Ahead of Me



LPTrendsPoetry. Good Poetry. by Tennison Long.


You are sometimes ahead of me

and I am sometimes very far behind

I dream of us forever

and I am out of my mind

but I surrender the never

to have you now

a sliver of time

an abandoned moment

anything of you somehow

for all I do not know, this I know—

a slice of your heaven

can drown a lifetime of sorrow…

Butterflies (oil & acrylic on canvas) 2005. Chloe Brittain. All Rights Reserved.

I want to catch your butterflies in flight

through your parted skies…and warmer thighs

dance with your electricity…and gaze into your eyes

wake from a dream to a new dream with you by my side

our passion burning the rational, setting fire to control

pulling your clothes off, you’re the thief that stole

…my heart, my mind, my sanity…when you showed me

and I had that first taste, that initial hit

hitting me like I’ve never been hit before

unaware of all that was in store

now the hopeless junky looking for his fix

the next encounter, the next nighttime love

the time when I can close my eyes

and the skies behind my closed eyes will be lit

by the firestorm that is you, by the charging lights

of our electrical explosion, our slow move motions

Photo by Andrew Ashford. 2012.

the teasing of our pleasing when we tame the same

set fire to the shame and finish the game

until your sky falls again all over me…

it all starts anew

this is how our garden grew

the midnight flight, the direction we flew

but we still have so much to do

I will place my heart in check, I will reshuffle the deck, I will wait for the day

when there is nothing left to say

when there is nothing left to hear

or my most dreaded fear

but I will know I have tried and I will know I have cried

laid my soul out to bare

taking on the highest dare

and hope it is into your smile that I stare…


About himself, he simply offers:



Tennison Long

Veritas is Invariably Delightful

LPTrendsWriters: Ina Schroders-Zeeders, A Review by Kathryn Mattingly. A prose wordsmith from the Netherlands who loves the sea and can be found on Winter Goose.

I Wrote Your Name

Ina Schroders-Zeeders

I wrote your name in feathers

all spread out on the beach.

The nicest ones would make

a pretty letter each.


A big storm came along then

and blew away your name.

The feathers fell down softly

and it was not the same.


I spelled your name in sea shells

all spread out on the sand.

A hundred shells I used

before back home I went.


A huge wave came on rolling

and washed away your name.

The shells were rearranged.

It just was not the same.


I wrote your name in anvils

all along the shore

the waves could not remove them

the wind would harm no more.


Your name was not to last though,

the salt air made it rust

and after a few years

all that remained was dust.


You seem to be all gone now,

I‘ll write your name no more,

though many shells and feathers

are waiting on this shore.


Ina tells us on her website that she was born in the Netherlands, on the beautiful tourist-destination island of Terschelling. (The photograph above was taken by Ina.) Her fascination with the sea began at an early age as she and her mother would frequently accompany her Merchant-Marine-Captain father on his adventures. This sounds like a fascinating novel in its own right. Perhaps Ina will write that book one day so we can all read it!

Ina’s newly released book of poetry called Veritas is invariably delightful. It moves the very soul, and we all need to have our souls moved occasionally lest we lose sight of what is magical in life and what will endure beyond it. I highly recommend delving into some of her thought processes via stanza format. It will be well worth the plunge.

Besides poetry, Ina writes novels – but they are all in Dutch, so unless you were born in the Netherlands or have a foreign language fetish you will have a hard time understanding them. Perhaps one day she will have her books translated into English for us.

I recently asked Ina some questions about her work and island life.

I know you love the sea and have always been inspired by it as an author, what motivated you to begin writing poetry? 

I always liked writing stories, and I have been writing novels (in Dutch) for 15 years now for a living, but poetry came my way in 2010, when I tried to write a poem in English for my weblog that was not read by many people. I decided to give it a try and because people reacted, I got encouraged to keep writing poems.

“This is a book which surprises and delights in equal measure. Little slices of life so precisely described that the reader is left with a wry smile or a grimace or a wince of pain or a burst of laughter. These poems touch the reader in a way that only poetry can. It is a surprise to learn that such assured poetry is a first collection from someone writing in a language, which is not their native tongue. I am full of admiration and look forward to reading more in the future.”  David Agnew, UK Author & Poet

What does Veritas mean, and is it your first published poetry?

Veritas (truth, in Latin) is the title, as I learned that a (good) poem must have truth in itself. It is my first English poetry book containing 160 of my first poems.  I also had another poem In the moment published in the English poetry magazine The Journal. There will be two poems To See the Truth and Tragedy published in two anthologies this Fall, titled Strokes of Inspiration and Anthology Animals 2012.

You Left Your Coat

Ina Schroders-Zeeders

You stood on my doorstep one night

asking for shelter in another language,

but the weather was fine.


I found some wine while you got out of your wet coat

and all your other clothes that were soaked as well.

But the weather was dry. The water was salt.


Layer by layer, wool from the Shetland islands,

a linen shirt that was made in Italy,

and a scarf you claimed a woman in Greece had knitted.

