Category Archives: Poetry

THE YEAR GONE BY

I had gone back to my hometown to work hard and try to find myself again, which turned out to be more of a beginning than end.

On a whim I opened a place for people to eat, and realized that it was I, I still needed to meet.

“Look how happy you make people,” this was said to I, and then came that thought from the sky.

I’ve spent my whole life seeking fortune and fame, but not enough of either came.

Because there never is enough.

Why not just spend your time feeding people and making them happy?

So my penitence and personal protest transformed to purpose, and the I that had gone missing began to surface.

And in my quest to do things right, the employees and landlord did not delight.

The place where I cooked was both loved and hated, people who had not met me said I was not so nice, in the mirror it is they who should look twice.

I thought small town America might be different, so in my free time I drove around, in hope of finding some gentler ground. Continue reading

IRON GATE ALL HALLOWS EVE

As I sat and pondered All Hallows Eve, a dark cloud descended on my soul, mournful sorrow its only goal. And then the ghost of my porch stood silently and stared, urging me to ponder further if I dared. So I searched the deepest reaches of my mind, waiting for this skeleton jackal to opine. Finally this pirate long dead spoke, “The remedy to your doom and gloom is a party on this particular date, that would be a party at Iron Gate.”

“Yes, a Halloween Party!” I shouted out to nobody at all. Then dreamed of the days past at The Monsters Ball.

Few days to the fright of night, few days til Poe’s delight. Do you hear Iron Gate calling, do you feel yourself falling, falling into your doomed fate, Halloween night at Iron Gate?

To men of analytical persuasion does Halloween make sense? To men of genius tis a night of recompense. Why? Because genius is found in the imagination, dark a place as it may be, you’ll need to come to Iron Gate to speak more of this with me!

True it is of sightings of apparitions at the house with gates of iron, “And thou art dead as young and fair,” haunts the words of Great Lord Byron. Will the spirit of this noble poet join our Mr. Poe? Attendance at All Hallows Eve at Iron Gate, is the only way to know. To know about love lost, at such a cost, that souls are left to wander, sad, sad it is a Halloween to squander.

The rooms have been occupied and we have served food and libations galore, but all who can count, know it well that it’s only hours til the night that we adore. Now there are those who want something for nothing, America’s truly great foe, so if kids want candy at Iron Gate, they’re going to listen to Mr. Poe!!! ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Continue reading

LIFE THE POEM

Life began simple enough, a family, friends and just enough stuff. We’d spend summers at the beach, swim in the ocean, and building a sandcastle was a powerful notion.  I usually walked on the beach as the sunset in the sky, the wind of change bringing a tear to my eye.

At night I would pray for my friends, family and myself to be blessed in the Lord’s light, not much of a task for the creator’s might. Good health, long life, peace and prosperity for all of which I did pray, a small boy with much to the Lord to say. And my prayers the Lord did hear, I’m forever grateful my soul he brought near.

In the double digits girls and things I did become aware, both the cause of so much despair. It seemed that girls were attracted more to the surface than to the deep, I could not imagine then the depths I would creep. I sat on a roof and said aloud, I’ll give people what they want, a decision my whole life doth it haunt.

One day I drove home in my new fancy car and smiled as heads turned from afar. That’s right look at me I thought, and admire what I have, and what you have not. And the girls did beg for a ride, truly both good and evil rise with the tide.

As these early years passed on by, I’d lie in the grass and gaze up at the sky. I dreamed of being a man of great wealth, but not for my own account, no it was for the cause of good for which I would mount. I also dreamed of being a wordsmith, because the pen has more might than the sword and to this day of this dream I have never been bored.

I stood in the vast living room of my suite at The Plaza and declared to a girl that I was bigger than life; from heaven above these words bring great strife. I was an outlaw then, I had lost my way, hard to imagine being that man today. Now in America the law encompasses every moment and every action, an ugly scar on the face of freedom’s attraction.

A few more years passed on by and I once again looked up at the sky. I asked the Lord my maker for another chance, on the path of the righteous for my feet to advance. And make no mistake brothers, sisters, and friends; there are great trials and tribulations to making amends.

