Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thieves, Pharaohs & Mexican Daredevils

Brandon Whitehead’s collection Thieves, Pharaohs & Mexican Daredevils is published by Spartan Press. The title promises a captivating collection and doesn’t disappoint. From historical and biblical figures to current day characters rough around the edges, Whitehead delivers up stories through poetic form along with a twist of humor in some of them that he executes well. I’m happy to share a few below:

Horse Latitudes

When they found them,
a cast hook pulling from the depths
an apparently endless iron chain,
it was just another mystery
to marvel at in an ocean
filled with more than enough.
But still the story spread
from ear to ear,
until finally, an old man
in a dockside bar
with a face more wood than skin
heard the tale
and laughted at the fools
who now call themselves sailors.

How could they understand
what they had found
without knowing why it was
they called that part of the Atlantic
by that old, almost forgotten name?

You see, long ago
Spanish Galleons,
filled with soldiers
greedy for the plunder
of the New World,
often found instead
the sickly winds
and Sargasso weeds
of a mariner’s oubliette
a part of the sea that loved
their ships so much it would not let them go.

Finally, near dying of thirst,
they would cast their own stallions
by the hundreds into the sea…

But sometimes, the leather harnesses
and the salt of the sea
might mix in some silent,
unknown alchemy
and the corpses would rise,
some even centuries afterwards,
still chained in great lines,
floating right near the edge
of the sun-dappled surface…

Imagine that, being some fisherman
or deckhand, and looking into the water
for one single instant to see
the bones of Spanish stallions,
somehow in the currents, moving
for an instant in stunning grace,
as if racing in a last charge,
chained to your brethren,
great manes flying,
hooves thundering as if to turn
the very ocean to earth,
in a race with no finish,
for it circles the very world.

What I love is the legend still coming to life in present day, the stallions rising above tragedy to surface from the waters and surprising the sailors. Just as mermaids are still captivating, the images of Spanish horses capture my attention and imagination which the poet does well in bringing to the surface of the waters.

I, The Vampire, Move to the Suburbs

I rise at sunset from my backyard grave.
a terrifying and monstrous sight,
my great cape flowing in the wind
as I slide like a shadow in the darkness

…only to trip over the barbecue pit.
You see, a castle isn’t exactly cheap,
the upkeep alone was a fortune
and Renfield was a lousy maid.

So, I moved to these residential outskirts,
got a mortgage, a toaster oven,
one of those little Garfield dolls
to stick on the back window of my car.

It’s not such a bad unlife,
except that sometimes, now and then,
I can see myself in the bathroom mirror
and wonder at the change.
What has happened to my sharp nobleman’s face?
Where are my gleaming canines,
my dark Carpathian allure?

What woman will swoon in ultimate orgasmic horror
to a balding middle-aged man
who drives a dented Civic?
How can I rule the countryside
from the back deck of a duplex,
or terrorize the villagers
wearing Dockers and a t-shirt from Target?

Once, I dined with (and on) the finest
of European aristocrats.
Now, I eat Doritos and watch Battlebots
on my 52” TV.

Sometimes, late,
on yet another lonely evening,
I rush as last recourse
into the darkness and tilt back my head
to howl to the wolves,
my children of the night…

…the only reply
a little poodle down the street
who yip-yip-yips all the way to morning.

I absolutely love the sense of humor in the poem. So much so that I insisted my husband read it and he, too, laughed aloud. Not the “lol” but actual laughter. This poem alone makes me thrilled to meet Brandon Whitehead’s work. A humorous twist on a much-copied character, a truly modernized vampire. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A Lack of Illumination

Why do you have so many
broken flashlights?
She asks me,
frowning at the defunct contents
of my junk drawer
in my kitchen without a stove
that I do not cook in,
like my bed that I do not sleep in
or the piles of poems and stories
I’ll never finish.

Immediately, I do not like her anymore.

No one needs to be reminded of failure,
I reply with mantis eyes.

We watch a movie and she leaves.

Afterwards, I wander through the rooms,
standing old toys,
brushing away dust.
I take the darkened lights—
broken bulbs, stripped switches,
dead batteries—
and set them up on the roof
in tiny columns,
silver reflectors
glinting starlight
as their distant cousins
dazzle us all.

This poem employs humor again and the line “Immediately, I do not like her anymore” is funny and relateable. How often have we been criticized by someone we wanted to impress only to fall short and to save ourselves shame we decide not to like them or show interest anymore? Whitehead does a wonderful job telling a short story of a failed date night. The main character takes the offending items and places them out of reach and out of sight, yet not exactly getting rid of them. The items reflecting their potential of the stars above that the main character had such high hopes for, just like his evening with the lady who came to his place for a movie. How do you deal with dashed hopes?

