Creative Writing Workshops feature Deenaz P. Coachbuilder

I have forgotten you

After Pablo Naruda’s “If You Forget Me”

At first we were planets
that collided and consumed
                                    each other.
I bit off a chunk of your shoulder,
                                             you sheared off my hair
and knotted my thighs.

I wore a rainbow ring
  around my finger.
    Work
    play
    love
    lust
       intertwined,
    tenderness
           anger,
     lacing together
        our laughter
      and our lives.

The years like moonbeams                                  the worms of the world.
                                              cocooned us from

The years they wore away
our celestial cloak.
They sundered us
and flung us apart
you into the sky,
and
   buried
      the rest
of me.

I will forget you.
The way your voice                    for          e
                                  searched              m
when you entered the house
   at the end of a work-a-day world.

I will forget
the way I always knew those friends’ names
you had predictably forgotten,
always read
the sudden knotting of your brow
the depths       of a frozen smile,
recognized
your p e r f u m e,
             from     a f a r.

I have forgotten you,
forgotten you,
forgotten
you,
beyond the day
      I die.

The green hedge

Far from above, none of the sounds
of Mumbai city can be heard.
The setting sun drenches the tips
of balconied skyscrapers.
In the distance, crowded streets
border the landscape.
The dome of a mosque pierces the sun.

Through the glaze of dust and heat,
a quiet emerald oasis ascends.
Nine palms fringe an oval green lawn,
a cool breeze turns over the leaves
to their dark undersides,
while gulmohor boughs dally together
as they sway.

Here children chase each other,
shod in muddied designer shoes
across the manicured terrace
while maids watch hide-and-seek.
Pedigreed playmates barter video games
amid the scrap of roll and tease,
and scattered nursery rhymes,
as they bask in secure childhood.

From behind a green hedge
dark eyes watch the games.
Her only dress scarcely covers scarred knees.
Scabbed fingers tap longingly
in time with the infectious jingle of pop tunes.
Every day she sits on the outer side
of a gossamer hedge.

Spawn of an unschooled
vagrant woman who haunts
the crowded corner traffic stop
for spare change from captive cars,
she escapes each evening to
crouch down beside the emerald hedge.
She tells herself she doesn’t care
when they don’t call her to play.

Tomorrow’s fantasy hovers quietly
beside her, where her shouts and laughter
might merge with theirs in a swirling whirl of happy cries
as quivering rainbows twine through their hair.

The house of loneliness

A swath of light hair falls across her brows.
Short and petite, straight nose and high cheek bones
frame a fine line of lips that slant
delicately down at the edges. Soft eyes,
a quiet voice with a clipped style of speech
muscular arms held akimbo
when she strides along the street.

What do you do after work, I inquired.
Exercise at the Y, she replied.
And then? I hesitantly asked.
I go home, I’m tired.

She lives in a high ceilinged home
amidst seven acres of Port Orchard woodland
bought seven years ago.
Clear water from her own well
glints in a fine jug that rests
on a granite kitchen counter.
Two large dignified cats play in contentment,
encircling each other between the legs
of hand carved cherry wood furniture.
On most days she hears the blue jays squabbling
on the spacious hardwood deck.
Next summer she will plant five fruit trees
along her driveway.

sunrise against the mist

sunrise
my brother’s hand
curled around my finger

romping across the years
teenage conflict
then, he grew
taller than I
sibling rivalry turned
into shared secrets
bonds of the heart

but jealous waters
captured him

still
forever

my flaming youth tempered
to steely caution
burnished metal
into supple sandalwood
golden days etched
deep gray
a subtle sprinkle
of wisdom
the world’s winter land

years of love
and life
extended
down the corridors
of time

Death parted the curtain
I entered with delight
to search for him
yearning for his
youthful embrace

the stars were smoothly silver
the winds most welcoming
those gentle spirits
drew aside
as I
hurried by

a faint glimpse
against the vast mists of space
drawing close
I called
and leapt toward
to touch
his well-remembered hand

he turned

but did not recognize me

Yesterday

Yesterday I danced with revelry.
I slept and dreamt in silvered peace,
waking abruptly to a nightmare,
brackish, dense with pain,
devoid of reason.

