Poet Laureate, Mary Kay Rummel, initiated a project to highlight middle-aged poets working or living in Ventura County. Ms. Rummel will be selecting approximately forty poems by poets who are forty-something and under. The current poem from this series follows with a photo and biography of the poet.
Artist Statement: My name is Christina Svolos and I live in the West San Fernando Valley. I am finishing my second year at CSU, Channel Islands as an English major with an emphasis in creative writing. I hope to become a copywriter and published author, as I have attempted to write my first novel. I also love to paint and go to Disneyland!
“Lost & Betrayed”
I had a friend named Lilianna Marie.
She liked to dance, sing, and was happy.
She had a smile that lit up the room,
And never was friends with a rude attitude.
Lilianna Marie took an unknown path one day.
She was lost, we worried that she went astray.
When she came back we greeted her with joyful tears.
She greeted us with a face full of frightfulness and fear.
Lilianna Marie had changed that day,
she had gone missing, lost, astray.
I had a friend named Lilianna Marie.
She was transformed into something we did not know she could be.
She had morphed into something none of us understood,
A very troubled teen, who robbed herself of her own childhood.
We worried and wondered for a couple of years.
If anything could change these presumptions, these fears…
Until we realized one day,
Poor Lilianna Marie could not be changed.
I will give you fair warning, watch out for yourself.
She killed her best friend’s spirit-
a troubled girl with no help.
by Christina Svolos
Artist Statement: Aaron Gardner lives in Ojai, California and is a poet, educator, and father of two phenomenal children. He has been heavily involved in the spoken word scene since 1999, and was the Oakland Grand Slam Champion in 2010. He has been published in journals such as Ibid, Rivertalk, Cult 456, and Poetry Superhighway. Aaron continues his work locally with young poets to help them discover their voices and the power contained therein.
In my dream
I am running
and afraid. I
and afraid and
is no air and I
in the nothing
In my dream
I feel breath
catch and jerk
in my chest
and I am running
and it is dark
for the moon
and the moon
and the moon
and the moon.
In my dream
I am running
and afraid and
the moon follows
and I can’t
run fast enough
because the moon
is all there is
and the dark
and the fear
and the nothing
and my breath
and my legs.
In my dream
my legs are ribbons
tied to the moon
and I am afraid
to let go.
My name is Gabrielle Tolentino and I am 21 years old. I have grown up against the beaches of Oxnard and Ventura County all my life. I am currently a creative writing major at Pepperdine University. I intensely hope to be a published author and to invoke the wistfulness of hope, heartbreak, and love in readers.
you’re eating a sandwich over the sink.
the light is off. there’s a note on the door.
three moons dangle in the window.
the room is washed grey. three moons dangle
in the window, but neither of us is looking.
you feel my eyes on you. your sandwich starts to drip.
i’m screaming at you.
where were you and what happened
and then what, tell me, happened?
you’re picking lettuce off your dress
crying sorry like you always did.
and this time i won’t hate you,
this time i’ll say sorry too and
i promise you’re my best friend
no matter how many times
you turn into someone else.
but the light is still off. and the note
on the window makes it so that there are only
two moons dangling behind it.
you’re reading it. you wrote it.
two weeks ago an ambulance
crept down your street
filling the driveways with
neighbors in slippers,
neighbors with their hands on their hips,
neighbors who didn’t know
that there were eleven tiny pills
dissolved somewhere inside your body bag.
you left a note that said my name.
i’m walking to you. the room holds its breath.
your back is straight, your sandwich is dripping.
i don’t know how you’re here. but i need to see you.
i stand beside you. i turn on the light.
you tell me i’m crazy and reach through me
to turn it off.
Artist Bio: Friday’s poetry has appeared in ARTLIFE Limited Editions, Dance of the Iguana, Caffeine, ASKEW Poetry Journal and the 2011 anthology, A Bird Black As The Sun – California Poets on Crows & Ravens. In 2009, she became assistant editor for ASKEW. In 2012, she edited The SpiritLife of Birds by Maia for Adder’s Tongue Press.
Friday has been a host of Ventura’s Annual Erotic Poetry event for over a decade and hosted the poetry series, “Friday on Saturday” for several years. She emceed the Ventura County Arts Council’s Art Stars Awards, causing her to fall in love with the VCAC family and in 2013, joined their board. Friday also serves on the board for Bell Arts Factory. She has lived in Ventura, actively championing the arts and local businesses for nearly twenty five-years.
“when i realized you would always mean something to me“
with me silently
on my long back
you inscribed ghostly characters
with your fingertips
spelling out love messages
letter by letter
out loud, often giggling
i would guess each one
until a word had formed
still, no sound from you
but a half embrace
to move me forward in the phrase
until your message was complete
we never said goodnight
i knew what you wanted for me
and i, for you
Artist Bio: Julia was born in Los Angeles, California. She grew up with disabilities and used poetry as a medium for expression. She wrote her first poem in fourth grade at eleven years old. Julia is currently in her final semester at college, California State University Channel Islands.