If you enjoyed this sample you may purchase a copy of Thieves, Pharaohs & Mexican Daredevils directly from Brandon Whitehead for $20 (includes shipping and handling) and he will sign it for you. E-mail Brandon Whitehead at, he does accept PayPal and you may negotiate other methods of payment. You can also find him on social media such as Facebook. It means a lot to every writer to find out if their work made an impact on them, so never shy away from making those connections.

Thanks always for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

dreamflowers by Anna Ciummo

Anna Ciummo is the recipient of The Dorie Renee Hogan Poetry Contest Prize for her collection, dreamflowers published by Asinimali Publications, Inc. The contest was creating in memory of Dorie Hogan, a resident of Tecumseh, KS and a student of the University of Kansas who passed away in a car crash on October 22, 1996. The contest allows female poets between the ages of 17-22 to submit their first book of poetry. Her poems speak to the experiences of college campus life, the changing seasons and finding one’s place in the world:


Perfecting one’s self can be
at least not as frustrating
as attempting to perfect another’s
our spirit’s posture
sits perfectly upright
while others slouch
or even lie down
for an afternoon nap
unsuspecting of their own
human selves
to be humane
their lifeblood
nonchalantly gray
ignorant of how the world works
not working themselves
never giving back a WONDER
to the world.

A thoughtful poem that mentions the spirit of humanity. I think it’s interesting that she speaks of “our spirit’s posture” whether the spirit inside of us slouches or sits upright, separating spirit from human form. Here she brings attention to the difference between the human spirit inside us despite our flesh. She brings attention to those who are trying to grow as people and those who “slouch,” are “ignorant of how the world works” and have no thought of working on themselves within a world filled with wonder. Which version are you?

Growing Up

How many years taken for that
to decide between the clothes, I liked
the ones that others liked

Even at eighteen
still unaware
still unsure of
if I do what I want, really want

I’m still pulling this body of mine
from that mold of media, television
they pushed me inside and picked,
until I was just right.

This poem perfectly encapsulates life as a young adult. I remember feeling the need to fit in yet the struggle of trying to define myself outside of what media, family, friends, and college majors defined for me. This young lady may or may not realize that this will be a lifelong struggle. How many of us have changed careers multiple times seeking what fits us best? How many of us have redefined our sense of style, interests, friendships, as we’ve moved forward in life?

Anna Ciummo is a native from Kansas who is attending Washburn University of Topeka, she is a reporter for the campus newspaper and has begun work on a novel. You can find her on social media sites so please find her and support her work. If you enjoyed this sample, you may purchase a copy of Anna Ciummo’s dreamflowers for $5.00 at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Crown for Gumecindo by Laurie Ann Guerrero

Dedicated to her grandfather, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s fifteen sonnets A Crown for Gumecindo published by Aztlan Libre Press explore her relationship with grandfather Gumecindo during the first year of his passing. Poet and artist Maceo Montoya provides fifteen paintings inspired by each of these poems creating a layered texture within the pages that will also move readers. There are excerpts from journal pages about her grandfather in addition to these poems, all of which explore her grief and the daily life that parted this Earth. Her exploration of memory, the surreal, and their roles within their life spans are beautifully presented:

4. The Absence of Water

Only the goats are here to say hello
when I kneel at your grave. I straighten blue
ribbon from your casket, wipe dust settled
in plastic red roses: your headstone has
no arrived. I rearrange rocks, pull newborn
weeds that sprout like vocal chords: he’s dead,
they hum. In my nails, your dirt burrows like worms.
I watched my tear fall into the lining of your blue casket.
I watched my tear fall near your shoulder and disappear
into the fabric, fast, like a raindrop into the thirsty earth.
My hands are dirty and you are not here
in your blue jeans, with your slow eye, to throw
me a manguera, to rinse my hands, to
wet my lips, to bless the little bodies
of tomatoes—trying to follow a sun
they can’t see, shrinking, puckered on the vine,
shaking in their skins, faces split as mine.
Take me with you.

Laurie Ann Guerrero shows the tender side of her grandfather, the gentleness in his ways when she speaks of his life outdoors tending tomatoes. She provides the same tender care at his grave and like so many of us who have lost a loved one she asks to be taken with him. I love the reference to weeds likened to vocal chords, speaking up for her grandfather, a hard reminder that he’s no longer able to speak aloud.

8. Dia de los Muertos
El Carmen Cemetary, Bexar County, Texas

The oddity that was put in my hands—
your truck. It used to be I drove this road
each week to pick you up. Now I drive this road
each week to lay you down again. Today
is the day of the dead: When did you die?
Today I bring you chicharron con huevo,
chile. Which is to say, I brought breakfast
to the goats. I want to slip my hand into
the photo of you, fix your hair as I did,
help you with your sweater, guide heavy salt
to your plate. Grass is starting to grow over
you. Shards of rock gone smooth. I sing to bees.
I lay my ear to stone; it doesn’t hurt:
I hear your song—water rising from dirt.

