August 2014

Welcome to the August issue of the Dragonfly Press Ezine! This month, we have:

“Hermano Francisco” by Rafael Jesús González (Poem)
“Approaching Clouds Ponder the Fate of a Mustard Seed” by Calder Lowe (Poem)
“The Assumption” by Lara Gularte (Poem)
“The Rabbi’s Advice” by David Ebenbach (Prose Poem)
“Family” by Len Anderson (Poem)
“A Simple Bow” by Len Anderson (Prose Poem)

Hermano Francisco

Hermano Francisco

He pecado contra mi hermano asno.

— Francisco de Asís

Hermano Francisco,
muchos te han de haber visto
como un simple
hablando con los pájaros,
haciendo amigos con el lobo,
compadeciendo al conejo y a los peces.
De tales bobos hacemos gloria
              de la Tierra.
Ahora tonto es el que no vea
nuestra hermandad
con los otros animales
                con los árboles y las hierbas
                               con las piedras y guijas.
Sólo reconociendo esto nos salvamos
              no digo el alma
                             mas nuestro querido asno.


Brother Francis

I have sinned against my brother ass.

— Francis of Assisi

Brother Francis,
many must have seen you
as a simpleton
talking to the birds,
befriending the wolf,
pitying the rabbit & the fish.
Of such fools do we make glory
               of the Earth.
Now fool is he who does not see
our brotherhood
with the other animals,
              with the trees & grasses,
                            with the rocks & pebbles.
Only by knowing this will we save
             I do not say our soul
                           but our dear ass.

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
— St. Francis of Assisi

Rafael Jesús González, taught Creative Writing & Literature at Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican & Latin American Studies Department, and served as Poet in residence at the Oakland Museum of California and Oakland Public Library as the 1996 recipient of a Poets & Writers Award. He has thrice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English for his writing in 2003 and in 2009 by the City of Berkeley for his writing, art, teaching, and social activism. He has twice been awarded the Dragonfly Press Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement and his book of poems La musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse (Pandemonium Press, Berkeley, California) was published in 2009. You may visit his site at

Approaching Clouds Ponder the Fate of a Mustard Seed

A small boy in Idaho fingers the mustard seed
his Sunday School teacher gives him.
He prays for his parents’ reconciliation,
while off the coast of Pajaro, a mulberry tree
grows out of the ocean and surfers
gawk at the sight of raccoons
swimming in droves, eager to feast
on the black juice of berries
bobbing on the water’s surface.

Opening his mouth, a grizzled mountain man,
a modern day Elijah, waits for the morsels
of meat the ministering raven perched
on his shoulder deigns to pitch into his gaping maw.
His visions of performing miracles with a single touch,
of restoring the arm of a soldier returning
from Iraq, the limbs of a girl from Mozambique,
unwind in Technicolor splendor

as the boy drops dollops of spumoni into cones
for his parents once again holding hands on the porch.
He closes his eyes, sees the panorama
of the mulberry tree erupting from the sea,
his parents bringing home a baby sister
named Sarah tucked inside a willow green coverlet.
He crumbles loam nestled under the primrose blooms,
pats the seed down firmly with his palms.

Hovering on the horizon, approaching clouds
dream the man, boy, his family, the tree, raccoons,
the entire world, into gentle rivulets
of rain, the mulberries into hail
crashing onto surfboards slicing through
one too many a gratuitous, endless wave.

“Approaching Clouds Ponder the Fate of a Mustard Seed” won First Prize
in the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and was featured
in their Annual Writing Competition Collection.

Calder Lowe is a writer, editor, former college English instructor, university writing lab director, and Ragdale alumna. In May of 2000, the long-standing Public Radio Program, “The Poet & the Poem,” currently broadcasting from the Library of Congress, conferred upon her former literary journal, The Montserrat Review, its annual Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Print, an honor shared with the University of North Carolina’s journal, Pembroke.

In 2010, a collection of her poems and flash fiction, Holding the Light in Your Arms, was published by Jacaranda Press. She was awarded Runner-Up status in the Compilations/Anthologies Category of the 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival for The Call. In May, her story “Taking it Home” won Runner-Up status in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival in the category of Best Unpublished Story. “Approaching Clouds Ponder the Fate of a Mustard Seed” won First Prize in the Nonrhyming Poetry Category of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

The Assumption

In the cave of rocks the forgotten statue
trembles in high winds.
Rushing, roiling waters
loosen all her bonds.

The plastic Madonna, she slides
then somersaults beneath the surface,
tossed from swell to swell,
rising, falling, resurging.

She’s exposed, immortal,
burdened with the weight of Ascension,
the physics of longing
for the world promised.

Touched by the sun,
she finds herself in a congregation of clouds.
Among cumulus she looks for her son.

When the tides turn back,
her feet barely touch the tops of waves.