Have a slice of melted cheese that can drip
into your mouth
the ichor of life
my crack, my drug
the tomato sauce heated and moistening
the bread in my bite
my mouth gone like a shooting star
birthdays or slumber parties when the best moment
would come in a bite with relish
with animal zeal
The herbs in the sauce show me
the sweet or sour disposition of my food
the cheese that stretches and is breathtakingly fun
to the eyes and taste buds
fun returns as brown spots disappear into yum
The crust crunches and represents someone’s favor
rise and let it into your mouth at the speed of gone
along with childhood
I bid you adieu
I still eat it but now I eat it grown
compared to the little girl I was
when pizza was my best friend
Artist Bio: M, Thalia. B. is a poet and artist from Ventura, CA. She strives to capture in her work teenagehood, the raw womanhood, and all things God. Her influences are Vonnegut, Bukowski, vitamin labels, and corporate advertisements. She also enjoys gardening. She would like to dedicate her poem to Coyote D.S. Roman.
We will take our
half eaten burritos
and chuck them in the sea
so the dolphins don’t eat
you and me
Then we will walk
to the top of the mountain
singing songs about Decatur
where, you and I, have never been
There, on our shirt tails
we will transport Quatrains
and do the rain dance
under the dry moon
until the wet sun weeps
Must we return to the streets?
Every now and again
I thought about you almost never
I let you go
like everything else I ever loved
bubbling up inside me
foaming from the mouth like a dog
I played guitar backstage to all our friends
outside on the patio,
while the audience clapped
on my head was your cowboy hat
But you had never worn it,
and I forgot to ask
if you like Indian food.
Artis Bio: Fernando Albert Salinas has a MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Entertainment. He is an active board member of the Ventura County Arts Council, and mentors for Artists Without Limits, California Poets in the Schools, and Poetry Out Loud.
By 5, I knew aliens mated with apes
And Ma(ya)nkind came into being.
By 9, I knew angels mated with humans
And made giants.
At 11, I watched you
On my Huffy
Setting the standard
For every other woman
Who ever leaves me.
Only, you never came back
And your brother
Kept my bike.
Artist Bio: Nancy-Jean Pément’s poems have appeared in The Moorpark Review where she was the featured artist in 2011, Morning Glory and The Scribbler. She placed second in the 2014 Ventura County Writers’ Club poetry contest and was a finalist in Garrison Keillor’s 2014 Common Good Books poetry contest. She lives in Thousand Oaks, CA. air
Long ago air
there was air
a war air
& I lived
its every air air
Long ago air
there was you
so long ago air
& I returned
splintered & air air
who came back air
less souls air air
Nobody knew air
what to make air
of what air
we carried; air
the unspeakable air
or the stories
we whispered — air
the same air
our hearts air
up in the
Artist Bio: Crystal Salas is a spoken word poet, a sentimental little bird, a hybrid form. She received her B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012. Her work has appeared in The Acentos Review (online), The Moorpark Review, Chinquapin (print), as well as in her first chapbook, The Body Memoir, which she sewed together herself. She is the co-founder of Atomic Tangerine Press, which curates “Poetry Solves Problems”, a bi-monthly literary variety show/community based in Los Angeles. Currently, she lives in Newbury Park where she grew up, and works as a supplemental instruction coach and writing tutor at The Moorpark College Writing Center where she also facilitates their bi-monthly poetry workshop, The Write. She writes to be the clarity under your pillow, the mantra in your back pocket. Most of all, she writes for mobility. Tell your truths and they won’t keep you. www.littlebirddigs.com
Do you remember that time when we were kids, trudging our feet in dusky dew grass long after we were supposed to be out and I told you I had a suspicion that I was complicated? You had your arm around my waist and it was one of the first times so it didn’t quite fit right yet. I didn’t know where to put my hands. The ground was slanted under our feet.
You said that was okay. I’m not sure you thought about it. You would take a lot of things that way. You said it was cute. I didn’t try to explain it better. Your eyes were so goddamned blue. I had never been looked at like that. Maybe you weren’t looking at me. Torn red sweater, you looked like James Dean. That was enough for me.
Do you remember that time when we were kids and you taught me to play gin rummy with your hand on my leg and got so angry when I won and cried “beginners luck!” And then I won again and you said we couldn’t play anymore in that voice that knew how to cut my soft 15-year-old flesh like it was built for the job. I fumbled the gaps in the blue plastic coated table and asked what was wrong and you told the concrete “nothing” but wouldn’t tell me anything.
