Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Poets Hitt, Mataric, and Pero About "Grateful Conversations" Anthology. November 25 Reading

"Grateful Conversations, edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford, brings to its readers a wealth of women's wisdom and talent.  This beautiful book contains poetic self-portraits of nine poets that form the Westside Women Writers group.  The poets selected their own favorite poems that represent their worldviews and experiences; they also provided illustrations - photos of nature and families. A large portion of the volume is dedicated to verse based on shared themes, prompts, or site-visits to museums.  Wisdom comes with age, and all nine poets featured in this anthology are over 50 years old so they have lived through a lot.  While I feel compassionate towards the tragedies they describe, both personal and of others, I particularly like poems about family, the little blessings of daily life that are too often overlooked and should be cherished, with gratitude and grace. Rarely can one find in one place so many deeply moving and inspired poems, about the traumas of the past, the gifts to be cherished in the present, and hopes for a bright future."

             ~ Marlene Hitt,  author of Clocks and Water Drops  (Moonrise Press, 2015)

"I highly recommend "Grateful Conversations" for every library and poetry class. This anthology, edited by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, a Polish American scholar and poet, and Ms. Kathi Stafford, an attorney and poet, presents work by Westside Women Writers, a group of nine poets that meet every month to share poems, encourage and learn from each other. As a poetry teacher, I know how important such feedback is, and I appreciate seeing in print the proof of this work in the form of workshop poems written after site visits to local museums. As a Serbian American poet and writer, I'm also very pleased to see the work of my former poetry student, Sonya Sabanac, featured so prominently in this anthology, especially her poems about our war-torn homeland and the trauma of displacement as an emigrant. I am also very happy to read the poems of Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, whose work I have known and appreciated for many years. These two fellow Slavic authors are joined in the anthology by poets with roots in California, whose names are well known in the literary circles of America, such as Millicent Borges Accardi, a Portugese American, Ambika Talwar, an Indian American, Lois P. Jones, or Georgia Jones-Davis.  Some of the poets are Jewish, some are Christian, some are spiritual without a religious denomination. All share the women's wisdom and maturity. All share their talents and poetic inspiration for which all readers should be grateful."

              ~ Dr. Mira N. Mataric, Poet, Writer, Translator, and Educator, Pasadena, California

"Nine women poets converse, wake us up, send us to higher ground. Grateful Conversations carries us in and out of the emotion of memory, family, spirit, solid things and landscapes. Unlike much modern poetry, the nine writers present life and hope, not death and loss. This anthology gives us abundance, not scarcity, joy, not the grating irritations of guilt, fear and dissolution. There are generous portions for each poet: Accardi, Butcher, Jones-Davis, Jones, Rogers, Sabanac, Stafford, Talwar, Trochimczyk each get twenty to thirty pages of poetry with photographs taken by the poets and also there are seven sections of workshop poems. These are poets on quests for spiritual renewal, yet the poems are not sticky with New Age platitudes, but articulate, moving, textured and the reader is grateful, uplifted. “Look at these dogwood blossoms/caught in the act of flying,” writes Lois P. Jones.  We look and we fly.

           ~ Alice Pero, author of Thawed Stars

Maja Trochimczyk, Sonya Sabanac and Susan Rogers


Grateful Conversations anthology was represented by Susan Rogers, Sonya Sabanac and Maja Trochimczyk, with a reading focused on the themes of gratitude, personal history, and life wisdom.

Maja Trochimczyk read her "Ode of the Lost" as well as the Lady with an Ermine" and Ciocia Tonia, about the fate of her maternal great aunt, deported to Siberia by Soviets in 1940/

Ciocia Tonia

~ for my Mother’s Aunt, Antonina “Tonia” Glińska, 
   deported by the Soviets to Siberia in 1940

Only a pear tree
between fields of sugar beets and corn.

Ripe pears — that’s all left from the house, 
barn and orchard. The farm where she raised 
her sons, milked her cows, and baked her bread.

Only a pear  tree. A lone memento 
standing forlorn in an August field.

They ploughed it over— the village church and bus stops, 
the neighbors’ corrals, where their horses used to neigh.
They ploughed it over — her garden of herbs 
and cosmos, its fragile lace of leaves kissed 
by sunlight, a dream of a flower, really — 
she used to so love its ephemeral beauty, 
a ghost of the past.

It was the worst, then, to see her neighbors 
running with news — her husband shot 
in the middle of the dusty village road.

