Collaboration: Day 71

Open with Care

My heart is swaddled in caution tape

As the city opens, I hope to be reunited
With family in other counties and states
But like the asylum inmates of “Queen of Hearts”
I feel safest at home

As an old woman I know to beware, like
Being happy it’s a sunny day but
Knowing it eventually will turn into a scorcher


The exhaustion of hope

Neighbors wave, but I can’t
See their smiles

As the city opens my senses
Are heightened, like animal
Instincts. If you’re not wearing
A mask, I’m frightened

Hoping San Francisco will lift
The Shelter in Place Order soon so I can
Visit my family in Riverside
Still Wearing masks all the time
Scared to fly on an airplane too soon

I am mindful, hopeful, but let’s not let
Haste make waste

Introverted minds like mine cannot conceive
The urgency some seem to feel for this reprieve

Hoping the anxiety of being with others
Won’t last for years
Praying for the miraculous
Vaccine that will allay tears and fears

All I want is to hit my beloved
Boxing bags. Oh I miss thee

Looking forward to the two-block
Walk to Cherry Blossom Salon
Where my locks will be trimmed, not shorn
Womxn over 50 can have long hair (and more)

Soft opening today at 4; community spiritcon2020
With special appearances by the facts (original members).
As the world spins faster reminding myself to keep
Listening to bird songs, and smell fragrant blossoms

All I could hope for everybody out and about
Clear understanding of what just happened
What is still happening
What may still happen

Open open open but don’t forget
How very fragile this all is

Original prompt: Write one line of poetry that expresses a kind of hopefulness around the County (and country’s) slow reopening.

Robin Longfield, Rose Y. Monge, Natalie Champion, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Debby Johnson, Larry Burns, Kris Lovekin, Frances T. Borella, Cindi Neisinger, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Alexander Akin, Kamelyta Noor, Gudelia Vaden, Douglas McCulloh, Liz Gonzalez, Lisa Alvarez, Joseph Milazzo

Collaboration: Day 70

In the News Today

“Racist notes taped to homes in the Bay Area”
All she needed was paper, pen, tape and hate.
Fold and fly. Celebrate National Paper Airplane Day.
Nero played golf.

She chokes unleashed dog. Calls Cops:
”An African American Man is threatening my life!”
Cop’s knee on his neck. He dies in the street.
Another unarmed black man died at the hands of the police today.

Teachers with extra 600 dollars.
Thinking why to go back to schools.
Survey says: women carry the pandemic workload.
Learn from the German model, folks.

“Food Service Workers Are on the Brink
of a Mental Health Crisis,” and those who can
step up for these people who put
food on their plate and serve them.

Snip snip, soon it’ll be time to tip
cleared the way for a beauty parlor day
How about detain those suspected of hate –
protect Chicago and 38th.

Oh, mammalian brains of so many, you
misunderstand your bodily sensations and believe
they are more serious than they are.
Lance Armstrong remains unrepentant and vile.

Happy days are here in Riverside County.
On this day the Jacarandas drop their blooms like purple rain.
“We still have a long way to go to where we need to be.
We are walking into the unknown.” Gov. Newsom.

Live streams. Missing
my St. Agnes Catholic Church family
Having never set foot in a church
Jesus hardly noticed they had closed.

Covid cases are rising as states open up.
“Let everything be ok,” I say into my teacup
Never in history have the casinos and churches
been closed at the same time.

Original prompt: Look at a news source and write one line of poetry that uses the information from that source.

Burcu Misirli Chatham, Natalie Champion, Nan Friedley, liz gonzalez, Debby Johnson, Barbara Berg, Frances T. Borella, Rose Y. Monge, Cindy Bousquet Harris, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Rob McMurray, Lisa Alvarez, Gudelia Vaden, Frances J. Vasquez, Sharon Sekhon, Raine Lefaivre-Naggi, John DiFusco

Collaboration: Day 69

Lives on the Line

My heart is heavy
for the frontlines,
essential workers
and servicemen who died.
Some fought with guns
and others masks.

Remembering my peers
who fought a war
that never was.

Unable to say
goodbye still grieving
for their loss.

