Train Night At The Artists Union Gallery Tues. 9/14


read on the theme of TRAINS!

Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Artists Union Gallery
330 South California Street, Ventura

Hosted by Roe Estep
Open mic follows…

The Painting Locomotive, by Van Gogh

By ellen

Near the end of his life
Vincent said to Theo
I am the painting locomotive
as he splashed his canvass with unbearable blue
slashed the spectrum of hues
from yellow to ochre’s billowing wheat
daubed those black marauding crows
in a feverish race—his eyes
piercing twin tracks of light
suddenly bullet-stopped
like a coal fired steam-engine’s
great screeching brakes.

Excerpt from NIGHT TRAIN

By Enid Osborn

He wanders long and long

the whole long train,

chaste and astonished by their faces, their losses,

and lost in the rhythmic, now arhythmic beat and clack

of the rails, rough and missing

like a faulty heart

The locomotive’s sad herald cry barely reaches him

from another realm, another train

Not this one he prays over,

not this long night,

not this long train he wanders aching through

He is far away from the world,

from the miles of ramshackle track

where fallen spikes lie rusting in the rocks,

reaching for their lost beds,

and the oily, split tyes

yawn in tortured speech

to bear the terrible heat and fire spark

of countless train tons laboring through the night…

Every Tuesday you can find an open mic and every other Tuesday a featured reader or two at the Artists Union Gallery. It’s free–but they often take donations to give to the poet.

To find more poetry, take a ride on the Monday Poetry Train!

Sonnet for September 11, 2001 (via art predator)

There’s been a lot of animosity today it seems–lots of arguing about burning the Koran and whether it is ok or not to build a mosque 2.5 city blocks away from where the World Trade Centers stood. In Michael Moore’s article “If the ‘Mosque’ Isn’t Built, This Is No Longer America,” he argues:

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and a generous people.

I wrote the following sonnet for September 11 on Sept 13, 2001; a broadside of it (as illustrated) was published in ArtLife Limited Editions October 1, 2001.

Sonnet for September 11, 2001 Sonnet for September 11

thursday i listen to radiohead
in a new purple polka dot sundress
& i am trying to feel so modern
i search for more warmth for this sunny day  … Read More

via art predator

Poetry for Memorial Day: These Brothers They (via art predator)

Poetry for Memorial Day: These Brothers They In the US, on the last Monday in May, we honor those who gave their lives in defense of this country. There are a lot of ways to die. When I was young, my mother worked with Viet Nam war veterans and I came to know a number of them. These experiences inspired this poem which I first posted Memorial Day Monday, May 26, 2008. It was published as a broadside in ArtLife Limited Editions July 1999 as it appears here. These Brothers They Let me tell yo … Read More

via art predator

VC Students to Read in Artists Union Gallery Tonight 7:30pm

Students from Gwendolyn Alley’s English composition classes will read prose and poetry from their recently published class anthologies tonight, Tuesday Dec. 8 7:30 in  the Artists Union Gallery, 330 S. California St. Ventura California. The reading is free and all are welcome.

Pictured are students from Alley’s English 2 class at the conclusion of Eco-Fest which they organized. Christina Henderson drew the poster; an image with students and the poster graces the cover of their student publication.

The Embark & The Goodbye: Luis de Camoes

Poetry from Portugal: The Embark & The Goodbye by Luis de Camoes

actorBelem Jeronimos Monastery
from Ploughing the Sea: Poems from the Lusiadas
by Luis de Camoes
Canto IV: 86-93

Having done everything practical
To make ready for so long a voyage,
We prepared our souls to meet death
Which is always on a sailor’s horizon.
To God on high who alone sustains
The heavens with his beloved presence,
We asked His favour that He should endorse
Our every enterprise and steer our course.

The holy chapel from which we parted
Is built there on the very beach,
And takes its name, Belem, from the town
Where God was given to the world as flesh.
O King, I tell you, when I reflect
On how I parted from that shore,
Tormented by so many doubts and fears,
Even now it is hard to restrain my tears.

