Deenaz P. Coachbuilder

The space that binds us.

I keep washing my hands,
20 seconds they say,
20 seconds of

eternity.
From Wuhan to Milan
the breezes blow

invisible currents
connecting
microbes and mortals.

Safe at home, I convince myself,
lulled in the backyard patio
gazing at the remote

San Bernardino mountains
80 miles afar
yet closer than an eyelid’s flash.

This is the place where my soul strings loosen.
They float among double delight roses
sweep over decomposed granite walkways,

swoop, encircle,
then streaming out over caverns remote
for I am everywhere

and nowhere,
shedding bits of flesh I never owned,
retaining merely essence

the space between
an illusion
for there is no space

between us,
spiritual brethren
all.

Gerard Sarnat

Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in academic-related journals (e.g., Universities of Chicago/ Maine/ San Francisco/Toronto, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Penn, Dartmouth, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Baltimore) plus national (e.g., Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library Literary Journal, South Broadway Press, Parhelion, Clementine, pamplemousse, Red Wheelbarrow, Deluge, Poetry Quarterly, poetica, Tipton Journal, Hypnopomp, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Buddhist Poetry Review, Poets And War, Thank You For Your Service Anthology, Wordpeace, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Indolent Books, Snapdragon, Pandemonium Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Montana Mouthful, Arkansas Review, Texas Review, San Antonio Review, Brooklyn Review, pacificREVIEW, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Fiction Southeast and The New York Times) and international publications (e.g., Review Berlin, Voices Israel, Foreign Lit, New Ulster, Transnational, Southbank, Wellington Street Review). He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles: From Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with climate change justice. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters. gerardsarnat.com

John C. Krieg

Coronavirus Has Nothing on Retirement
This Thing is Getting Serious
In all seriousness, I know this is a
legitimate National Emergency
And I must do what I can to protect
my family, and myself from it

But there are some things that smack of panic
Hoarding, runs on toilet paper, and sanitizer(s)
And some things that smack of despicable greed
Price gouging, and offering fake testing products

This is like The Book of Revelation
In real time, and in Technicolor
Great good, and great evil are on high display
I’m praying that good will triumph in the end

But Coronavirus has nothing on retirement
For nobody knows where I am
Or what I have been doing
Or if I’m dead or alive

A six-foot safety radius?
Try the circumference of the globe
Social distancing?
Try 5 acres removed from my closest neighbor

Containment zones
Mine starts at my property line
Chillout? I’m like a block of ice
Get a grip? I’ve never lost it

We’re always stocked up on food, anyway
Have e-mail, and satellite T.V.
Bank and pay bills over the internet
Have well water, and 500 gallons of propane

So as long as the electricity stays on
Our lives go on as usual
We are the lucky ones, I know, and I
Feel remorse for my less fortunate brethren

And my grandchildren living at home
With the school closed, they are
going to go bonkers with boredom, and
Demand attention keeping me from my writing

Circle the wagons
Us versus them
Pray that some Americans
don’t turn on other Americans

“We are all in this together,” is the
current rallying cry, but I wonder why
It took this pandemic for the nation
to actually believe it

CFS: Caronavirus Fatigue Syndrome
It’s coming, if it isn’t here already
People will let down their guard
Paying for that with their lives

I’m paying for my retirement with my life
My golden years are taking years off my life
I blame myself first, and the system second
The truth being that when you retire – you’re forgotten

In retirement, many are under
Self-inflicted house arrest
Spending as little as possible
And never going anywhere

So retirees are at least a leg up
On the rest of the country
In knowing how to deal with
Isolation and loneliness

Coronavirus has nothing on retirement
Except the speed at which suffers will die
A sad truth, for death is death, but now
We may not get to choose our time

A Few Days Later
It’s Saint Patrick’s Day!
And nobody’s throwing a party
It’s raining again in Southern Cali
So I watch the news that’s saying:

Coronavirus! Coronavirus!! Coronavirus!!!
Coronavirus! Coronavirus!! Coronavirus!!!
Coronavirus! Coronavirus!! Coronavirus!!!
Coronavirus! Coronavirus!! Coronavirus!!!

Say; have you heard about the Coronavirus?

This thing is like the grayscale
On Game of Thrones
Where’s John Brady when you need him?
To research our salvation in a dusty old tomb

And even the Mad King
Seems to finally get it
He can’t laugh and lie
His way out of this one

He’s no longer mocking all of us with:

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!!