For the poet, the vehicle that transported life now transports her to the place of burial. On Dia De Los Muertos, the spirits of the deceased visit the living and it is custom to bring the deceased person’s favorite foods along with other offerings. Here, the poet knows that only the goats will consume the food offered in honor of her grandfather. She tries to get close by laying her ear to the stone of his grave in hopes of hearing his voice again. Her tenderness towards him is brought to life as she recounts the way she’d fix his hair. She reminds us of the small things that we take for granted in life, small acts, that once our loved one is gone means the world to us.

10. Stone Fruit

Good? I would ask. Good enough, you would say
of the wine we made from plums. Didn’t we,
for years, tend the mothertree? Didn’t we,
for years prune, pluck, hold in our hands the purpled
bodies bursting, that begged: me next, have me?
Weren’t we so nourished in the nerve? Someone
is burying our tree. You are reduced to pit.
I put seed in dirt, wait for you to come
back to me in a jar by the window.
You are not growing. Aren’t you a plum?
Little red, little kidney, little mouth
singing, calling: I’m here! I’m here! I thought
the dirt would give you something to take hold of:
I’ve buried everything I’ve ever loved.

I love how Guerrero seeks bringing her grandfather back to life through the plum tree from her grandfather’s property. A way to bring his livelihood closer to her home, she buries a pit from a plum by her window only to find that it isn’t growing and remains buried like her grandfather. Her sadness is poignant through this story she shares with us.

Laurie Ann Guerrero is based in San Antonio and has been previously featured on Poet Hound. If you enjoy these poems, you may purchase a copy of Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Crown for Gumecindo here:

As always, please support living writers and artists by letting them know if their work moved you, and you can find her as well as others on social media. Purchasing their work means more than you’ll ever know so anything that moves you I urge you to purchase a copy and you can also ask these writers to sign your purchase.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Verging Cities by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters Zapico shares a visceral collection of poems titled The Verging Cities about El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua in Mexico. These two cities are always counted as “sister cities” and I lived there in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Her work describes the blood-throbbing pulse of the Border and is not for the faint of heart. From tender lovers to the dust storms to the blood shed on the sands, it is all here. I have a personal, deep love for this collection as it reminds me of home once-upon-a-time and she doesn’t sugarcoat anything that has happened and is happening in the Borderlands. I chose the grittier, tougher poems because I think it’s important that poetry doesn’t always speak to the romantic side of life. Sometimes you need to be shaken awake and that is why I chose these:

After I Read Your Obituary

you crawl into bed with my husband
and me. Your body is smaller
than I remember. I hush your voice

when you complain: The aloe vera
in the pot is made of plastic.

Your breathing grows, a weed

in monsoon—you whisper: Mother,
father, and sister fell open as birds
in their chairs when they were shot

at dinner.
You show me how
you dove under the table, felt specks
of their blood on your lips before

seeing the scuffs on your father’s leather
shoes. As you measure the depth
of my weatherproof windows,

you tell me you buried your family
in the walls of an abandoned
restaurant. With the tip of the plastic

succulent I rub your swollen ears.
I tell you: In this new country I am worse
than the city of thousands dead;

I am a wound red with iodine.
My husband
wakes and I beg him for water
I’ve never known to taste so clean.

This poem captures the truly random and senseless violence across the Border in Juarez. It wasn’t unheard of (and perhaps still happens) for family get-togethers to be interrupted by gunfire. For no reason that anyone could see. Here, the poet draws the experience of a young survivor into her midst. The child tests the safety of the home in El Paso, referenced by the poet as “In this new country…” Can you ever really protect someone? The water at the end of the poem is almost baptismal of a new life in the U.S. for a clean, fresh start.

Guerrero Pears

The tree hangs brown pears over his head.
From his pores white snakes pop. They swim
down his face to turn the soil. His tongue lies
in blood that’s collected between his teeth.
He swallows red until he cries it. Streams run
around his nostrils; they bloom into a field
of roses at his chin. Birds perch on his gums
and drink the salt of him. His body, three feet
away in a cooler, rots with two beers and a knife.
His wide eyes are bruised and have turned black.
A girl comes to climb the tree for fruit and shakes
at each branch. The birds, scared, fly into the tree.
She opens the cooler, she covers her face, she
vomits. She looks at his head and says, Un hombre.

There are fields of dead buried, it is not unheard of that a child would happen upon such a victim that may have been trying to cross into the USA. Scenters-Zapico captures the vivid decay of the victim , the animals and insects at work to break the head and body down. The beers and knife kept in the cooler with the man’s head shows the desensitization of the killer, whoever the killer may be. A gruesome reality revealed by the writer.

Angels Fall From The Sky to El Paso, Texas

I wonder what he sees first: a building,
perhaps a bank of windows cutting
into the sky. Or a road, a freeway stitched
with cars so small it looks like a fine
embroidered curtain. And Angel,
what do you think of? Do you think:
This is me—dying in the sky? Do you
scream to God? Do you tell him,

you are not that kind of Angel? Do you say:
I am merely a man named Angel—
I have no wings to fly.
And when he does not
listen, do you scream or close your eyes

and unwrap the gift of gravity? That pull,
that tug of organs. And Angel,
do you see me? Just before you hit
the middle of five o’ clock traffic?