I could sense her scent, spicy and sweet.


I took you into my bed and warmed you

for days with my body.


You never told me the name of your ship

but left your coat when you went.

It never dried up all together.


The Interview

What inspires you most about living on an island?

I have 3 sons, all out of the house now, the eldest living here on the island though, and this means I can babysit my baby granddaughter very often. My husband and I like it here because of the relaxed way of living (compared with living in a city) and the feel of freedom we have here. I think my daily walks (almost 2 hours every day) in the dunes and woods here help to clear my mind.

What do you find most frustrating about living on an island?

Everything seems to cost more here and I would love to buy my flowers at a market. Hospital is far away which might be tricky in case of an emergency, and children need to go to the mainland and live away from home at a young age. But overall I prefer the life here.

Where all have you traveled with your father, the Merchant Marine Captain, and perhaps otherwise for inspiration?

My mother and I would join my father rather often so I did see a bit of countries like Norway, England, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Germany, Belgium and France. We also went to Luxembourg on a trip, and later I went on my own by train to Greece and Morocco, stopping in Spain. With the sons we went to England and Belgium, Scotland. Nowadays I like to be in England for holidays. Whitby!

How long did it take you to write your poetry collection called Veritas?

I started Veritas in fall 2010 and in Sept. 2011 I sent the poems to Winter Goose and the book was published in March 2012.

Who do you read for entertainment and to be inspired?

I like Nicci French, but to be inspired for my poetry, I like to read poems by Billy Collins, Ph. Larkin and Mary Oliver, also I am trying to figure out Baudelaire, and I find inspiration in poems by David Agnew (Leeds) that make me think of poetry in a different way.

What mentors have you had along the way – teachers, friends, loved ones that support your goals and dreams?

It has been a lonely adventure so far, but with the English poems I had the encouragement of some of my blog readers, that helped a lot.  I went to England for a book launch (David Agnew) and I was surprised to see what is happening there (writer circles, poetry festivals).  Makes me wish I lived in England!


Yes, well Ina, you might want to live in England, but I for one would be okay with living on a beautiful tourist-destination island called Terschelling, off the Netherlands.

Ina’s poetry book Veritas is Available Now On Paperback: Barnes & Noble and Amazon eBook: Nook & Kindle You may visit Ina’s website at:  Ina Schroders-Zeeders:  http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/ina-schroders-zeeders/


Poetry Riffs & Brittle

LPTrendsWriters: Elizabeth Henderson and everyday poets from the ether. We are running this in Family because poets are.

Last year we met via Facebook (of all places), Ms. Henderson and us, a kindred poet and writer who gathered several other poet hearts from her local town to try and post a poet a day during April, National Poetry Month. This is one of two installments from that period in 2012.

As you read – if a name is in gold – their poems directly follow – and we left them as we received them, as Elizabeth collected them from the Facebook group page. A word experience for sure. A few curse words thrown in because that is what raw, true poetry does sometimes. 

Elizabeth Henderson is the writer, with more than 8 story collections and books self-published, who galvanized the poet lot. Check out Elizabeth’s work on Lulu and at her blog. Beth on Lulu. Beth’s Musings - Bethaine13 writer’s blog.

In her own words she describes the year as being vey yin and yang – good and bad – celebratory and difficult. Connect with Beth on Facebook to swap courage stories!

Liked this poetry? You might also try:

Erotic Gentle Poetry for Everyone

The Unknown Leader Among Us



Photo by Andrew.


Deidre Trudeau 

30 Apr 12

With Poetry Month soon Past
We should really make it last
Enjoyed all the talent
It truly was quite gallant…


13 Apr 12

Freakish Friday Lore
Superstitions Galore
Step on a crack break your back
Don’t let that cat cross your track
Break a mirror, years of terror
Wild Wolfs stalk and howl


10 Apr 12

Abstract to concrete Day 9
Seven paths of transformation,
Draws radiance in golden layers,
Bring seven gems unto your heart
Deeply breath in cosmic fair


9 Apr 12

Day 9: If/Then
If dreams were color, then mine would Glow
If Glow was a dream, it would be GOLD


5 Apr 12

setting sun
peddles glow
against the sky


3 Apr 12

Missed yesterday or did it miss me?…

Walking on the dance of a whisper
Wishing on the chance of a song
Walking on the dance of a whisper
Moving most intuitively along


01 April 12

Eyes of March’


Early in it’s lunar glow
Thunders down upon the earth
With it’s icy bitter snow.
As the month moves on,
leaving puddles in it’s wake,
smart is the shrewd fowl
who’s home it begins to make.
Birds nesting while seedlings land
to turn blossoms into blooms.
Winters force begins to shed
it’s thick enduring gloom.
Reviving unto thoughts of warmth,
Sunny days lasting true,
Now we leave the month of March,
To the season of color & hue.~~~


Johnny Sparx

25 Apr 12

my dom delouise-ish friend

you turned into kane and

then inhaled misfortunate oxygen—

heart attacking,
you lost your rosebud.

in life
hurst murdered you

In death, you slaughter him.

don’t worry mr. Welles, we all know that

hurst was a prick.