Hey Mr. President: The sky is falling!

Dr. Edward O. Wilson tried to warn us humans
That as the apex species, we weren’t so special, because
All those little creepy crawleys at the bottom of the pyramid
Were looking up at us, and plotting our demise

And Now a Constructive Suggestion
Build the necessary facilities to house
the poor, the sick, the huddled masses
Wasn’t that the point of the Statue of Liberty?
After the plague, use them to house the CCC

Bring back the CCC!
Hasn’t this thing taught us the need for preparation?
Let the youth have an alternative to national service
That doesn’t require toting a gun or killing someone

With a standing peaceful army on our own soil
We won’t get caught with our pants down again
Those creepy crawleys aren’t going to give up, and the
New normal is to assume that pandemics are normal

Examining the Arc of a Lifetime
This thing is like a giant meteor
Heading straight at geezers
With preexisting conditions that most
Gave to themselves
Those with Type II diabetes (me)
And COPD (she)
We have never seen anything like this in our lifetimes
Or we would have paid closer attention to our health

That’s the worst of retirement
You have the time to ponder
The things you should have done
Not that it makes a bit of difference now

Coronavirus has nothing on retirement
Except the speed at which suffers will die
A sad truth, for death is death, but now
We may not get to choose our time

My Self-fulfilling Prophesy (3/17/2020)
It’s Saint Patrick’s Day!
And nobody’s throwing a party
Coronvirus! Coronavirus!! Coronavirus!!!
Yeah I get it, as a geezer, I could die
Die sooner rather than later
And the hell of it is that
I was cocky about death
For indisputable proof
Consider my go-to spiel
At the start of all my
recent cover letters:

Greetings from the poorer half of the two Americas. Admittedly, this is the last wheeze of an old white dinosaur who sometimes feels that his boomer generation will have to die off before the future of the country can be shaped in the image and likeness of those about to inherit the country, my grandchildren included.

Know that my quarter century quest to become an overnight literary sensation became derailed by my ongoing career as a landscape architect, swimming pool contractor, and outlaw pot farmer. At 68 I have decided to devote what time I have left exclusively to writing.

Well…grandpa, you better
get your ass in gear
You popped off all noble-like
Practically volunteering to croak
For the good of the youth of America
(your grandchildren included)
Go on with your smug self, you old fart
What are you going to do now?
To talk your way out of this one?
Remember what Honest Abe had to say
About dullards, and opening their mouths:
Better to remain silent and be
thought a fool than to speak out
and remove all doubt.
And then you cranked out:
Coronavirus Has Nothing on Retirement
And against all advice in every single book
on submissions; you submitted it – 10 times!
You could have/should have waited
but this is b-r-e-a-k-i-n-g n-e-w-s-!
And you went with the flow like
a man in barrel taking on Niagara Falls
Besides your usual go-to slabber
You’ve issued a self-inflicted fatwa
Your words could become
A self-fulfilling prophesy
And to make matters worse you
infused your death wish with an
explanation of enhanced implication:

This is not intended to be a, “Shit your pants if you are a geezer, because we are all going to die,”
Manifesto. There is some bright light and constructive suggestions contained herein. I get it, we all get it, this is the most extraordinary moment of our lives, and in surviving it I can only hope that America will experience profound change for the betterment of all her inhabitants.

Well…grandpa, you’ve gone ahead
and completely shat you pants with
all this “betterment” hyperbole
What are you going to do now?
G-e-t-u-p, c-o-w-b-o-y-up, m-a-n-u-p
It’s time to put your life
Where your words are
For the betterment of the species
Homo sapiens
(your grandchildren included)

Pandemic (3/19/2020)
This thing is either going save us or kill us
For it has exposed us for who we are
Great good and great evil battling it out
for supremacy right here in the U S of A
The war for the soul of America is now on high display
24/7 on every news channel: This is a Pandemic!