Running on the sidewalk searching
each body as they hit the ground
for any one of them that might be you?
A city of fallen angels, each one a collection

of human arms, and legs, a torso, and
bleeding mouth. I knew when immigration
arrested you, when I had to pay a fine
for ever having loved you, that they would

take our one bedroom, our washer and dryer—
anything of value. But how was I to know
that even God would push your frail form
from the sky? So when I find

your body naked, your skull cracked
in shards across the tar, I take
my clothes off and cover you.
You whisper: I can’t die here, I wanted

to fall on the live side of the border.

And I know it isn’t your voice
I’m hearing but I take your severed hands
and carry them across to Juarez anyway.

I breathe bone as I cross—your blood running
to my elbows. I breathe. I breathe
to exchange your body for an explanation.
I breathe. No one says a word; I breathe.

For those who may not know: Angel is a popular name for men, pronounced “Ahn-hel.” Whether the Angel is a reference to heaven or to a man, or a combination is open to interpretation for the reader. Here, I imagine a loved one being found dead from injuries as a result of sinister patrol officers who didn’t get a bribe in time. An immigrant dropped from a building. The poet brings us to the side of the victim and brings honor to the dead by way of bringing the parts of the body she can carry across the Border into Juarez, Mexico. Most likely this is so the victim will be brought to their home country. Vivid, heart wrenching language that captures my attention.

As I said, I picked the grittier side of the collection, there are also poems of tenderness and love, the battle of identity, and more. You can find Natalie Scenters Zapico on Facebook as well as search reviews and readings on-line. If you were moved by these poems, you can purchase The Verging Cities by Natalie Scenters Zapico for your Kindle or in Paperback at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop by again soon…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Warsan Shire’s teaching my mother how to give birth

I wish for all the world I had discovered her sooner. Warsan Shire’s teaching my mother how to give birth> was published in 2011 and her poems transcend time. If you know any women or are female you are going to want to read this. Born in Kenya as a Somali, now based in London, Warsan captures the nitty gritty of every woman you’ve ever met or happen to be yourself. Her words are dynamic, at times acidic, at times tender. She is honest, earthy, and opens up the reader with a razor they never knew was being applied. I urge you to obtain a copy of this collection, please savor these poems:


Sofia used pigeon blood on her wedding night.
Next day, over the phone, she told me
how her husband smiled when he saw the sheets,

that he gathered them under his nose,
closed his eyes and dragged his tongue over the stain.
She mimicked his baritone, how he whispered

her name—Sofia,
pure, chaste, untouched.
We giggled over the static.

After he had praised her, she smiled, rubbed his head,
imagined his mother back home, parading
these siren sheets through the town,

waving at balconies, torso swollen with pride,
her arms fleshy wings bound to her body,
ignorant of flight.

This poem isn’t for those who shy away from intimacy and women’s experiences. All over the world women are raised to keep their virginity for their husband. This poem illustrates the lengths women will go to protect their husband’s perception of them. It also beckons to how families present their values, the pride and the joy that comes with keeping family traditions. The reactions may seem dramatic but it is a dramatic moment, the consummation of marriage. I love that Warsan Shire is “no holds barred” in her portrayal.


On the drive to the hotel, you remember
the funeral you went to as a little boy,
double burial for a couple who
burned to death in their bedroom.
The wife had been visited
by her husband’s lover,
a young and beautiful woman who paraded
her naked body in the couple’s kitchen,
lifting her dress to expose breasts
mottled with small fleshy marks,
a back sucked and bruised, then dressed herself
and walked out the front door.
The wife, waiting for her husband to come home,
doused herself in lighter fluid. On his arrival
she jumped on him, wrapping her legs around
his torse. The husband, surprised at her sudden urge,
carried his wife to the bedroom, where
she straddled him on their bed, held his face
against her chest and lit a match.

This is a poem that I struggle to say anything about because the poem says it all. As a spouse, I can imagine the kind of rage that would cause such an extreme reaction. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” could easily be the title of this poem. When I read it, I felt all the emotions that the wife must have felt and while initially surprised at the ending I also completely, deeply understood them to my core. What I really want to know is how you reacted?

From: Conversations About Home
(at the Deportation Centre)

They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket. I hope the journey meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. I thought the sea was safer than the land. I want to make love, but my hair smells of war and running and running. I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you’re young and asleep. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on the face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck; I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body.

A prose about refugee life that reaches deep. I often cry when I see how careless people are about immigrants coming to our country, how rare do you know their tragic back story. If we all knew the refugee as an individual I believe we would be far more open minded with a far more open heart. Here, Shire captures the feelings, the images, and the disconnect within one’s soul of a woman displaced from her country of origin. The feeling there is nowhere safe to sleep, whether it’s your own country or someone else’s. The raw images blow me away in this poem.