No time for grief, she saved her tears for later.
The orders came at once: a day to pack,
a long train ride to an unfamiliar city, 
near a river she never longed to see.

They said, pack wisely — take only
 the warmest clothes, boots, pillows. 
Bring as much food as you can carry. 

Where you are going, there is nothing, 
except for freezing breath 
and bitter cold. 

It is not painful now, just surprising, 
her whole life gone, and only one tree left.
No trace of her ancestral village on the maps.

Only a pear tree 
in an empty field of stubble.

Only a pearl tree 
in her golden field of dreams. 

(c) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

Sonya Sabanac read poems about her immigrant experience as a war refugee from Serbia, who left during the Balkan war. Having lost everything and having left her country in a rush to save her life, she made a powerful anti-war statement in a poem that took over 10 years to write.

Susan Rogers presented five of her favorite poems, including perennial favorites, The Origin is One, Grass, and Longing for October, as well as the Grateful Conversations title poem of the entire anthology.

Susan Rogers

Grateful Conversations 

Everything we have we’re given
in love to use in love, in grace.
There is nothing we alone have written.

We are but a conversation
of light. Through this exchange we trace
everything we have. We’re given

sour and sweet, lemon, raisin
and grain to bind them into place—
There is nothing we alone have written.

We eat cakes but have forgotten
their origin. We have erased
everything. We have; we’re given.

We look. We laugh. We love. We listen.
We welcome gifts we embrace.
Yet there is nothing we alone have written.

Watch sunset turn to a ribbon.
Remember honey and its taste.
Everything we have we’re given.
There is nothing we alone have written.

(c) 2018 by Susan Rogers

Sonya Sabanac

Poets from Nov 25 reading. L to R seated: Sonya Sabanac, Andrew Kolo,
Susan Rogers, Konrad Tademar, Liliana Tademar. Standing: Mira Mataric
Maja Trochimczyk, Joe DeCenzo, Marlene Hitt, Phil Larsen, Pam Shea, and
guitarist Mark Achuff, special guest musician.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Readings from "Grateful Conversations" Anthology on November 25, 2018 and February 15, 2019

"Grateful Conversations" Group Reading, October 7, 2018

Grateful Conversations anthology is going places... A college professor in Australia wants to adopt this anthology for her course on gratitude. The anthology made it into the hands of famous poet Dana Gioia..

Maja Trochimczyk with Dana Gioia and Grateful Conversations. Photo by Dawn Jenkins

The very first appearance of this anthology in public was during the "Gathering of California's Poets Laureate" - an event hosted by Dana Gioia, organized by the California Arts Council and held on October 6, 2018 at the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga.

Maja Trochimczyk with "Grateful Conversations" and Robin Coste-Lewis, Photo by Dawn Jenkins

Maja Trochimczyk read her poem "In Morning Light" and presented copies  of the anthology to Dana Gioia, California Poet Laureate and former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Robin Coste Lewis, Los Angeles Poet Laureate, and Anne Bown-Crawford, Executive Director of the California Arts Council. The reading was filmed so hopefully the book will make it into the documentary about Poets Laureate.

Stage and audience at McGroarty Arts Center

McGroarty Arts Center, former home of California Poet Laureate John Steven McGroarty.

The first public presentation of the "Grateful Conversations" anthology was supposed to take place on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 5 p.m. at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, in La Canada - Flintridge (1010 Foothill Blvd).  Now it is the second. The reading was free and books were available to purchase and have autographed by the poets. 

Seven poets  presented their work (Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Madeleine S. Butcher, Maja Trochimczyk, Kathi Stafford, Ambika Talwar and Sonya Sabanac) but all poets will be  represented, as work by Georgia Jones-Davis and the group's founder Millicent Borges Accardi will also be read.

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski.

You can explore the anthology's poems and find out about the poets on Moonrise Press Blog

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

You can read the introduction with the table of contents on Moonrise Press Blog

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

The paperback is available from

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

 The ebook with color photos is available from

The following readings are planned:

1) at the Bolton Hall Museum (Sunday, November 25, 2018, Sunday after Thanksgiving, with Marc Achuff, classical guitar and Krak Poetry Group Celebrating the Centennial of Poland's Regained Independence),
2) at Beyond Baroque (Friday, February 15, 2019 at 8 pm),
3) at the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica (hosted by Elena Secota, date TBD),
4) in Ventura, hosted by Phil Taggart (4 April 2019).