I slept, whole, contented,
assured of family, fortunate in friendships,
awoke to treasures sundered,
husband, son, disconnecting
bonds of love and blood.

Empty rooms
tears that slide silently
the moaning heart
a changed world
elusive dreams.

Waste not this moment,
all is but ephemeral,
our signposts evaporating
into a shifting stream.

The nightingale sings
but for one night.

——

DeenazCoachbuilderDeenaz P. Coachbuilder has been a resident of the Riverside area in California, since 1981. She received a Doctorate in Theater Arts from Brigham Young University, an M.S. in Communicative Disorders from Utah State, an M.A. and B.A from Bombay University in English Literature and Language. Deenaz is an educator, artist, poet and environmental advocate. She is a retired school principal, and professor in Special Education at California State University, San Bernardino, past president of Committee for Community Action and Environmental Justice and India Association, of the Inland Empire, and a consultant in Speech Pathology. As a Zoroastrian by religion, Deenaz is actively involved in the Zoroastrian Association of California and is writing a poem on the birth and evolution of the religion and its adherents, extending to the modern period. She is a published poet in the U.S. and India. Most recently, her poems have appeared in The Sun Runner, Sept. 2012; Inlandia: A Literary Journey, Summer 2012; Woman Writing Nature, A special Edition of Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Sept. 2012; Parsiana, June, 2012. Deenaz exhibits her paintings in oil, enjoys reading, gardening, going for long walks, relationships with family and close friends, staying involved in the Indian American community of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and particularly cherishes being a wife and mother.

Deenaz is a Fulbright scholar, and the recipient of several awards including “Principal of the year,” Council for Exceptional Children; “Distinguished Service Award,” Phi Delta Kappa, and California Speech Language Hearing Association. She received President Obama’s “Volunteer Service Award” in February, 2011. Deenaz is currently working on a publication of her poems.

Ontario Creative Writing Workshop Collaborative Poem

Written as an exquisite corpse during the first workshop session, Spring 2012

Authors: Marie Griffiths, Florelei Lueb, Linda Rhodes, Heather Dubois, Bill McConnell, Victoria Waddle; Workshop Leader: Cati Porter

___

 

Sprinklings of an Inside-Out Beach Tea Party

He sat on a sofa in the sand, his saxophone
leaning sadly against his leg. I am walking out

at low tide at Chapin Beach & the breakers
are half a mile away; stepping over clam shells

I can smell the salt air & hear the call of gulls
overhead. The air conditioner couldn’t quite

cool the room, leaving a hint of mugginess,
like the air in the veterinarian’s office the day

I had to give my dog the needle. Shining,
smooth and polished, the titan’s spoon reflects

scribbling patrons in its concave bowl, scooping up
their delicious thoughts. Sitting at the maple

dining table, covered with a fifty-year-old linen
tablecloth, she waited until her grandmother

appeared with the tray holding a silver sugar bowl
full of cubes, silver tongs, pink napkins, a fine

china teapot, and matching cups. Really? It is
another emergency? You mean to tell me that

the contract you signed three months ago
and the other technical studies you’ve had written,

yet again didn’t clue you in to tell me you needed
an air study before the week you need it finished?

The first object I saw when I walked in the room
was the iron backed chair, scroll-worked into

fanciful curlicues. I hear the chinking
of silverware as Sandra scoops up two fistfuls

of spoons and forks out of the sink, and I smile.

____

Background: This was a fun workshop exercise in which I wrote a random selection of words/phrases on the backs of large sheets of paper; each author was asked to use that word/phrase to write a line of poetry. We were seated in the cafe at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario, California. Many of the sounds & images were drawn, either deliberately or subconsciously, from our surroundings.

After everyone had finished writing, I collected the sheets and read them in order around the table, and, strangely, they all fit together, with an implied narrative and surreal setting. While the participants were initially skeptical that an exercise like this could produce something readable, everyone was surprised by the clarity & cohesiveness of the finished product.

— Cati Porter

Amy Floyd

           Amy Floyd has been a member of the Inlandia Creative Writing workshop in Riverside program since its first session began in June, 2008.

___

The Weaver of White Park

          There is a girl who greets the gates of White Park in Riverside every morning, as soon as the park opens for the day. With her bag on her arm, she waits for just the right spot. She walks the park on long, young legs. Her footsteps are light and unsure, unwilling to hurt the blades of grass she treads upon.