If you were struck by these poems, I would urge you to obtain a copy for yourself. You can purchase Warsan Shire’s teaching my mother how to give birth in paperback or via Kindle at:

While she isn’t active on Facebook I did read an interview that she is on Twitter, so please know that she is on social media and has more work out there. The link to the excellent interview I read about this collection and how Warsan Shire came to be who she is, is here:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Laurie Ann Guerrero's A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

It is a rare opportunity to drink in such metallic and sweet alchemy of words as this collection provides. Laure Ann Guerrero’s collection, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is layered in language, culture, life, birth, death, nightmares, dreams, nostalgia and everything you could want in a full bodied collection. Whatever your mood, you will find a poem for it here. I thank my friend Reyes Cardenes for lending me this book. I hope you will thank me for sharing a taste of her work below which is really quite remarkable:

Sundays After Breakfast: A Lesson in Speech

There were no names for men like that—gringos
who stitched up their rules, their white garb, laced snug
the issues of the day: Lord didn’t make us to mix

with them folk
, they said. But God’s got nothing
to do with black boys dumped still alive into a restless river.
God’s got nothing to do with having to tell their mamas.

That bloody water ran through each dark vein across Texas,
fed the Gulf, all its brown-skinned people. This, grandpa could name:
los cuerpos—bodies swaying above the cotton like sheets on a line.

No importaba que no eras nego, pero que no eras gringo.
No, it didn’t matter that you weren’t black, grandpa says,
pushing himself from the table, but that you weren’t white.

He lived his life this way: silent, like every man after him:
opening his mouth only to eat, holding his head above
the cotton, between white men and black boys.

For those of you unfamiliar with Spanish, Guerrero provides the translation immediately after the line so you haven’t missed anything. Her grandfather’s native tongue is given in this poem to show the culture and life she has grown up in. The hate crimes of her grandfather’s day that silenced men so as not to draw potential negative attention to themselves are still going on today. I present this poem to show that these stories aren’t “old” or “forgotten,” they are very much alive and still being carried out today. Better to speak out about it than to continue to silence the voices of those who are being victimized for being a different color, culture, or for speaking a different language.

Esperanza Tells Her Friends The Story Of La Llorona

She killed her babies in the river over there by the Bill Miller
barbecue place, you know, by the Holy Mother Church. She was
friends with my grandma; they played bingo together, I think.

Oh, yeah, why did she kill ‘em?

They were brats. And they probably never helped her clean house,
and they were probably really whiney and always wanted candy
in line at the H.E.B.

How’d she do it, Espi?

She drowned them one at a time, and herself, too, I think. That’s
probably why she cries. She probably didn’t mean to kill herself,

That’s not how the story goes.
My mom says it happened in Mexico,
not in San Antonio.

Shut up, Patty, what do you know? Your mom’s not even
Mexican like us. Anyway, I think she re’carnates herself. Or
maybe God doesn’t want her in Heaven because she’s crazy and
killed her own babies…but she keeps coming back.

Whatever, Espi.

Serious. She comes back in real life and keeps on killing her
babies. But, I don’t think she cries anymore. She’s so used to it
now. She’s gone to Houston, to Hudson Oaks, to Plano, even
back to San Antonio, right here in the Southside.

You think you know everything—
tell us how come sometimes
she kills herself
and sometimes she don’t?

I don’t know. Maybe she cloned herself and now there’s lots of
Lloronas. Maybe someone you know, Patty. Maybe your mother.

Everyone has their haunted tales, La Llorona is a famous one in Mexico with many who know the words to the song about her. The woman who drowned her children and cries every night about it. This poem shows how children pass these tales to one another. For me, it was learning about El Cucuy (if I even spelled that right). I learned about La Llorona as an adult but I imagine this is exactly how it would be told to me, being taunted that my white mother could very well be this terrifying creature, La Llorona. What tales do you carry from your childhood?

Pinedale, CA
for my brother
in memory of Uncle Eddie

If you follow Aunt Eleanor to the back of the house,
you’ll see the pomegranate bush we sucked from,
the olives puckering in five gallon buckets. Open your jaws.
Let the eye of your tongue see what we have done here—
how we licked fat black olives from tamales, rolled them
up into the wide river of our mouths like cats licking
clean their babies. We can do this one summer,
with Uncle Candy and Uncle Eddie, and we can tell mama
the wine we drink from the jug in Aunt Esther’s kitchen is juice,
and we can pick peaches and we can pick lemons and we can pick
fights with cousins we will never see again. And when they die
on the other side of the country, and we still have grandpa here,
we will pretend we’re eleven and twelve,
sitting in the sun, singing rancheras
with old men who knew him before we did.

