Poems from the 20th Anniversary Authors’ Anthology

New poem by Kim Shuck

2017 Poet Laureate of San Francisco

Drought Break

Weaving of water is layered

Sitting in the rain

Feet dragging in the runoff

I know there are trees coming down tonight

Drought tired

Clots of soil run free

Sailors still catch and spill


Still navigate by song





So far we are still witness


Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems
Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas

by Francisco X. Alarcon

Federico García Lorca / Roque Dalton /
Gloria Anzaldúa

oh poetas del mundo
de ayer, mañana, siempre
sin fronteras
hermano del alma
hermano en lucha
hermana mestiza
pusieron en riesgo
sus vidas en versos – y ante
mentiras, la verdad

9 de diciembre de 2013
o poets of the world

from yesterday, tomorrow

forever borderless

soulmate brother

brother in struggle

Mestiza sister

you risked your lives

in poems – choosing

truth over lies

December 9,2013


New poems James Downs

Whispers in the grass

The sheer

abruptness of sweetness

on the tongue

the full

dawning of sunflowers

in the mind

the repetitive

mirror taken down

off the wall

the shouldered

certainty of sightings

in the throat

what is it we seek in this life of woe

the twinkled

brightness of benevolence

near the stars

the tried-

and-true of whispers

in the grass

the hunger danger of hope in the heart


The Nature of Mountains

John Peterson

dark season

we keep finding small places that let the

smell of herbs come through

rosemary before its put in the black skillet

with potatoes onions and black pepper

basil oregano and cilantro growing on the roof

top deck where the sound of pigeons and sunsets

fill the sky and early morning bells

from the methodist steeple

stand out against the snow covered peaks

of the cuyamacas

the source of rain in the spider plant

the deep smell of burning oak

eucalyptus both wet and shining and played out in smoke

this is the season the bear sleeps where you and i

slowly give in and lay front to back like spoons in

a velvet embrace


Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird

Joe Milosch

He twists his neck to catch the sun,

which turns his throat to the same shade

of red as the fluid in the gourd-shaped feeder.

Peeling grilled tomatoes, she lifts her head

to see him dip his beak, turn his head,

and burst into shadow.

As they slip through her fingers, tomato seeds

become prayer beads, which seem suspended

for a moment before falling into her salsa.

So Many Voices

Poetic Matrix Press’

So Many Voices Cover

20th Anniversary Authors’ Anthology

246 pages, Price $20.00, available from Small Press Distribution (SPD) www.spdbooks.org

With material from our 60 books and 45 authors (including new pieces from many) this is a true reflection of So Many Voices that we have had the privilege of publishing. This is an interesting and beautiful compliment to our publishing efforts. With editorial assistance from John Peterson, James Downs and Joe Milosch and Forward from James and John and cover art from Molly Weller.

Kim Shuck, Francisco X. Alarcón, James Downs, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, john (peterson), Diana Festa, Anne Whitehouse, Patricia Nelson, Brandon Cesmat, Joseph Miloach, Ashley Gene Pinkerton, Arthur W. Campbell, Mun Duk-su, Peter Gibson Friesen, Joseph Zaccardi, Hassan El-Tayyab, Joe O’Connell, Joan Michelson, Leroy Franklin Moore, Jr., Grace Marie Grafton, Yearn Hong Choi, Lyn Lifsin, Rayn Roberts, Chris Olander, Molly Weller, Charles Entrekin, Gail Rudd Entrekin, Sandra Lee Stillwell, Tomás Gayton, Joel Netsky, J. P. Linstroth, Ruth Rosenthal, Bonnie Joanna Gisel, Peter and Donna Thomas, Reverend James Fox, Alex Landon and Elaine Halleck, and many more.