Portuguese explorers statue near Belem
That day, a vast throng from the city
(As friends, as family, others
only to watch), crowded the shore,
Their faces anxious and dismayed
Looking on, as in the holy company
Of a thousand zealous monks
With heartfelt intercessions on our lips
We marched in solemn file towards the ships.

The people considered us already lost
On so long and uncertain of a journey,
The women with piteous wailing
The men with agonizing sighs;
Mothers, sweethearts, and sisters, made
Fretful by their love, heightened
The desolation and the arctic fear
We should not return for many a long year.

One such was saying: “O my dear son,
My only comfort and sweet support
In this my tottering old age, now
Doomed to end in grief and pain,
Why do you leave me wretched and indigent?
Why do you travel so far away,
To be lost at sea as your memorial,
And bloated fish as your only burial?”

Or one bareheaded: “O dearest husband,
But for whose love I could not exist,
Why do you risk on the angry seas
That which belongs to me, not you?
Why, for so dubious a voyage, do you
Forget our sweet affection?
Is our passion, our happiness so frail
As to scatter in the wind swelling the sail?”

As these piteous, loving speeches
Poured from gentle, human hearts,
The old and the children took them up
In the different manner of their years.
The nearest mountains echoed them,
As if stirred by nearest sympathy,
While tears as many as the grains of sand
Rained without ceasing on the white strand.

As for us, we dared not lit our faces
To our mothers and our wives, fearing
To be harrowed, or discouraged
From the enterprise so firmly begun,
And I decided we should all embark
Without the customary farewells,
For, though they may be love’s proper course,
They make the pain of separation worse.

published 1752

Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes (1525-1580) led quite an adventurous life, which included traveling to India and China by ship. His hands-on experience enriches his epic poem The Lusiads about Vasco de Gama on the voyage which ultimately connected Europe to India. He is such an important figure to the Portuguese that his birthday is Portugal Day and his tomb is at the Jeronimos Monastery (pictured–with an actor from a Portuguese Ren era play waiting in the wings!). More to come about and from Camoes!

For more poetry, ride the Monday Poetry Train!

PS I send my gratitude to Enoforum Wine for the copy of the book from which I quote. I was admiring it in the book store at the monastery and trying to find it on the shelf to buy it when it was quickly purchased for me along with a collection by Fernando Pessoa. Enoforum Wines recognizes that a wine is more than the grapes; it even includes the poetry of the people who make the wine and live on the land. I agree. Thank you!

Today, Monday September 21 is International Day of Peace

International Day of Peace PosterMonday, September 21 is International Day of Peace which is celebrated and honored throughout the world. A few years ago, my students and I put on an event at Ventura College which included European spoken word performer and dj Emil Brikha (who mixed a spoken word piece of mine text, mp3 here “I Want to Be That Man”) plus poet and translator Jen Hofer from Los Angeles. We had copies of a drawing of a dove which students colored, cut out and “flew” while the music and spoken words flowed in the quad, thanks to funding support from Poets and Writers.

Events large and small are going on around the world; you can view a live broadcast of events at or!  The broadcast was produced through the efforts of Unity Foundation and their partners at, and Pathways to Peace.   To add it to your Facebook profile, go here and add the Livestream application, and the Peace Broadcast will play directly on your profile!  You can EMBED the broadcast anywhere… on your own website, blog, myspace, etc!  By doing so, you will help make this broadcast viral and create more awareness about the International Day of Peace!

In closing today, a poem: Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things” which I found in Robert Bly’s News of the Universe

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

POETRY: Gwendolyn Alley to feature 7:30pm Sept. 15 at Artists Union Galley

I will be the featured poet tonight, Tuesday Sept. 15 at the Artists Union Gallery, located in Ventura on the Beach Promenade near the parking garage: 330 So. California St. The reading is free but the parking is not.

