Friday, June 29, 2018

Sample Poems from "Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology"

WWW without Georgia and Madeleine at a Topanga Canyon workshop, March 2018. 
L to R: Susan, Lois, Sonya, Maja, Ambika, Kaathi and Millicent.

Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology
Edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford, May 2018

Paperback, 280 pp., black/white illustrations,  ISBN  978-1-945938-22-1  ($24.80)
 Color Paperback, 280 pages with color illustrations,  ISBN 978-1-945938-24-5 ($88.00)
E-Book in EPUB format with color illustrations,  ISBN 978-1-945938-23-8 ($10.00)

"Grateful Conversations" presents the workshops and self-portraits in poetry of Westside Women Writers that have been active as a group since 2008. The poets include Millicent Borges Accardi, Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk.  Their biographies and a sample of their poems are included below.

MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI, a Portuguese-American writer, is the author of four poetry books, most recently Only More So (Salmon Poetry). Her awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, Canto Mundo, Creative Capacity, the California Arts Council, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation. She’s led poetry workshops at Keystone College, Nimrod Writers Conference, The Muse in Norfolk, Virginia, and University of Texas, Austin. Her non-fiction can be found in The Writers Chronicle, Poets Quarterly, and the Portuguese American Journal. Recent readings at Brown University, Rutgers, UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College and the Carr Series at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.

Wild Hair  

Yellow mustard moss, green white
Gray lines.
A blue box learning
Up against the tree
Or perhaps a leather
mail bag
Near by.
Each stroke, a finger
A pushing back
of thick
The curl of a brush end
For leaves
And puffs of colorful

Millicent Borges Accardi

MADELEINE S. BUTCHER has been writing since 1979.  An actress at that time, she wrote monologues, scenes and plays, later transitioning to short stories, guided by Merrill Joan Gerber.  Poetry was always cropping up on its own, from time to time. She is a graduate of NYU School of the Arts with a BFA in dance and has performed off Broadway and on.  She has taught ballet to toddlers, teenagers and adults. She taught playwriting, modern dance, ballet and improvisation to at risk youth.

Besides dance and acting, she worked as an assistant picture and sound editor on features for sixteen years.  She taught Pilates out of her home studio for ten years in Woodland Hills. She has been a member of Westside Women Writers for three years.  Her first piece was published in the West Marin Journal, 2015.She and her husband are retired, traveling and hoping to settle on San Juan Island in the great state of Washington.

Photo by Madeleine S. Butcher


My eyes are bathed in light,
illuminated in muted reds
my comrades and I
are stilled in the aftermath of intermission.
We’ve been barely spared
from too much beauty –
by an invisible blow
to the chest -
we are left wondering
what to do
what to say
how do we go on?
Do we pick up our purses and coats,
and walk away?
Do we not?
Do we breathe?
How do we go on
from this splendor?
Are we to be left alone
with only ourselves
to pick up our shattered remains?

After Paul Taylor Dance Company, “Airs”, Los Angeles, 2014, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Madeleine S. Butcher

Photo by Neil Gruen, Gruen Photography

GEORGIA JONES-DAVIS grew up in Northern New Mexico and Southern California.  She worked as Assistant Book Review Editor for The Los Angeles Herald Examiner and The Los Angeles Times.  She has contributed to The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune, Salon magazine, New Mexico Magazine, South West Book Views and other publications. A former board member of Valley Contemporary Poets, a Southern California non-profit, Georgia was honored as one of the 2010 Newer Poets by the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and the Los Angeles Public Library ALOUD series.  Her work has appeared in West Wind, The California Quarterly, Brevities, The Bicycle Review, Nebo, Eclipse, poetic diversity,  Sam Hamil’s online zine, Poets Against War, Ascent Aspirations and South Bank Poetry, London.

She has new work soon to appear in The Serving House Journal. Georgia is the author of two chapbooks, “Blue Poodle” 2011) and “Night School,”  (2015), both published by Finishing Line Press. Georgia Jones-Davis lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she writes, hikes with her dog, and loves the changing light on the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains.


Even this most glam of blondes,
always a step away from stardom,
exhales with a noisy rattle
through a thirsty mouth
on her death bed.

My Hollywood aunt Margot
is eighty-five now,
her dyed blond hair fanned on the pillow,
 a sanitized scene in a movie.

Margot used to know Marilyn Monroe.
Those girls were bosomy buds
on the ripe bush of contract players,
but only one was plucked.
Still, they often ate lunch together,
on the lot of Twentieth Century Fox.

Chewing commissary chicken salad,
Marilyn said things to Aunt Margot:
“People,” she confessed,
“people see somebody else in my movies.
They aren't seeing me.
They are seeing a ghost of me.”