21 Apr 12

Robert E. Quagmire

kick your broken teeth
redneck confederate
fuck your jack;
shut your giggity mouth


18 Apr 12

clear diamond blood
death in afrika
sold death slavery
once forgotten
bland and spacious beauty
is capital.


5 Apr 12


I walk—
No sounds ‘cept
squawkin’ robins
under sheet-metal

time = relativity

an escalade beeps
a goose honk,
hog-like brakes
soft and squealing,

time kicks in

the birds shut-up.


Carolyn Donnell

22 Apr 12

Rose and Thorn

Is it wrong to say
‘I Love You’?

Should I hide and fear
these words as if
they were a plague?

Would you pass a rose,
simply because
you feared the thorns?

Knowing you – you probably would.


14 Apr 12


I hear your sweet tales of family life
and think of ours with all of its strife.
Does everyone else have a rosy past?
Or is it seen through a cloud or behind a mask?

Well, I’m sorry if my stories are sad.
If good guys don’t win or some outcomes are bad.
But that’s the truth, so what should I do
with our broken lives, the pieces askew?

I could sweep them all under a rug,
pretend they don’t exist or take a drug.
Or grovel on them ’til I’m black and blue.
I know a lot of people who do.

Or I can gather the bits of glass
and make a mosaic of our pasts.
Find beauty somewhere in each cracked old chest.
And value. I think those choices are the best.

Ruby reds for those valiant hearts,
who deflect harm with fiery darts.
Rich emerald green for all of those
whose souls held on through nights of woes.


Photo by Andrew.

Brown like the earth for all who stayed true.
Add shimmering shards of topaz blue.
The color of sky over our head
gives hope for life we won’t have to dread.

Please don’t forget yellow, not by half.
This light-hearted color reminds us to laugh.
To bind it together we use even black,
dark side, the color of tar or thatch.

With these pieces both broken and torn,
we come together and cause to form
a stained glass window so all might find
beauty in even the least of light.


13 Apr 12

Nobody ever calls me but me.
When I look on my caller id
mostly the numbers that I see
are my own. I have three.

Lots of unknowns,
a few family phones.
Even some anonymous groans.
And I see ‘numbers not shown’.

But by and large the majority
is me calling me just to see
if anyone out there cares to be
really in touch with me.


9 Apr 12

If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be mine.
If day were night it wouldn’t be time
to get up when I don’t want to
and sleep when I can’t.
If I weren’t me
Well…..who would I be?


7 Apr 12

Not up to writing
more than a few words today
isn’t that a shame


6 Apr 12

Facebook calls me
Socialize around the world
Missing hugs from you


5 Apr 12

I am made of meat, bone and gristle.
I am not made of leaf and thistle.

Why can’t I eat what’s like me?
I don’t want to grow into a tree.


5 Apr 12

Just Enough of a Reminder

The road ends just behind
long rows of upp

er yuppie houses cattle graze on hills so verdant green you’d swear
you were in Erin’s land instead of south San Jose
where still some fields grow ruby red fruit shocking
pink flowered cherries can be picked from the trees
mist like dragon’s breath from long lost Avalon
coats the mountainside sliding to valleys below
apricots then follow
popcorn blossoms
a few acres left
here and there
just enough
reminder of
what the valley
must have been
when it was full of

orchards instead of
sprawling shoeboxes


4 Apr 12 

3 X 3

Go to bed
Or don’t go
Stay awake

Write a line

Photo by Andrew.

Back it out
Try again

Writers block
Go away
Not today


2 Apr 12

Writers block
wraps it sticky tentacles
around my mind.
Slow setting cement
clogs creative paths
Wait for sunny breezes
to thaw the channels
of inspiration.


Tracy Saville

21 Apr 12 

My favorite skeletons in the closet

are the ones
I’ve trounced soundly
into submission
where they lay

21 Apr 12

Rules and the what not
Of balance;
Are the stories wrapped
In truth;

 To listen
To know what is right,
Really wrong and wacked.

See how the jack-booted preachers sway in stickiness?

Go for chaos.
Better for the soul.
Avoid snakes coiled around sunshine. Their mothers don’t even trust them.



10 Apr 12

Milky moon on Honolulu hill.
Nymph in pink kimono.
Hunk. No monk.
Pull uphill
Lollipop lip


3 Apr 12

If in the corners
of my mind
you spotted a lurking elf,
or a whisper of something other
than your self,
me thinks you should stop peeking
into windows and souls;
for what you see
is what you get,
and what you get,
you deserve.


3 Apr 12

not to mention
the unmentionable f’s
to follow
– for christ’s sake
make the
gooder still
will end the shrill
mockery of words.


Jaclyn Randolph 

20 Apr 12 



That is TRUTH.