I am a white man

It is time, before the coming Republican primaries, for me to say something I first formed 40 years ago. Before the pundits spew out the stereotype about disaffected white men voting for the likes of Trump and Cruz, let me say this, I am a white man (even an older white man), my three sons are white men, my two little grandson are budding white men and we do not support the mindless, ignorant and dangerous nonsense coming out of these two and the others in the Republican campaign. Stereotypes of all sorts are false and this one is a great and demeaning falsehood.
I have spent the last 45 years associating and working with white men who have been working for the rights of the working class, civil rights, immigrant rights, gay rights, religious freedom and understanding, women’s right, and the freedom of people’s around the world for the right not to live under the heel of economic and political subjugation. The opportunity to work with people who share these values, whether, black, women, gay, hispanic, asian or white men, gives freedom to us all. Nothing is lost rather so much is gained.
So, do not mix me and my sons in with a group that is, in fact, false from the start. To the pundits, find another more accurate and more enlightened way to account for the fear that animates so much of the people who support these demigods.
John Peterson
Here is a short list of some white men, celebrities and associates, who are not motivated by fear but by love of all people.

Peter Yarrow
Paul Stooky
Bob Dylan
Edward R. Murrow
George Clooney
Shaun Penn
Tony Bennett
John Brown
Frank Sinatra
Gregory Peck
Bill Clinton
Paul Newman
Rock Hudson
Harry Truman
James Woods
Gene Hackman
Pete Seeger
Woody Guthrie
Tony Bennett
Orson Wells
Tim McCoy in a 1932 movie
The entire cast of 12 Angry Men
Tony Curtis
Robert Ryan
Walter Reuther
Every white man at the March on Washington
Marlon Brando
Bobby Darin
Ken Hart
Craig Cherstrom
Lawrence Rouse
Ren Maby
Warren Kessler
James Downs
Ed Maupin
Rick Gold
Jack Seileman

The list is endless.  To add names to this list go to the Comments and send them to me.  I will add them.


Mandy Patinkin

Earlier today I saw a CBS News piece on actor Mandy Patinkin as he went to a beach on a Greek island as refugees came ashore.  He went to, as he said “connect with reality” and meet these people as they fled conflicts in the Middle-East.  Patinkin said “fear is the poison of our lives.” Our humanity is at risk if we don’t help these people. “I’m not a politician. I’m an actor. I refer to myself as a humanitician. And all I want for myself, my children and for all people all over the world, is to be less afraid,” Patinkin said.

After the obscene pronouncement from the Republican candidate in the earlier news segment Patinkin’s passionate and oh so human response to these people was so so heartening.  In him I saw a man fully human and I was so touched and moved.  Fear is a poison that must not take over our lives else we walk around devoid of what it means to be human.  He said reaching out to those in need is a kindness and is what we must do.  And I am so grateful to him for manifesting his humanness. That is what we must see in this time of bigotry and playing on other’s fear.

Mandy Patinkin is a man of consequence, my respect and love to him in this time of confusion. Go here to see the news item.

-John Peterson

Thanks Leroy

I just saw Trump’s disgusting and abusive portrayal of a disabled person. Having just published Leroy Moore’s book Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics I realize how much Leroy has affected me. Leroy has the same speech and physical patterns that Trump caricatured but the great difference between them is that Leroy has great compassion for those who share his disability. And let me tell you his intelligence far out shines Trump’s and mine. He works tirelessly for the rights of the disabled, for the rights of black disabled persons, the rights of disabled women and for the rights of all of us to give up our prejudice and ignorance. May his love spread far and wide. Leroy is the kind of person I wish to see showing us how to include all people in our human community. Thanks Leroy.

John Peterson


Go ahead dive down

It is alright   something beautiful is in there
You’ll see
More beautiful then even you’re sadness
It will take your sorrow and turn
It cloudy and bright
Like the shine on that red amber place
You’ve seen once or twice
Just before everything was lost or
Just before found
A gentle sax line on a street of the lost
Either waiting or consoling
Who can say
It can be a mood indigo
That will arrive again
At a perfect moment
When love is eternal
Is in all of us
Is in everything
Is one without second

Barnes & Noble, a problematic view of poetry

Click on above link to see entire essay.

