It would be wise of you to please support this lovely, independent Tecolote Book Shop in Santa Barbara by purchasing a book or two. Tomorrow, they were to host a book-signing event for Curse of the Ninth. When this is all over, I invite everyone to visit the shop. I look forward to celebrating and signing for everyone someday soon. Hasta luego!
SILVER PARK ARTS LITERARY LOUNGE will resume ONLINE IN A PRIVATE ZOOM ROOM with featured readers: Chad Sweeney, Mary Torregrossa, Victoria Lynne McCoy, and Ruthie Marlenée. Surprise Guests in Open Reading. May 5, 2020, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Let’s do this thing. More DETAILS below BIOS.
CHAD SWEENEY is the author of six books of poetry, Little Million Doors (Nightboat Books, winner of Nightboat Prize, 2019), Parable of Hide and Seek, White Martini of the Apocalypse, Wolf’s Milk (bilingual Spanish/English) Arranging the Blaze and An Architecture, and two books of translation, The Art of Stepping Through Time, the selected poems of Iranian dissident poet, H.E. Sayeh and Pablo Neruda’s final book, Calling on the Destruction of Nixon and the Advancement of the Chilean Revolution (2019).
Sweeney’s poems have been included in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology and Verse Daily. He is the editor of the anthology, Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: Teaching Artists of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose, and Iroquois elder Maurice Kenny’s posthumous collection of poetry
and prose: Monahsetah, Resistance, and Other Markings on Turtle’s Back. Chad Sweeney holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Western Michigan University. He is an Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing at California State University San Bernardino where he edits Ghost Town Lit Mag. He lives in southern California with his partner, Jennifer Kochanek Sweeney, and their
MARY TORREGROSSA, often noted as a storyteller is most importantly a story-listener, a practice honed by her job as an ESL teacher in Southern California. Originally from Rhode Island, she blends portraits of people, places and experiences, both coasts of the United States into her poetry. Her chapbook, My Zocalo Heart, is published by Finishing Line Press. Poems appear in Bearing The Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, in Voices From Leimert Park Redux and Miju Poetry & Poetics: Korean Poets Society of America. Mary is a winner of the Arroyo Arts Collective Poetry In The Windows and named Newer Poet of Los Angeles XIV by the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. Other publications include The Altadena Poetry Review, and websites for Ekphrastic Review, Dime Show Review.
VICTORI LYNNE McCOY holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Blackbird, The Boiler Journal, The Collagist, Cultural Weekly, The Offing, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
RUTHIE MARLENÉE, a second generation California native and an Angelino, earned a Writers’ Certificate “With Distinction” from UCLA. Her second novel Curse of the Ninth nominated for a James Kirkwood Literary Award was launched February 2020 by WiDo Publishers. Curse of the Ninth, a literary fiction with a psychological twist, takes place in historical Hollywood and Glendale. Some of her writing can be found in The Coiled Serpent Anthology, Silver Birch Press, Long Story Short, Midlife Collage, and SoToSpeak. Her screenplays have been recognized at film festivals, domestically and internationally. She published her first novel Isabela’s Island in 2004 and has completed a third novel, Agave Blues. Marlenée is currently working on the sequel to Curse of the Ninth. She is also a ghostwriter, a member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, Los Angeles Poet Society, Sisters in Crime and a WriteGirl Mentor.
On May 5th from 8-10pm, Silver Park Arts will open its reading series ‘doors’ in virtual space. Tickets from free of cost to whatever on a sliding scale, priced to help keep Silver Park Arts kicking at this unprecedented time. Open reading and attendance only spots are on a first come basis so please RSVP at email@example.com. The waiting room will open at 7:30 for sign-ups. No one will be admitted after 8pm.
Limited attendance. Don’t miss out. Save the date and register early.
The drone of a plane awakens me out of a peaceful slumber. They’re coming to save us! Like paratroopers landing on the beaches of Normandy. But history shows what happened on D-Day. And there will be casualties of war.
I’ve awakened into a bad dream and strain to hear the ghost planes –those ghost riders, phantom fighters my husband heard as a Coast Guard patrolling Midway in the 80s. Islands isolated except for the gooney birds.
I roll over, cover my head with the quilt, shelter in place wrapped in survivor’s guilt. While we don’t have it as bad as Anne Frank and the others hiding in a tiny secret annex nor are our grandchildren living in filthy cages, I suffer to think I’ll never get to hold my little lovebirds again.
Even if the quarantine is lifted, without a vaccine or a cure, we’ll never get back to normal. Daycares are petri dishes full of germs, and the grandkids bring colds home like artwork to post on the fridge.
I’ll live with anxiety wondering if a soldier of death will come knocking on the door or just shoot first. I know there are other lonesome doves out there. I’m grateful to be isolated with my husband, within the walls of our 860 square foot bunker, our gilded cage during this tarnished age. I’m a survivor of misfortune, he’s a survivor of cancer. But can we outlive this pandemic like soldiers of fortune?
I wonder, after this pandemic, will the gooney be the only species left? Does a gooney suffer survivor’s guilt?
I see the light through the long, dark antechamber.
Some believe Jesus has passed over to be with his Father in heaven.
This, what I remember from my teachings at Catholic school.
So now what am I to believe as the sun
shines brightly on this ‘dark’ Saturday.
I want to rejoice even if I was taught to
“believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever
shall be world without end, Amen.”
Oh but I’ve mixed up the Apostle’s Creed with the Gloria Patri.
And that’s just what the church did to me – mix me up.
But still, world without end is a comforting thought.
And just what is meant by the ‘world’?
The earth, the globe, the planet, the biosphere.