13 Apr 12

From the baseboards
up the wall
they crawl.

Over the floor
up the door
there are more.

Across the room
down the broom
they zoom.

Demons scouts of the night
they are hard to fight.

Woke up with them in my hair.
The spray fills the air.
These ANTS are everywhere.


6 Apr 12

Seals catching lunch in the bay.
Seagulls trying to steal my bait.
Waves crashing upon the Jetty.
Sun beating down on me.
Wind blowing through my hair.
As I lay upon the rocks
awaiting a decent catch of crab for the day.


6 Apr 12


No Oranges…

for a drink
of water,
you are not there.
You have
just like the rain.
My watering hole
is empty
and I am
dieing of thirst.
For all the
is gone now
and there are no
Oranges on the tree.


Each day was like the other.
Nothing new, nothing old.
Then the day came when you had to go away.
That’s when life started to change.
I started seeing things in a new perspective,
but never forgot the views I used to have.

I realize now how much I love you.
How much I miss you.
How I took you for granted.
I should have come around more.
I should have answered your calls.
I should have come to see you before it was too late.

When it is my time to go
I will catch up with you.
Sit and chat about old times past.
Most of all tell you just how much I love you.

This next one I actually got published in the ARC newspaper.


I have loved many things before,
but not as much as you.

A moonlit walk on the beach
A dance without music
A roller coaster ride at the fair.

I dream of us together always.

Waking up next to you in the morning
Falling asleep next to you at night
I dream of us together always.

Us getting married
Us having kids
Us dieing together.

I dream of us always.

I dream of all these things
and yet I have not met you.


5 Apr 12

The roads of life have split in two
two separate paths
path I must choose.

Choose to follow my heart
heart that seem to always break
break when I am with you

you who does not understand
understand what is not right.

Right is the way I must take
take me away from here.


5 Apr 12

You are near
But so out of reach
How I linger for companionship.

Such opposites
that one cannot see
all this is killing me.

Like “Frosty the Snowman”
and the Sun
at the end of the day
only one has won.
For the one that wants both
there is no hope.


5 Apr 12

Easily hidden
behind a smile
is the sadness within.


5 Apr 12

You sleep all day or
you drink and say there’s the door
What is wrong with you?


5 Apr 12

Butterflies flutter by
SLASH! Water falls
You are no more.


3 Apr 12

3 Little smiling faces looking down upon me.
So sweet, so peaceful.
Hair pulling, nail biting, tickling, raspberries.
Mommy WAKE UP!
Mommy!, Mommy!, Mommy!
I love my children.


Lorna Kelly

12 Apr 12

Fragmented thought.
Darkened kitchen chair.
Lightening sky.
Light trail cigarette tip
Infinity, infinity, infinity….
Until now
I never wanted to know
The age of this weary soul.
Time does not heal,
Only dulls regret
To occasional spasm.
Open window traffic buzz.
I wash the cup.


9 Apr 12

Apparition standing.
The silence in these rooms.
We tip toe through the hall
around queries,
spaces we fell between.
We think too much-
Speak not enough.

Apparition standing.
Broken ships lie
beneath the sea of Cortez.
His displeased ancestors.
When a virtual world crumbles
we rebuild new lines of code.
Not so easy in re
Apparition standing.
al life.
Path rising between us.
Shared Celtic eyes glancing.
Ruts and pot holes
filled with treasure.
Emerald rain-tears,
shattered hearts.Apparition standing
in the kitchen.
Empty milk carton.
All we ever taught each other
flash paper flame.
This is all we have.
Is this all we have?


4 Apr 12

….to see me
gazing at
me without

aide of a
mirror this
is not my

face flush with
wonder and


2 Apr 12

Saturday morning
Looking glass meditations.
Can’t find my barrette.

Transcendental bliss
Meaning lost in a moment.
Reach for my notebook.

Summer time musings.
Thoughts from you river flowing.
This gift feels like home.

Saturday morning
Iced coffee meditation
Haiku water fall.


Steve Pulley

9 Apr 12

Day 9: If/Then

Pulling petals off a daisy one day
raised the theory of material implication
some say.
She loves me, she loves me not,
final petal ties the knot.
maybe not.


8 Apr 12

At the Savannah Memorial Park*

Old cemeteries
their weather-worn gravestones
all but obliterated with years
still whisper stories
of lives before our own.
Now if these old bones of mine
can only bend down low,
low enough to hear them
and then let me stand up once again,
then maybe, just maybe
I can pass the news
along to you.


6 Apr 12

An epic tweet/ is hard to meet/ when characters one forty/ are all you can fete


5 Apr 12

Sparse hair fluffed and coiffed
though may enshroud balding pate
hides not shifty eyes


5 Apr 12

Sparse hair
fluffed and neatly coiffured
though hiding balding pate
ne’retheless could not
forestall the furrows
‘pon the brow
nor the lost soul look
that stared out
from shifty eyes


4 Apr 12

Day 4: Sesquipedalian Woes

lover of
I now weep

to compose
prolix rhymes

methinks that
would love this

*Charles Bukowski, American poet, novelist, short story writer, famous for short, compact poems.


