James Ducat

Where Did She Go?

I ask aloud, almost midnight,
alone on the porch,
and a gust blows the carport

light on, wafts orange
blossom past me.
That unborn fruit,

which may never deliver
juice or more trees,
dreams beyond desire into taste.

 

The Santa Anas

Across a continent, decades ago,
a malevolent wind took
the house from over
my mother and infant brother .

They clung together in the roofless cellar –
the house landed a block away.
From that day she opens doors
and windows at any wind,

a celebration of nature
I thought, until
I saw her fingers
dig into folded skin.

Now, a percussion of leaves
and branches howl
in disharmony.
Didion’s gale scrubs the air,

polishes mountain lights.
I breathe in
the dust like insanity.
This dissonant foehn

groans through the house,
and my toddler wonders
if our walls will cave.
I lie to him: the wind is singing.

The wind is singing.
We go outside,
wrapped in a blanket,
arms clinging in atonal warmth.

——
James Ducat received his MFA in Poetry from Antioch Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Word Riot, Specter Magazine, and others. He teaches writing at Beaumont High School and at Mt San Jacinto College. He lives in Redlands with his son (not coincidentally, also named James) and 12 fish, the largest of which is called Bob.

Lawrence Eby

Enigma

When radio waves get lost among the noise of sea,
A car fire burns its last cassette in the glove box,
Ignites a picture album,
A conversation about socks.

The forest shrugs it off—as nature does,
Just another bear-trapped raccoon with cheese in its mouth.

We spend the night in a tree house and play with a ghost spewing from candlelight.
Pretend its fog that calls us closer with a finger,
When it gets too real, we hide inside an orange we squeezed hollow.

Then we safety-pin our lips together—as mankind does,
But Mother grows mold in our showers to remind us:
We shouldn’t forget the dead.

___

Larry Eby writes from Southern California where he earned his BA in Creative Writing from CSUSB. His work has appeared in the Sand Canyon Review, Welter, Badlands, the Pacific Review, the Secret Handshake, and Call of the Wild: Being Human by Editions Bibliotekos press. He is a founding member of PoetrIE, an Inland Empire based literary community, and currently has plans to attend CSUSB’s MFA program in poetry. In addition, he also has plan to open a publishing house in the Inland Empire.

Mae Wagner

Call of the Canyon

Early morning sun transforms the telephone wires into golden ribbons looping along the edge of the winding road of San Timoteo Canyon, making each morning’s commute a new present just waiting to be unwrapped.

My daughter tells me she wishes I would find a job in Redlands so I wouldn’t have to drive to Moreno Valley each day. No way. If I were to do so, I would lose two of my most magical times of the day—the drive to work and the drive home.

It’s the canyon, you see. Although I love to drive through both of the canyons linking Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, it is San Timoteo and not Reche Canyon that I travel almost every day.

And the drive does something to me—especially in the morning—something that borders on magical. It gives me a time to sort and collect my thoughts, a time to pull it all together for the day that lies ahead, a time to ponder the beauty around me. Some mornings are glorious sparkling blue sky and puffy cloud mornings and others are misty moisty gray mornings.

If my timing isn’t just right on the road leading out of Redlands, I am on the wrong side of the railroad tracks and must wait for a train to cross. Usually, the trains are very long and very slow—but the wait can be a time of peaceful meditation. As I watch the powerful engines pulling the long line of cars with names like Maersk and Evergreen and Uniglory, I wonder…who is waiting for them? Will they be hitched to a big truck heading for Texas or Arizona or will they sit on a dock somewhere until loaded onto a ship, sailing to some distant shore? I ponder oh so many things as I watch them rumble past, loaded with mystery cargoes and adorned with graffitied messages. Some messages are artistic and some are an assault on the senses—but they, too, give me pause. Where did the messages begin and where will they go? Perhaps the “artist” cannot escape whatever environment puts him near the tracks while only the rolling rails and distant destinies of the train limit his “art”.

