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
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 felicità
Maja Trochimczyk from Rose Always (2011, this book was withdrawn in 2018).
work on at Eagle Rock Covenant Church at .
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
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
(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.
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.
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
The golden glow
Of morning light
On your skin
The bright halo
On my lawn
In the rainbow
Of sprinkler mist
I saw the chosen one
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.
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.
into twin flames
dancing through galaxies,
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.
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
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
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.
Not passionately red
it is reassuringly warm
like the autumn sun
It smells of verbena
tastes like the soothing
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
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
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...
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
The Rose of Roses Exhibition is in view at the Back Door Bakery and Cafe, 8349 Foothill Bldv., Sunland, CA https://www.facebook.com/thebackdoorbakery. The exhibition will be on display until the end of March 2017. I'll be there on February 25, and 26 in the evening.