The Official Literary Journal of the Inlandia Institute

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

David Stone

In Poetry, Redlands on January 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Creosote

I didn’t know how slow you grow, cloning
yourself in wider rings for thousands of years.

Seeking a skewer, I must have cut off thirty
years just to roast my hot dog.

I turned my meat, squatting like Pleistocene
man, focused on crispy skin and moist beef.

Yet before the last glacier melted, wiser
cooks knew to leave you alone and search for coyote willow.

I imagined dessert roasting
marshmallows on my reused stick.

But when acrid tar chokes my breathe,
I spit your toxic bitterness.

A Rare Night Air

I’m drawn to the window
by the low-pitched hacking chop
of a copter passing parallel.

I slide the glass to listen for its direction.
Is it headed to the hospital or circling
a criminal’s car on the north side of the 10?

This February’s air is too cool like the back
of the refrigerator’s top shelf
where the misplaced lettuce freezes,

but the scent is not of too long forgotten food
or summer’s hot bitter smog.
I feel a clean, unusually chilled, moist breeze.

I close my eyes and breathe
what must be the mountain trees’
release from the just melted snow.

On this rare night I will sleep
with the windows wide open
and dream the traffic’s drone

is the constant tumbling waves
lapping California Boulevard,
Redlands’ western most shore.

David Stone enjoys cooking, linocut printing, and exploring Southern California nature with his wife and two children. A graduate of Atlantic Union College and La Sierra University, he teaches English at Loma Linda Academy.  His poetry has most recently appeared in Identity Theory, Shuf, and the 2013 Writing from Inlandia.

Laura King

In Poetry, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

The Bathing Suit
1988

“Like this.” Across the poolhouse murk, hands float
a less-loved Body Glove, manhandle me,
and drift away. I stand between a bloat
of spandex and its riding burn, Kelly
Muirshin (B.F.F.) presiding with her cloak-
and-dagger look. “That’s how it goes, I swear,”
she hoaxes. Still the lacquered eye, the smoke-
and-mirrors eye that really glints (the glare
of sunlight on the pool reflected there),
the eye the face holds candidly, the way
magicians hold productive hats. Some pair
we two girls made—the fingers and the clay,
the hot wind and the wave, the weather and
the vane, the devil and the saint she trained.

__

Laura King’s childhood memories are backdropped by swimming pools in some of the sunniest places in the Southland, including Riverside, where her parents still live. Her poetry has appeared in 14 by 14, Goblin Fruit, Lucid Rhythms, and the 2013 Dwarf Stars anthology.

Michael Cooper

In Poetry, San Bernardino, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

the rubbed tooth 

(lines composed in honor of Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” video)

Oh dear young man throb on lap dance seat
this hot seat rock back and forth
holding your knees to the sound of the horn’s glare

o release me to my drink
Damocles between her fine stocking needs
release me to shrink among these the ambitious

shriek to what escape
this business this business looped
town        my job was

to see and cry among the ones unable to monetize
a self-scrutinized oh what was I don’t
you see something is trying to fight

its way off this page to reach you?
behind the blue: the cobalt the aqua in
digo ribbons dance seductively don’t you

see this poem is clawing out
for you    the vertebra makes
a submissive circle is this what you wanted
system-mama?      I
will suckle my thumb around this
town where the milk winds

down  they ring around you halo
aureole a mania
in the crowd        skeletal kiss
shroud shroud throng in
thralled how we
rush to greet you.
Michael Cooper is a MFA student at CSUSB who is fascinated by the fragmentation of language. He gigs and does spoken word all over the inland empire. His work plays with diction and polyphony in an attempt to shock us back into a critical awareness of how frail we are. He feels we are at our most beautiful at our point of failure: orchids in the same vase of water.

Robert Louis Covington

In Fontana, Poetry, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

the mountain

epic mountain, holy artistry
divine bounty and epiphany

calming beauty and mystery
circling valleys with majesty

stoutly standing, enfolding
exquisite, stately, enduring

a lovely view to bespeak
snow beds on rangy peaks

steeply still, raising spirits
beckoning to holy summits

from eons ago till this day
wanting ones ascend to pray

vital to a world that spins
unbowed by battering winds

alpine, green, hues of gold
dazzling spectacle, ages old

Robert Louis Covington’s professional career was as a writer and manager for the United States Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. After 36 years of government service, including four years with the United States Airforce, he now resides in Fontana, California. As an Active Member of the Inland Empire California Writers Club, he writes poetry and other articles for the club’s monthly magazine and for other publications.