Waiting for the train also gives me time to contemplate the orange grove intersected by the railroad crossing. It marks the seasons as they come and go. First comes the season of blooming when the air is filled with the fragrance of orange blossoms. Soon, the blossoms are replaced by little green globes that grow larger and turn orange. At harvest time, ladders bob up and down among the trees and I know that, for each ladder, there is a worker moving it from tree to tree as the oranges are harvested by skilled, work-hardened hands belonging to someone who must follow the crops as surely as the train must follow the tracks. And I wonder, will this harvest end up on a train going to some distant place while the oranges I sometimes buy come from Australia?

I cross the tracks and turn left onto San Timoteo Canyon. I love the drive for giving me a respite from the clutter and clang of urban life. Although I am on the actual Canyon road for only a short time, I know it rolls and dips for miles in front of me and miles behind me. Gigantic steel monsters march across the ridges of hills with their cargo of electricity. Lines of telephone poles, some tall and tilted, some stumpy and askew, lurch along the road like a drunken chain gang. Eucalyptus and pepper trees line the roadside where bright yellow sunflowers undulate and beckon.

When my eyes lift beyond the telephone poles and tumbleweeds, they are treated to incredible panoramas of gentle rolling hills dotted with oaks. In my rearview mirror, I see the mountains, magnificent in the play of sunshine and shadow, shadows that create folds of color—shades of gray and velvet brown, highlighted by hues of purple and violet. Sometimes, in unique California fashion, palm trees are silhouetted against distant snow-covered mountains. Some mornings, clouds hang misty over the land and the ever-changing mountains appear to rise out of them like distant, magical castles and kingdoms.

And, as if he commanded his own kingdom, I once saw a hawk perched on the last crag of hill before I dropped down into civilization as Moreno Valley suddenly sprawled before me. Now, I see these birds of prey less and less.

I am left to not only mourn the disappearing hawks but the changes that are happening in the Canyon. Traffic is heavy. A cross marks the spot where one person’s impatience cost another his life. Lines of commuters just like me snake along at a crawl behind trucks loaded with gravel and lumber as they rumble to construction sites. Development will soon transform it into more clutter and clang. What will future generations do? Where will they find the respite I have found?

In the meantime, life goes on. The daily commute is my own time machine, marking the seasons of the year as surely as they mark the seasons of my life. Large rounded green thistles turn into brown tumbleweeds, loosed from their moorings and transported by the winds. Fields are plowed, planted, come to life, are harvested and plowed again. The smoggy haze of summer lifts from the mountains to reveal another season of dazzling snowy peaks.

And if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I know I have been incarnated from a place of rolling hills where hawks soar and dip above, where streams cut through the land, where orange trees blossom and oaks are framed dark against the morning light.

Today is a gift waiting to be unwrapped.

–originally published in “Slouching Towards Mt. Rubidoux Manor,”, issue #1, 2008.

* * *

Mae Wagner is firmly rooted in the Inland Empire area and sees Inlandia stories everywhere just waiting to be told. She says, “writing has always been a passion, but largely relegated to the back burner while I focused on raising a family, earning a living and going to school.” Over the years, as a longtime Inland Empire resident, she has written for a public relations firm, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce; The Chino Champion newspaper, and had several columns published in the Op-Ed page of the Press-Enterprise when it was locally owned, including a noted investigate journalism series focused on a landmark environmental case involving the Stringfellow acid pits in Glen Avon, just west of Riverside. She currently writes a column for her home town paper in Hettinger, North Dakota and is enjoying being a member of the Riverside Inlandia writers workshop, which she has attended since its opening session in the summer of 2008.

Mae graduated from the old Poly High School in Riverside when it was across the street from Riverside City College and is grateful for the educational opportunities that were available both at RCC and Cal State San Bernardino when she became a re-entry student many years later. Thanks to that education, she became a teacher after the age of 50 at a school for at-risk high school students; this was her niche. Her proudest accomplishment is having raised three good people and now has seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. After suffering an identity crisis due to one last name too many, she has returned to her maiden name for all of her writing. She currently lives in Redlands with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Sophie.