3 Apr 12

Day 3: Why I Prefer to Compose Longhand on Yellow Legal Pads

Hunched over laptop
pecking at the keys
the poet lost his touch,
the moral congeries
that fed his clutch
on life’s realities,
forgot that in the quill
was the thrill
of the muse,
not the clucks
or the coos
of the laptop

(Note: This is a bit tongue in cheek, since I do most of my writing on a laptop; that said, writing longhand most certainly produces a mental shift different from that of the keyboard.)


3 Apr 12

Ever wonder why
the sweet pea
came to be
April’s flower
right off the bower,
and not a peony?
Why Lathyrus odoratus
and not, well…


3 Apr 12 

Why, oh why April for National Poetry Month?

Alas, so little
rhymes with April
the month
of poetic brittle,
except perhaps for
or, if you speak Spanish,
it’s a thrill.

Erotic Gentle Poetry For Everyone

Art originally shared by Jessica Kristie, Author and Publisher.

LPTrendsHotPoeticVoices. Tennison Long and Philip Larrea. We know some are not into poetry. But this poetry will change your mind. And in the spirit of bringing even those anti-poet lovers great poetry, please find four to warm up your prose juices for next week, one a bit erotic and the other gentle lovelies, for when we let loose the poetic genius of a group of poets who gathered this past Spring to try and make a poem every day.

For now, may we present Interlude, Commitment, Emily’s Garden, and Locke’s Box.






at the interlude

I walk alone

I want to sing along

to this aching heart

beating to the rhythm of your soul…

my affection you stole

each night a little

leaving me worse off

no mercy for the brittle

your love rains

down on me

so hard it feels like a monsoon too soon

for the Spanish armada delivery

of gold in the form of your smile

the loot brought to the king…

that I see through the rays

of the light of today

the treasure map of your backside wanting

me as much as I want you

your silhouette as god’s canvas

you slowly slipped from my grasp

be free my dear, at last

from the edge of this man of faith’s leap

I beckon from within me from the well as deep

the clouds between us split

the sun-ray lightshow lets

us know where we are

while lost inside these corridors

these windowless rooms with too many doors…

you’ve intrigued me beyond whispering angels

frozen my tracks with the softness of your breath

our love makes clocks stop ticking

our kisses build castles from the sand

your scent is all the perfumes of Eden

your skin glistens like captured moonlight

transforming rainbows into seasons past

each moment with you is a mythic journey

above the silver lining and just below heaven

taking us so high with the magic of your presence

and the sparkle in your eyes

you, my goddess of love and beauty

enchanting beyond enchantment

my most divine as radiant as morning sunshine…



by Phillip Larrea


My hat says,

“Marry me.”


With this band

I am bound

To hat hair.

Slightly frayed

Worse for wear,

Still- I do.




I once supposed I was a speck

In God’s cumbersome plan.

Too small for me.

Emily, for the sin of pride,

I beg your pardon.

We are, in fact, each a

Secret plot, with grubby worms,

Hidden roots. Why deny it?

Enough with the digging,

Can we just sit for awhile?

There are those this could never satisfy.

Who’s every ‘what’ must have a ‘why’.

They’ll want to know how we are occupied.

“Why, an earth salute to the blue, blue sky!”




I plan on

Being dead.

Just prudent.

Money burns,

So I keep

My good stuff

In Locke’s box.

Not worth much,

But sturdy.


*Tennison Long is an entrepreneur, writer, and lover of erotic form.

Phillip Larrea is a syndicated columnist and wealth adviser in Sacramento, CA., U.S.A
His poems have recently appeared internationally in Outburst Magazine, The Poetry Bus Magazine and thefirstcut #7 from Issuu.. In the U.S., Phillip has been recently published in Decade Review, FourPlay, Nostrovia To Writing, and the Brooklyn Voice. Both do great work. Phillip.larrea@gmail.com


Taylor Mali Is Better Than Sex

LPTrendsPeople: Taylor Mali. We don’t know Taylor Mali, but we know poetry and spoken word and talk performers who make us go “wow.” Few do, because the art and science of prose built around slam poetry delivered by an artisan performer is kind of like when mediocre sex becomes mind-bendingly off the hook. You can’t believe what just happened, because it rarely does, but boy are you stoked about it: you want more and in successively larger helpings.

Welcome to the world of Taylor Mali.

On his own website, he is described thusly:

Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of poet.” (http://taylormali.com/bio/)

Strikingly he is that average (but good looking) white collar neighbor whom you guess to be a lawyer, well-kept, good manners, comes and goes like Regular Joe, but he isn’t regular, or Average Joe. Taylor Mali is quite honestly one of those human beings who uses his entire life and every capacity, gift, and characteristic to optimum leverage in pursuit of moving people to better, higher places.