          Each day, she goes to a different spot. Today, she sits beneath a tree that stoops under its own age, and pats it gently on the trunk as one would pet a great beast. She nods a greeting to the others as they pass her. Some she has seen over the years, while others have come to look her over with keen eyes and curious minds.

          She takes the blanket from her bag and stretches it out upon the grass, still wet with dew. With patient hands, she pulls four wooden needles from her bag and listens for the time to begin. A man passes by, whistling a tune that only his ears can understand, and she snatches the notes with nimble fingers. They are silver with the light of joy and she measures each string from her ear to her heart. There are four strands in all to form the weft of her weave; four directions for the anchor of her creation. She threads the needles, polished smooth by time, and the four strands become eight. She nods her head to the foundation chain. Eight is a strong number, one that can last forever in the right hands.

          As the day passes, the woman lets her eyes wander over the city around her, her ears picking out the right pieces. A baby’s cry is lemon yellow and finds its way to her fingertips. She quickly feeds it onto the loom and snatches the burnt umber of an old man’s cough, adding it to the rose-colored coo of new lovers. The red and white of a paramedic’s siren are shadowed by the gray of deep loss. She works quickly to complement these new colors to her palate with the leafy green of new life carried in the womb of a woman passing by, a woman who knows not yet of the miracle within her. The electric blue of music pulses from the windows of passing cars. Next, the footsteps of a hurried pedestrian form a special shade of heather, soft and thick.

          The woman works quickly, the sun on the grass before her counting off the time of day. It used to be so much easier to work here, before the illusion of safety wrapped the park in shackles of iron.  There are so many sounds surrounding her, so many colors to choose from, and very little time in which to work. There’s a tangle of tan with office workers gossiping, not so much listening to the conversation, as each waiting for their turn to speak. This becomes framed by the orange of barking dogs and the scolding, red shouts of their owners.

          She strains her ears to find the golden notes, the ones without which no piece can be complete: the mumbled musings of an artist, reading poetry to inspire his or her next piece, some kind of universal truth that many search for their whole lives, only to find it waiting outside their front door. Today, she is presented with the gasp of a youth who has found that old age does not always grant wisdom, and that life is better lived firsthand. While books and songs may give the illusion of life, they pale in comparison to the experience itself.

          She smiles as she caresses the final piece, knowing, without looking, where it belongs. She shakes with the weight of it.  Her hands ache with the work. She slows, and the time draws near. She ties off the final strand to the edge of her piece and slips the thread from her needles. Now completed, the old woman lays the weaving before her to inspect her work. It is time for the park to close for the evening, and many pass before her out the gate. Some turn to look as they leave, nodding in approval. Others look with wonder. The last people walk by, their faces stone. The future will come to them as it always has; each day is a different piece.

          She takes one last glance at her finished work, knowing that it will dissolve with the next morning’s dew. She slips the needles into her bag and uses the tree’s trunk to pull herself up onto old, arthritic legs. Tomorrow is another day, and a new weaving. As the gates swing closed, she bids the park goodnight.
___

Amy Floyd, a resident of Riverside and mother of two young boys, holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Redlands. Her poetry and prose writing has been published in the 2011 Writing from Inlandia creative writing workshops anthology, and also in Slouching Toward Mt. Rubidoux Manor, issues #1-3 from 2008-10. Her writing has also appeared in Phantom Seed issue 4 in 2010. Amy  self published an e-book entitled Do Serial Killers Smile At Their Victims? through Amazon.com last April, and is currently in the process of publishing more electronic works. She is also an artist whose piece “Heading In” was published in 2011 in the anthology A Bird as Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens.

Jacqueline Mantz Rodriguez

          Jacqueline Mantz Rodriguez’s commitment to self exploration through writing is an artful devotion. A devotion to clarity, a raw devotion imbued with awakening into one’s bounds & boundlessness.

— Maureen Alsop

__

Juarez, 5002

Lee, my sister, now mother of two, was one of those girls. Women
who haunt people in their own faces:  Sisters, Fellow
Writers, Women, all those women.