Where are the youth that didn’t vote for Bernie?
Show yourselves. I want to give you a lecture:
What is it with you kids?
What! with free health care, free college, and free pot
you couldn’t get off your asses to come to the polls?
Wait just a minute – I can see on the news –
they’ve been located partying down at South Beach
Turn up the Calypso music, and pass the booze
While their future goes down the tubes
But the folly of youth now has a potential do over
America might finally get her priorities straight
Because of the Coronavirus, that wants to kill
off all those annoying self-righteous boomers
Who closed down the beaches and ruined all their fun

Same shit different decade
Same shit different crisis
But the same solution!
The ghost of Ron Reagan is now a bag lady
throwing bread crumbs from a bench in the
Senate to us lower class pigeons
Don’t worry, there’s enough to go around
Meet the new boss – same as the old boss
T-r-i-c-k-l-e d-o-w-n e-co-n-o-m-i-c-s-!
But not for all, as Kevin McCarthy
has stepped up to the mike at Fox News
His scrunched forehead looking
like it’s about to pop a vein
This bailout is not for you takers – no way José

Even McConnell had a lapse of compassion
For about two minutes
And that cheesy grin on Rand Paul’s face
Let’s re-litigate the Afghan War
With the body count rising on the television crawl like
the old tickertapes tallying the burgers sold at MacDonald’s
As the childish milk white pukes mill about on the Senate floor
Like confused cattle in a pen looking for the door
“We don’t know what to do! We don’t know what to do!”
Wait just a minute – there’s a disturbance – some
young woman has crashed this den of sloth
She’s holding up a plan
“A plan? In this fucking place?
We don’t have plans! The audacity!
Run for cover fella’s, it’s AOC!”
With that Green New Deal of hers’
That’s worse than broccoli.
Wipe that red lipstick off your face young lady
This is a serious solemn place with a tradition
Of doing absolutely nothing

Over in the House they’re already sounding the battle cry
We’re going to look into this – just you wait and see
There is sure as shit going to be another:

Investigation! Investigation!! Investigation!!!
Investigation! Investigation!! Investigation!!!
Investigation! Investigation!! Investigation!!!
Investigation! Investigation!! Investigation!!!

Hey have you heard? The House is conducting
Another Investigation!!!!!!
Isn’t that just what we need?
While the homeless die in the streets
Poor kids can’t get their school lunches
And everyone’s running out of toilet paper, but
when in a pinch just use The Constitution (1787)
Shelter in place? My kids are hungry, but
I sure enough want me another investigation
That should solve everything

Wait just a minute – the disgruntled kids have
been located again – out in the rose garden
Clamoring to have their voices heard
So the Mad King lets them up into the oval office
And the nubile bikinied sun goddesses dance on his desk
As the margarita mixers whirr Trump dons a
festive sombrero while shaking colorful maracas
that he stole off a Mexican detained at the border
They’re doing the limbo, and sucking Jello-shots
off his fat fucking belly, while in the background
Secret Service Agents discretely gyrate to the Macarena
From his stiff historic hanging portrait Honest Abe
surveys the scene thinking:
This party’s sooo lame. Where’s a decent
Mariachi Band when you need them?
Oh, that’s right, ICE locked them all up.
And just when it looks likes this rager is starting to lose
its mojo, Wild Mike Pence suddenly shows, and digging the
vibe, he starts groping his crotch like Michael Jackson, and
flicking and twitching his tongue like Gene Simmons
Rudely awaked from her slumber in the next room, Malania
hastily gussies up and changes into a designer nightgown, and
then in matronly fashion, brings a party platter of Ectasy and
Gummy Bears infused with THC to the soiree, and with this heaven
sent shot of adrenaline, the pandemonium flames on into the night
For why shouldn’t they have to fight for their right to party?
And why should they have to worry about this trifling pandemic thing?

Nothing’s going to happen to any of them.

John C. Krieg is a retired landscape architect and land planner who formerly practiced in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He is also retired as an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist and currently holds seven active categories of California state contracting licenses, including the highest category of Class A General Engineering. He has written a college textbook entitled Desert Landscape Architecture (1999, CRC Press). John has had pieces published in A Gathering of the Tribes, Alternating Current, Blue Mountain Review, Clark Street Review, Conceit, Homestead Review, Indolent Books, Line Rider Press, LOL Comedy, Lucky Jefferson, Magazine of History and Fiction, Oddball Magazine, Palm Springs Life, Pandemonium, Pegasus, Pen and Pendulum, Saint Ann’s Review, Squawk Back, The Book Smuggler’s Den, The Courtship of Winds, The Mindful Word, The Scriblerus, The Writing Disorder, Twist & Twain, and Wilderness House Literary Review. In conjunction with filmmaker/photographer Charles Sappington, Mr. Krieg has completed a two-part documentary film entitled Landscape Architecture: The Next Generation (2010). In some underground circles John is considered a master grower of marijuana and holds as a lifelong goal the desire to see marijuana federally legalized. Nothing else will do. To that end he has two books coming out this year being published by Red Dashboard LLC Publications entitled: More Marijuana Tales and It’s Just Marijuana.