“Those white cotton panties,”
Marilyn informed Aunt Margot,
“are for nuns, for the faint of heart.
Loose them, darling.
Loose all panties.
A girl's got to breathe,
don't you think?”

“Dying,” Marilyn, over tuna salad,
explained to Aunt Margot,
“dying is not for anyone
with a fear
of performing in public.
It mostly happens anyway
in front of an audience.”

We gather around Margot's bed.
This is theater, and finally,
Margot is is the star
of her own seven year itch.
The hospice nurse
checks her vital signs.
Margot hasn't opened her eyes
in seven days.

Still, the nurse deposits a tray
with a chicken leg in brown gravy,
mashed potatoes, carrots,
a little tub of vanilla ice cream.
And a small box of chocolates
and a single red rose,
curled and darkened
at its used-up edges,
forlorn in a pink, plastic cup.

Georgia Jones Davis

Selfportrait by Lois P. Jones

LOIS P. JONES is a recipient of the 2016 Bristol Poetry Prize and the 2012 Tiferet Poetry Prize. Her work has been published in anthologies including The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear Publishing), Wide Awake: Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond (The Pacific Coast Poetry Series), 30 Days (Tupelo Press) and Good-Bye Mexico (Texas Review Press), and many journals including Narrative, American Poetry Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, The Warwick Review, Cider Press Review and others. Lois was shortlisted for the 2016 Bridport Prize in poetry. She is Poetry Editor of Kyoto Journal, host of KPFK’s Poets Café (Pacifica Radio) and co-hosts Moonday Poetry. Her first poetry collection, Night Ladder, has been recently released by  Glass Lyre Press.

Photo by Lois P. Jones


I want windows to tell me their secrets
so I don’t have to see everything

I want to know what the winter gave when it settled in,
a goose for nesting,
a white crow
on the bare cedar.

How many
have flashed by – starlings around the steeple
or swooped like the barn owl

with wings only the dead can hear.

Who did the window watch all day in the pine grove
until the cows were cutouts
and the night went black with crows.

Which one bent their head down and into the frame –
chose stubble fields for a lost father.

How a photographer could strip the land

of everything but the leaving.

Which throat ate the flame anyway
drank the wine until the bottles chattered
their glass teeth.

Whose hands knit the orange web
then strung it from tree to tree
spending yarn on a cool wind.

Who composed the song of the pear then hung it

from your note tree
to flutter at the slightest breath.

And when the wind flung the shutters open

who cried with joy
hearing the cows

and their chorus of wind chimes
ringing, ringing, the night.

Lois P. Jones

SUSAN ROGERS considers poetry a vehicle for light and a tool for the exchange of positive energy. She is a practitioner of Sukyo Mahikari— a spiritual practice that promotes positive thoughts, words and action.  She is also a photographer and a licensed attorney. Her poems were part of the 2009 event “Celebrating Women, Body, Mind and Spirit,” the 2010 Valentine Peace Project, the 2010 event “Poetry: A Garden to the Human Spirit” held at Cypress College in Cypress, California, the 2010 Poem Flag Installation by Global Alchemy Forum and have been performed at museums and galleries in Southern California.

In 2010 she was Writer of the Week for “Words, Spirit and You,” sponsored by Tiferet Journal. One of her haiku won Honorable Mention in the 2010 Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest sponsored by the Yuki Teikei Society of Haiku. She was a featured poet at the Moonday Poetry Reading Series in 2011. Her work can be found in the book Chopin and Cherries, numerous journals, anthologies and chapbooks and can be heard online or in person as part of the audio tour for the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California. She was recently interviewed by Lois P. Jones for KPFK’s Poets Café.

Photo by Susan Rogers

This Lotus

To awake,
to dream,
to open again
into first light,
awash with gold.
Each and every petal
kissed with the sun's love,
kissed with the memory of mud,
blessed with the touch of water.
Opening and opening,
again and again,
lifetime after lifetime,
pond after pond,
poem after poem,
until it is beyond
dream, water, mud,
beyond the innocence
of first light, beyond
even the kiss of sun—
there, where it is all

Susan Rogers

Georgia Jones-Davis with Sonya Sabanac (R), 2015.

SONYA SABANAC (maiden Zivic) was born and raised in Former Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists. Disappeared like Atlántida and left its former citizens to carry a heavy burden of constant search for a home.  Sonya was born in the City of Sarajevo, where she graduated from Sarajevo University School of Law.  In the midst of the war that made her country gone, in 1992, Sonya left the county with her family and spent two years in Denmark living as a refugee.  She immigrated into USA in 1994, and landed at Los Angeles, where she still lives. She was a passionate reader all her life and an ardent poetry lover, but she only started writing in her late forties. Sonya is a member of Los Angeles Westside Women Writers Group.  Her poems appeared in San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Magnapoets, Poetic Diversity and the anthology about Immigrant Women Shifting Balance Sheets that also published her memoir, How I Decided to Go a Little Crazy. In addition to writing, Sonya is also a photographer. She has many projects in store; one of them is to publish a book that will bond short stories with her photo images. At this point her daily job is seriously interfering with her writing career.

