Saturday, February 18, 2017

Love Poems Among Roses - For Mariko and Roger, Kathabela and Rick

Poets at St. Valentine's Day - Evening of Poetry and Roses

On St. Valentine's Day, February 14, 2017, poets gathered to read love poems and celebrate the love of Mariko and Roger, Kathabela and Rick, two lovely poetic couples.  The reading was held at the "Rose of Roses" Exhibition at the Back Door Bakery and Cafe in Sunland, CA (8349 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga, CA 91040, near the corner of Oro Vista). We brought together a number of poets who graciously shared their work to be posted on this blog.  

After everyone settled in with a glass of wine, or fresh orange juice or a cup of organic black tea, the poets presented their work, surrounded by rose photographs and mutual affection. It was a celebration of love of nature, love of friends, and ... love of good food, as it turned out later in Lois P Jones humorous improvisation... 

Their poems were woven into a narrative with my love poems that provided a rose-colored thread through the evening. I posted some of these poems on the previous issue of the blog, including the title poem of the exhibition, the Rose Garland. Here are some more poems, starting from the beginning. 


It all started with love –
a sudden burst of feeling
blinding me to everything
but you

dolcissimo, con amore

It all started in hope –
a shy expectation
that one day you’d come
and we’d dance

misterioso, con gioia

It all grew in faith –
your faithful presence
making love, our love

pianissimo, con felicitĂ 

Maja Trochimczyk from Rose Always (2011, this book was withdrawn in 2018).

The musical expressive terms in my poems (the Italian words in italics) are a great connection to the musician-poet-ballerina-teacher Alice Pero, who is not in many photos since she had to leave early due to her teaching duties.  Her poem, "In My Perfect Landscape," was set to music for soprano, flute, violin & piano by Los Angeles composer, Carol Worthey. Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble will premiere the
work on February 26, 2017 at Eagle Rock Covenant Church at 4 pm.  

In My Perfect Landscape

I took you in my acres green
through long summer's yawn
and found you in the leaves unfurling
waiting in the dawn I'm making
Can I see you in that perfect tree
caressed with interlacing green?
A spot of you in sparrow's throat
in radiance of sun gleam
blending me with over here
in my loving eye

(c) Alice Pero. First published in Thawed Stars.

Another Sunland poet, Pamela Shea, was inspired by the spring, and new love. She actually wrote the poem on St. Valentine's Day morning. So it was the freshest poem heard... 

Rosebuds and Lovers

The bud of a rose
Layer on layer of petals
Held tightly, perfectly
Unfolding when the time has come
Bursts open and a flower is born
Releasing sweet perfume

The heart of a lover
Layer on layer of emotions
Trembling, hidden, waiting
When touched by the beloved
Bursts open and a poem is born
Sweet music fills the air

02/14/2017 ~ Pamela Shea

Mariko Kitakubo and Roger Abe on their wedding day.

It is unusual to find love haiku. Deborah P. Kolodji, a haiku master, wrote several love haiku in honor of Mariko and Roger, and two of them are reproduced below. They were read at the couple's wedding earlier this month.

Deborah P Kolodji reading love haiku

scent of rose petals
when your eyes

over the water
first night

(c) 2017 by Deborah P Kolodji

Rick Wilson, Mariko Kitakubo and Kathabela Wilson

The lovely bride herself, appeared at the reading in one of her hand-made wedding gowns, this one with rose petals all over the veil and the tulle of the skirt.  Mariko Kitakubo read her wedding tanka sequence with Kathabela Wilson, accompanied by Rick Wilson on the flute, since Roger was sick and could not come in person. He was with us in spirit. The wedding love sequence has already been submitted for publication in a journal, so it cannot be reproduced here. However, Mariko graciously sent in another love poem, another tanka love sequence of great sensitivity and beauty. 

Out of Portland

is there
a rainbow
on the bubble
of my Autumn life?
Silver Waterfall

I have
someone who enjoy
my home cooking,
I miss this natural pleaser
for those fifteen years

Dragonfly Cafe
a wing on your latte
I sprinkle a heart
of cinnamon powder
on my cappuccino

I made
your favorite Inari-sushi,
even though
you 3rd generations
can't speak Japanese

heavy headache
pulse on my temple
from downstairs
the sounds of you
making me soup

(c) 2017 by Mariko Kitakubo

Mariko and Maja at the Rose of Roses Exhibition

Mariko scattered some rose petals on me for this double portrait under a soft pink rose. We also shared the "food of love" theme, as I read the following poem.