Stephen Priest

The Heart of the Outbreak

The ambulance siren’s
the crow and the lullaby.
And every hour,
the church bell,
the church bell.
I wash my hands.
I wash my hands.
I spray the doorknob
and floor with 409.
I wash the 409.
I wash the soap.
I go for a walk,
it’s seedtime spring,
wan-sun-warmed air,
but around every corner
is someone
and every someone’s
a hospitable threat.
I write to the person I love.
It’s easier to write
to people you love now
because technology;
it isn’t any easier
to be alone.
In Ireland,
a country a friend
from 1998
called “third-world”
because of its boggy
internet, a country I hope
to be homesick in again;
in Ireland,
in the liminal drizzles
of history, when plagues
were greater and more arcane,
monks sheltered
in man-sized, deserted beehives,
with nettles for beds
and maybe a rooster for a friend.
Next year, in a decade,
friends, no friends,
I’ll walk into those beehives
again. I have to believe.


Stephen Priest grew up in Dayton, OH and now lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY. His poems (sometimes under the pseudonym Gergen Manstoff) have appeared in 32 Poems, The Agriculture Reader, Birmingham Poetry Review, Barrow Street, cellpoems, Juked, Subtropics, and other publications. His unpublished first manuscript has been a semi-finalist, runner-up, or finalist for a number of book awards.

Lawrence Brown

Foundation

Streaming through the freeway,
on my way home,
to Rialto I drive
in a metered haze
unencumbered by traffic.

My elderly parents—both in their 80s and
contrary as ever—
safely in my childhood home await
Stater Bros groceries
procured by their youngest child and
only son—now in his 50s—
speeding alongside the Santa Ana River
from Southern Orange County.

In this time of disease,
it is a time of release
and the journey from
County to County
taken untold times over
the past thirty years
(from the initial fleeing
of the Empire in the 1980s,
so pocketed in LA blown smog
as to choke back a yearning to stay),
but never with this consistency.
Now the trips are survival,
and the former Alpha Beta
still producing sustenance
for a family fractured.

The house is relatively the same—
above Baseline and West of the Bench—
a demarcation over time unrecognizable.
The Orange groves, once a battlefield
for adventure-seeking youth,
now filled with tract housing,
create a pattern with no room to grow,
to feel out the space between.

Still one open lot around the corner—
the neighbors banded together and refused to allow a strip mall—
signals a memory of time past,
puppy dogs buried in silent reverie,
BMX bikes lurching through self-made courses,
and I take my traditional drive
down the neighborhood street
to make sure that not
too much has changed.

With mask secured, I bring the groceries—
ice cream, graham crackers, ribs—
and meet the parents in the garage.
I do not go in the house,
been warned not to,
and we do not touch
but stay away,
within hearing distance,
yet the bifurcation is complete.
I am here but separated.

I do my part, willingly.
Deliver vitals, conversation,
and some physical labor in the backyard.
It is overgrown—the backyard—but
still recognizable.
Eucalyptus windbreak standing tall,
housing my penthouse tree fort
obscured by redolent leaves
and the years.

Mom—now pushing a walker but on her fanny working the soil—
has weeded through the steeling sun of midday,
and Dad—almost 90, (tall, straight, solid)
with hobbled knees and flowering bunions, stands
resilient like San Berdoo—
still has his hodgepodge of collected
do-it-yourself materials, no longer
beehives but now boxes of worms
snaking through nutrient rich soil
waiting to be sprinkled on withering plants.

The virus has changed the world—for now—
but some old patterns for the better.
The trips to Rialto, my slippery past,
are now fortified by the daunting reality
we are collectively spinning,
outside norms established without forethought,
and must step back from the centrifuge
to support the base
that is foundation
for the whole.

4-28-2020

Lawrence Brown grew up in Rialto for the first 18 years of his life and now lives in Mission Viejo. His parents still live in his childhood house and he visits often. He teaches high school English in Long Beach.