We found Taylor via Jim Emmerson’s ‘scanners: blog,” a video of him performing a poem called Like_you know, a very funny performance about critical thinking because it’s true.

The Possibility Place is your new, biggest fan, Taylor. We are so happy you exist in the human race. We are better off for it.



If you liked Taylor you’ll love Jason Silva, epiphany addict.

A Very Unexpected Poem by Tennison Long

#LPTrendsAuthors: Tennison Long, who writes the way the rest of us think, only he has the cajones to say it out loud. His poetry is jarring, just a little bit. Enjoy!

“Strangers no more as we slip aboard this ship into a fusion

and take in all of this here and now in slow time motion

sent out to a wider probe for this wilder investigation

and found the glitter in your eyes like broken glass ….”


If you liked this, you might also appreciate:

Poet James Benton’s Work, the first article in a 3-part series review by Kathryn Mattingly.

Painting by Ron Kendall, paired with "A Very Unexpected Poem"

All About Poetess Jessica Kristie

From Kathryn’s desk…Great new poetry by a fresh talented voice. Of the ilk of Maya Angelou, and in the spirit of finding surprisingly good prose in a world defined by 140 characters, meet Jessica Kristie.  

“Poetry is my heart,

   anchors my soul

   and documents

   my journey.”

             - Jessica Kristie

As an avid poetry fan (I memorized Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ in middle school just for fun…) it takes a lot to surprise me with something different where poetry is concerned. Ever since 6th grade and that quirky raven, only a few great poets such as Maya Angelou have earned (in my mind) the right to rub bindings with great lyrical masters on my bookshelf.

So imagine my surprise when recently someone’s poetry affected me in ways I had not been affected before. That’s pretty impressive writing. And Jessica Kristie is the author. Here is a taste of her award winning words in the poem, Red & Blue Alice (from Dreaming in Darkness)

Red & Blue Alice 

Spoken into motion,

I laugh as I tumble down.

Touching only light and wind,

warm air through my lungs. 

Bubbles of confusion strain my breathing,

as gravity seems to lessen.

Electric rhythms beat through my mind,

sparking something hidden.

Waves of sound vibrate between my fingers,

trembling skin.

A deep whisper grips,

and sticks to my chest.

Guiding me downward with a jolting intensity. 

What lies at this end?

A thousand miles I have already gone,

every inch has made me something else.

Each moment placed in a box,

a thousand short lived tears.

Blessed wounds have brought me further,

learning to change,

at every bend.

Chasing a proven promise,

turning gray to perfect gold.

Loving hands to catch me,

Comforting embrace –

At journey’s end.

Red for life.

Blue for sleep.

With widened eyes,

and an open heart,

down this Rabbit Hole…

I creep.

I asked Jessica some questions recently, and since I have found most writers begin at a very early age, I suspected Jessica began writing poetry as a child.

K-How old were you when first forming prose on paper?

I wrote my first poem with I was ten. I always had an affinity for things like Seuss and Silverstein. There was always such fun in their work while also bringing across an emotion or lesson.

K-Seuss and Silverstein were standouts in my childhood, and I suspect for many others as well.  When did you want to be a poet by occupation, including publishing books of poetry?

Only recently did I decide that writing was something that was needed. Although always integral in my life, it had not reached the forefront until the last five years or so, and heavily in the last three. I began adding writing to my daily life and when I started a blog, my world changed. The poetry I posted to my website sort of took off. I also found that through social media I was able to reach a new group of readers. From there I decided I wanted to get a manuscript together, and by that point I had a very large collection to pull from.

K-Do you have any favorite poems in your books – if so, which ones and why are they your favorites?

I have a few favorites from each book; ones that pulled at me when I wrote them and still make me remember when I read them.  From my first collection, Dreaming in Darkness, I get drawn to Walking Wounded. In one of the verses it says:

“I want to be . . .

where my dreams are not broken down

and I no longer walk among the wounded,

where my tapestry of change

shadows a frightening past.” 

It feels all-encompassing of what my book and much of my writing tries to relay, we are not alone. We are all wounded and all want to find healing.

In my latest collection, Threads of Life, I touch on toxic and abusive relationships. This book is primarily prose poetry and is very dark at points. I was inspired to write Threads of Life after experiencing the effects from several people I know that found themselves in similar situations. Each piece in the book is honest and can even be difficult to read at times, but two pieces in particular Show Me and Pretty Wings dig deep into difficult emotions. Ultimately there is forgiveness and healing, and even though the book is threaded with darkness, the hope is to focus on the moments when we find freedom from what binds us.

 K-Who influenced you most while growing up?

My father was a huge creative spirit, a wonderful writer, artist and now professional photographer. My mother is also a very talented writer, so that venue, although not always public in my household, ran rampant.  I was also heavily influenced by my father’s love for music and the emotional connection he had with lyrics. I latched onto this portion of my childhood and today fall deeply into music, tone and lyrics. Just like writing, music plays a large role in how I perceive the world and how my writing manifests itself.