And we remember
Abraham, Martin and John.

Vintage planes cruised
cobalt skies, saluting
vets at Riverside’s
National Cemetery.

Medal of Honor
bestowed on brave heroes:
Ysmael R. Villegas,
Salvador J. Lara,
& Jesus Duran.
We are grateful!

Our Flanders Field
is bereft of poppies—
see the red asphalt,
red concrete,
the schoolroom floor,
from sea to sea—
must this be our legacy?

Nameless. Faceless.
In the marble
and the rippling
field of red poppies.

“This machine surrounds
hate and forces
it to surrender.”
Pete’s banjo cajoled
and inspired.
No force needed.

The flag will still
fly while some die.
We mourn those we lost
to Covid-19.

Battered wives hiding
bruises and pain
behind makeup and false smiles
and those brave enough
to save them.

The old me died when
I left you. Thank God.
I’m no longer
at war with you, but
the shrapnel will always
be embedded in me

Honoring courage,
caring, givingness.
Frontline workers.
We are Blessed.

We pray for those
who have died of
May they rest
In peace in our
Heavenly Father’s hands

The candle keeps
burning for our war
with the Pandemic.

God hear our prayers

Original prompt: For Memorial Day, write one line of poem giving thanks for someone who has lost their life in a battle to save ours, including frontline and essential workers in addition to military service.

Frances J. Vasquez, Raine Lefaivre-Naggi, Nan Friedley, Rose Y. Monge, John DiFusco, Cindi Neisinger, Gudelia Vaden, Debby Johnson, Kris Lovekin, Robin Longfield, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Natalie Champion, Ruth Bavetta, Kamelyta Noor

Collaboration: Day 68

Naming the Dead

“Let love clasp grief lest both be drown’d” — Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friends and family tried to be there, Fred.

Just as almighty God knows every little hair on our head,
he was there with his angels to carry you to paradise, Juan.

Kimerlee Nguyen – your words will continue in the lives
of your students who will one day look at the sidewalk
cracks, the jasmine vines and see what is written there.

Jorge Casals put himself through college.
May you have a lovely and spiritual afterlife

Remembering Alice Chavdarian, a loving and generous 92 year-old
Who loved to go on adventures. May you enjoy the Everafter…

Remembering Peggy Rakestraw who loved to read
mystery novels. May you Rest In Peace

Denise Camille Buczek – loved writing birthday cards
and holiday cards, poems and lists
with her signature pen, her pulse in every word.

Championing Hispanic women’s rights always near to your heart.
Your cause considered futile in your generation never faltered.
Q.E.P.D Juanita Valdez

Jermaine Ferro, love came late to you, but at 77 you loved
with a depth and ferocity that can only earned by years of waiting.

Dear Lula, how many grandchildren
will miss your loving arms?

Dear Helen, how many neighbors and friends
already miss your cooking?

June Beverly Hill – your creamed potatoes and fried sweet corn
are the clearest summer day.

How cool you were with your OG bolo ties
and suspenders, Leo. Hats off to your sartorial splendor!

Jesus Melendez –Your birria beef stew was extraordinary
—your extended family called it legendary.
Your heavenly family awaits you at the celestial dining table.

We remember your zeal for life, Alan Merrill, with every
headbang we make to your anthem “I Love Rock’n’ Roll.”

You were a sharecropper’s son, Cornelius, and look
how far you’ve come, only to have it all taken away.

Ann, thank you for believing that all
children deserve equity and access.

Claudia Obermiller – deep-hearted country girl
is a poem and a two-step of her own.

Kious, you were, are, and always will be our angel
As the nurse fighting for others forever and ever

Cynthia Whiting – determined to spoil her granddaughter,
to sweeten the lineage, to see her babies grow.

Joseph Migliucci – we ate zeppolis, eggplant
and chicken parmesan, beef rigatoni from Mario’s
the day we recommitted — words are our matter.

Celia Marcos – one of countless Filipina nurses
who didn’t want to die a hero.

Laneeka, star of the ballroom, feet shimmering
as she dances in Eternity.

Original prompt: Go to the New York Times and write one of line of poetry for one of those memorialized in today’s article about hitting the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths. This poem is open-ended and will be added to until the stay at home order is lifted.