An open mic follows my featured reading, so bring your work to share also! I look forward to hearing you read! I imagine I will read the poem read above which was selected by the on-line video poetry journal Guerilla Reads last year; I will probably read the poem below also

also as well as some 3:15 Experiment poetry like this one but probably not this one:

Over the years, I’ve published over 3 dozen broadsides in ArtLife Limited editions as well as other publications, and I’ve done readings in most of the Western states. I’ll bring  some of these to sell at the reading.

For more poetry, check around this blog or ride the Monday Poetry Train!

Poetry by current US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan, the 16th poet laureate of the United States
US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan

DEW by Kay Ryan, US Poet Laureate

As neatly as peas
in their green canoe,
as discreetly as beads
strung in a row,
sit drops of dew
along a blade of grass.
But unattached and
subject to their weight,
they slip if they accumulate.
Down the green tongue
out of the morning sun into the general damp, they’re gone.

According to this article by Adam Phillips,

For the past year, Kay Ryan has been serving as America’s 16th poet laureate, tapped by the librarian of Congress to be ambassador for American poetry. She has published more than half a dozen books of collected poems. She is well-known for her compact, vivid and accessible verse.

The august marble-and-gilt halls of the Library of Congress, where Ryan has her official headquarters, seem an unlikely place for someone raised in what she calls the “glamour-free, ocean-free, hot, stinky, oil-rich, potato-rich” San Joaquin Valley of California. But then, growing up, Ryan didn’t want to be poet.

“It [to declare oneself a poet] seemed like putting on airs,” she says. “It seemed self-absorbed. It seemed like something that my oil well driller father wouldn’t understand at all and that my mother would disapprove of, because it was just showing off.”

Kay, I hear ya! My grandfather Norris Nathan and his brother Normal Claude were the first set of twins born in the San Joaquin, in Oildale, to an oil man. Although they moved away from Oildale–all the way to Bakersfield– they all worked in the oil fields at one time or another. My dad was born just a few years before you–you may have even gone to school together.

Continue reading this article by Adam Phillips from 21 July 2009 about US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan and hear her read more of her poems.

Jen Bervin “nets” her own poems from Will’s sonnets

“The first time I encountered a Jen Bervin poem,” writes Philip Metres in his review of Bervin’s Nets, “was in a broadside format, among the books, chaps, seven inches, and other paraphernalia on the Ugly Duckling Presse table at the AWP conference in Chicago in 2004. In a small wooden frame, a short poem:


8                      In singleness the parts

Strike  each in each

speechless song, being many, seeming one

When I peered a little closer at the object, I noticed that there was a raised, but un-inked, undertext: Shakespeare’s Sonnet #8. Thus:

Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: “Thou single wilt prove none.”

Go see the rest of  Philip Metres review of Nets by Jen Bervin (Unpaginated. Ugly Duckling Presse. Paper. $10. ISBN 0-9727684-3-2).

I love this book, which Jen Hofer recommended to me when both Jens were on the Wave poetry bus tour a few years ago. It’s beautifully done, and the work is amazing–both to have a collection of Will S’s sonnets in this format and to experience Jen Bervin’s “nets” of them. Unfortunately, I am afraid I loaned it to a student and it is long gone…

What aspect I like most is how the “nets’ call to mind both Will’s time and ours. Here is one of Shakespeare’s most well known sonnets surrounding one of the most decisive moments of our time:

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Zen Haiku by Santoka Taneda from “Mountain Tasting”

Some works of zen haiku by Santoka Taneda from the collection Mountain Tasting translated from the Japanese and introduced by John Stevens:

If there are mountains, I look at the mountains.:
On rainy days, I listen to the rain.
Spring, summer, autumn, winter.
Tomorrow too will be good.
Tonight too is good.

During the Japanese-Chinese war, no protests were allowed, and poets were expected to support the war effort. In response, Taneda wrote a series of powerful poems. Here are three of them:

The moon’s brightness–
Does it know
Where the bombing will be?

Winter rain clouds–
Thinking: Going to China
To be torn to pieces.

We move silently
in the cold rain
Carrying the white boxes in front.

Santoka Taneda (1882-1940)