Poetry by Neil Ellman


Artisoo Andromeda - Oil Painting Reproduction 30'' X 24'' - Andre Masson from www.amazon.com.uk

Andre Masson’s Artisoo Andromeda












The dragon-night, its smothering wings,

holds her fast, its tongue, embered

by the stars it eats, turns her skin

to smoldering coals, her soul to the stone

she has become.



No escape from this dark enemy,

none, nor even the light still tangled

in her hair, once a princess

now a servant to a basilisk, she

struggles to no avail.



Once upon a midnight time

Andromeda, set free, released

to wander destiny

her ashes scattered in the sky

dark star, to the naked eye.


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Poetry from Christopher Bernard

The World in the Palm of Your Hand
By Christopher Bernard


Image from Alarm Clock Wallpaper

Image from Alarm Clock Wallpaper










As my eyes opened

the sun struck the clock –

a little plastic thing

with a face, round, plain,

given for Christmas by my closest friend.

I moaned a little. “Mmm—let me

sleep a little longer….” It said a minute

or two, but not enough, before seven.
There was nothing special about the clock:

small, functional, foldable, accurate,

it could be slipped into a pocket and carried

easily enough

to the farthest ends of the small blue planet.

It had a delicate but curiously penetrating alarm.
My friend had bought it at a little store

in Chinatown from a teenage gamine-like girl

named Mary Chew, who had a mole

on her chin, perfectly shaped eyes, and a stutter.

Usually she worked only weekends, but

that day had been the first of winter vacation,

and she wanted to earn some extra money

to buy a motorcycle helmet (a surprise)

for her 20-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Chan,

whom no one in her family liked.

“His family is not from Guangzhou,” complained her mother.

Mary’s employer, Charles “Charlie” Wang,

was a little wiry man, all abrupt manner

to his workers, all unctuous simpering

for his customers. He usually paced

the back of the store looking at all

the clocks, but could never remember the time.
He had purchased the clock

as part of a consignment from a saleswoman

named Kelly Smithfield, a tall, big redhead,

born in Modesto, a graduate of Davis,

who had brought it in a case of samples

she showed him one day at the end of October

on a cold call at the Golden Mountain Happy Clock Store.

Kelly was twenty-seven, vaguely desperate –

she waved her hands a lot and laughed too often –

still on probation with the company,

she hadn’t sold a single clock since August,

and nearly fell over when Charlie Wang

bought her entire case. When Charlie

invited her to lunch at the Dragon Palace of Dim Sum –

“You will love their chicken feet!” – well, how could she refuse?


Kelly had been given the clock

by her assistant, Amanda Clark,

at the home office in Sacramento.

Amanda was twenty-three,

petite, blond, scattered,

with two years of community college

and aspirations to become a real estate agent,

though she was afraid she may have missed

the height of the market

by a decade or two.

Amanda had gotten the clock

in a case with other clocks –

small-traveling, silent-alarm, valedictory, vanity-table,

of all shapes and designs, from the plainest, like mine,

to luxury, to joke and variety designs:

Dooby-Doo, Bart Simpson, Princess Elsa, Shrek –

a case she had gotten

from the office delivery clerk, Steve Butts,

a middle-aged man who had been downsized

by a local insurance company at the age of 55

and was taken in out of compassion

by the office manager, who knew him

during his glory years as a claims adjuster.
Steve had gotten the case from a warehouse clerk,

José Parra, thirty-two, prematurely balding,

undocumented, who lived in a trailer park

with several men from his village in Guatemala.

He sent half his minimum wage to his family

and sold clocks he had filched from the warehouse

late at night on eBay.


A young warehouse worker named Minh Vuh,

a Vietnamese whose parents had been boat people

when they were children, had placed the clock

carefully in the case, with a handful of confetti. Minh

was engaged to a sweet young Laotian

who lived three blocks from his family home.

Their parents were not too happy about that,

so they had to meet secretly after school

and on his work breaks when she was in the neighborhood.

It all felt very romantic. “Like Romeo and Juliet!”

his girlfriend said, giggling. Minh kissed her on her tiny nose.
Minh didn’t remember (he had no reason to), but

he had put that very clock on the

second shelf from the top in column 37 of aisle C

last September

after receiving it in a shipment of similar clocks

off a truck driven by an ageing Filipino

named “Jack” (he had rejected his original name when a young man –

he said he wanted to be “100% American!”

and that meant having a name like Bob or Joe or Bill,

and he thought “Jack” sounded sexy and macho).
Jack had picked up the shipment from a Sacramento wharf

where it had been unpacked from a container

by a young African-American

named Obadiah Washington,

who was in fact a rap artist (the day job was a secret)

and performed at local clubs at night under the name

Dr. Sling.
The container had been hauled off the ship Flower of Seoul

by Ted Anderson, of old Swedish stock, on his last day

before retiring. The container was his last but one.

When he hauled the final container of his career,

his fellow longshoremen smashed a champagne bottle against it

and made a party of it for the next hour on the wharf.

The container with the clocks inside got a splash of the champagne,

but was otherwise undamaged by the festivities.


The Flower of Seoul had carried the container

across the Pacific the week before.

The ship was manned by a small crew,

most of them young Indonesians, and piloted

by a Taiwanese captain named Jiang-Ji Li,

forty-five, with a family of six girls at home

and a nagging wife who made the boredom of sea life

seem like an endless vacation by contrast.