K-My father’s love for music equally influenced me, and I believe that many of us are deeply affected by music, which essentially, is poetry in motion. Do you have any plans to publish other types of writing – works of non-fiction or fiction perhaps?

I am just about halfway complete with my first fiction novel. I had started one last year but put it aside and began another, feeling more called to this particular topic and story. This is a fiction story that touches on the very under-publicized atrocities of human trafficking. It follows a young girl who gets pulled into the labor trade. My hope is to have it released early next year.

I have also just released my first eBook Weekly Inspirations for Writers & Creators – Because We All Need To Be Reminded To Keep Going, which was inspired by the many authors that I work with. We all go through so many of the same struggles in this industry and this book gives weekly affirmations, writing prompts, and inspirational tips to hopefully add to your arsenal of tricks to keep creating. You can find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $2.99.

K-How hard (or easy) was it to finally get that first book of poetry published?

I am currently with my second publisher. My first was a learning experience with good people and a tremendous editor who taught me a lot. The process of finding a publisher for poetry is very difficult because poetry is known for not making money. Publishers who will take on that risk are limited. The ones who take it on and produce a good product, are even more limited.

I was actually a minority in how I came to be published. The editor at my first publishing house saw my work and gave me a special opportunity to submit although their submissions were actually closed. It was a fairly good experience that I will always be grateful to have had. 

My current publisher, Winter Goose Publishing, only publishes a limited amount of poetry per year but once you are in, you are family. Their books are gorgeous, their editors and staff are supportive and helpful, and they truly care about their authors. This is rare in the publishing world, even for small presses. The industry is changing, no doubt, but it is refreshing to see independent presses who are growing rapidly with the change and still keeping their authors in the forefront.

There are a lot of extremely wonderful smaller or medium size independent presses like Graywolf or Milkweed that have had tremendous success with their poetry and support first-time or non-agented authors. There is still a path for us poets and I encourage everyone to not give up on their goals. 

K-Do you enjoy doing local poetry readings? When and where can your fans find you reading to a live audience? 

Yes, I really do love readings. I have a plan to get more involved now that my last project is done for the year and I can just focus on my novel and the books I already have out.

I started the Inspiring Words-Poetry in Woodland reading series that has a featured reader and open mic the last Wednesday of each month at the Woodland Public Library. You can find more info on my website, jessicakristie.com. I am also a frequent reader and have been featured at Poetry in Davis which is run by the very talented and well known Dr. Andy Jones. 

K-What helps you feel motivated to write?

Fresh air and being outside really bring back some life when I am feeling a little off. Stepping away and not forcing myself has been a tough lesson but an effective one. I don’t produce good work when I am forced. Staying positive and finding joy in my everyday life has also aided to a consistent inspiration. Mindset is truly a powerful thing.

K-What great poets, current or deceased, do you enjoy?

Pablo Neruda and Maya Angelou are two of my favorite poets. They are smooth, heartfelt and genuine. Andrea Gibson and Sarah Kay are two extremely talented spoken word poets that inspire me to no end. They are both powerful and making change in the artistic communities. Both are beautiful people and over-the-top talented poets.

K-What else do you like to read, and are you an avid reader? 

I read all the time but lately it has been because I do some editing, so I am reading lots of novels but working at the same time. But it is a pleasure to get a sneak peek of a novel before it is released. I actually enjoy biographies, memoirs, and true-crime, but I enjoy all types of genres. Over this past year I have read a variety of books like Back to Work by Bill Clinton, Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer and Switched in Death by Sherry Foley. All very different but I enjoyed each of them. 

I wouldn’t say I have time to be an avid reader but I aim to be, and I encourage the possibility.

K-What is the underlying theme, or what drives your passion to write? 

My writing, especially my poetry has been to reach out to those that may feel alone in their emotions. Fear of being alone in anything can be debilitating. I have been inspired by so many in my life and this is my way of giving back. Threads of Life took a huge piece of me when I wrote it. Finding forgiveness and hope when we have been wronged is the most difficult path to take, but I have found that road brings the greatest freedom. I truly hope that my words will stir some comfort, joy, and maybe bring you a little inspiration of your own.

Jessica Kristie is the author of several poetry books, and the co-creator for the ArtPlatform book Inspiration Speaks Volume 1 which is now available in print and eBook through all major retailers, and benefits ColaLife.org. She is also the founder of the Woodland, CA, poetry series, Inspiring Words—Poetry in Woodland.

Dreaming in Darkness is Jessica’s first volume of poetry; the winner of the 2011 Sharp Writ Award and nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. Jessica’s second book, Threads of Life, is available through Winter Goose Publishing along with her eBook offering to writers, Weekly Inspirations for Writers & Creators.

Jessica has been published in several online and print magazines such as Zouch, Muse, A Writer’s Point of View and TwitArt Magazine.  You can find all of Jessica’s appearances under her Press Page at: Jessicakristie.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JessKristie

Twitter: @jesskristie

Article and interview by Kathryn Mattingly.