California poetry journal, Quill and Parchment will post a preview and a review of the book in coming months.

The poets will also appear on Poets' Cafe hosted by Lois P. Jones and other promotional activities are in preparation.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Announcing New Poetry Volume by Margaret Saine, Gardens of the Earth: According to Nature

Moonrise Press is pleased to announce its newest poetry collection, Gardens of the Earth: According to Nature, by Margaret Saine (September 2018).  This exploration of nature tamed and shaped by humans, nature that in turn shapes the gardeners and gives them a purpose, a cause for action, and a reason for reflection.  Saine's trip to the garden includes the seasons, rain and sunlight, and lots of birds. She shares her delight in gardens and gardening with a host of her contemporary poets and friends and the renowned gardeners of the past. The book includes a separate section on trees, and is richly illustrated by Saine's own photographs, with the characteristic interplay of light and shadow, water, clouds and mists.

ISBN 978-1-945938-25-2 (paperback), $18.00
ISBN 978-1-945938-26-9 (color  paperback), $40.00
ISBN 978-1-945938-27-6 (ebook in ePub format)​, in preparation


Margaret Saine lives in Los Angeles. After a doctorate in French from Yale, she taught Spanish at universities in California and Arizona. She writes poetry, haiku, and short stories in five languages and also translates other poets. Her books are Bodyscapes,Words of Art, Lit Angels (Moonrise Press, 2017), and five haiku chapbooks.

Poetry manuscripts ready for publication include The Five Senses, Reading Your Lips,Words of Winter, and While Alive, as well as Paesaggi che respirano [Breathing Landscapes], to be published in Italy. She has recently completed As You Were Saying, a dialogue with American poet William Carlos Williams.



Gardens. All humans love gardens. They exemplify human well-being in nature, a nature made by plants that is evidently joyful and at ease, and eminently pleasing to the eye. My title may be ambiguous to some, those who perceive gardens as cultivated alone, and nature would then be the antithesis.But I want to stress gardens as the synthesis they are, of ambient nature and of human nature.  Gardens represent a nature cultivated and beautified to human tastes, they are nature on a human scale, in a human measure. 

But one learns with regret that gardens don’t last forever. First they grow and are arranged, with large empty spaces still in between small growing plants and trees; then they have their heyday; but soon they may almost imperceptibly fall into neglect and alteration. They may go wild, haywire, go to seed, during one of those long trips one takes, or they may be downright abolished by others, the authority. Bulldozed, paved over.


My garden is my sky lab, made up of star dust. It is an adventure that does not entirely depend on me, but has its own—always surprising—dynamic. After I set it up, give it the basics, it begins to follow its own rules and laws and continues to surprise me. Each interference by me—ripping out and putting in, weeding, pruning and shaping, coaxing and tying up, lowering and stretching—is minor compared to what looks like the garden’s own will, and which is none other than the interaction of all elements of this ambience according to nature. Including the plants themselves, who affect other plants and the environment, and are affected by them in return.

I like it when my garden does so much better than I had thought, or at least when it does unexpected things, in an intriguing, overall good way. But when the emperor vine or morning glory, which blooms on its white shelf when I wake up, begins winding across the stone path like a snake and crawling over other plants and strangling them, I have to interfere and strangle the strangler, so to speak, limiting her to her place.

I live, we live, on this earth. Flowers are a gift, they seek and elicit beauty in us and from us. Gardens are always “according to nature,” environmental nature as well as human. There are no human beings who don’t like gardens. And all gardens like and welcome humans.  After all, we and the plants are each other’s fondest breath.

                                                                                                            ~ Margaret Saine


“All humans love gardens.” With this observation Margaret Saine shares her lifetime of poems about plants. The beauty of flowers is what ties us to the earth, here turned into poetry, with our gratitude.
                                                                                                     ~ Agnes Rosenblüth

Gardens, as always in poetry, are pretexts. In this new book, Margaret Saine attempts to reveal to us, simply and purely, their mystery. Nature and poetry are unified in a symbiotic song of life. “Gardens of the Earth” is a peaceful symphony of beauty that pulses with the chords of human existence: the garden as metaphor of our condition of transient beings on this earth.
                                                                                                             ~ Eliécer Almaguer