Cecilia, journalist with a Ph.D.
looks like those women.
Her hair straight and long,
dark skin, walking the streets pausing,
as men both young and old whistle.

Searching for a key or clue to Esmeralda’s desmise,
who was saving for her Quinceanera.
“I want to pitch in mom.”.

Cecilia looks like those girls,
no station or education
may recreate color-
Everywhere Juarez

Where would Reina and Patricia, Lee’s little ones be if,
on such a drunken night in Tijuana,
TJ to all who go to play,
Lee and her older sister had never awoke?
Death instead of a shameful story?

Nude arms grasping dirt and air,
cuddled together.
Instead of
Tiptoed steps out the door past snores of drunken boys met two days ago at
Mr. Js Nighclub  El Monte, CA

Everywhere Juarez brims
while women and girls
sit with heads bowed.
“I am not those women.”

__

Write about five moments you would like to do over…

Moment 1 flashes by in a space saucer shaped cloud.
I want to time travel back, back to that point when you said, “the dog is walking you.”
I should of laughed, smiled at the very least or just, at the very least stayed dormant.  I did not, cannot it seemed pause when agitated, with you.

This is how it goes, we all know these are the moments, that define the worry
lines on our face,

That force pens to fall from a clutched hand on a signature line.

Moment 2
Another moment, another cloud this one God.  I screamed, “I hate you, I’ll never forgive you…
once it seems so long ago you said you read, “A happy marriage is made up
of two good forgivers.”
I did forgive you but I’ll spend eternity trying to forgive myself.

Moment three
Moment three
Moment three
Three clouds pass by and I think, hope
If I say it three times fast a chant of desperation maybe I’ll get a do over, a rewind.

I looked at you, frowned and put you down rather than listening.  I snatched my hand away and dove into the arms of another, even if it was my dog.  I let pride push,
no hurl me away.

Moment four
I don’t want to see the clouds anymore, or remember.  Do not
Make me remember, God.

I left, left you to cry alone out of sheer stubbornness even as I saw your tears well up; I still left and now I am gone now far away, and I cannot, cannot get back to you no matter
how hard I try.

Forever Moment Five

I swallow, eyes still shut as I float on a cloud.  I never did get back to you that day.  Accidents just happen, how was I to know?  I should have known, so I could Still be there with you watching as you rub your eyes.  I would then get to reach out and hold your hand to comfort you one more time.

__

Jacqueline Mantz Rodriguez was born in Great Falls, Montana but immigrated to the Inland Empire as a young child growing up in Ontario, California. She resides in Palm Springs and works as a special education teacher at Palm Springs High.  Jackie is currently working on her novella “Coo Coo La La Love and Other Tales I Tell While Doodling” while preparing a documentary on her special education students. Jacqueline received her B.A. in literature and creative writing from Cal State San Bernardino and her Masters degree and teaching credentials from National University. Jacqueline’s loves are her husband Joe and her Boston Terrier Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Please visit Jackie’s blog on Word Press to read her collection of poetry, movie and restaurant reviews, and memoirs about the joy of teaching, marriage and dog rearing at: Love2writeandrelatetoworld.wordpress.com Any other questions or comments please email Jackie at jmantz (at) psusd (dot) us.

Ontario Creative Writing Workshop at the Ovitt Family Community Library

Clockwise left to right, starting with back row: Mike, Samantha, Kate, Marsha, Larry, Elizabyth, Kathryn, Shelby, Janis, Cati (workshop leader), Kelly, and Lauren.

Inlandia Creative Writers Workshops Feature – Ontario Nominated by workshop leader Cati Porter

Usually this space is reserved for a single author, a featured workshop participant nominated by their respective Inlandia workshop leader. However, this issue I am taking the liberty to nominate my whole group. I am very proud of each and every one of them.

This was the beginning of our very first season of workshops at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario. For our first meeting, the room was a packed twenty-four. Over the next ten weeks the number of participants fluctuated but never dipped below twelve as we discussed craft topics designed to help strengthen the works-in-progress and applied strategies for getting around “writer’s block”. By the end of the Fall session, it was time for Inlandia’s annual Creative Writing Workshops Showcase, where each workshop participant from the preceding year has the opportunity to present their work in front of a live audience. It is also the event at which we launch the annual Writing for Inlandia anthology. But because our group was so new we were not eligible for inclusion in the anthology, or as readers for the showcase. While several members did choose to attend, in anticipation of being included next year, we decided that it would be fun to hold our own celebratory end-of-the-session reading. The photo at the top of this post is from that event.