Elisha Holt

In Hesperia, Poetry, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

The Clear Light

The vibration of molecules
in the empty space
of a bucket
in a cupboard below the kitchen sink.
Air spills over the brim
as drops of water leak from a loose pipe.
Each drop of water, a red thought,
a needle in the arm
of a man dying in a white room.
In between each drop, the air is unstirred.
In between each thought, the man rests in stillness.

Geology

For Virginia Holt Martin and Walt Pratt

In ’97
a flash flood
washed out a section of the highway
in Red Rock Canyon,
collapsed the pavement
into a flow of grey slush.

I thought of this
as I waited in the doctor’s office.
Stared at the vermillion carpet
as she told me the cancer
had spread to my bones.

I thought of how the wind
scoured a hole straight through
the red center of a boulder.
The photo I took of my son
smiling back at me through that rock window
the time we went hiking
along those oxidized sandstone cliffs.

I thought of my wife,
the slight dimple in her left cheek,
her hair that shined like obsidian
and flowed down the full length of her back.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell them,
said I feel like going to the beach.
I stood knee deep in the water with my boy,
let a handful of sand slip through my fingers
to be pulled into the receding tide.
I told him, flesh is like this.

Waking

You wake in the night remembering
that your father is dead,
as if the news was only just told
to you. And in the absence of light you vision
a flat land, Joshua trees
like contorted shadows,
tumbleweed giving texture to the dark.
You remember the time when you met in the hall
and his surprise when he stood
within a foot of you. You knew then
that he could no longer see.
And now you
are going blind,
each year growing dimmer, the past
growing brighter in your mind
until waking in the night to visions
of what’s passed
is all that sight has left to you.

Elisha Holt is a poet of the desert’s edge. He was born in San Bernardino and raised in the rural Palo Verde Valley, on the Colorado River, in the shadow of the Big Maria Mountains. He currently resides in the cresting winds of Hesperia, California. His work is forthcoming in Badlands and The Pacific Review.

Alexa Mergen

In Desert, Poetry, Volume IV, Yucca Valley on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

Autobiography

In plexiglass pillboxes I collect samples of wind, align them
on spice shelves above the kitchen sink, a measure of my life.
The story goes I emerged in an Iowa blizzard. Snap
a chip of deep night, label: December 1967. DC in ’73. Into this box
set wet wind—summer thundershower. Augusts in Nevada. Dry
bluster off sand mark ’76 ’77, ’78 through ’84. I’m a teenager at Rehobeth, up
at dawn after bonfires and beer. Into this box a handful of Atlantic salt air
misted by porpoise exhalation. 1985. Berkeley fog bubbles the specimen label.
Wedding day, August 19, 1992. Forest fires scorch Volcano. A sooty sample.
Two years later we sail San Francisco Bay in a gale, scoop an armful of pulsing Pacific wind off the jib for my collection. Let’s include Kay’s final breath in ’97—it fell out as a sputter— and the bilious tempest of my brother who hollers stay away!
Label also whispered breeze of reconciliation.
Add delight’s gusts, desire’s zephyr, siroccos of ceaseless seeking. Doldrums. Then,
tickles of air on undersides of poppy petals. This a log of landscape felt as it touches other things. Everything a breath. All atmosphere cooled and warmed in layers.

The first month Alexa Mergen lived in Yucca Valley she learned how to respect rattlesnakes and scorpions and how to recognize a dust devil. She grew up in Washington, DC, making visits to family in the Great Basin and Mojave. She now lives in Sacramento. In addition to poetry, Alexa writes fiction and essays. Her favorite places are windy ones–mountaintops, deserts and seashores. A list of published work is available at alexamergen.com.

Susan Min

In Chino Hills, Poetry, Riverside, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

Good News

Waiting to hear whether a lab mate’s family was killed
in the earthquake in China, a little on edge because
he can’t currently get through to them, I’m recalling the time
he wore all red because it was the first day of the year
of the snake and he was a snake and if he didn’t wear
his red hanes sweatshirt and sweatpants to work his
demons would come back this year to haunt him. It was odd
that he could be so superstitious and scientific, but for
a moment I wondered if his boxers weren’t red that day.
I don’t feel guilty when I’m disappointed to find out that
his family is alright, that the earthquake was actually a
hundred miles away, that life is still achingly the same for
everyone I know and everyone they know in California
and China and the whole unchanging universe.
It’s sick of me to want pain to come rattling into people’s
lives like this just to relieve the pressure of my own monotony,
it doesn’t have to be pain, it could be something like a
moon landing, just something wondrously real.

Susan Min was born and raised in Chino Hills, CA and attended UC Riverside as a creative writing major. She is currently working on her first book. Her website is susanmin.com.

