David Stone

Love Lines for Your Valentine

Still need to write your Valentine? Use lines from a local poet.

Someone seeking clarification about another’s romantic intent and who enjoys the use of lowercase letters like e. e. cummings might appreciate a line from Cindy Rinne’s “Another Park Poem.” Inspired by a walk in Riverside’s Fairmont Park, Rinne wrote, “did you try to carve the bark/ leave a heart…” Rinne lives in Redlands. Her next work is titled “Quiet Lantern.”

Courageous individuals who are willing to be vulnerable might use lines from Cati Porter’s poem “Clearly.” “Look at me/ and tell me that you want me, that you want to heart/ the distance and that you cannot in the object see/ a flaw, and though I am (flawed) I am for you, and/ there is a small tight thought that is wound in me,/ that knowing that you love, a lightning, a lightning/ on the inside: so that you see; so that you know.” Porter lives in Riverside. Her latest book “My Skies of Small Horses” comes out this month.

Seasoned lovers may like to use lines from “Litany” from Claremont poet Lucia Galloway’s latest chapbook “The Garlic Peelers:” “O love, what is your wish?/ We’ve half again as much to say as we have said./ Set down the goblet, and the carmine wine/ sheets down its sides to pool in the bowl./ Let’s drink our words instead of hoarding them.”

Sweethearts who remind you of characters from the The Big Bang Theory should appreciate lines from Marsha Schuh’s “You and Me in Binary.” Appropriately published in the computer textbook Schuh co-wrote with Stanford Rowe, Schuh imagines a world based on four, considers the dominance of the decimal in our world and closes her poem with pondering the numerical effects of becoming a couple: “Then we unlearn it all /learn to speak binary,/ a better way,/ two as opposed to eight or ten,/ the most significant bit,/ the least significant bit/ one-two, on-off, you-we,/ binary.” Schuh resides in Ontario.

Lovers in a more ambiguous relationship may resonate with lines from the Palm Springs poet and writer Ruth Nolan. In her forthcoming book, “Ruby Mountain,” she writes, “shouldn’t I pretend you did it for love/ shouldn’t I believe it was a mistake/ shouldn’t I wonder why not/ shouldn’t I wonder why. . . .”

Those pained may appreciate the words of the title persona in Nikia Chaney’s “Sis Fuss.” The poem “Syllogizing Sis Fuss” closes: “we all hurt. And if we all/ hurt then we all hurt/ each other and the next.” Chaney lives in Rialto.

Jennifer and Chad Sweeney from Redlands are a couple, who are both accomplished poets. Jennifer provides profundity and striking imagery in her book “Salt Memory.” She writes, “As water poured into the heart flows out the palms, so does love return, as thirst, as satiation—the shape the lost ocean has carved onto the salt brick desert.”

With characteristic quirky humor in his book “White Martini for the Apocalypse,” Chad writes, “It was love./ She taught me to drive her bulldozer./ I taught her to forge my signature!”

In earthier lines from his poem “Effects,” first published in Caliban, Chad writes, “The best sex in the world happens during conjugal visits. I’ve gotten myself into prison twice, just to have it. That’s why I’m calling. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Chad Sweeney teaches creative writing at Cal State San Bernardino.

The longing and transformative power of love comes through in the closing lines of Judy Kronenfeld’s “Listen” from her forthcoming collection, “Bird Flying Through the Banquet,” 
“Let your eyes rest/ on my face. Arrest me/ in turn. I will burst/ from the seed/ of myself.” Kronenfeld is professor emerita from UCR.

Ontario poet Tim Hatch gives words to the desire to comfort one’s dearest when he or she is gone: “Scatter my memory where my memories are sweetest. Gulls cry, salt breeze carries me away. When you’re there you can breathe deep, take me inside and remember.”

For a wider array of classic poems to use for Valentine’s Day, search the Poetry Foundation’s website for “Poems for Valentines” or the poets.org site for “love poems.”

Karen Greeenbaum-Maya



Hard times relieve the roses of technique,
unmingle their sources,
call out to pre-graft roots.
New canes wind and sprawl
under the open candelabra
of hybrid branches
pruned by the book.

Throwback canes sprout floribunda bouquets,
medieval canes ridiculously thick with thorns,
a flashback of petals lying flat and single,
no Fibonacci array of petals
surging clockwise, then counter,
ever increasing.