Contributor Biographies

Cynthia Anderson is a writer and editor living in Yucca Valley, CA. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she has received poetry awards from the Santa Barbara Arts Council and the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Her collaborations with photographer Bill Dahl are published in the book, Shared Visions.

Lee Balan was the first editor and art director for Beyond Baroque Magazine in Venice, CA.  His poems and stories have been featured in several magazines including Phantom Seed, Sun-Runner, and Storylandia. He was the facilitator for the Tenderloin Writer’s Workshop in San Francisco. His background in mental health has been a major influence on his work. Lee has been the featured poet at several events and venues including the Palm Springs Art Museum.  Recently, Lee self published his first novel Alien Journal.

Nancy Scott Campbell has been a desert hiker and resident for more than twenty years.  She has been a mediator, has taught English as a second Language, is a physical therapist,  and is delighted with the workshops of the Inlandia Institute.

With their girls grown and independent, Marcyn Del Clements and her husband, Richard, have more time to pursue their favorite activities: birding, butterfly and dragonfly watching, and fly-fishing. Marcy is published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Appalachia, Eureka Literary Magazine, Flyway, frogpond, Hollins Critic, Literary Review, Lyric, Sijo West, Snowy Egret, Wind, and others.

Mike Cluff is a fulltime English and Creative Writing instructor at Norco College. He has lived steadily in the Highland and Redlands area since 1998. His eighth book of poetry “Casino Evil was published in June 2009 by Petroglyph Books.

Rachelle Cruz is from the Bay Area but currently lives and writes in Riverside, CA.  She has taught creative writing, poetry, and performance to young people in New York City, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Riverside. She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. She is an Emerging Voices Fellow and a Kundiman Fellow, she is working towards her first collection of poems.

Sheela Sitaram Free (“Doc Free”) was born in Mumbai, India and has spent equal halves of her life in India and in the United States. Her BA in English Literature and Language, MA in English and American Literature and Language, MA in Hindi, PhD in the Contemporary American Novel-novels of John Updike-and her twenty four years of teaching all across the United States in Universities, colleges, and community colleges reveal her lifelong passion for the power of words, especially in the context of world literature and writing. Her collection of poetry entitled “Of Fractured Clocks, Bones and Windshields was published in February 2009 and nominated for the Association of Asian American Studies as well as the Asian American Workshop awards in 2010. She has been writing for over 20 years, but it was the Inland Empire that inspired and motivated her to publish; she has simply loved being a part of it for 9 years now. It is home to her and she draws a great deal of material from it in her poetry.

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 Literature 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.

Valerie Henderson is an MFA Fiction student at CSUSB. More of her work can be found in The Sand Canyon Review.

Edward Jones is a graduate of UC Riverside’s MFA program and has been published in Faultline, Crate, Mosaic, and Inlandia: A Literary Journey.

Judy Kronenfeld is the author of four poetry collections including “Ghost Nurseries,” a Finishing Line chapbook (2005) and “Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths”, winner of the Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize (2008). Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay have appeared in many print and online journals including Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, The Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry International, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, The Women’s Review of Books, and The Pedestal, as well as in a dozen and a half anthologies or text books, including Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press/Alcatraz Editions, 2008), Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009), and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women’s Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010). She is a lecturer Emerita—after twenty-five years of teaching in the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside. Her new poetry collection, “Shimmer,” has just been accepted by WordTech Editions.

Associate Fiction Editor Ruth Nolan, a former wildland firefighter and native of San Bernardino and the Mojave Desert, teaches Creative Writing and Literature at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. She is a poet and prose writer with works forthcoming in New California Writing, 2011 (Heyday, 2011) and in Sierra Club Magazine. She is editor of No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts (Heyday, 2009) and a contributor to Inlandia: A Literary Journey (Heyday, 2006) She has collaborated on two film projects, “Escape to Reality: 24 hrs @ 24 fps” with the UCR-California Museum of Photography (2008), is a writer for a film in progress, Solar Gold: the Killing of Kokopelli (2011), and represents our region’s deserts in the “Nature Dreaming: Rediscovering California’s Landscapes” public radio series sponsored by Santa Clara University and the California Council for the Humanities (2011) She lives in Palm Desert.