This poem makes my mouth water as soon as I see the fruit and olives being mentioned. It’s a poem that triggers the senses, the taste of sweet and salty, the juice from wine or sour lemons. The nostalgia of playing with your cousins when you’re young, this triggers memories for me, too. The reveal of family being scattered across the country and therefore never to be seen again until a funeral when all those sunlit memories come rushing back… It brings out the young child in yourself as you sing through the memories as the poet does. It’s a beautiful poem that I couldn’t resist sharing.

I will say that there are many different kinds of poems and the ones I’ve selected may seem a bit dark, but that is where my bias tends to lie. I like poems that hit me hard in the chest. You can find Laurie Ann Guerrero on Facebook and learn more about her as well as let her know if any of these pieces struck a chord with you. If you enjoyed this sample, you can download or order a physical copy of Laurie Ann Guerrero’s collection A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying at:

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon…

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Poems For All

Richard Robert Hansen is the creator of Poems For All. He distributes “seedlings” of poetry and creates the cover art himself. His poems appear in all kinds of places and you must check out his blog for details! His link is at the end of this mini review. My friend and fellow poet, Jameson Bayles, sent me five of these wonderful seedlings and I am reviewing them below. Each seedling contains one poem, they are each unique as any snowflake, as any seed which grows as you may well imagine. Enjoy these wondrous pieces below:

banking on
by Mj taylor

i create to
please you.
i sd it.

albeit all i create
will roam the universe
unseen by its Muse.

riding kell robertson’s
horse called desperation
bent/busted knuckles
clenched white ‘round
reigns of who
cracked faced against the
weather of eternal wander.

but perhaps maybe
one of these days
by the starch command of Sol
the celestial grace of Luna
approved by the higher nod
of Bill Murray,
everything will
align just
& what you feel
is all i create
for that one

Mj Taylor references the poet and country singer, Kell Robertson, who published a collection under the title “horse called desperation.” No doubt Robertson inspired this poem and I love when writers inspire one another. Here, Taylor expresses his desire as a writer to his Muse. Taylor aims for that satisfying moment when everything aligns and “the Gods” nudge the reader in his direction to find satisfaction in this moment of creation. We all strive for that perfect moment, whether it’s through spoken or written word when we reach our target audience and hit the right note. You can reach out to Mj Taylor at:

Dia de los Muertes
by: Dianne Borsenik

Dead will have their day,
And the living, all the
Years before and after.
Ofrendas honor departed
Friends, familia. Smile of
The calavera along with the
Headiness of marigolds.

Everything in its place:
Dead in their deep sleep,
Estranged from the earth,
And the living, a parade
Dancing on their way home.

Dianne Borsenik encapsulates the celebration of Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration. It is something I have grown up around and enjoy seeing because it celebrates the transformation of a person’s spirit instead of mourning them. Families bring marigolds and offerings of food and drink (ofrendas) to the gravesite. It is a family gathering that brings comfort and even joy. Hence why Borsenik references “dancing on their way home” at the end to show the convivial spirit of the occasion. Dianne Borsenik can be found on social media, she is also the editor/publisher of NightBallet Press at

“no guardrail”
by Dianne Borsenik

no guardrail
between us
and the

One of the shortest poems I’ve read in a while, yet packed with suspense. Dianne Borsenik stops us in our tracks before we ever get comfortable, just as any accident or tragedy will. Great piece in just a few short lines.

The Weight of the Moon

by William Gainer

Anyone interested
in helping raise
the moon?

I’m in,
but I’m too old.

It would be nice
if you
could lend a hand.
I’m thinking
we can do this
heave it up
just past
the tree tops.
That’ll do.

If not
I’ll do what I can
stay up late
have a coffee
think about all
the other old guys
who had this job.

how many nights
they lost

and how many nights
they just said,
fuck it,
and went to bed early.

Let me know,
I can use
a little help.

The damn thing’s
than it looks.

I love the mental picture I get when I read this poem. William Gainer as an aging man looking through his kitchen window as the moon looms low over the trees behind his home. I’ve no idea if he lives in a picturesque location but that is the way of poets, to allow our imaginations to soar. I also picture him with a rake or broom trying to hoist the moon back up over the trees as he asks for help, only to find none. The idea of someone having this job is quixotic and mesmerizing to my mind. Would you help him raise the moon? You can visit William Gainer’s site at

Harry’s Diner Poem
by John Dorsey
For Mj Taylor

as i sit here talking to a friend
between sips of black coffee
i think about the young couple
sitting in the booth across from me
how they don’t seem any happier
than i am right now
how tomorrow they’ll probably be sitting
in that same booth
or some carpool lane
as the cat nuzzles my door
while i am dreaming
of fried eggs

John Dorsey brings his observations while people watching at the diner to us. How often we look around and watch other people, perhaps capture words of their conversations. He notices that they don’t seem “any happier/than i am right now” and I wonder what is the exact level of happiness at this moment in the diner? Are they blurry eyed at breakfast or quietly content? The poet invites us to wonder about this other couple and their future as he brings us into his own home where his pet cat will nuzzle him before he gets up to eat what I presume will be breakfast. What do you observe when you’re at a restaurant or diner? What thoughts enter your mind of the people there? John Dorsey can be found on social media and you can find poems by googling his name and adding “poet” after it.