A continuity of roses,
Before Homer, before history.
Petals darker than royal blood,
always the same deep red,
no matter how the plant was remade
Fed up with all that inbreeding,
revealed as Rosewood.
A rose is rosy as a rose.
Before there were words, there were roses.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German Lit major, and Pushcart nominee, no longer lives for Art, but still thinks about it a lot. She has lived in Claremont for 30 years, during which time her camellias’ blooming has moved up six weeks, and squirrels have moved in, reliably eating all the apricots and peaches. Her poem “Real Poem” received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Contest. Kattywompus Press published her chapbooks Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Links to on-line poems at www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com/ and to on-line photos at www.flickr.com/photos/pieplate/ 

Gary Keith



the grass: cut, green, immaculate,

strive balloons:                                        heart shaped,

                              heart red,

                  held low:

                                                                                                                       strings tugging

at mute stones


Gary Keith graduated from Claremont Graduate University with an MFA in Painting. He continues to make art, mostly collages. Keith started writing poetry about five years ago. Both his visual and written work have an economy to them that allows him to completely grasp them and play with their form, rhythms and ideas and give no quarter to filler.

Lucia Galloway

Conversation at Night

Bordering a walk between two buildings was a low wall where we sat in a ring of light to have the conversation we’d agreed to.  To talk it out.  Low wall beside a walk between two buildings, your shiny bicycle just there. In front of us while we had the conversation we’d agree to.  People walked by, glanced at us in our conversation, dodged the bicycle—its fat tires.  Under the light, we were prize fighters circling each other in the ring?  We were dancing partners wheeling warily, listening for the end of the last reprise?  These are tired metaphors not up to figuring what we felt or said. What anybody saw.  Everybody saw the bicycle—its fat tires.  That frame, those spokes and tires. These alone were witnesses to what went down that night beside the walkway in the ring of light.

Meditation on a Line from Martha Ronk’s “Quotidian”

Scape:     An act of escaping.   A thoughtless transgression.
A representation of a scenic view, as in landscape, seascape,
cityscape, etc. The shaft of a column.

–The New Shorter OED

Under a tangle of dark canopy, a scrappy understory,
in a surge of shrubs and stems and leaves,
the air cools, and my skin grows expectant.  It waits
to join my other senses drinking in the wilderness.

High in the trees a tht,tht,tht,tht,tht … dry and insistent
as the rasping whir of an electric fan slowing to a stop.

Down the path, two birds scissor across at knee-height,
swift and bright, snipping swatches of air.

A sycamore, whiter-of-trunk than the others in its grove—
their patchy, brown and khaki bark still clinging—seems
necessary, like the steeple that focuses a landscape.

And yet, I find that I’ve come over-fed to this
botanic garden wilderness—no hunger rising.
I’ve brought language with me like a lunch, like a camera
with its set of lenses: the tropes, the images and meters

of Wordsworth’s inscape.  The calendar photos,
travel folders, and letters from the Sierra Club.  I am
no Annie Dillard, unburdened pilgrim on her daily trek.

My shadow startles me when I break cover into sunlight
at my back.  My legs have become pillars, grand in the
oblique morning sun.  They support a shortened torso,

totem head.  No expectancy, no more waiting under
verdant cover of old trees for wilderness to speak.
Only this striding forward in a gray and shrinking skin.

Of Petrarch and Cigarettes

My thoughts are fresh today,
missing that sexy idyll
of flip-flops and bare legs
caressed by summer’s sun.

Missing that sexy idyll
of Petrarch’s Laura
caressed by summer’s sun,
I smoked a fag, but still I think

of Petrarch’s Laura.
Too much already.
I smoked a fag, but still I think
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?

Too much already
about books and reading
Petrarch.  Is that sexy?
Let’s talk now of smoking.

About books and reading
generally, not enough is said.
But let’s talk now of smoking
cigarettes, their glowing tips.

Generally, not enough is said
about the gift of cool white
cigarettes, their glowing tips.
(don’t even think of sex!)

About the gift of cool white
sheets, I’m fantasizing now,
not thinking, not! of sex.
My thoughts are fresh today.