Lawrence Reeder

In Poetry, Redlands, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

The Last Weekend in October, We Should Go Camping

We have been married for two years and
have never once gone camping:

to place those foil lumps onto breathing
coals –you would shape mine into a swan.

the arrival at night
under a leaky faucet sky

We have never sat wrapped in the blanket
your mother made, waiting for our souls’

to clamor at our tent’s pieces
while they lie lifelessly on the ground;

warming supper to sizzle and send signals
across the camp that it is ready. We have

or stuff a cooler full of essential
camping food, or carelessly add wood to

never sat tearing at those charred lumps, like
a neatly wrapped gift on Christmas morning.

an already feverous camp fire, where you
would toss cut up kielbasa, onions, peppers

& potatoes into tinfoil,
then shield your eyes

 

Lawrence Reeder currently attends Cal State University San Bernardino, and is working to obtain a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing. Afterwards, he plans to work towards an MFA. Lawrence lives in Redlands, CA.

Michael Singh

In Poetry, Riverside, Volume IV on January 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

A Sun Setting as it Rises

I was cradled by earthquakes.

Nursed by the arms
of California,
she put me to rest
on terrain
shaking with
life:

each bloody pulse
fueled a heart
birthing from
poppies in
an unabashed
full bloom,
blush fading
with the rise
of the moon.

Her soil shifts
beneath us
constantly,
tiny shivers
pulsate a
lone heartbeat
wailing its
pale affections
throughout every
pore contained
in the decaying
cracks of concrete
(here we dance
on the edge
of our collapse
knowing the ground
bellows a
warning song
as it vibrates
beneath us).

Our toes are worn
from the steps
as we try to
remember
our moves
try to forget
we were cradled
by earthquakes,
four walls
oscillating
within each box
protecting uneasy
feet gliding
us towards
the horizon;

A sun setting as it rises.

Michael V. Singh is a recent graduate in Theatre from the University of California, Riverside. During his undergraduate studies Michael was involved in numerous productions, the most recent being poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s play  Stars of Juarez where he served as both a stage manager and (later) as an actor. He has previously been published in Literary Laundry.

Matthew Nadelson

In Corona, Poetry on February 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Running Late

The hardest job I ever had was in 9th grade.
Every Saturday, after a week of running
from my teammates who, after every loss,
would toss the slower runners in the mud
after football practice, after another fall
of watching one another crumple like leaves,
I woke before daybreak to catch a bus
that dropped me off with migrant workers
lifting leathered hands to Jesus
five blocks from Village Nurseries,
where, for $4.25 an hour, I would drag
magnolias to customers’ cars
or catch a truck to shovel dirt
for rich people’s sewer lines until dark.
“Shit, I guess everyone needs somewhere
to defecate,” Bill Sowa would declare,
and we’d descend the sleepy aisles
of larches and balsam poplars
arching their regal arms across the sky,
or the rows of orange trees we daily heaved
onto the tractor my boss said I didn’t need
a license to drive. “Hell,” he laughed,
“half these guys don’t even have birth
certificates.” And during lunch,
a worker named Jose and I
discussed the relative firmness
of women’s thighs over emptied Coronas
and leaned back until the Palm trees
dangled from the Earth like feather dusters
brushing against the starless sea of smog,
which we knew the wind would wash,
along with Jose’s heavy spirit
and most minimum of wages,
somewhere south to his wife and kids,
who must have wondered when the wind
would bring their father home.
But Jose and I wondered not
how we’d survive it, for we knew,
our fingers dripping with the fire-
red salsa that had always run
from Jesus and his followers
who could never run fast enough.

 

Who Will Come Next

Watching wiper blades
smear the mud
against the windshield,
I smear the stars
from my eyes
and lift the hood.
Damned car’s not even
paid off and already
broken down,
along the 40,
somewhere between Barstow
and Siberia, California.
Above, two ravens
mimic the rhythm
of the blades,
their gentle sway the only
movement for miles
on this stretch of pavement,
a line drawn in the sand
to mark our place
for those who will come next.

 

Liability

The gardeners who trim the bushes low as their wages
have, in the name of fire-prevention,
stripped the eucalyptus branches
and lopped their mighty limbs, through which the moon
has many midnights dangled like a golden fruit,
and where the sparrows perched upon
those branches that held up the sky, now severed into stubs,
whole extended sparrow families displaced
with one swipe of the human’s mighty saw.

——

Matthew Nadelson is an English instructor at Norco College in Norco, CA.  His poems have appeared in Blue Collar Review, ByLine Magazine, Chiron Review, Connotation Press, Mobius, and other literary journals, and in the anthologies Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude and America Remembered.  His first poetry collection, American Spirit, was published in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press.