Charlene Langfer

In the Present Moment

The days of the pandemic continue on. We are at home.
No distractions now, only a little rain. My dog Honey and I look
out at the spring flowers on the porch, purple pansies agog,
what blooms like crazy, a panoply of snapdragons, yellow
and red and purple. I fix a small meal of brown rice, carrots,
green tea, an oatmeal cookie. This is how it is every day
now. A notebook full of new poems about remaining in place,
a new life in the middle of the busy old one, I grow older
but I still think of the gardens I will plant in the future and
what has gone by in my life, how I did the best I knew how to do.
My dog catches toys I kick to her with my shoe, she’s an ace
perfect hand-eye coordination, quick, ready to beat me at this game
that only she knows the rules to. I work on a 1000 piece jigsaw
puzzle of central park and the rest of Manhattan, maybe
impossible to finish but I believe I can do it. We are stuck
here in the present moment, Buddhists, our prayer flags
hanging near the Buddha in the center of the room, ringing
the mediation bell early A.M. after we wake, walking further
than we ever imagined even in the rain, past the palm trees
and the canyon’s rocky edge, in the world we are in,
the darkening sky coming on us, a touch of sun, all the way
to the moon coming up over the mountains and the wild stars above

Charlene Langfur is an organic gardener, a LGBT writer, A Syracuse University Graduate Writing Fellow and her most current publications include a series of poems in Tiger Moth and Hawk & Handsaw, Halcyon Days, The Voices Project and Emrys, and forthcoming a series of poems in Weber: The Contemporary West.

Collaboration: Day 75

The Revolution is Here

“And what is it America has failed to hear?”— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Did you see Jesus walking down the street crucified again?
Breaking the cycle requires courage anew.
I carried a sign for peace in 1969.
Injustice begetting violence is déjà vu.

End police violence, we won’t be silenced.

While we can still breathe, never stop saying their names.
Listen to their voices and their unspoken voices.
We will teach our children to teach their children.
See the difference between protester and agitator voices.

End the brutality and mass incarceration in our nation.

Kitchen tables splintered by traffic stops.
No matter what, the next day, women with brooms, sweeping away.
Infected at the time of our founding. The cure is love.
Looting is anger, spewing from OPPRESSION.

End police violence, we won’t be silenced.

Souls and minds, open up your eyes to the visible!
May we regain peace in our nation.
Seasons cycle: hummingbirds flit, sun shines, unjust cities burn.
United we protest: no justice, no peace. Ya basta!

End the brutality and mass incarceration in our nation.

So take a knee, for one who can no longer.
I won’t stop taking a knee for justice.
Take a knee for justice, not hatred.
We are not dumb.

End police violence, we won’t be silenced.

What is there unsaid?
What remains undone?
What is left besides a revolution?
We’re already halfway there.

Original prompt: Write a poem of protest.

May 31, 2020

For George Floyd

Barbara Berg, Frances J. Vasquez, Kris Lovekin, Cindi Neisinger, Rose Y. Monge, Jeff Rogers, Natalie Champion, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Lisa Alvarez, Nan Friedley
Ruth Bavetta, Joseph Milazzo, Tameeca Griffin, Liz Gonzalez, Gudelia Vaden, Alexandra Kuhlmann, Rick Champion, Magdalena Nunez, Christine Perkins, Larry Burns, Kamelyta Noor

Collaboration: Day 74

In Our House

I woke up thinking of Santa Claus
Oh it’s the spicy shrimp smell in our house!!

(How the eyes water in our house.)

I woke up and made coffee and yogurt for two, but had no strawberries
I guess honey and walnuts will have to do in our house

(How we make do in our house.)

What’s the matter here, we’re outta coffee and beer
I guess a tea then whiskey will have to do in our house

(The order is what’s true in our house.)

There are catnip toys and a tree for viewing
but no pesky mice in our house.

(How we refuse order in our house.)

One on a bike, one in a car, one running,
Left laziness behind in our house.

(How a current runs though our house.)

La cuarentena to our casas gives us
pause for Zoom cultura in our house.

(How we do connect in our house.)

Time passes slowly, then fast
this curved path bending us in our house.

(How time circles back in our house)

Protests on TV, a rocket launched to space.
It feels like the ’60s in our house.

(How together alone we are in our house.)

Racism and anger will always arouse
Let’s work towards social justice in our house.

(How injustice is a fire burning down our house.)

Burcu Misirli Chatham, Nan Friedley, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Kamelyta Noor, Natalie Champion, Rose Y. Monge, Kris Lovekin, Barbara Berg, Frances J. Vasquez

Collaboration: Day 73

The Great Pandemic Weekend

Chopping fresh cilantro today
for guacamole with friends.
I am an avocado aficionado.

No set plans as yet. I will let
my spirit guide me as I enjoy
the great weather. Enjoy a delicious
carne asada combination plate
from the Alberto’s drive-thru.