Our new Winter session has now begun with several returning participants. Due to some administrative changes we are now meeting in the library’s very own Page One cafe, rather than in the meeting room; one “perk” to this is that workshop participants have access to a wide variety of coffee beverages and a dessert tray provided by the generosity of the Ovitt Library.

As Inlandia’s newest creative writing workshop leader, it has given me great joy to be able to share my love of literature with an energetic and talented group of like-minded individuals. While not everything went as planned (when does it ever?!) my Ontario workshop has gotten off to a great start and I look forward to continuing for years to come.

Dr. Harki Dhillon

Featured Inlandia Writers Workshop Participant
Nominated by workshop leader Ruth Nolan, M.A.
Downtown Riverside Workshop

The Desert Flower

I am parched
Let it rain
But
Not too much
I want to flower
And bloom
Not die

–originally published in Phantom Seed magazine, issue #4, 2010

Surgery

Hands move
In controlled ecstasy
Immersed in
Nature’s beauty gone wrong.

The depths are exposed
Illuminated by
Artificial light,
The wisdom of years.

The dance of the fingers
Choreographed by experience,
Synchronous
With the aim
Of initiating
A cure
For a malady
Inflicting this
Unfortunate body
Farewell

–originally published in Slouching Towards Mt. Rubidoux Manor, Issue #3, 2010

* * *

Dr. Harki Dhillon, a prominent Orthopedic Surgeon practicing in Riverside, and a Riverside resident, has been attending the Inlandia Riverside Writers Workshop since early 2009, and is cherished by his associates as a highly valued member of the group to this day. He was introduced to the workshop by his friend/associate and noted local writer/historian Mary Curtin, another workshop attendee, to work on his memoir, which focuses on his life’s journey starting in India and continuing with his work as a physician there and in the United States/Inland Empire area. Soon after joining the writer’s workshop, he was inspired by the synergy of the workshop and his peers to begin writing poetry for the first time. His poetry takes an in-depth look at his personal and professional life, and he has recently published his first full-length book of poems, Invisible Hands: A Book of Poetry, published on Amazon Books in July, 2011 (www.amazon.com.) Perhaps the words of local, highly-respected poet and Professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Riverside Maurya Simon, gives the best overview of the scope and magic of Dhillon’s work:

Spare and direct, Dr. Harki Dhillon’s poems in his debut book address a broad spectrum of compelling subjects related to being alive in the 21st century. Whether he’s contemplating the mysteries of the divine or of the Universe, lamenting the ubiquitous suffering in the world, or celebrating daily pleasures, his deeply personal poems resonate with pathos. Dr Dhillon’s experience as an eminent surgeon imbues many of these poems with a sense of the fragility and vulnerability of the human body, while they also emphasize our resiliency and capacity to overcome pain and adversity. Feelings of love, despair, desire, remorse, angst, nostalgia, disillusionment, hope, loneliness and joy pervade these poems – reminding us of the heart’s complexity and endurance.

Dr. Dhillon is continuing to work on his memoir, which he hopes to publish in the near future, as well as generating more poetry for publication.


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.

Lee Balan

Ars Umbilicalis Poetica
(The Art of the Connection to the Poem)

A folded napkin could be blamed
          When an accidental tug on the napkin’s edge
              Caused a wine glass to tip and spill
This small misdeed
          Led to snark remarks about stumblebums
          Incriminations
             And revelations about indiscrete behavior
          Someone yelled “fire”
              Which fed a full scale panic

Cosmologists tell us
          Space is folded like the napkin
              Within each fold there is more space
Each fold could be a new dimension
          An alternate universe
              Where there is another version of Earth
              Of you     Of me
                  Acting upon different decisions
                  Leading in new directions

Here I am
          In the emergency room
              With an IV in my arm
              Feeling nauseous
There I am
          Writing a prologue to a poem about accidents
I could be dead somewhere else
          Yet still be alive

Folded napkin     Folded space
          A small misdeed could lead to catastrophe

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.
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