Not Aspartame

You are my daily dose of sugar
From tall sugar cane 
That gently bends
In life’s winds 
Reaching for the sun
Drinking in the soft 
Rain of my love

Startled by the whir  
Of the hummingbird’s wings
While it dips its beak 
In the scarlet cup of a hibiscus
I sweeten my day with 
The thought of you 

I remember 
                        The golden glow
                                     Of morning light 
                                                        On your skin 
             The bright halo 
                             Surrounding you 
                                                      On my lawn  
              In the rainbow 
                                Of sprinkler mist
                                              I saw the chosen one
                                                                       My beloved

It took generations 
To make you - what you are
You alone know who you will be 

When I see you 
in my driveway, again -

(c) 2014 by Maja Trochimczyk, published in Vol. 62 of San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly.

I had a funny cake above my head as I was reading this, displayed on the screen with shots of cakes, cookies, breads, and yummy dishes served by the Back Door Cafe... Lois, too, was reading under an assortments of culinary delights, so she started her set with an improvisation, rhapsodizing the love of the spaghetti and custard... Everyone laughed heartily, nourished with good humor and joy.

Ending in Red

We wind our way past yucca
and other signposts of loneliness. 
On the path, abandoned benches
peek through dappled leaves.  I hear birds
without names sing to no one.  Green hurts
this close.  I can feel where you are
and where you’re not.  Late blossoms,
means late fruit.  When we reach the apples, most
have fallen but we press their memory
between us. We will not bring home buckets this time,
just a wind that exhales cider
sweet, delicious.  The sun ripens
into an Etter's Gold.  We hurry deeper
down the path.  With oaks this barren,
exposed, it's not easy to keep quiet.  I read
your thoughts--rust, orange,
flaming and lush, the wild berries
you want to stain on my tongue.
You will never know how I wanted
to say you, down the long road,
before daylight disappeared. 

(C) Lois P. Jones

Romantique, a climbing rose 

I wrote the next poem this winter, just after the Winter Solstice, as a gift that was well received... in its passing beauty. Still it may shine with true love, one day.

Winter Solstice

Remember, I’m not your girlfriend 
I am your interstellar wife
You are my interstellar husband

We meet in clouds above clouds, 
above violet sunrise.
Hand in hand, we float into infinity.

We hold paired spheres 
of brightly polished copper 
and glowing amber, smooth as honey –
for harmony and balance, 
in body and soul.

We become stronger, 
more aware each day.

Affection explodes 
into twin flames 
dancing through galaxies, 
tightly intertwined,
round and round, beyond. 

Ascending into the crystalline whiteness
above star orchards, we pass through
swirling, fragrant blizzards 
of dogwood petals and cherry blossoms.

Crowned with timeless jewels
we are the most serene 
prince and princess
of interstellar flight.

(c) 2017 by Maja Trochimczyk

Mariko and Kathabela among the stars...

Love as "interstellar flight" among galaxies in my poem.... but it was Kathabela and Mariko that found the stars in the Back Door Bakery and Cafe.  Kathabela's poem, a beautiful wedding gift was also already promised to a journal and cannot appear elsewhere. Instead, Kathabela sent the following, tanka prose, commenting that it is "a very special one I wrote inspired by the amazing rose garden in Nagoya, Japan that we went to last summer." So hers was a bouquet of roses from Japan, for a Japanese-American couple.

Maja, Mariko, and Kathabela with event's poster among the roses.