The growing of plants, their enticing being explained by a kind gardener aunt to a lonely girl. Plants, flowers, paragons of life, as recipients and keepers of personal memories. Plants, trees of the world, here seen with the oceans, as giving breath, oxygen, to human beings. And plants, reciprocally breathing the carbon dioxide humans exhale: a true terrestrial symbiosis.
                                                                                                              ~ Sibilla De’Salici

When the trees forget /that I am there/
I have truly arrived/ in their midst, says Margaret Saine.  And so I felt, reading Saine’s latest book, “Gardens of Earth”, that I had arrived in the midst of poems, as unselfconscious as the trees she inhabits. How does a poet bring a reader into the middle of gardens without becoming precious or mundane?  Saine invites us with her natural rhythm, color and the interweaving of several languages, enveloping us completely in beauty before we know what has happened to us. The poet reminds us that we are spirits, that this garden, as she says, is our entrance into matter, l’entrata in materia. If paintings could be poems or poems paintings, this book would be the avatar.
                                    ~ Alice Pero, author of “Thawed Stars”, founder of Moonday Reading 
                                        Series  and Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble

Margaret Saine’s Gardens of the Earth is an exceptional exploration of gardens not only as a small patch of land that bring gardeners peace, but as part of a larger biosphere, connected forever to the larger world. She might start in a plot of land on the earth, but her poetry reaches out to discuss the atmosphere, an encroaching urban world, and life and death itself. Her microcosm explores the macrocosm of this world.
                                                                                                              ~ John Brantingham


According to Nature               ix

Garden  3
Playing with Shadows 5
The Bird  7
Midwinter Early Spring 8
Planten un Blomen  9
Cactus  10
Heads or Tail  11
After the Monsoon   12
Dopo il Monson    14
Wind  15
Once Upon a Wind   16
January Rose   18
Garden Borders  19
Carnation  20
Clouds   #1  21
Clouds   #2  22
Clouds   #3  22
Lifetime Guarantee 24
Garden Sketch 25
Forest for the Trees  26
Short Poems 27
Bearded Iris   28
Birds  29
Bird of Paradise 30
Herbstzeitlose~~~Colchicum 32
Philodendron  33
In the Winter Garden  34
Narcissa  36
Narcissus by Caravaggio #2 38
Rose   40
Climbing Rose  42
Peony 43
Black Pansies and Forget-me-nots   44
Transporting the Euphorbia  45
Daylilies Daily  46
Pollination 48
River Voices  49

Ginko 51
Wind in the Pepper Tree 52
The Fig Tree  53
The Ear Tree 55
Tree as a Book 56
Klimt’s Tree of Life 57
The Tree Outside  58
Tree  59

Amor sacro amor profano   61
In Each of Us 63
Life 64
Rose-Red Flower Woman  65
So Many  67
Random Light Spots of Time: An Almanach   69

About the Poet 77

Saine's previous book published by Moonrise Press was Lit Angeles, described on its website here, and available from and from 

Paperback, ISBN  978-1-945938-02-3, $15.00
Color Paperback, ISBN 978-1-945938-04-7  , $35.00
EBook, Apple Books, iTunes, Nook, etc., ISBN 978-1-945938-05-4, $10.00


Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

About Saine's Lit Angels, on this blog:

And on Village Poets blog: 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

First Reading from Grateful Conversations Anthology - Flintridge Bookstore, 7 October 2018

The first public presentation of the "Grateful Conversations" anthology will take place on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 5 p.m. at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, in La Canada - Flintridge (1010 Foothill Blvd).  The reading is free and books will be available to purchase and have autographed by the poets. 

Seven poets will be present (Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Madeleine S. Butcher, Maja Trochimczyk, Kathi Stafford, Ambika Talwar and Sonya Sabanac) but all poets will be  represented, as work by Georgia Jones-Davis and the group's founder Millicent Borges Accardi will also be read.

You can explore the anthology's poems and find out about the poets on Moonrise Press Blog

You can read the introduction with the table of contents on Moonrise Press Blog

The paperback is available from

The ebook with color photos is available from

There are planned readings at the Bolton Hall Museum (November 25, 2018, Sunday after Thanksgiving, with Marc Achuff, classical guitar), Beyond Baroque (Feb 15, 2019 at 8 pm), the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica (hosted by Elena Secota, TBD), in Ventura (4 April 2019), and other locations.

California poetry journal, Quill and Parchment will post a preview and a review of the book in coming months.

The poets will appear on Poets' Cafe hosted by Lois P. Jones and other promotional activities are in preparation.

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