I’ve done much business now over the years, some to applause and some to jeers. My advice: in business be rich or poor, for mediocrity is no place to endure. Walk on the left or walk on the right, because it is the middle of the road which is the place of great plight. Continue reading

ON THE PORCH

Many years ago I sat on a porch and rocked, writing a poem about being Grand Again, words of a man that called a hotel on Mackinac Island a friend, but more than this a beginning and end.

Last night I sat on the porch of Iron Gate and rocked, visited by a friend, and of God we talked. Some young people stopped in to say hi, causing me to think of those days gone by. One read Grand Again aloud, and there I sat in the crowd, thinking how fortunate we were all to be at Iron Gate, a grand place to which I came late.

But better to come late than not at all, a thought which is meant to make men like I to stand tall. And isn’t it said to our last breath we can repent, perhaps it is I for which this is meant. I have regrets, and I fear for those who do not, because without regret repentance is not.

I spoke to the young people about the great man that built Iron Gate, and explained that my coming was indeed a matter of fate. Continue reading

GRAND AGAIN

Foreword by Stan Lerner: it’s that season again, when we should all take a little time and travel around the country. One of my greatest adventures (August 2008) took me to the state of Michigan where I explored Greenfield Village and then headed for Mackinac Island–what an incredible place! There I sat and wrote the only poem I’ve ever published…And now I offer it to you again, this time as and excerpt from my book “NINETY NINE POSTS”…Give it a read, I think you’ll like it.

I entered Greenfield Village, it would I expect still make Henry Ford proud. I smiled as real Model T’s drove people around and kids played baseball with the staff by 1869 rules. I stood in the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, then I ate lunch in a carriage house, the menu of which hadn’t changed since 1857—I drank a mint julep and ate onion pie with some trout. I walked to the great American poet Robert Frost’s house…and stood and listened to a recording, an old recording, of him reading “The Road Less Traveled”. What a voice.

I will go to the Grand Hotel, sit on the porch, and write a poem, I thought to myself as I listened…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet, knowing how way leads onto way

I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence

Two roads diverged in a wood

And I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference

GRAND AGAIN

A Poem By Stan Lerner

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about the air, not on the island but out there.

Too often polluted by despair.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about the Rouge Plant asleep, a betrayed soul which was all of ours to keep.

Once a symbol of might, now a symbol of darkness like the night.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about hearing the old tired voice of Robert Frost speak of the road less traveled—an endeavor in which I have also dabbled.

There was indeed a fork in the road, a part of life which we have all been told.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about click, click, klop, click, klop, a horse passed by.

A sound from another time.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I asked myself, “Better off now or better off then? Will civilization need to begin again?”

I talked to myself about this a lot, click, klop, click, klop…

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about dress too casual, the few with vision, the abundance without, the profanity spoken by teenagers, how base we’ve become, and the beauty of an island surrounded by blue water that tolerates it all.

The Grand does make one feel small.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about what might become of the rest of my years.

A bird flew near, then off toward a lighthouse no longer in use.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about what might become of the rest of my years.

All of the hopes and a few of the fears.

On the porch of the Grand I sat and rocked.

And to myself I talked.

I talked to myself about taking time to love and time to think—a slight breeze blew from a direction I did not expect.

I watched as the flags moved by the wind and hoped we could all be Grand again.

NINETY- NINE POSTS

To sample or purchase “Ninety-Nine Posts” please visit:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9380

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stan Lerner is an award winning-author whose diverse credits include the novels “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, “Blast”, “In Development,” and the children’s book “Stanley The Elephant.” Stan Lerner is also the creator of the Las Vegas music spectacle “Night Tribe” and the writer, director, producer of the hit motion picture “Meet The Family.” Mr. Lerner was born in Montebello CA and has lived in downtown Los Angeles for the last fifteen years.

For more information about Stan Lerner please visit his author profile at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stan

THE RAVEN

Foreword by Stan Lerner: Edgar Allan Poe was finally given a funeral befitting one of the greatest writers to have ever lived—a debt of gratitude is owed to the city of Baltimore for this. Edgar Allan Poe and I share January 19th as a birthday and it is the poem below that he wrote just a few years before his death in 1845 that I would list as one of the literary works that inspired me to become a writer. Do you remember the first time you read The Raven? Well here it is…Thank you Mr. Poe.

 The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–

Only this and nothing more.”

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–

Nameless here for evermore.