Carefully Wonder *

We bloomed. He plays a double pipe by the waterfall of roses. He pulled out the stops. Lapis Rose. Cobalt Rose. Jellyfish Rose. Hulusi Rose. Mariko Rose. Maja Rose. Mariko Rose. Rick Rose. 

he plays up and down
with a shakuhachi
he says yes
the tone deepens we flirt
like statues in the rose garden 

(C) 2016 by Kathabela Wilson 

* Carefully Wonder ~ these words were on a marker naming one of one of the beautiful rose varieties we saw in the Rose Garden in Nagoya, Japan in May, 2016. The other names came to me from the many beautiful things we experienced on our trip, and it was as if I could name roses for them! Now I have added some name to the list of roses to be named, I think we should be able to name roses for everything, everyone we know and love. I think this little story (tanka prose) has the spirit of both couples. At the time, Rick and I felt this special moment, and now, Mariko and Roger, also. It was an honor to read Roger's part in Mariko and Roger's wedding sequence at your wonderful Valentine rose exhibit event, Maja. As if all the love, near and far were together in that room and voiced in all of our poems.)

Kathabela and Rick Wilson with Mariko and Debbie

I do not even remember for how long I have been in love with Giovanni di Paolo's illuminations of Dante's Paradiso. The gold circles, the visions of heaven as a river with naked saints jumping around the reeds, the resting place of a white rose with saints and angels asleep on its petals, the glowing gold spheres of the planets, the sun, the Empyrean... what a fantastic flight of imagination. Way better than Gustav Dore's crowded and restless angels of the 19th century... So here's my love poem "after" Il Paradiso, and yet another cosmic flight of ecstasy in love that is always there and will never change. 

A Revelation After Il Paradiso

We live in the third sphere
of lovers, in the Earth’s long shadow
Our love waxes and wanes 
like the Moon, or Venus rising up
before dawn, the star of the morning
We oscillate from darkness to brilliance,
float from fear into sunlight
to rest on a golden afternoon 
in the innocent warmth of affection 
among newly planted roses
Imperial, Electric, Compassion
Double Delight and Simplicity roses 
in our garden where we trim dried, twisted 
branches of old oleanders to make room 
for orange blossoms and more pomegranate
always more pomegranate
never enough pomegranate 

Dark red translucent juice stains our fingers
Tart juice bursts with flavor 
in our mouths, ready for kisses
always ready for more kisses
softest, childlike, strongest, tasting 
like the wine we never tasted, the dream
we never even hoped to dream about
escaping the long shadow 
of the Earth on a golden afternoon 
lovers in the Garden of Love
afternoon in the Third Sphere of Venus
golden, golden, sparkling golden 
afternoon from another planet

Peace Rose

Mira Mataric with the love card, and poets at the Back Door Bakery and Cafe

Love was in the air, and on the oversized card that all the poets signed for Mariko and Roger - "All you need is love" it said on the outside and "I love you" inside- but we changed the "I" into "we" and wrote best wishes for the newly married couple. They came to this place in life unexpectedly, and late, thinking that the "season of love" was already over for both of them.  That's one more reason why our love poetry reading felt so tender and kind - an unexpected gift to all of us, from the universe of roses...

Dr. Mira N. Mataric of Serbia and the U.S. has experienced decades of poetic love-making, as she mentioned that the first poem she read was written in 1955, before most of us were born!  And she was already in love.

Mira N. Mataric

Love Diptych:

First Love

It is not crimson red
but light pink or blue
like Picasso' s paintings

smells like snow and early violets
tastes like insecure hope
making you feel like
singing in the shower.

Last Love

Not passionately red
it is reassuringly warm
like the autumn sun

It smells of verbena
tastes like the soothing
herbal tea

making you feel like
a tired river
reaching the sea.

Mira N. Mataric

Love and War

All is allowed in love and war
I never accepted never practiced
that philosophy

you said
you would not come and conquer
stay and use what is not yours

but you did just that
in the name of love

you shared not what was freely offered
but all available resources

basking in victory and power
you ignored a slow leak
then a steady flow
of love leaving the conquered

the weak and trapped hate the conqueror
hate is weakness love is power
in my heart-land freedom reigns

evacuate peacefully you have lost
there will be no bloodshed
the world has already had
too many.

Dorothy, Pauli, Pam, and Dick read their poems, humorous and tender, in turn. If they send them in, I'll add them to this blog, if not, we will end here, with another love poem of mine... 

