      Keep low and calm as dark smoke grows more near.
      Unlike the fire, you can't fight fear with fear.


      Come visit me my sweet, warm, summer muse.
      Remind me how your roses grow so tall.
      Forgive me if I'm still a bit confused,
      It seems like ages, since you left last fall.
      You know I do not do well when you're gone.
      But I'll forgive, since you're now home with me.
      We can compose a bright and cheerful song.
      Or paint landscapes from the heart, more capably.
      You are my sun. I'll be your summer moon.
      Shine as you will, just please don't leave too soon.

    Laura Carley

    San Antonio, TX


      Children were all tucked in their beds to sleep,
      Hush now, you know that parties won't keep.
      We're going to Grandma's for Christmas Eve
      Her party's such fun, it's hard to believe
      A table loaded with all sorts of eats
      Hard to name the food, so many good treats.
      For body and soul letting us all know
      The only thing missing this year is snow.
      Clasp hands with each other as we now pray
      Thank you Lord for giving us Christmas day.
      You sent a little bundle of Your Love
      Guided by cherished Angels from above.
      Now let us celebrate His Holy Birth,
      By asking if we can have Peace On Earth.
      Look up and we may see the Christmas star
      Guiding shepherds and wisemen from afar.
      We cannot see baby Jesus today,
      But His Holy message we can relay.

    Shirley Smalley Price

    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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