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Alison Parham

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Joanna Martin

Grandmother's Call

Birth my grand baby through the eye of the rising moon,
over blood ocean, umbilical currents,
the setting sun her birth compass.

Cradle her newborn body in twilight sky,
dress her in constellations,
announce her birth with a comet.

Lullaby her to the tune of whale song
in the key of sea breeze
with the breath of mermaid.

Let her crawl with hermit crabs,
dive with dolphins,
school with surfperch.

Have her wear shoes of oyster,
swim with flaming angelfish
over rose lace coral reefs.

Bathe her in sunset.
Hand her a rattle of pearls and sea glass.
Dry her with moonbeams.

Swaddle her to me,
setting moon of her ancestry.

How Women Wait

I wait on a bench above the ocean
beside the metallic-skinned surfer statue
brush-stroked to life by nimbus clouds
as church bells ring twelve
and surfers descend the cliff face to the waves.

I wait for her, the woman with good parking karma
who is neverthless always late,
wait for her to arrive breathless and flushed
with damp hair ends
all of which make her look more gorgeous.

It is her spontaneous self who comes late
while she leaves her settled self,
her tall grass self, her zen meditation self
to wait back at the house,
allow her to venture out, explore the world
then retrace the hum, the scent of yarrow, the sound of wind.
She always leaves ways to find herself back
before being captured by the count of twelve bells
in the shadow of the iconic Santa Cruz surfer statue
standing guard over the boundless ocean.

Indian Summer

In an afternoon of turning leaves
material things fall away.
I listen to dreams' silent-speak
and the howl of ghosts
that illuminate my property.

Tilly, telling a story on the other side
of a midnight fire pit, how she swam
with lightening bugs in a Massachusetts lake,
flames licking at her shoulders
muscling through sky's reflection
blanketing that watery bed. Lucky for opposing elements,
she says, able to cancel each other out, crack open
the soul of being

Evie, scarf-trailing, belly dancing seductress,
her breasts surfacing in her dark eyes,
her shimmying hips spitting from her tongue,
her undulating belly rebirthing her beyond time
as she transforms her body parts into breathless motion,
creates her own scarves and space stage,
dervish goddess whirling ecstatically.

My father, my first love, a man of tender tears
holding the world in his open palms, delicately,
as if a dragonfly, shimmering filament inlay
of transparent wings reflecting light on his face,
feetless legs kissing his palm flesh,
wind of vibrating wings alighting,
ghost blossoms filling the air,
haloing his body.

When the Fires Came

We used to be hippies,
used to be lilacs,

used to dance so hard
we blew the roof off the place.

We used to could suckle two babies
at once.

We used to hum,
now we hymn.

We used to put the fear into...
now we are afraid,

so frightened we're praying
to our childhood gods,

the ones we tossed off
petal by limb

thinking we were tree enough,
blossom enough.

Now, ashen petals float down,
stain our open palms,

we join them in prayer,

release and raise them skyward,
black wings,

still attached
to body.

Grief is a State

Not like Louisiana,
water saturated bayous,
fishing boats in the byways
searching out the orange dint
of crab and crawdads appearing,
disappearing in mud clouds puffing up
from the bottom of the gulf bed.

Not like Massachusetts,
white stones off the shore of Cape Cod
magnified at the bottom of a pool
of crystal green seawater
until a breeze comes in
sets the stones to shivering.

Not like California, either,
pelicans diving headlong into the Pacific,
piercing the ocean surface
with their beak points precisely, like a needle
through silk, making the perfect stitch,
or a knife into flesh,
a surgical cut, deliberate.

Rather, grief is a state of being,
or even bigger, a whole country or continent
or the tectonic plates rumbling beneath,
or whole starscapes pouring out
of your chest with each exhalation, casting each leaf
every mountain range and marsh bed
in an etched light, a sliver brightness
that freezes you in place, alabaster presence,
gathering the great strength it takes
to inhale deeply, live again.

Explosion of Soul

The dying

It is the cold
of death
the luminosity
of being.

An aereole.

The eternal struggle,
body mortality
lighting up particles
of dust.

A flash.
Last illumination
of flesh.

At death.


Joanna Martin began writing poetry thirty years ago when she moved to Santa Cruz. Something about the reflection of stars in the midnight sea, something about humpbacks breaching secrets at the harbor mouth, something about the murmur of mermaids in dreams, something about words crashing the jetty, something about lighthouse beams sweeping the ocean clean, something about everything losing bounds in the boundless sea.

Emerald Street Poets
Marcia Adams
Len Anderson
Dane Cervine
Robin Lysne
Joanna Martin
Tom McKoy
Adela Najarro
Maggie Paul
Stuart Presley
Lisa Simon
Phillip Wagner

Featured Artist
Alison Parham


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