New Work

As of this Fall 2011 issue, I am (along with William Wallis) poetry and contributing editor for West magazine. West, housed at West Los Angeles College, is the online literary and arts magazine representing all of the nine Los Angeles Community Colleges, with a still expanding roster of contributing editors drawn from the talent at all nine colleges. This second issue gives some small indication of the breadth of material the magazine’s insanely ambitious editor, Nuala Linke-Ivic, plans for the future.

All former and current  students, staff, faculty, and administrators of the Los Angeles Community Colleges are eligible to submit articles, fiction, songs, poetry, visual art, and other kinds of artworks to West for cosideration. To give you some sense of the expansive boundary of that guideline, it would or does include Charles Bukowski, Jerry Brown, that showoff Kevin Spacey (watch it to the end), and anyone who has taken or taught a single class. In addition, members of the military who have served or are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may submit their work. We are talking millions of eligible contributors.

My own contributions, in addition to my editing responsibilities, include a regular column on poetry, “Poetic License,” and some of my own creative work. In this issue, Bill Wallis and I, by way of introduction, are the featured poets. The two of us also participated in a videotaped “round-table” on poetry – moderated by Nuala – with two of the issue’s other poets, student and musician Mariangela Spiezia-Nobre and professor of African-American history and fellow contributing editor Anthony A. Lee. Excerpts of the round-table are available for viewing, along with video of the poets reading their work. One of my poems is the following, which seems appropriate to the time of year.

Ocean’s End

Along the coastal Atlantic at summer’s end
the Caribbean’s hurricane mood looms
over the waters north to New York, the Cape
and beyond. The season’s swells deliver you
from the human traffic toward the sun
while the locals remain to neighbor their brooding god.

In fishing villages, the perennial change
in weather forces the trawlers and dredgers
to make less picturesque and more dangerous runs.
Carnival barkers break for higher ground.
A certain kind of homeless drifter scavenges
empty, windswept streets and beaches for the leavings
of the summer parade. And the shore folk gaze from
grassy dunes, walk the water’s muddy, roiling edge
in bare feet, rolled cuffs, to regard their drifting spirits.

For inlanders, the seas are circus amusements
great, gentle idiots who balance children on laps
for fun and snapshot reminiscence, but sometimes
the tide’s embrace grows dumbly tight, and even
in the frightened, clutching struggle of arms
snaps a neck, and the god appears a terrible thing.


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3 thoughts on “New Work

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  2. Congratulations, Jay! Terrific news.

    After this afternoon’s earthquake (first time ever seeing my walls literally shake) and the warning of the hurricane that’s supposed to come up the coast by week-end, reading your “Ocean’s End” seems more than fitting.

    1. I’ve had that shaking experience many times, Maureen, but since I’m still on the East Coast, the context threw me – and I hadn’t thought to write an “Earth’s End” poem.

      Thanks for your congratulations.

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