I’m Zooomily looking forward
to my virtual church
book club meeting tonight.

A long overdue date at the salon
with the miracle worker. Picking up
“The Great Epidemic”
at Cellar Door Books. Diving in.

Sitting on the patio, watching
the birds, lizards, butterflies, squirrels and rabbits
zoom around while eating
an ice cream sandwich.

Birthday party for
my 10 year old grandson…
pigs in a blanket and cake pops.
Gourmet dining.

Saturday night we share a grill
with friends but bring your own
beer, feedbag, and tools
to corn your own cob.

“Hey Love” on the record player,
legs crossed high, Sangria in my hand
and summer on my mind.

A midnight stroll in the elephant garden
under the full moon and twinkling stars
with a zoom beverage in hand.

Continuing the attack on the backyard
hedge and the encroaching honeysuckle.

Spending time with my family!
Swimming in the pool
Hearing again the sound
of ripples in Lake Perris

Happily joining Mike’s History Hike
for the first time. It will be
a face covering, socially distancing,
educational event in Downtown Riverside.
Oh hiking in the sweet sun!
Here I come, baby!!
Being out in nature with my camera

A writers retreat for me
on Sunday. Not exactly
what I envisioned—
Zooming is the new transition.
A delightful—although virtual—
gathering of scribes

Watching recent San Bernardino Singing
videos and hanging with friends
at the SB Singing
cumulative reading on Sunday

Walk write zoom nap nap zoom
eat garden zoom nap eat nap zoom
walk eat netflix no
chill alone again naturally 😉
A run along the river bottom

Mumbai calls; let’s dance at daybreak!

Original prompt: What is something you are looking forward to this weekend?

Liz Gonzalez, Rose Y. Monge, Robin Longfield, Nan Friedley, Frances J. Vasquez, Thomas Vaden, Debby Johnson, Kris Lovekin, Gudelia Vaden, Cindi Neisinger, Natalie Champion, Larry Burns, Tameeca Griffin, Kamelyta Noor, Ai Miyamoto Kelley, Rakhi Shelat, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Raquel Valdez, Faith Dincolo, Rob McMurray, James Luna, Vicki Broach

Collaboration: Day 72

At Home in the I.E.

An early ’70s swim, the chlorine and smog
mix in the petri dish of my lungs

In the moonless night off Watkins Drive,
a lone coyote tentatively yips

A road to donkeys, through a mountain
into a canyon, Reche Canyon!

Turn the left corner at Piccadilly Circus,
and there, the pub is waiting with my lunch

The chaparral that was once widespread
is still there in the nooks and crannies

In the late 1950s, living in abandoned
homes near the Mira Loma Air Force Supply Depot
on Etiwanda Ave next to
the Italian vineyards now forever gone

Steelworker here to represent!
Worked in Fontana most of my life

Riverside is not Detroit, wasn’t
in 1974, isn’t now can hide its small town
feel but it always emerges somehow

Joan Didion lied for the guys and blamed
the Santa Anas as to why Lucille Miller
killed her cheating husband in San Bernardino;
apparently Didion doesn’t understand betrayal

In the 1980s, Dad bought a bar
The Big O on Holt and Grove in Ontario

Breathing Taco Tuesday smog
in the drive through at Baker’s

Hiking the Sycamore Canyon hills
in search of superbloom poppies

Agua Mansa Cemetery, in its beautiful
decay, reminds me of what once
was, and the intruder I remain

Sweet smell of orange blossoms —
don’t replace it with a housing development.

The fruit stand and groves
on Ontario replaced with overpriced homes

The citrus groves near UC Riverside
remind us of the importance of the citrus
industry in Riverside’s economy

Meyer lemon trees blossoming near
the white noise of crawling highways

A little patch of bliss, fragrant
flowers and the sunshine of home

During the summers under the spreading shady elms,
we love to dance at Fairmount park

I can’t imagine living
anywhere without purple trees

Alexander Akin, Steve Perry, Debby Johnson, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Rob McMurray, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Kamelyta Noor, Frances T. Borella, Sharon Sekhon, Cindy Bousquet Harris, Kris Lovekin, Raine Lefaivre-Naggi, Andrea Jill Fingerson, Natalie Champion, Barbara Berg, Rose Y. Monge, Cindi Neisinger, Gudelia Vaden, Robin Longfield

Original prompt: Write one line of poetry that evokes “place” to write about the I.E.