Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier

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The House Next Door

Image (1)The house next door where Larry used to live

Has changed hands once again

A single-man’s house

With room enough for family

With a master suite

And den

With cathedral ceiling

Large yard for children

With linen cupboards on one wall of the hall

In the laundry room, a utility sink

For rinsing rags, boot soles, muddy balls, and dog

The house next door where Larry roamed


was then home to a Korean man and a Chinese wife

and two girls

who spoke neither

She changed the drapes

Installed wood floor

Put out ice plants

on their front steps and entrance hall.

We learned their names

Extent friendship

One morning came

Box on her hip

A For Sale sign

was only tip

The house next door has changed people

once more. We were worried

what could be wrong? No one stayed put

Did Larry know

something we didn’t?

over decades, Larry

a single man,

no girlfriends, no late parties

His vices: cars

and Cleaning Maids

The house next door with new black fence

Block steps that danced

Uphill full of songbirds

didn’t take long to switch


Where is Larry?

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On Cold Days

On cold days
I love to cook, standing by the fire
standing by the fire, to word
my thoughts and emotions
by the fire to be so close
to warmth and food and other humans.
On cold days
I love to nestle in bed, my icy feet
in the crook of his legs
“Aye, you hurt,” he whines,
I draw closer
“you’re cold,” he mumbles,
he says, sleepy voice
so I withdraw toward myself,
and turn the pages
of a book.
On cold days
IMG_4498the dog wants to get deep inside
our blanket, where he settles with a heave
moaning almost with pleasure
as he centers
on my legs, snuggled like a lumpy down pillow
quivered with life, in abandonment
he squeezes in
my warmth.
On cold days
Scratchy throat, wanting to cough
I blow my nose,
“You’re loud,” he say, “Jerk me up,”
I sniffle, a lump in my heart
the dog
in the nook of my thighs
On cold days.

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I struggle, how I struggle

against my droopy eyes full of sweet sleep
in the mid of day
My lazy bone all mellow longing for something soft, something warm
to sink in and under
drape my arm over
something furry
a wet nose
breathes softly in dreams of snorts

I struggle, how I struggle
days like these
Damp like a shower stall
Gray and dark,
pepper and salt striving to be hairs
magnolia leaves turned turmeric shade, crunchy curls
buffeted like odd popcorns in Santa Ana’s hot breast
seashells on empty sea beds of urban concrete
Two leaves
hung like ornaments in webs
until the autumn lends decorative color

It struggles, how it struggle
This fall season
not to let down expectation
to paint undulating hips of smoke into morning’s crisp air
and dark evening’s ears pierced with headlight rings

confused as much as I
by the lingering warmth
the awful, dry earth
Pregnant clouds aborted of rain
A mild fall that rips not
whips not
stirs not
smokes not
unless someone turns on a screen
Somewhere. Anywhere. In the palms of babies
on walls
Inside a chimney an illusion of fire and cold and center.
When it stands useless, painting no smokes

California has lost her seasons
and reasons.

I struggle. How I struggle
to let him go
Untwine my limbs, lift away my head
our cover
One eyelid, just a peep
Sigh at the staring sun in my palm
Yes. It’s indeed time
to let him rise
I sink low, struggle.

How I struggle!




A shadow’s length
of grief stops by;
I welcome it
with suspicious eye.

It lingers not
though has great sway
Its purpose–
needs crying away.

It’s not a friend,
yet bears no malice;
it opens wounds
but is not callous.

I know it arrives
to unburden my heart,
its treatment takes time,
is sometimes harsh.

It flushes out pain,
then leaves in a breath;
my life is cleared
to take the next step.




A Tribute to Marilyn Jensen

Marilyn JensenHere used to sit Marilyn Jensen
next to her coffee
Shhh! Her pile of papers
pushed her coffee over
sometimes she slapped the table
and her cup jumped
oh shuck!
but your dialogues sounded better

Her trademark “who’s your market”
drove your storyplot to target
her mere scribble or two
rid your sentence of woes
Her deft pen looped an awkward phrase
Like a seamstress played with ribbon

Here sits Marilyn Jensen
Always in session
She watches the club members
forces us to remember
That writers, riders of lofty standards
don’t try to dash off the yards
to skip, to fake, bypass
perfection. Be on guard!

Here stay Marilyn’s splatters
On page fifty of my manuscript
Her note: My cat leaped where it matters
Love this sentence. Watch your tenses
why “Memoir”
In your title?

The last of Marilyn I sought
tiny in cotton shorts.
too hot for an autumn day
California writhed in its third year of drought
And writers like Marilyn struggled
to fill the thirst of those parched and wrestled.

But Marilyn, like me, was getting older
And the world of water shortage, gun-filled
The world of emoticons in bytes–illed
blogged, posted. This world of Facebook, Twitter
wasn’t the one Marilyn loved
Yet, she tried
Lone dove against a storm.

“I don’t know what I’ve done
I fear I killed this one.
At first it was a virus
then Windows 8…the Beetlejuice
I’ve created a mess
a jumble tangle of cords
ugly as my spleen
And now they’re useless.”

So I checked

 behind her credenza
an old pencil
A paper clip
dust bunnies and spiderwebs
a mix of delight and surprise
to Marilyn

Pencil, paper clip, hairpin
she kept
the rest to the dustbin

I pawed the ball of wires, connecting
DSL, monitor, mouse, keyboard, computer
everything else but her.
They pronged the outlets and blip,
that devil of a machine took power

Word by word, line by line
The last chapters of her historical novel so fine
re-summoned, a marvel of
Eight painful years of sweat combined

her words from blood of love.
Marilyn’s narration of the nation’s VPs
fated to be presidents
of the United States
Words by words in her first-rated

built to perfection

Marilyn, normal citizen
cadet nurse , wife, mother, teacher, historian,
and most importantly, writer
sworn to be faithful
to her God and word.

Our Marilyn
wrung her hands
a bit confused
the instant her monitor lit up

How in the world did this thing
so effortlessly quickened

she said.

“Thank God! My work isn’t lost,”
breathless Marilyn sighed, relieved
not knowing, a final plot twist required
her gentle writer’s soul
be woven into her masterpiece
to leave
her body cold.

May peace be with dear Marilyn,
faithful always

Editor’s note: Marilyn Jensen, an integral member of the Writer’s Club of Whittier for over forty years, died October 19, 2014, after a brief illness.