Photo by Sonya Sabanac

~  Volim te Mama Moja

“I was born old” she used to say,
not bitter but with a smile.
Skipped teenage foolishness
and vanity of womanhood,
No red lipstick, no high heels,
no fashionable dresses.
When her daughter would suggest
to dye her hair, she would waive
a hand as if she was driving flies away.

But she loved to host!

Everyone was welcome to her home,
neighbors and family,
friends and people she spent few hours with in the train,
a beggar that rang at her door.
Everyone was welcome!
She would sit her guests
at the dining table
and feed them with the best meals she cooked:
a chicken soup and roasted pork, red potatoes,
béchamel and tomato sauce, cabbage salad,
cheese crapes and what not!
She would serve the best brandy made
from her Slavonia’s sweet plums
and then they would talk
and the laugh would rush out of her throat.
And when she was laughing,
her whole body was shaking;
her laughter  would lift the room.

“I was born old” she used to say,
not bitter,
but with a smile of the one
who came to the place of wisdom
before the rest of us.

Sonya Sabanac

Kathi Stafford (center) with Lois P. Jones, Ambika Talwar (L), and Maja Trochimczyk, Susan Rogers (R), Village Poets reading at Bolton Hall Museum, 2016.

KATHI STAFFORD graduated from the Masters in Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California with a poetry concentration.  Her poetry, book reviews, and interviews have appeared in many journals, such as Rattle, Hiram Poetry Review, Connecticut River Review, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, and Southern California Review. Her poetry has been anthologized in Chopin and Cherries and Sea of Alone: Poems for Hitchcock. She is a former editor of the Southern California Review and her “day job” background is as a corporate attorney. Her first book, Blank Check (Finishing Line Press), was released in 2016.

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

Seven Strings              

Thinking of notes
yet not ready to play them.
Measures filled with silence and the key of E Flat.

Rests            static            energy
He is searching for her scent             lilac and jasmine

But she has taken it with her. The map of
His body carves memory in two.  He does not have much:
An ill-tuned harp
Marble to his touch.

She sits before the screen, tries to search for life and
justify her choice. Now that words have gone, she
waits for sound to push her sharp and hard.

Third movement.  The royals lean back in their seats,
Wait for the first note.  His solo grim and final, like a rake
Thrown down in a Zen garden.

Who knows where
The curve of  note
 Will come from next?

Notes take silence.
Art takes black.
Healing asks for
Breath, air, patience.



Maybe he’s tired from last night’s banquet.


The soundbox on his thigh,
Resting while he waits
On the chair of her pleasure.

Kathi Stafford

AMBIKA TALWAR is an educator, poet and artist, who has composed poems since her teen years. She has authored and self-published Creative Resonance: Poetry—Elegant Play, Elegant Change; 4 Stars & 25 Roses (poems for her father) and, more recently, My Greece: Mirrors & Metamorphoses, a poetic biographical spiritual journey through Greece. She is published in Kyoto Journal; Inkwater Ink, vol. 3; Chopin with Cherries, On Divine Names; VIA, Poets on Site collections, Tower Journal, St. Julian’s Press, Life & Legends, and others. Interviewed by KPFK, she also won an award in Belgium for a short film. Her ecstatic writing style makes her poetry a “bridge to other worlds.” She resides in Los Angeles/New Delhi, practices energy medicine, and teaches at Cypress College, California. She believes it is through our creativity that we gain self-knowledge and become activators of change.,

Photo by Ambika Talwar

Varanasi – Luminous City 

Banks of ancient Ganga sing of before and after life;
ash and saffron flowers float, syllables sink to river
bottom amid silent wailing, ripples passing by.

One hundred meters away, funeral pyres release
violent flames, which disappear into crows’ azure.
Thus legends lie still or vanish, but story of Shiva
is endless even if partly forgotten. Memory needs
not quietude... Walls are gouache of spit images.

Daily bathers cross the river, dip in its cold currents
as I did one winter morning with my father, while
mother and companions watched from a little boat
rocking in its karmic rhythm, stories of scriptures.

Sangam of Varuna and Assi, Shiva’s luminous city calls
golden time of respectful order to lift us out from
anular confines, bitter nuance of broken columns,
houses of fussed music, sweet aroma of betel leaves,
as heart-full romance of beaten souls wander.