Master Weaver of Textural Tales

Part III in our series on James Benton…from Kathryn’s desk.

James Benton is a master at prodding emotion through the artistry of his words. Whether writing memoir, fiction or poetry – he weaves magic with his rich textural tales, causing you to laugh, cry, or ponder the complexities of life. In this last of our 3 part series, I asked Jim where he was from originally, knowing he has lived in many places along the way which is reflected in his heart-felt words.


I was born in San Diego while my Father was in the Navy.  He is originally from Sacramento, and so after he was discharged, he moved us back there.  When I was three, Dad graduated from the Highway Patrol Academy and was assigned to motorcycle duty in Los Angeles.  We lived there, first in Montebello, and then in La Mirada for the next five years.  I have clear and vivid memories of the little house in La Mirada.  I could draw you the floor plan from memory.  The elementary school was directly across the street, there was a church at the end of the block, and I remember the names of at least four of our old neighbors.  Not bad for looking back 55 years.  I only wish I could remember where I put my watch this morning.  We moved back to Sacramento in 1962, and I graduated from Foothill High School in ’72.  After that it’s been unintentionally nomadic: San Diego, Concord, San Francisco, Boise, Sacramento, Carmichael, North Highlands, Elk Grove, La Grande, Sacramento, and back to La Grande.  I’m done moving, thank you very much.  Some of that moving had to do with being in the Navy, some of it had to do with chasing jobs in volatile markets.  It has led to an uneasy connection to place (I should say dis-connection) that I wish was different.

K: Tell me about your poem Spanish Gull. What inspired it? Any particular day observing those feathery scavenger friends near an ocean waters edge?

Let’s see.  Spanish Gulls.  My brother, Randall Benton, is a genuine genius photographer.  He spends time in Spain every so often, and in this one town on the northern coast, a long dirt road leads out of the village to a bluff above the ocean.  Every day at the same time, and I mean every day, an elderly couple arrives in a beat up old pickup truck loaded with scraps of food they collect in town.  My brother spent one day photographing their communion with the gulls, who seem to have a unique bond with the couple.  I was moved to silence by the gentle kindness of the couple, and the trust the birds seemed to have toward them. To ascribe trust to a flock of birds may be an anthropomorphic stretch, but the display suggested it might be interesting to write the poem from the birds’ point of view.  The hard part was to execute that point of view without sounding silly.  I’ll leave it to readers to determine if the poem succeeded or not.

Spanish Gulls

the sun at mid-day sticks

above the rocks

and spray our perch they come

in wagons to the end

of the Barrio de Portio bearing

boxes of leaf wilt bread crumb berry fruit

arrive with the sun unbidden

gods to feed our barking sky-dog

generations wheeling we dance

our backs to the sun

that brings them our generations trust

to our feathery hollows

know in the chitin of our arched

mouths and airy bones await

the wagon’s certain return

they cannot fly but come to us

we come to them and they do not fly

they will cast their arms toward the sun

at mid-day stuck and grace the rocks

with bread

K: What about Ice Water? Is there a story about your mom behind this memory?

As for Ice Water, I did have an image of my mother in mind.  Again, the challenge was to find a suitable point of view, but more than that, the right narrative distance.  One of the most important aspects of writing is the voice, and finding the right tone either amplifies or silences that voice. The point of view in the poem is that of a child, but the speaker understands the scene as an adult would.  My mother had an almost unimaginably difficult job to raise nine children, and even as a kid I sensed the magnitude of her challenge.  It sounds sentimental to say it, but she made a lot of our clothes on an old sewing machine after we had all gone to bed, cooked three meals a day, bandaged knees and on and on.  And yet, she managed the day-to-day with both grace and efficiency.  I asked her one time how she did it all, and her answer, which has stuck with me and served me well when things felt overwhelming, was this: “Well, Jim, I just did the next thing that needed to be done.”  More than just an answer, her remark is character revelation. That’s what the poem is about.

Ice Water

I think of Mother in her kitchen. Flour and

sugar down from the cupboard.  A blanket of

ice-water sky outside.  She moves

geraniums in a mason jar away

at the counter’s edge, and I

pinch their velvet leaves.  She

wipes her sticky hands on that blue

apron, streaking dough at eye level

stiffens and grows dull, cracks and sloughs off.

Twisting lemon halves into a bowl

it doesn’t look to me

like work.


James is an award-winning author published in Convergence, Raintown Review, Word Riot, Ragazine.cc, Flatmancrooked, Poetry Now, Rattle and is forthcoming in New York Quarterly. He also serves as a senior editor for noir fiction at Mixer Publishing and is an English professor at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. His brother, Randall Benton, is the photographer for the Spanish gulls. You can find parts 1 and 2 of my series on him at: http://t2ps.com/thepossibilityplace/index.php/editorial/kathryn-mattingly/