After the reading, resting among roses


I found myself 
in a perfect place

I laugh to tears
and I like what I see

After the broken pieces 
of the Devil’s mirror were
washed away from my eyes

There’s no torment here, 
no limits, only the infinite
glory of becoming one 

With the Universe, one with 
the Divine, stumbling on my way

No anxiety, no desire –
I live right here, right now

Thank you for the key
that opened the door to Paradise – 

Serene, fearless, I’m wholly 
and whole made of love

Fireman Rose

The Rose of Roses Exhibition is in view at the Back Door Bakery and Cafe, 8349  Foothill Bldv., Sunland, CA The exhibition will be on display until the end of March 2017. I'll be there on February 25, and 26 in the evening. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rose of Roses Photo Exhibition and Love Poetry for St. Valentine's Day 2017

St. Valentine’s Day 
Evening of Poetry & Roses
at the “Rose of Roses” Exhibition
Hosted by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk 
The Back Door Bakery and Café
8349 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040
February 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I'm happy to present my second solo exhibition of photographs, "Rose of Roses" that I could subtitle "Rose Photos for the Month of Love." The title is a tribute to the Song of Songs, of course.  

This exhibition is held in the Back Door Bakery and Cafe in Sunland (8349 Foothill Blvd.),   on display for a month, from February 4th to March 4th, 2017. The Artist's Reception is on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 7-9 p.m. after the Village Poets Monthly Reading at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga. We will have live music, poetry readings and more...

Why is February the month of Roses? They are still dormant, without leaves or blossoms, cut down for an annual rest back in late December or early January.  It seems that the association of Love and Roses cannot be ignored in a month divided into two halves by St. Valentine's Day (the 14th). This month sees an endless parade of heart-shaped chocolate boxes topped with red or pink silk roses at the beginning, and Easter bunnies, eggs, and pastels at the end. 

The "Rose of Roses" exhibition features roses from my garden and from Descanso Gardens, as seen after rain, in the evening, in the morning, with sharply contrasted shadows, in the shade and in direct sunlight. I discovered an endless variety of patterns in their petals and decided to capture the blossoms for far longer than the five days they remain on the bushes. The result was my private collection of electronic rose photos, that I used on my website and on margins of poems. I also used them to illustrate my second book of poetry, Rose Always. It was fun. 

After showing a couple of these photos at the River Rock Arts Colony show at the Back Door Gallery in 2016, and a selection of about 10 photos at the Scenic Drive Gallery in Monrovia (my first solo photography exhibit in 2013), I decided it would be great to display a wider selection at the Back Door Gallery. It is visited by everyone in our neighborhood, and February being the Month of Love, it is the perfect time for roses.  The owners of Back Door, Reno and Debbie Goodale, are enthusiastic supporters of local artists and musicians, and this sweet and lovely exhibition is the result.

The motto for the exhibition comes from my poem, Rose Garland, seen below and posted on this blog a couple of years ago.  

Rose Garland

I thought roses.
I thought rich, velvet blossoms.
I thought a red rainbow 
from deep crimson to delicately pinkish.

The secret was underground
where the roots sustain 
the multi-hued orgy of sensuous allure – 
flowers opening to dazzle and fade.

The strength of the rose
is invisible – you see the blush
of seduction in each leaf and petal, 

You admire their charms.
Yet, you care for what’s out of sight,
not for the obvious.

I thought your love.
I thought how you adore me.
I went deeper down to the source.

The rose, Sappho’s lightning 
of beauty, breathes love,
laughs at the wind and wonders

how the mystic rosebush twirls, 
crowned with the royal 
garland of fire. 

Published in Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

I previously wrote many stories and poems about both love and roses, and the title of the Rose Always is the proof of the importance of this connection  to my concept of romantic poetry. I am so glad I am not an "academic" poet and can use the word "love" as often as I want, without being censored by politically correct and artistically crippled ultra-ambitious snobs.  How liberating!  It is so simple, not "precious" - but simple and basic , to be moved by the beauty of the rose, and to think, while admiring its petals of the beauty of a kiss... 


For you, I'm a pear
with persimmon flavor
bathed in vanilla milk,
my skin is smooth, electric
it tingles when you touch me
I sing -
Of all the gardens of the world,
all the orchards,
all the fruit-bearing trees,
all the roses,
I'm the richest.
my blossoms are most abundant,
my fragrance - the rarest,

beyond reach

From Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

Rose Window

I place you in the heart
of my rose, dark red one
with dew drops on its leaves.
Like a tricked-up baby
from Ann Geddes' postcard
you rest, snugly wrapped
in the comfort of my love.
"That too shall pass," they say,
"That too shall pass.
The rose will wither,
love will fade away."