Southern California poet Lucia Galloway earned her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles.  Her published collections are Venus and Other Losses (Plain View, 2010) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (Finishing Line, 2005).  Poems appear widely in journals, including Comstock Review, Midwest Quarterly, Tar River, Centrifugal  Eye, Innisfree, and Inlandia; in the anthologies Thirty Days (Tupelo, 2015) and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque, 2015).  Her poem “Open to the Elements” was a top-prize winner in RhymeZone’s 2014-15 Poetry Contest.  Galloway’s manuscript “The Garlic Peelers” won the QuillsEdge Press 2015 Chapbook Competition and was a Finalist in Tupelo’s 2015 Snowbound Competition. She co-hosts “Fourth Sundays,” a reading series at the Claremont Library.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Cattail Fever

Root-bound pot of cattails packed vegetal solid,
black pot cracked, stretched into white plastic
the roots a dense mat, truly hair-vegetable,
Mandarin pun on ‘long life’: ‘can never die’.
           Roots tough as wire slice your bare fingers.
Crack open the pot to release
not roots but shoots prowling around slow inside the pot
           circling, hell-bent on digging in
then rising up, zombies called from their graves,
hunting fresh food, driven to take hold.
           At the edge shoots escape, hang over the side
like cold fingers, rusty ivory, cracked,
weathered like zombie fingers.
You must chop them off.
The host will not stop, will not die.

Once the pot gives way, cattail spears
will invade the entire water garden.
Zombies hanging over the side,
they’re thumping solid against the pot,
no need to rush when pressure is all.

Crouch low in the ditch among cattails.
           They crowd the banks
in ditch water clear like you’ve never seen it.
Snow melt numbs your feet,
your hands are become strangers.
           Cattails are Wal-Mart in a ditch,
strange flour, sweet syrup, Cossack asparagus.
           Over-ripe, even green, boil them and eat up.
Iris rhizomes, those will kill you.

You will die in this green-gold place under the trees
where the light is filtered as through water
so cold you forget how to swim.

Cattails, the Wal-Mart of rushes,
           zombies in a ditch
spreading by pollen slough, by cold white spears.
           To destroy them
cut off the fingers, below the water-line

drown the new sprouts do not let them breathe


Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist in California. For five years, she reviewed restaurants for the Claremont Courier, variously in heroic couplets, anapest, and imitating Hemingway. In an earlier life, she was a German Lit major and read poetry for credit, earning her B.A. from Reed College. She started writing when she was nine. Since 2007, more than 70 poems have appeared in many publications, most recently The Centrifugal Eye, Word Gumbo, Convergence, and dotdotdash. Her first chapbook, Eggs Satori, was a finalist of note in Pudding House Publications’ 2010 chapbook competition. She keeps water gardens.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a clinical psychologist in Claremont, California. She has been writing since she was nine. In another life, she was a German Lit major and read poetry for credit. She has placed poems and photographs in many publications, including Off the Coast, Umbrella, Abyss & Apex, qarrtsiluni, Poemeleon, Lilliput Review, In Posse Review, and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Her first chapbook, Eggs Satori, received an Honorable Mention in Pudding House Publications’ 2010 competition, and will be published in 2011. Her work can be viewed in this issue here.

Yi Shun Lai


     They called it “Squaremont,” and they called me a “townie,” but I didn’t know enough to be insulted.

     At college, in a small, eucalyptus-scented, no-man’s-land bordered by a quarry pit and a considerably more venerable institution, I was less than a mile from where I went to high school and about a half-mile from where I went to elementary school.

    At college, they asked questions a local should know, and I answered like a newcomer. I grew up in a deliberate fog of commerce and consumption: Malls and modeling school; Range Rovers and baby Bimmers in the high school parking lot, with my parents’ Merc or Lexus crouched among them.

     My classmates wanted to know where to go mountain biking; where the best hiking trails were; where they could, as minors, buy beer.
I didn’t know.

     One day at track practice, I was bundled into a van and driven up the hill to the local mountain, where I’d only been to ski once over a decade and a half of residence. (Far more mountainous pastures could be found two hours to the east, and an outlet mall was on the way.)

     Practice was hard that day. The constant elevation was grueling. I never knew such a hill could be found there. And yet, I remember it just barely.

    A scant six months later, some college friends and I took to the mountain again, this time for a day-long backpacking trip. I was way out of my element, struggling to look confident in my off-market hiking boots. My trailmates stood loose and strong as they slid down a hillside made entirely of scree, and I fought to control my limbs and my panic.

     That day, too, zipped quickly out of memory.

    But it must have made a difference: Over the ensuing years, I logged countless miles in other states and countries, from Paris to Maine and Taipei, and ran races on the trails of New York City and the streets of Washington, D.C. I rode my bicycle across Montana, and from Boston to New York.

     And then, one day, on a bi-annual visit back to Squaremont from my new home on the east coast, I laced up my tired running shoes and went for a run. On a lark, I followed some buried memory up a long asphalt hill and around a gentle banking right hand turn, and a muscular memory took over.