Lara Gularte’s poetic work depicting her Azorean heritage is included in a book of essays called “Imaginários Luso-Americanos e Açorianos” by Vamberto Freitas. Her work can be found in The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry. Gularte earned an MFA degree from San Jose State University where she was a poetry editor for Reed Magazine, received the Anne Lillis Award for Creative Writing, and several Phelan Awards. She was a 2nd prize poetry contest winner for Empirical Magazine’s 2012 contest. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Bitter Oleander, California Quarterly, The Clackamas Review, Evansville Review, Permafrost, The Montserrat Review, The Water-Stone Review, The Fourth River, and The Santa Clara Review. She has also been published by many national and regional anthologies. She is an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Her work will be featured in the fall 2014 issue of The Bitter Oleander.

The Rabbi’s Advice

The old cow lows close to the little kitchen woodstove, though for once it’s not cold in here, and that cry fills the room to the walls, but it’s the sound of goats all around that shudders the bones, and we don’t dare move for fear of slipping. It’s only a three-room cottage as it is, my Sarah and me who sleep in one room, our too-many daughters in the other, and here in the kitchen our son Jacob. Plus Sarah’s parents, who have the bed in our room, and we the floor. Bring the livestock in, the rabbi said. I am supposed to wonder about his sanity—I came to him because I needed room to draw air into my lungs, at least, and now he’s filled our house with animals. But I know he’ll tell me to add the chickens next, and maybe double the mice somehow. I know that when I’m about to collapse altogether he’ll tell me to take all the animals out, and, look how spacious my life actually is. This is how we think here—it could always be worse. But I don’t always see the animals, even now. I see my parents-in-law sitting at the table, shaking, still cold and getting colder. We have no money to bury them. Jacob is pressed to the window, his hatred of this house its own loud lowing. My daughters are years from marriage and always moments from terror, about it happening and about it not. My wife Sarah’s hands are aging while she sews. If it wasn’t a goat nibbling on our socks, it would be time. Or what about my own hands, raw from the udders. The animals walk around us almost gingerly, around my anger, the clumsy table and chairs.

David Ebenbach is the author of a poetry chapbook called Autogeography (Finishing Line Press), as well as two short story collections —Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize) and Into the Wilderness (Washington Writers Publishing House, winner of the WWPH fiction prize)—and a non-fiction guide to the creative process called The Artist’s Torah (Wipf & Stock). With a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he teaches Creative Writing at Georgetown University. You can find out more about him at


My Aunt Daphne
lived to be almost ninety-eight
but refused to celebrate
her birthday. She didn’t believe
in age. My wife is the same way.
They do have a point.

The DNA in every cell
of my body is a record of the coupling,
the union, of two living cells from my parents,
as was their DNA,
and that of all our foreparents.
So I am to some degree also
all of them and share their birthdays,
all the way back to the time
when the earth was a child
and cells began replicating.

From this point of view
I am four billion years old
and related to every living being
on our planet.

So now the papaya and grapes
I have just eaten and the almond milk
I have drunk are from kin.
I was brought up Catholic,
but now everything I eat
is Communion, is a god sacrificed
that I might live this near-eternity
in some sense forgiven.

Each day I wake surrounded by family
and take a deep breath
with the billions of cells in my body
and in theirs like birthday candles
brightly lit. And I thank them
as I thank you now
for each loving thing you do
for our family.

A Simple Bow

After a few days at Lake Dal in Kashmir, my friend CP and I head into the Himalayan foothills, taking a day’s hike on a barely discernable path across the snow. The air is cold, the sky clear. I have never seen so much sky. We don’t talk a lot. Even in India, you can only say Wow! so many times. But we are walking in sky.

Along the way we come upon a young Indian man and woman bringing firewood to their hut from hills carved nearly bare by humans seeking a little warmth. The couple confer briefly and invite us in for tea. The man motions for us to bend low so as to not breathe the smoke, then to sit on the floor by the fire beneath the rough hole carved in the ceiling. They prepare and serve the tea, conversing with my friend, a graduate student almost fluent, while I understand little. We warm our feet, our bodies, and slake our thirst on their delicious tea. I wonder what it’s like to live here—here in the sky.

Finally when we stand up to leave and thank them for their welcome, amazed at our fortune, both halting a few seconds searching for words. I feel something that came over me once while observing the night sky—that even in our day there is a great night between the stars and a silence deep within us, and they make a kind of home that welcomes us, is even the original welcome.

In this tiny dwelling as we part I feel that sky. No Namaste is spoken as we each make a simple bow and I think silently—I bow to the sky within you.

Len Anderson is the author of Invented by the Night (2011), Affection for the Unknowable (2003), both from Hummingbird Press, and a chapbook, BEEP: A Version of the History of the Personal Computer Rendered in Free Verse in the Manner of Howl by Allen Ginsberg. He received a nomination for a Pushcart Prize from DMQ Review, is a winner of the Dragonfly Press Poetry Competition and the Mary Lönnberg Smith Poetry Award, and received the 2011 Dragonfly Press Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement. He is a co-founder of Poetry Santa Cruz.