Mankind, humankind -we are the world
We are the world. We are the children
* “There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.”
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
World without end, so Sunday stay the fuck home. Amen.
* Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie
Good Friday, always cloudy as Jesus hangs dying on the cross.
I wonder now if tomorrow never came, would he still rise on Sunday?
Would there be a second coming if the human species disappeared
behind the clouds (except for the survival of the fittest, the survival of the richest)?
But if the species were to vanish with the virus into ether, what would have been the reason to have any memories at all, or thoughts or the ability to create only to have it all destroyed?
Would this be the final death of the species –
the first occurring when your physical body dies the second when there’s no one left to remember you or to speak your name?
This Good Friday, I’m alive to say His name, to honor and remember
others who’ve gone before me — alive because I remember them.
Alive because I read their works. I remember their words.
But think about it. For those survivors of the fittest,
they’ll have our words, our stories, our poetry in the iClouds.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
In the end, we are the words, and the words are with God
and the words are God. We are the words in the iClouds.
Oh, I really don’t know clouds at all.
I listen to the rain falling steadily all night long –
the caprice of the gods or the tears of angels?
Raining it seems for 40 days and 40 nights or
since the beginning of the Corona.
Water gushes in from a crack in the ceiling.
The community pool overflows. The tennis court is flooded.
Our whole condo building is surrounded by water.
In the distance, I hear Noah calling
for passengers to board his ark.
Wearing his PPEs, he takes their temps,
two by two, only the best of their species,
and so behaved with utmost goodness.
Noah won’t sleep for a year as he tends the animals.
After a time, a bat will return to the ark with an olive branch,
A symbol the world is all good again.
Dear (I’ll not give you power by speaking your name),
My life is in ruins and you are to blame.
You’re the excuse I give for not accomplishing my goals,
the reason my book bombed before it soared.
And it’s because of you, I’m so freakin’ bored.
You’re the reason for my miscarriages,
my financial collapse, my failed marriages,
You’re the reason I’ve fattened my curves,
the reason I’m drinking more to calm my nerves.
You’re the reason my children don’t come visiting.
The reason (except for my husband) I’m all alone sitting
on the couch, quarantined, and it’s all your fuckin’ faults.
Filled with alibis and justification,
I want to blame you, but it would be false
to give you credit or qualification.
For if I were to blame you – you whose name I’ll not chime —
I’d have to thank you for the goodness in this isolation,
For this new perspective and source of inspiration,
this time to write a new and better novel to withstand time.
I’d have to thank you for absolving me of my sins of omission.
Thank you for giving myself the permission
not to work out, not to obsess about losing weight
(In the end, does it matter if I’m size 12 or size 8?).
I’d have to thank you for letting me skip a shower.
I want to thank you, but I won’t give you the power.
I’d have to thank you for letting me keep the skunk
striping my scalp or for letting me get drunk
on Cakebread Chardonnay on wine box Monday.
I’d have to thank you for no Botox one day
to drown the 11’s sprouting up between my brow
and the deep crevices shooting out across my bow.
I’d have to thank you for the liberty to wear
comfy sweat pants, t-shirts, no underwear,
Freedom to go braless, shoeless — less healthy,
more comfort food, more carbs, more sugar.
I’d have to thank you for keeping my children at bay.
They’re not visiting – love’s social distancing —
for a “senior,” more vulnerable to an unnecessary foray.
And I’d have to thank you for emerging
now when I’ve finally found someone
with whom I want to be isolating
today and forever, it’s you I want to blame.
I want to thank you, but I’ll not give you anymore sway
by speaking your name.
Photo by Odysseas Chloridis
The doctor has called to give us a choice. What? Death by cancer or death by COVID 19?
Cover us. We’re going in! I’ve got your six, Honey. But I’ll have to take cover in the car.
We’re going into do battle today — up against another beast. We’ll strap on our weapons and don our masks and gloves and head on over to UCLA Medical Center.
Damn! We were half way through the treatments — today one treatment closer to the finish line and now this – World War III.
Oncology isn’t E.R., but still they say sneezing can shoot like bullets up to 27 feet, droplets suspend like paratroopers up to 10 minutes. I don’t want my husband to risk being exposed.
I think about those in retirement or nearing it; those Veterans of war who’ve already served and fought other battles. Is this their reward?
I think about those who’ve worked so hard, scrimped and saved. Will they get to check things off their bucket list?
I suppose this is why we’re to live everyday like it’s our last. Get our houses in order, make our amends, and tell our loved ones we love them. Pop a bottle of Champagne just because.
Drive to the hospital with the top down, but wear a mask and gloves!
Alas, the event has been postponed until a time when we can meet again! I can’t wait to sign those books!
I just want to give a shout out and thank River House Books for being so kind and gracious.
Take care and virtual hugs
In response to 45s hopes for Easter and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s (Texas) call for seniors to sacrifice themselves in order to save the American Economy Grandpa and I have eight grandchildren whom we simply adore and so in exchange for keeping America strong, we are willing to sacrifice for the children. Therefore, on Holy Thursday after washing little feet, wiping runny noses and changing poopy diapers, We will proceed to pick up our cross, carry it up the hill, like Jack and Jill, to be nailed to the cross. We love our grandchildren so much, On Good Friday, we will release our spirits. Forgive them Father for they know not what they’re doing. And on the third day, Easter Sunday, We will rise like the stock market So that the children can go to church And brunch and binge and imbibe mimosas before the giant Easter egg roll on the front lawn. And on Monday, the economy will surge and America will keep on going. And finally, you may wash your hands of this and please don't cry for our deaths will not be in vain. This, after all, is the cure for the coronavirus.