Cindy Rinne has lived in the Inland Empire for 29 years. She is an artist and poet. Her poetry includes nature inspiration, parts of overheard conversations, observations on walks, life events, and her response to her own artwork and the works of others.

Except for a short-lived adventure to Long Beach, CA, Heather Rinne has lived in the Inland Empire her entire life. She grew up in San Bernardino and attended college at Cal Poly Pomona where she received a BFA in 2008. She  loved and still loves exploring the art community in the downtown Arts Colony. A fire took her parents’ home, the home where her childhood memories lived, in the fall of 2003. Even with the unexpected chance to move, her parents decided to rebuild on the same lot. Back in the place where she grew up, she makes new memories. She currently works as a Graphic Designer and Photographer out of her home office and dances at a studio in Redlands. She enjoys Redlands because it has a lot of history and is only a short trip to the desert, the city, the mountains, and the ocean.

Ash Russell is an MFA candidate at CSUSB. She has been telling stories since she learned how to speak and writing since she learned to string the alphabet together. She relearns regularly that the magnitude of space is emotionally devastating.

Mae Wagner is firmly rooted in the Inland Empire area and sees Inlandia stories everywhere just waiting to be told. She says, “writing has always been a passion, but was largely relegated to the back burner while she focused on raising a family, earning a living, and going to school.” Over the years, as a longtime Inland Empire resident, she has written for a public relations firm, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, The Chino Champion newspaper, and had several columns published in the Op-Ed page of the Press-Enterprise when it was locally owned, including a noted investigate journalism series focused on a landmark environmental case involving the Stringfellow Acid Pits in Glen Avon, just west of Riverside. She currently writes a column for her home town paper in Hettinger, North Dakota and is enjoying being a member of the Inlandia Creative Writing Workshops, which she has attended since its opening session in the summer of 2008.

As a child, Rayme Waters spent some time each year at her grandmother’s house in Rancho Mirage and watched the desert cities grow up around it. Rayme’s stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Best of the Web and have been published most recently in The Meadowland Review and The Summerset Review.

Jeff Mays

Red Clay Lands


Progenitor of orange tree turn-of-century magnates
A pretend small town at the top of the east of the valley
Its Victorian turniptops in purple and pink overlook canopy
Of crepemyrtle and peppertrees who with sprinkler help
Have taprooted below desert to watertable hiding

1950’s downtown State Street with white lights in carrotwoods
Betty’s Diner’s limp fried food & Wurlitzer jailhouserocking
Gourmet Pizza’s Girard’s dressing and obscurely bottled sodas
Fifty-five float Christmas parade where Y Circus unicycle kids
Balance and propel agape smiling audience red-sea parted

Giant inflatable kid-slide ponyride and kettlecorn popped
Bags of oranges, clutches of gladiolas, and street performer sounds
With gatherings of black-garbed teenage smolderings

Five-personed oldfashioned rally on street corner Sunday
“Stop the war for oil! Bush is a liar! Honk if you like peace!” fete
Whilst spandex-bright sunglass’d helmets swish by on light-as-feather two wheel racers

Past Ford Park with the tennis courts and most expensive gas in town
To top of high Judson Hill and survey commuter-collected professional people
In their above-ground construction and mismatched streets
Under the R carved, 400 ft tall, into purple San Berdoo majesty,
Between downpointing arrowhead and Seven Oaks Dam enormousicity

Prospect Parked, Morey Mansioned, Kimberly Castle Crested
Pledge of allegiance drummers of Japan romeo & julieted
Arias and orchestras outside in family-night June
Where bronzed Smileys stand, Lincoln’s artifacts entombed

But I’m afraid of the University Avenue offramp
Blindsides in every direction, cars collecting behind you
Pushing you out the chute to deal with the ghosts of cars darting
Swerving appearing out of nowhere and you tumbling
In the stream beside the banks of white wooden crosses
Where sidewalk shrines have with loss enflowered