Respectfully, I disagree.
I know the symmetry
of velvet petals
is but an opening
into a different universe,
a cosmic window,
I see it in the shyness
of your smile. Yes.
You are that lucky.
In the morning
when the curtains of mist
open above silver hills
carved from time
like a Japanese woodcut,
you taste freedom.
You found your true self
under the detritus
of disordered life.
Isn't it strange
that you've been saved
by the perfection
of just one rose?

From Rose Always (Moonrise Press, 2011, withdrawn in 2018)

All lovers should be happy, even if their love is gone, dead, or lost in the mist of time. It is the supreme gift of having been able to feel what generations of poets have felt, from the divine Sappho until today... Many entries on this blog were dedicated to the topics of Valentine's Day and the various types of love, and its poetic expressions. 

The heart has its own logic, its own math.... and a brain, too - as positive emotions create coherent rhythm and help us be healthy and happy... You can find a heart to love just about everywhere, and writing about love is not only NOT a vice, it is, indeed, a virtue... And that person you love is, well, entirely "Adorable..." "Amor 6," "Desert Rose," "Rosa Incognita," "Ellenai 6" - with a link to the interview with Susan Dobay.

At the opening of my exhibit of photography and poetry at the Scenic Drive Gallery in September 2013, I read  a selection of poems that were either unpublished or appeared in Miriam's Iris  (the ones with numbers in titles), or Rose Always. ...
with "A Portrait in Bracket" and "A Lesson for My Daughter"
Some people… wrap themselves in a thick blanket of irony of sarcasm and greet every expression of sentiment or affection with a sneer. We’ve all seen our share of these tough guys and gals, who curse or ridicule every expression of what really matters. “How banal, how boring!” they say, when they hear a sweet love poem..., with "The Smile of a Rose," "Rosier d'Amour," "The Rose Garland," and poems by Sappho and Robert Burns.
The association of roses with love goes back to the times of Sappho, an ancient Greek poet (or, rather as 19th century writers would say, poetess), whose fragments of love poems, have inspired countless poets with their vehement passion and colorful metaphors since her death more than two and a half thousand years ago. In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s translation, Sappho’s rose is “the eye of the flowers… the grace of the earth” and “the lightning of beauty that strikes through the bowers / On pale lovers that sit in the glow unaware.” Sappho’s rose “breathes of love” and its petals “laugh with the wind…”, with "Rose Garland" and "Ready to Wear". 

The photo included here, of a "Chicago Peace" rose covered with raindrops (or, rather, as the case may be, drops of water from the sprinklers), looks like candied confection, a marzipan...., with "Love Defined," "A Chocolate Kiss," "Lauda," "A Secret," "Rose Window," and "Always"
Love is a topic of so many country songs, so many romantic sonnets, so many tales and novels. It gave rise to new genres of literature (romance, troubadour poetry) and in other arts (rom com, or romantic comedy in film; the comedy as a classic theatrical genre). After centuries of efforts to describe it, we still do not know what it is. The taxonomies and definitions that I cited in the previous essay are just one way of approaching this elusive topic. 

Here's another whole blog issue dedicated to this topic. No wonder, my poetic friends called me The Dove of Love!

More on Love and Roses with links and comments may be found on  the  identically titled page of this blog. Let me finish this essay with another rose photo, this one featuring my Rooster Year Haiku, developed from my holiday wishes of a "feather-light heart" - quite appropriate for the Year of the Fire Rooster, with the fiery red rose. The "feather-light heart" of course, comes from ancient Egypt, the Judgment after death that includes comparing the weight of a heart to that of a feather. If it is lighted, the passage to the land of the Blessed is granted.  This, in fact is the opposite to the Christian tradition, where the heart heavy with good deeds, is the one granted eternal happiness in Heaven.

Heaven or not, roses have been multiplied by their fans, the famous "rosarians" to thousands of thousands of varieties, and I found and portrayed just a few... This one for the Year of the Fire Rooster (in a couple of versions, the latter above, the earlier in the haiga):

a sunburst - a smile
 a feather-light heart
the Rooster Year!