 

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door–

Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;

This it is and nothing more.”

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door–

Darkness there and nothing more. Continue reading

Poets on the Corner of 5th and Main

On Thursday, August 27th, at eight- o’clock, The Third Area presents the last poetry reading of the summer at Pharmaka gallery on the corner of 5th and Main.  This is an extraordinary opportunity for readers to get a dose of vital and utterly current poetry read by the top notch poets themselves, in a setting surrounded by the visual arts in one of downtown’s most appealing galleries.  For a cherry on top, wine, beer, bottled water and hors d’oeuvres are provided free of charge, (a five dollar donation is suggested).  Of course, that should be no surprise.  Writers are always talking about the importance of the mantra “know your audience.”  The doors open at seven, when mingling and noshing and perusing books and visual art begins.  We hope to see many downtownsters there.       

 There are always four poets featured.  They are introduced, often beautifully, by other poets.  One fine example of the art of language to be found at these readings at Pharmaka follows below.  Tony Barnstorm, whose résumé of literary awards is so extensive that we can’t list it here, read this poem, along with many others, among his amazingly divergent repertoire.

The 167th Psalm of Elvis
This poem comes from Tony Barnstone’s book, The Golem of Los Angeles, published by Red Hen Press

Blessed are the marble breasts of Venus,
those ancient miracles, for they are upright and milk white
and they point above the heads of the crowd in the casino.
Blessed are the crowds that play, and whose reflections
sway in the polish of her eggshell eyes,
for they circle like birds around the games,
and they are beautiful and helpless. Continue reading

Got More Poetry

A reminder to poetry lovers, Pharmaka has “The Third Area” poetry reading featuring four poets with wine and noshes on Thursday, August 27th.  Below the info are two poems new to downtownster by famous Persian poets.

Pharmaka Gallery
101 West 5th Street (corner of 5th and main)
Los Angeles
(213) 689-7999
“The Third Area” poetry reading series at Pharmaka takes place on the last Thursday of every month at 8p.m.

We proudly present poetry by poets who have read at Pharmaka this summer.  They are both Iranian expatriates.

Butcher Shop

a poem by Sholeh Wolpé

Aisha was gunned down
in her father’s butcher shop.
She was twenty-four, a virgin,
had a cat named Hanna.
 
The boys in black bandanas
the ones with large dark eyes
that devour light
wanted her brother.
 
And what better place for blood
than a butcher shop
where it already covers
the counters, stains the white aprons,
is sold in long red sausages. Continue reading

A Poem By Jeannine Hall Gailey

Female Comic Book Superheroes

are always fighting evil in a thong,
pulsing techno soundtrack in the background
as their tiny ankles thwack

against the bulk of male thugs,
They have names like Buffy, Elektra, or Storm
but excel in code decryption, Egyptology, and pyrotechnics.

They pout when tortured, but always escape just in time,
still impeccable in lip gloss and pointy-toed boots,
to rescue male partners, love interests, or fathers.

Impossible chests burst out of tight leather jackets,
from which they extract the hidden scroll, antidote, or dagger,
tousled hair covering one eye.

They return to their day jobs as forensic pathologists,
wearing their hair up and donning dainty glasses.
Of all the goddesses, these pneumatic heroines most

resemble Artemis, with her miniskirts and crossbow,
or Freya, with her giant gray cats.
Each has seen this apocalypse before.

See her perfect three-point landing on top of that chariot,
riding the silver moon into the horizon,
city crumbling around her heels.
 
“Female Comic Book Superheroes” was published in the book Becoming the Villainess from Steel Toe Books. It apeared on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.
 
Jeannine Hall Gailey’s first book of poetry, Becoming the Villainess, was published by Steel Toe Books. Poems from the book were featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, and Rattle. She lives in San Diego, where she volunteers with Crab Creek Review and teaches at National University’s MFA program. You can learn more at her web site, www.webbish6.com <http://www.webbish6.com/> .

A POEM BY LAURIE ZUPAN

july at dusk

everything is in motion

ribbons of light

race across the sky

summer sunset begins,

painted above the azure ocean

ribbons of light

snake through this dynamic city

rush hour

blur of red and white

here, at sixth and grand

the red light

a glancing touch

an unexpected gesture

a summer kiss…