If you enjoyed any of these poets and their poems, please let them know. Make sure to visit the Poems For All Blog and keep your eyes peeled for seedlings in your hometown. Richard Hansen can be found on Facebook, the creator of Poems For All. Poet Jameson Bayles can also be found on Facebook and Instagram so be sure to support writers, publishers, editors, and let them know you enjoy their work. Thanks always for reading, link to Poems For All is below:

Poems For All Blog:

Monday, February 15, 2016

This River Here Poems of San Antonio by Carmen Tafolla

Many thanks to Reyes Cardenes for introducing me to this collection by the first Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas, Carmen Tafolla: This River Here Poems of San Antonio. As of 2015, she is the Poet Laureate of Texas. Rich with imagery, culture, history, and language native to the area, Tafolla draws us into the soul of place through the ages. There are also photographs to show changing families and the city through the years, it is an extraordinary read and very difficult to pin down just a few poems to represent such a well-lived collection. I am happy to share a few samples below:

There’ve always been rattlesnakes

especially if you live in Texas,
quietly coiled potent surprises
filled with regrettable poisons
scorpions startled under rocks
tails poised for incisive action
flash floods submerging the floor, the bed
wiping away anything not rooted yards deep
droughts that wilt the cactus,
bake the trees, suck dry the elderly

there’ve always been rattlesnakes,
husbands collapsed to the ground, stores gone broke
grandmothers fading away, bills eating the grocery money,
heart attacks at midnight, heat strokes at 4 p.m.
wagons, cars, bikes, crumpled into broken skeletons
tornados that wreak havoc, lightning that incinerates homes into black ash
cancers that appear when least expected,
disasters that life or nature makes

But even the cruelly unexpected fangs of rattlesnakes
grow brittle over time
crumble into the offended earth
even droughts bathe eventually in the abundant August chubascos
even long-staring skeletons become rich abono
fertilizing the persistent pecan trees
the hope-filled shoots of chile serrano
the motivation of survivors trying to rebuild
bone by desperate bone
to rebuild

Here Tafolla captures Texas in all its glory, with all its critters, flora, and fauna. She encapsulates the way modern civilization coincides and collides with the landscape through heat stroke, flash floods, rattlesnakes. No matter Mother Nature’s arrows, even the “fangs of rattlesnakes grow brittle over time,” even grandmothers fade away. Her poem about all of the living creatures fighting for their place, building and rebuilding, everything will eventually fade away.

Alli por la Calle San Luis

West Side – corn tortillas for a penny each
Made by an ancient woman
and her mother.
Cooked on the homeblack of a flat stove,
Flipped to slap the birth awake,
Wrapped by corn hands
Toasted morning light and dancing history –
earth gives birth to corn gives birth to man
gives birth to earth.
Corn tortillas – penny each.
No tax.

I love the rhythm of this poem, the imagery. If you haven’t seen the flat stoves that tortilla makers use, it can be easily found on Google Images. Tafolla links the earth to man to earth again through the making of the corn tortillas, rightfully poetic, “slap the birth awake,” the tortilla makers slap the tortillas into being just as women and doctors slap a baby’s bottom for the cry—to awaken the birth. Beautiful.

San Anto’s Mezcla Magica

What it means to co-exist,
to bloom together,
is that the lines grow fuzzy,
optical illusions with two different faces
appearing at different times
there is not a street that marks
a neighborhood others have not
crossed into
eaten, loved, lived in, tasted in a different way

Even in Alamo Heights,
tamales end up on the “Old Texas” families’
Thanksgiving tables, while “Graciela’s”sells
designer suits in sarape colors
Even on Nogalitos Street
the Chinese tamarind seed is the top-selling snack
at the Mexican food counter,
Indian curry gets scooped up
in comal-warmed pita bread
Vietnamese eggrolls brim out of
toasty tortillas made from
German-milled white flour

At the corner of French and Fredericksburg Road
Martinez Barbacoa pairs steaming barbacoa
with ice-cold, carbonated Big Red,
imports El Milagro tortillas from Austin
and Virgen de Guadalupe wooden bracelets from Mexico,
stacks avocados just lusciously ripe enough
but not too soft, in front of the lusciously Olympian Aztecs
posed on a calendar that only distantly layers
echoed rhythms of the Aztec Calendar

After barbacoa and corn tortillas for breakfast
we want “something different” for lunch
and pair black-smoked Jamaican Bar-B-Q
with chile-roasted corn
So nighttime at Sam’s Burger Joint we are not surprised
when in the Music Hall out back
a tall, blonde Chicana named Patricia Vonne
(nee Rodriguez and freshly back from concert tour in Europe)
rattles the cage of the stage and
sings a blend smooth as honey
to the harmony of a rock electric guitar
country fiddle
and Spanish castanets.

