Part 4 Contributors


Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Christopher Buckley
Neeli Cherkovski
Boris Dralyuk
Alicia Elkort
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Kate Gale
Frank X. Gaspar
Dana Gioia
Shotsie Gorman
S.A. Griffin
Donna Hilbert
Brenda Hillman
Glenna Luschei
Phoebe MacAdams
devorah major
Clive Matson
K. Silem Mohammad
Rusty Morrison
Harry Northup
Holly Prado Northup - In Memoriam
Cathie Sandstrom
Shelley Scott - In Memoriam
Daniel Shapiro
Mike Sonksen
Pam Ward
Sholeh Wolpe
Gary Young
Mariano Zaro

Part 1 Contributors

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky

Part 2 Contributors

Elena Karina Byrne
liz gonzález
Grant Hier
Lois P. Jones
Ron Koertge
Glenna Luschei
Rooja Mohassessy
Susan Rogers
Patty Seyburn
Maw Shein Win
Kim Shuck
Lynne Thompson
Carine Topal
Cecilia Woloch

Part 3 Contributors

Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Lucille Lang Day
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Marsha De La O
Charles Jensen
Eloise Klein Healy
Glenna Luschei
Clint Margrave
Henry Morro
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Phil Taggart
David L. Ulin
Jonathan Yungkans
Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis

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Click to enlarge picture devorah major
devorah major
Photo Credit: Bob Fischer
Californian Poets Part 4: Four Poems
devorah major



usa fire alarm

the house is burning

we can smell its smoke

sparks singe the curtains
our eyes water as growing fires
sizzle at our front and back doors

on the top floors
some of the residents
are in a thick fog sleep

others are trapped
in the darkened basement

straight-backed and frightened
i sit in the living room
i am not alone

the house is burning

the arsonists say
they will rebuild the frame
with our bones
glue together ashes for the walls

they have no need to
replace the windows

i have a bucket of water at my feet
where should I throw it

as storms gather

wind tears through shuddering trees
a shifting sigh as leaves wither and fall

shrieking squalls spume fury across ocean crests
murmuring a moaning song with a piercing chill

icy fevers inhale the waves’ surge
swallow unmoored boats

warning of seasons to come
seasons only some will survive


          Woe to the downpressors:
          They'll eat the bread of sorrow! Bob Marley

you walked on our bones for centuries
turned them to sand
poured into sandboxes
for your children to build sandcastles

and when the sand became translucent
filled with the sunlight
burning your eyes
you found more to sacrifice

sent vultures to strip away our skins
and built ladders formed
from our ribs, limbs and skulls
on which you climbed
to get a better view of the lands
you planned to conquer

and now we rise
joined by
some of your children
and grandchildren
who have eaten of shame
and refuse to travel
on the rails you laid
with our bones
and each of you
who blocks our path
tries to press us back
will be blinded by our brilliance
blinded by our brilliance

a mother’s howl

night sounds dirges
of sirens and gun shots
screeching tires
and assaulting voices
become bricks around your heart
become an ever-tightening
noose around your neck
as the bridge of faith
rocks and creaks beneath your feet
hampered by age and poor construction

what if it was you
heart torn and bleeding
by the call
the knock at the door
still hearing your son’s voice breaking
into your restless dreams
“mama, I love you”
just as he exploded into death’s domain

you who carries the grief of the mother
who lost one and then another child

you waking up cold sweat night after night
when gunfire explodes blasts around your home

you with the coroner and seeing your child
cold but not yet stiff lying on a metal table
your tears bathing his face

because at that moment it wouldn’t matter
if it was a cop obeying supremacist training
or a neighbor consumed by confusion and rage

all that matters is that flutter who quickened in your womb
that baby who suckled your breast
that child who climbed into your lap
to pull your ears and give you sloppy kisses
that youth who brought wild street flowers for love
that young man who hugged you every day
as if it was his last, “I love you mama”
was dead

and then consider if
you would hear anything
or only wail

a howl that echoes
mothers around the world
who have felt that acid
sear their hearts

a mother’s howl
a mother’s howl