I recently left Barnes & Noble with a problematic view of the position of poetry in the store. The poetry section in Barnes & Noble in Fresno is located towards the back of the store, right up against the children’s section, right in between bookshelves that host children’s books and children’s games, right next to the 9 to 12 age group and the 5 to 9 age group of kids. Not only is the poetry section here but also the section on Shakespeare, theater, and performing arts. Each of these sections are surrounded by the children’s section, nowhere near the other literary offerings. The other literary section offerings include fiction titles, nonfiction, travel, California, science fiction and others, this area of the store is some distance away from the selections on poetry as if poetry does not belong with literature but is for children.

Seems difficult to me as a publisher of poetry to recommend Barnes & Noble given that they give so little attention to poetry. In the poetry section most of the poetry is selected from well-known poets many of them from the past, very few contemporary poets. There are people like Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins but most of them are names that we know historically as very good poets and very good poetry and I have no problem with that but there is a dearth of contemporary poets and poetry. As a publisher of small press poetry by contemporary poets I find Barnes & Noble’s support of small press poetry essentially nil, contemporary voices that are not well known essentially nil, that makes it difficult for me to openly support Barnes & Noble as we don’t see anything on their part that would lead us to believe they care a great deal about contemporary poetry. Barnes & Noble does support poetry in their online offerings and we appreciate that and would like to see much more offerings in the store. Barnes & Noble is currently under pressure from Amazon and other online stores, and we’ve seen Barnes & Noble’s impact on community bookstores in the past.

We’ve seen the effect that Amazon particularly has had on even the big box stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. Borders is no longer with us, we watched the poetry selections in Borders dwindle from a large share of the literary section to virtually nothing before they eventually closed doors and we’re not suggesting that if you don’t sell poetry you can’t be successful but it shows a lack of love for one of the higher arts that any culture puts together. We would hope that Barnes & Noble sees the value of poetry and spends more cachet on promoting poetry and selling poetry; poetry from less well know but equally valuable contemporary poets.

The role of poetry in any society is as a gauge to where that society has been and where that society is going. Whether or not poetry is essential to society brings to mind the famous quote by William Carlos Williams, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” We need to take poetry out and support poets and poetry and poetry books within our own community and encourage independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, all booksellers to put a real effort into this promotion of poetry.

To presume that this idealistic and romantic space in poetry doesn’t need to be sold because it is right there, that all we need do is place it out, “build it and they will come” but truly we also have to recognize that we live in a contemporary society where the vehicle is selling, producing and putting it out as part of our culture and we poets participate in the culture every day. To consider that we are not part of our culture but sit in some secret space is absurd; we drive cars, we go out to eat, go to movies, we buy food, we pay bills, have bank accounts just like anybody else in the society. If we are writers, if we are poets, we are also part of what it takes to sell books, to play them out where members of the populace can pick them up, read them and gain whatever beauty, truth and love might be in them.

Small poetry presses like Poetic Matrix Press are essential to the literary life of a culture. We showcase new, unknown poets. We provide them with a means of presenting their work to a wider world. We are part of a long, important history of literature. The list of small press and personally published work goes on (Stephen Crane, e.e. cummings, Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, to name but a few. This is the way new work and new ideas enter the world. We will continue to do our part, it would be nice if Barnes & Noble would do more to advance this most important cultural form.

John Peterson, Publisher Poetic Matrix Press

tadpoles – John Peterson

-for devon

last night the pond was the size of a small hat

ten or fifteen of you holding on enough water

only to cover your back and keep the sun off

foot prints of coon and coyote dog and deer

and small bird circling down from reed covered

banks across cracked mud and soggy bottom

you squirm hoping against time and biology that

legs will sprout in time a race against summer sun

large and small creatures an eternity of narrow chances

one of you moves from runny mud back legs

near strong enough unsure that this is the time

but choices going fast as noon day

feeble hop out of dwindling mud toward

parched landscape that may offer escape

from the certainty of diminished water

you will make it if time and biology

                                     cross           precisely