     My legs turned over and over, and the lactic acid beginning to pool in my calves and quads reminded me I’d been there before. But where? I breathed deeply of eucalyptus and cedar; had to refrain from slowing down to touch the firm paddles of the succulents growing by my feet, although I’d never noticed them before.

     I ran my palm through tall laurel bushes as I passed them, relishing the whip and snap of branches against my skin; ground pink and black peppercorns under my feet and regretted not taking more time to smell them as I left them. Soft, unruly groundcover spilled onto the sidewalk from otherwise well manicured yards, and I remembered the wild strawberries that passed for groundcover in my own childhood backyard and stepped gingerly through it, although I had no real way of knowing if there were strawberries in it or not.

     Just across the street, the black markings of a wildfire added insult to injury—I could smell the burned onion grass and sage, although the thing had happened months before this particular jog.

     I stepped into a deep wide swath of gravel, the chosen material for someone’s new driveway, and my ankles wobbled with the mostly forgotten memory of loose scree in my boots.

     My legs took me to the false top of the hill, and I jogged in place there for a moment. I could choose to continue up the hill, or I could make the right-hand turn, downhill, and make it an easy loop back home.

     Either way, it didn’t matter. It was all new territory.

Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Hard-Boiled Egg

I was born with a hard-boiled egg in my mouth.  Of course I’d already peeled it, or I’d never have been passed.  Stuck in the dark of that red place, listening to muffled booms.  No Mozart.  Nothing to read.  Sooner or later my mother would have crunched and cinched herself to regain flat abs.  That would be my second chance.  I was born to hit the ground running, tuck and roll, but I was slow, so slow.  Like trying to learn to ride my bike, launched down a cement sidewalk.  I fell as I waited for magic to strike and keep me traveling.  I was born to wait for peaches to fill out, bring the smell of summer.  I washed them like a raccoon to get rid of the fuzz, I hid the pits behind the hose.  I was born to wait on the ocean floor, squinting up through weight of water, looking for faint dazzle of light, afraid of distant air.

Lucia Galloway


How we set ourselves apart.  How we projected, as halo,
blood and fire, the signatures of our humanity.  Found a coal
in the mineral-laden earth to make a line
of dyes from hematite, from cinnabar, and color with lean
bright orange our capes and winding cloths.  How the ache
in us persisted like a hunger for some choice
not yet presented, for a hue that we could hail
as shout, not merely tolerate as echo.
Here is a chain of story: how we came to cinch
our grandeur, display in triptych and tunic our élan.
How, fortunate, we found the color crimson that had lain
as pigment in tiny parasites that etched a kind of lace
on pads of nopal—that cactus wild and hale
in Mexico, Peru.  These insect bodies found their niche
as lading in Spanish ships, traded across an ocean.
How cochineal red became the crepe de Chine
of many merchants’ ventures. As if the ail-
ment of our evanescence would surely heal
if only we had, of red, sufficient cache.



From scraggly trunks of the Boswellia, a resin
flows when those who seek it slash its skin.
It weeps, and tears solidify.  Intrepid harvesters risk
danger from the venomous snake
living in those trees that eke
their life from sun and rock but little rain.
How is it that with tears, with snake and knife
we humans trace our shifts and turns?  The making of a scar.
Charred Boswellia resin ground to powder, pressed to cakes
of kohl. Cleopatra wore the eyeliner—black ink
to inscribe a chapter in the story of Rome’s imperial arc.
Matthew the gospel writer paints a different scene:
gifts borne from the East by men of rank—
congealed tears as homage to a baby born in an inn.
Aromas balsamic-spicy, lemony, hinting of conifer sink
into the mesh of history.  Along the Incense
Road from ancient Ubar, Franks
brought fragrant smoke to Europe’s censer,
salve to souls and bodies weary from the race.



What other matriarch bears a load
of such extensive progeny?  Chance
named her after ancient Chalcedon.
Then, as favored stone for rulers’ seals she took the lead.
Cognomen for the fibrous quartz clan:
agate, carnelian, onyx, chrysoprase, heady
aventurine, green jasper, and heliotrope laced
with red or yellow.  This lustrous family clad
Moses’ brother in a breastplate of splendor and ado.
A jeweler’s yen for beads and bezels honed
merchants’ dreams, put caravans on every lane
of trade, while European carvers made from haloed
agate milky cameos.  And when the lode
of local rock ran thin, merchants could lade
the holds of ships with agate from Brazil. O halcyon
years of intaglio, of Florentine commesso!  Not cloyed,
although a tad complacent, these quartzes dance
through history—a fantasia, un dolce.