Natalie Champion, Gudelia Vaden, Nan Friedley, Rachelle Cruz, Rose Y. Monge, David Stone, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Debby Johnson

Collaboration: Day 67

Best-Loved Imaginary Books of Spring 2020

On the blue veranda, in the white, wooden swing, armed
with a large iced tea, I am absorbed in
“Ice Dancing With Alan Rickman.”

I’d like to read, “Hunting Souvenirs:
A New Approach,” by John Prine.

By the pool reading “Bowie I’m In Heaven:
a memoir of Ziggy Stardust’s afterlife”

Looking for an entrepreneurial enterprise in case
I lose my job, I picked this up in a Little Library
box set outside a Denver, Colorado house:

“Cynical Capitalism: How to start a business
painting rocks with snarky messages.” Whatever!

“Bootlegging for Dummies part 5: get rich quick
using your bathtub” by Gudelia Vaden.

To read: “I Wish I Was What I Was Before I Became
What I Wasn’t or Was I?” By Mon Artiste Enfant

It’s a glorious rainy day, so what shall I read
today? Maybe, “Jousting with Narwhals:
A Lost History of the Elizabethan Era.”

“Our Family Predictions to 2030,” A gold-embossed
black leather book. Now mom won’t let us out the door!

Locked in my home with more possessions
than I need, I’m thumbing through my latest book,
“Finding Self Worth in Safe Sheltering.”

I’m re-reading, “How America Learned to Value and Support
All of Humanity: The History of Releasing Fear”

Reading about the serendipitous mutations of RNA
to miraculous immunity, “Life and Demise of la Coronavirus.”

Outside in the courtyard reading,
“Human Kindness in the Time of Coronavirus”

“Breathing in Lost Air,” if I could read with no fear
while longing for someone so near.

I adore memoirs with an international flair. I’m reading,
“Waiting for My Close-up” by Dr. Hydroxy Chlo Roquine;

“Trump’s Waterloo: A Brief History of the 2020 Election”;

Order to Please deliver to
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC rush –
“Epidemiology For Dummies”

Original prompt: What imaginary books would you like to read right now if they existed?

Rick Champion, Cindi Neisinger, Natalie Champion, Frances J. Vasquez, Mary Torregrossa, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Rose Y. Monge, Robin Longfield, Cati Porter, Rob McMurray, Gudelia Vaden, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Frances T. Borella, Barbara Berg, Ruth Bavetta, Steve Perry

Collaboration: Day 66

Blue Drift of Sea and Sky

Robin’s egg bides its time, dreaming of sky
The lapis lazuli of a clear, unbroken sky

Turquoise, bringing life into the air
with a song of a nightingale

Cerulean sky, water washed, perfect
backdrop for tonight’s sunset glow

Turquoise waters trickle down
the mountain pass, a breath of fresh air

The cerulean sky deeply melancholic yet
hopefully rhapsodic therein sings with cyan highlights

Sapphire sprays ocean-scented playfully massage
my weary toes with their briny, frothy goodness

The azure sky tasted like whipped berries
on a fluffy silent vanilla scented cloud

My greenish opal eyes blend together
with the sea and the sky

Sapphire sparkles scattered amongst the waves
Cobalt popsicles paint my lips and tongue with yum

Glacial water that’s the color of the sky,
I long for your quenching effects from my empty canteen

When it was full, this bottle was melancholy
Now it’s just heavy with what I don’t remember

Midnight! Cobalt! Indigo! Mediterranean! Teal! Turquoise!
Oh you all make me blue blue blue with desire!

Midnight in Paris perfume from Kress
ooh la la now I long to caress

Joni Mitchell’s color and like my mood,
a dark indigo smudge on the horizon

I am tainted as the cavernous
veins of Roquefort

A minor third, a diminished fifth
weeping with vibrato, sliding up home

Wisteria dissolves, softly humming on my fingers
Twinkle, twinkle periwinkle, cool night, stars up high

I was the only one tall enough
to look into the bassinet
the baby boy
a bundle of joy
had eyes the color of the sky!