I write these words: city streets winding as mothers
in rags ache for fulfillment, not lost in hunger
nor destitute as mountains strip-mined of essence,
as rivers sinking into oblivion, as plants whose sap
forgotten lingers in glance of Mother's tears. Ghajini
posters on walls as cows die for plastic foods.

Despite this shattering, Varanasi smiles, sentiments
like incense swirls rises into clouds calling rain
in spring. May these be woven in silk, for gentle curves
of Parvati’s bruised shoulders under an old banyan tree.

Bones of the burning dead float freely in fast currents.
Do not drink this water! Let dead dreams dissolve.
into liberation. Let them not haunt the living...!

Ambika Talwar

Maja Trochimczyk with Ambika Talwar

MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, Ph.D.,  is a Polish American poet, music   historian,   photographer, and author of seven books of poetry, including Miriam’s Iris (2008), Slicing the Bread (2014), The Rainy Bread (2016), Into Light (2016), and two anthologies, Chopin with Cherries (2010) and Meditations on Divine Names (2012). Her poems appeared in such journals as the California Quarterly, Cosmopolitan Review, Ekphrasis Journal, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Literary Review, Loch Raven Review, Lummox Journal, Quill and Parchment, Pirene's Fountain, Poezja Dzisiaj, The Scream Online, Spectrum and anthologies by Poets on Site, Southern California Haiku Study Group, and others. As a Polish music historian, she published seven books, most recently Górecki in Context: Essays on Music  (2017) and Frédéric Chopin: A Research and Information Guide (rev. ed., 2015).

A former Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, she is the founder of Moonrise Press, and Board Secretary of the Polish American Historical Association. Her research studies, articles and book chapters appeared in English, Polish, and in translations in ten countries. She read papers at over 80 international conferences and is a recipient of honors and awards from Polish, Canadian, and American institutions, such as the American Council of Learned Societies, the Polish Ministry of Culture, PAHA, McGill University, and the University of Southern California. Two solo exhibitions displayed her photographs of leaves and roses.,,

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

In Morning Light

We live on a planet where it rains diamonds —
hard rain, sparkling crystal droplets — in the clouds, 
in the air, on the ground under our feet.

Here, the Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday.
Red strawberries, wine-hot passion and Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust — lessons of impermanence of the body,
constantly reconfigured in a vortex of quarks and atoms
until the pattern dissolves like snow at the end of winter.
Delicate snowdrops peek from under the melting cover 
of phantasmagorical shapes and figures.

Here, the Annunciation Day of Mary’s greatest joy
falls on Palm Sunday — from rainbow wings of Fra Angelico’s 
Gabriel bowing before the shy, blushing maiden in royal blue
we look ahead to the green of palm fronds lining the streets
of Jerusalem. We welcome the destiny of the King.
We see red blood on the stones of Golgotha, 
the Place of the Skull. Not even this is real.
No wonder, then, that Easter, the greatest Mystery —
of Death into Life, Spirit over Matter, the Divine 
in an emptied human shell — Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani — 
Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei — it is done  — 
yes, that Easter — is on April’s  Fools Day this year.

We fool ourselves when we see death as enemy.
We spin our lives into thin filaments of a spider-web.
Illusion woven into illusion. Deception after deception.
They rise and fall with the rhythm of seductive charm.
The smiling demon is the most persistent. Incorrigible,

it pulls us down, down, down into the mud, 
from whence we did not come. Nothingness 
ties us up with bonds of non-belonging.

My revelation is this — we live on the planet 
where it rains diamonds. We walk on untold treasures 
that we do not notice — we forget and forget and forget 
where we came from, where we are, where we are going.
We spin our future out of spider silk and shadows.
Our lives fill with the sand of dreams, changing 
like shards of glass, broken bits of colored plastic 
in a kaleidoscope — transfigured into the most 
astounding waltz of the rosettes, reflected 
in hexagonal mirrors of transcendence —

My revelation is this — we are the children 
of Sunlight — blessed by Radiance — wearing 
Love’s golden halos — we shine and blossom — 
in Light’s cosmic garden of stars — lilies — violets — 
peonies — daffodils —and roses — always roses — 
in this brilliant garden — on a diamond planet —
of what is — in the Heart of the Great, Great Silence —

— there’s no here — nor  there —
— no before  — nor  after —
— no inside  — nor  outside —

——— All is Always Now———
——— All is Always One———
——— Where We Are ——— 

NOTE: References to the Gospels, Giordano Bruno, and St. Germain.

Maja Trochimczyk

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk


  1. WOW! What a glorious collection from us all. Am thrilled for this co-creation. Sending everyone love and blessings from India. <3

  2. Nice! When, where will the release reading be?