Blend. This poem is about the ultimate blend of cultures and flavors that continue to percolate here in Texas. It’s a luscious mix that is as addictive as it is beautiful, varied, and extreme. I would dare any visitor to San Antonio, to find it boring or bland because it is anything but. If you ever visit the area ask the locals where to eat, you won’t regret it. The music at night is wild and bright, smooth and sultry, just like the night air. Tafolla captures it completely.

If you enjoyed these poems as much as I do, you may purchase a copy of This River Here Poems of San Antonio by Carmen Tafolla at Amazon for $14.85 here:
You can also download it onto Kindle here:

To learn more about Carmen Tafolla and her work, visit:

You can also find her on Social Media such as Facebook, please support your favorite writers and follow them.

As always, thank you for reading and drop in again soon…

Thursday, January 14, 2016

In 2015, Jameson Bayles, Dianne Borsenik, John Burroughs, Joan Koromonte and Michelle Roberts decided to collaborate this project, A Case For Ascension, published by Asinimali Publications, Inc. These poets will be gathering in April for National Poetry Month in Kansas City, MO at a literary festival and decided to write/gather poems in honor of a recently constructed staircase inside the bookstore, Prospero’s Books, where the literary festival is to be held. Each author used the title as their muse for the poems inside and while they all wrote separately I couldn’t help but notice similarities. There are words used from Buddhist and meditative teachings or practices such as karma, OM, bodhisattvas, sage, incense,etc. in several writers’ poems. Perhaps because of the idea of heights via a staircase can also translate to a higher sense of enlightenment. Others spun out a tale through their poems. It is an enjoyable read and best read over more than once. It is a short collection, easy to sit with over a hot beverage and a restful moment. Here are a few samples:

Excerpt from The Five Breaths by Jameson Bayles

IV. Rechaka

…and the pendulum keeps on

As benevolence evolves, uncontested
karma reciprocates.

It’s a surgical carving of your soul.

Not a repairable tear
An erosion of causation –

It’s a deliberate


In retaliation,
the evaluation of your heart is not

on the typography of your scars
but in your mockery of each swipe
from the blade.

…and the pendulum keeps on

Bayles let me know that this poem is based on the need to rise out of cyclical and dysfunctional relationships. This poem causes me to pause and wonder about the main character’s story and which side of the relationship they were on: Did they leave or were they left? Which side has them contemplating a drastic measure and then seeking to rise above it? It is a piece that shows that whether or not blood is let out, the “pendulum swings,” time goes on whether you participate in moving with time or stop your own clock. We can all relate to heartache and the struggle to move onwards and upwards when it feels as though we can only curl up and give up.

Excerpt from Sutra for the Four Monkeys by Diane Borsenik

2nd Monkey

Humor is a precious resource.
Energy—positive and negative—wells from
Allow yourself time to breathe.
Relish the extant moment.
Nothing can prepare you for what comes
Open your heart to possibilities.
Enter through the exit.
Variety is the vitamin of life.
Is this where you want to be right now?
Lennon had it right: imagine.

There are four monkeys and they have life lessons to share. From a personal perspective the 2nd Monkey poem hit home for me since I had a radically unexpected change of plans in early Fall 2015. So for my background and for you to relate: Imagine feeling solid in your existing life and career—you’ve settled into the right home, you have perfect neighbors, a job you have the rhythm of with a team you adore working with, people in your life who you adore, family nearby, etc. Then an opportunity arrives: one you had wanted YEARS ago. It happened to us, my husband landed a job in Texas and so we took a leap of faith and I had to trust that I would find a job soon after selling our home and moving after him—and I have.
So that is why I picked THIS poem. The poem above exemplifies everything about the unexpected journey. Have you ever gone through a major life change and took a leap of faith? Variety is indeed the vitamin of life, while it can be a large vitamin to swallow, we all grow in unexpected ways when we allow ourselves to live in the moment, find the humor, and open up to possibilities we weren’t ready for. Ms. Borsenik gives us a seemingly simple poem but if you take it into your heart you will find so many layers.

Since this is a short book, let me assure you there are wonderful poems that take on a variety of tones, some hard, some tongue-in-cheek. I don’t want to give it all away, so please be kind and purchase a copy for yourself to discover the rest: A Case For Ascension: A collaborative sample reader by Jameson Bayles, Dianne Borsenik, John Burroughs, Joan Koromante, and Michelle Roberts is available for $5.00 at

You can find many of these writers on social media, be sure to engage them. When so much of social media can be plagued with the negative I believe it is vital to find inspiration and positive energy through those whose work you enjoy reading. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogspot, you name it, take advantage and create an inspiring world for yourself by connecting to those who inspire YOU.

Thanks always for reading, please drop in again soon.