Original prompt: Write a line of poetry that includes some reference to the color blue without explicitly stating the word “blue”.

Frances J. Vasquez, Mary Torregrossa, Rose Y. Monge, Joseph Milazzo, James Luna, Kamelyta Noor, Frances T. Borella, Kris Lovekin, Rob McMurray, David Stone, Natalie Champion, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Ruth Bavetta, Thomas Vaden, Cindi Neisinger, Barbara Berg, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Nan Friedley, Debby Johnson, Gudelia Vaden, Cindy Bousquet Harris

Collaboration: Day 65

No Alternative Spring

Spring sprung like the latch to a trapdoor, spilling fragrant flowers
A trapdoor leading to promises unspun
Promises of a new day with no mask on our face
A call away, a soul, a voice, and a face

To and fro the arbor swings- Mother Earth’s reminder of our frailty
Spilling bird chatter from fig ivy nests in the arbor
Mask or no, the truth will out
Spring is here, a breath of fresh air beneath the mask

Masks, homemade or not, take my breath away
Homemade libations take the sting away
Your eyes, two words, a breath of inspiration
Unmasked at last inspiration springs forth

Fluttering inspiration as the truth springs forth unmasked
Truth, an elusive whisper fluttering in the breeze
Spinning, weaving their way, through an alternative universe
Floating randomly with alternative facts

Original prompt: Write one line of poetry about spring.

Rob McMurray, John DiFusco, Natalie Champion, Cati Porter, Ruth Bavetta, Cindi Neisinger,
James Luna, Charlotte Ransom McKenzie, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Gudelia Vaden, Debby Johnson, Nan Friedley, Robin Longfield, Lynn Doiron, Rose Monge, Cindy Bousquet Harris

Collaboration: Day 64


I lost my husband at Buffum’s
and cawed until he found me.

He still couldn’t hear, yet
through his blurred vision, a raven

flew over the battlefield. Was it over?
Ravenous raven looking for lunch.

Where is the food court?
There he goes again, off,

like it’s the most important occupation.
How far the crow flies may

depend on the barriers in the way.
A crescendo of crows, sinister as black umbrellas.

Menacing. But I’m not backing down.
Follow the raven as she soars high in the sky,

overcoming obstacles in her way.
Escaping the murder, the ebony

Raven rises on the thermal updraft
longing for solitude. Whispered secrets

are answered in silence and carried to the wind.
Soaring above sorrows, strength in motion.

Smoke below, alight west.
Waves of air from flapping wings radiate

to me, unseen. Lovely, weightless
cruise through a newly cleansed sky

transcending time and space
with focus and might.

Now we must dance for three nights against danger.

Here on The Last Frontier

Raven is Creator.
Raven is a trickster, so beware.

The raven high in the sky, a foreshadowing
of things to come during the pandemic.

Freedom, glimpsed dimly through a glass pane.
Oh, Raven, at dusk, invent for us a way to return home.

“Great spirit,” said Raven, “teach people to talk;”
he said ok and flew away.

Aware of imminent demise, the weary,
oft-quoted Raven softly utters “Nevermore!”

Original prompt: Respond to May image for Rattle’s ekphrastic challenge.

Rick Champion, Julianna M. Cruz, Natalie Champion, Frances J. Vasquez, Pat Murkland, Gudelia Vaden, James Luna, Barbara Berg, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Rose Y. Monge, Rebecca K. O’Connor, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Frances T. Borella, Nan Friedley, Cindi Neisinger, Ruth Bavetta, Debby Johnson, Kris Lovekin, Sharon Sekhon, John DiFusco, Kamelyta Noor, Larry Burns, Mary Zenisek, Cati Porter

Collaboration: Day 63

All That is Here, I Believe

“You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.” — Walt Whitman

That which I believe slips quickly through the sieve.
I believe what I believe believe it or not.
‘Do you believe in life after love,’ asked Cher.
I believe love is an intellectual decision to care.
I believe we can learn a lot from the cats and dogs among us.
There is so little I can know, but so much that I can choose to believe.
I believe in the power of my Instant Pot.
I believe in just the right amount of distance.
I believe in the grace of dinner, lovingly prepared.
I believe the sun will come out tomorrow. No time for sorrow.
I believe we will win our democracy back.
I believe in the Magic of Merlin.
I believe I’ll do it better next time.
I believe evolving is a never ending journey.
I believe the time is now for true and sustainable change.
I believe brighter horizons are coming soon and Earth will heal.
I believe in the man in the sky.
I believe in laughter every day.
I believe in the ladies in my life.
I love. I believe. I strive to achieve.
I do not believe, I believe.
Science doesn’t care what I believe.
Raising her clenched fist in the air, she yelled, “I Believe!”