Your eyes were so goddamned green. Your shoulders, always so rigid. I just wanted to know you, make them soft.
Do you remember that time when we were kids but still too old to be hanging out in the jungle gym? We waited until everyone was gone and learned what tongues were for, tried to hunt down the butterfly march in our stomachs. I don’t remember your eyes and I’m sorry. We made promises we didn’t have enough years within us to keep. Touched and got touched in places we didn’t understand yet. We thought we could transcend skin for each other if we just touched each other enough, thought about it enough. I wanted out of me so bad.
I found some photographs from Kimber Park today and I whispered to the characters frozen in them:
I’ll hold onto you and you’ll hold onto me and we’ll remember this. We’ll remember rolling around in this suburb park, in the dusk dew grass long after we are supposed to be out. Promise me you’ll keep spinning as long as I am. Promise me you’ll let me know before you stop cause I’m afraid I might be a boomerang. Promise me when we have to go we won’t take it so bad. So I can be this grown up and hold the girl I used to be in my hands and tell her: she doesn’t need saving, doesn’t need to keep trying to figure you out.
Artist Bio: Cesar Reyes, twenty-three, is an editorial assistant at Corwin Press in Newbury Park. He lives in Thousand Oaks where he enjoys hiking the many trails Ventura County has to offer, along with training jiu-jitsu, reading sci-fi, dystopia novels, and hanging with his friends when he’s not writing poetry. He has been published in a book entitled Boys, Girls that feature many Northern California poets from Unsolicited Press, as well as the U.C. Davis undergraduate literary magazine “Nameless”. If you’d like to see more of his work go to cesarr.tumblr.com.
“No one likes a split orange”
This is what it must mean to be
single. Two people texting while
sitting next to each other;
chilling at intersections.
Her telling me
“whiskey doesn’t belong in Coke cups.”
But how else am I supposed to see
the night sky light up
in her eyes when her hands
grazing mine feel like
Artist Bio: Emily Robyn Clark is a Virginia native who moved to California to pursue her passion for creative writing with an emphasis on screenwriting. She currently resides in Ventura County by the ocean, and draws daily inspiration from bike rides at the beach. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University. She studied poetry under Gregory Donovan, the senior editor of Blackbird, a world-renowned poetry journal. Her work has appeared in A! Magazine for the Arts, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and in a book of prose poems entitled Sketches of Home (Canon Press).
Bob Dylan Cried Wolf
A troubled kid on the city streets, he might have slept
in the storage room of The Cafe Wha?
dreaming of a farmhouse with a wrap-around porch,
the buzz of cicadas luring him into a sound stupor.
He might have sat with you or your brother in the audience
quietly listening to Billy the Butcher wailing into the mike–
the Butcher freed from the colorless halls of a sanitarium,
stuck on his High-Heeled Sneaker song.
He might have ridden the rails
in brown suede shoes
or shared the stage with a blind priest in the Village.
He might have worked odd jobs
carrying packages through a blizzard
skipping history class to listen to Guthrie on the radio.
He did stand in front of thousands
facing the stage equipment,
fiddling with the big black dials on the amps.
He did turn his back on heat lightning
zapping and zinging across crazed fans.
He might have let his guitar down
and sat barefoot at a roll-top desk
touching the curves with his fingers
bringing the harmonica in close, like a kiss.
He might have let his woman leave him
alone smoking dope on a church step.
He did see red blood on white drifts
and a man’s body buckled in a doorway.
He might have slipped off stage in the midst of a song,
his electric belted to his chest.
He did keep walking alone, for days down highway 61
until his body dissolved in a dust blind,
when he released his voice to the wind.
Artist Bio: Tim Tipton was first seduced by the craft of poetry when he read the “Panther” by Rainier Marie Rilke. He has written poetry that has been featured in ART/LIFE, Askew, The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, and the on-line journal poeticdiversity. He is the winner of the 2013 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest. Tim is a graduate of California State University of Northridge where he received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. He also received a degree in Substance Abuse counseling.
My father took off in the middle of the night, with him at the wheel. Rumor has it he had another long fight with my mother on the subject of commitment.
The day my father left was very strange, I
went into the bedroom, there he left behind his brown wallet and a wrist watch that I found on
top of the bedroom dresser.
I should like to call to your attention
to his wallet: battered, faded, and old, It smelled of long days and warm beer. I opened it and found a few George Washingtons creased together, and a picture of a naked woman that wasn’t my mother; the watch was busted, rusty, and useless. One hand was lost the other never moved.
I dropped the watch into the garbage pail; the wallet I kept and used until it fell Apart of old age.
Now it’s only me that feels strange and
left behind. My feelings for him are like a
bowl of fish hooks, I take one out and they all come