Original prompt: “I believe….”

Natalie Champion , Rose Y. Monge, Cindi Neisinger, Kay Cech Latonio, Frances T. Borella, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Gudelia Vaden, Tom Vaden, Nan Friedley, Rick Champion, Barbara Berg John DiFusco, Douglas McCulloh, Ruth Bavetta, Debby Johnson, Sharon Sekhon, SalandRachael Maltbie , Dar Stone, Liz Gonzalez, Steve Perry, Raine Lefaivre-Naggi, Rob McMurray, Alexander Akin, Gudelia Vaden

Collaboration: Day 62

Inlandia, I am from

I am from red dirt and golden illusions.
I am from that drawer of pretty worthless things.
I am from the salt of my tears.
I am from tea ceremonies and rain adopted by
orange blossoms on high winds.
I am from orange blossom scented groves.
I am from concrete garbage trucks and yelling.
I am from taking a chance on different places.
I am from a saltwater breezed ghetto.
I am from ocean breezes, fish and chips,
her Majesty the Queen.
I am from the burning sage and sweat lodge.
I am from stinging dust flung by Santa Anas.
I am from prairie swept by thunderstorms.
I am from cornfields and alfalfa.
I am from a place I never called home.
I am from a long line of stubborn women.
I am from handprints in the cement walkway
on the side of the house.
I am from the land of the Mayas, Aztecs, pyramids,
Spaniards and mariachis.
I’m from purple needlegrass, citrus trees, and trains
from the OG OLG Church in the Westside.
I am from a time when a blue-collar job meant you
could purchase a house
with a mulberry tree in the front yard.
I am from wretched migrant camps,
the sweaty summers of discontent.
I am from the same street where my
Revolutionary war ancestors were buried.
I am from a line of strong crazy women
who seem to enjoy drowning in glorious food.
I am “Gambling Granny” from the biggest little
city in the world. “Place your bets!”
I am from tortillas and butter, incense and candles,
books and blankets. Just a block
and a half from the railroad tracks.
I am from faraway, England, France, Iowa, Texas,
country and city but my soul is Mexican;
the Virgin of Guadalupe guides my way.
I am from the land of Hoosiers still hoping to hear
“gentlemen start your engines” at the Indy 500 Sunday.
I was born where the snow crusts hard on the ground
I’m from where the sun shines on vineyards and orange trees.
I hail from the land of Harry Truman, the Cardinals, the Gateway
Arch, the Clydesdale and the Missouri Mule.
I am from Inlandia and the City by the Bay.
I am from Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, Germany,
and Sweden, a hodgepodge…
Yo soy hija del Maíz y la Luna
Citrus groves green and orange
lemon yellow and plump verdolagas
Blue Mountain and Gage canals.

Original prompt: “I am from…” poem modeled after collaborative poem produced by Kwame Alexander and NPR.

Kamelyta Noor, Ai Miyamoto Kelley, Nan Friedley, Barbara Berg, Rick Champion, Debby Johnson, James Luna, David Stone, Shali Nicholas, Liz Gonzalez, Kris Lovekin, Jessica Lea, Thomas Vaden, Cindy Bousquet Harris, Steve Perry, Janet Alexander, Dar Stone, Juanita E. Mantz Pelaez, Gudelia Vaden, Frances T. Borella, Kim Watkins, Burcu Misirli Chatham, Stephanie Barbé Hammer, Julianna M. Cruz, Tameeca Griffin, Frances J. Vasquez, Larry Burns, Robin Longfield, Natalie Champion, Rose Y. Monge