Getting his girls married, however,

was another matter: the eldest

had been poisoned by “women’s liberation”

(as he still called it) and wanted to become a captain

like her father. Why couldn’t she have been a boy?

These thoughts had made the crossing

an onerous one for Captain Li,

especially the prospect of going back:

the Flower of Seoul would be making a week-long stop,

after picking up timber in Portland,

at Taipei.

The clock had sat for the entire trip,

unseen in its dark container,

its hands set at the traditional 10:10.


n the port city of Busan, South Korea,

the container with my clock in it

(though, of course, it was not yet my clock –

would it ever be, really? Is ownership

of anything, let alone a clock,

time’s strict and impartial measurer,

by a limited and mortal being like man

even possible? That is a delicate

philosophical question

that we can not, alas, pursue here),

that container had been placed on the deck

of the Flower of Seoul

with two dozen other similar containers

of different colors and sidings –

some corrugated, some smooth –

with the result that the ship looked like a father

so overburdened with packages

he was likely to fall down,

by a longshoreman named Kim Dong-hyun,

twenty-eight (a little fat fellow

who loved dakon kim-chi so much

his mother gave him a case every year

for Gujeong),

using a crane

to lift it from a semi driven by a driver

named Kim Ji-hoon (no relation), a tall, skinny fellow

of thirty-three,

who still lived with his parents

and played computer games on the weekends,

driving his mother to despair about ever having


He had driven the truck

from a small factory outside Seoul,

where he had stopped by for the clock consignment,

up near the border

(it was a long drive not helped

by the bad heat wave and the endless traffic –

the highway was becoming a continuous traffic jam,

but no one in Seoul wanted to pay for improvements,

so Ji-hoon just growled and daydreamed about the next version

of WarCraft, supposed to be coming out in August).
A young woman – a sixteen-year-old named Song-hi

with long hair and fat cheeks and a pert expression –

had packed the clock in the consignment box

after taking it from the end of the assembly line

where it had been checked for quality by a grim matron

named Yun, who had a drunken husband,

two ungrateful children and a spoiled cat,

the only creature in the world she felt understood her.

The clock had been assembled

by half a dozen other girls, all wearing the same uniform.

Chimin, whose face was a perfectly flat oval

and always rode her bike to work,

added the swivel stands to the clocks.

Soyon, who was always sad

and never talked about her home life,

put in the inner workings of the clocks

and the battery receivers:

the little drawer that poked out of

the clock’s plastic case.

Subin, who liked to clown and make practical jokes,

attached the minute and hour hands, and “sweeps”

(i.e., second hands), when they had them, to the clocks.

Hayun, who was very tall and very proud

(actually, her unusual height made her painfully self-conscious),

added the white face to each clock. Once,

she had been so distracted,

she had put the faces in upside down

for more than 20 clocks.

Nobody down the line noticed until Mrs. Yun, of quality control,

saw them and had a meltdown,

and threatened to fire everybody.

That was a bad day for Hayun!
Chi’u, who was so short she

disappeared under the assembly line

when she stepped off her stool,

put in the oscillating mechanism

that ran the clock.

Hyechin, who, for some reason,

no one liked and everyone made fun of,

put in the alarm.
The girls got the parts from the other side of the factory,

where they were made by two men and a woman:

Chunyong, fifty-five, who dyed his hair,

was the lead craftsman

amd made the clock oscillators.

Songmin, his first assistant,

a stiff young man – the first of his family

not to have to work in the fields –

crafted the cases.

Yuchin was the first woman in the factory

to have made it into “craft”: she had a small tattoo

of a periwinkle on her left inner wrist,

and was considered quite wild,

but that was all right by Chunyong,

her manager,

because she was so talented.

She crafted the clock faces,

arms and sweeps,

based on her own designs.

(These were first OK’d by upper management, of course –

that was one of the reasons they had hired her:

design and craft in one person, with only one salary!

The clocks sold consistently, especially in the American market,

so “UM” was content.)
Songmin and Yuchin got the polystyrene they used

from bins of plastic parts

that had been delivered by

Kwon Young-sik, who had only one eye,

from a bad accident on his last

delivery job (it had not been his fault;

he had left because he thought that it would bring even worse bad luck,

after his accident, to stay).

The parts had been made in the big

National Plastic Co. Ltd. plant

on the other side of Seoul.

Much of the plastic was recycled

from toys, hardware tools, and other clocks.
Chunyong had gotten the quartz for the

oscillator crystal that runs my clock

(I guess I can call it mine, now)

from a bin where the crystals were packed

in small boxes

after delivery by Park Ye-jun,

a short, fiery man with bad breath

(he lived on garlic for breakfast, lunch and dinner),

from the mines of Tae Wha,

near Chungju, half way between Seoul and Busan.
The quartz from which the mechanism of my clock was made

had been mined from the earth there

by a very young man named Ahn Min-kyu,

eighteen years old, just out of school.

His family had been fishermen from time immemorial,

and he had planned on being a fisherman too,

when the fish stocks of his seashore village

disappeared one day –

it was thought because of pollution from the North –

so he had to change plans and, instead of probing the ocean

for a living, probed the earth, as there were jobs

at the booming Tae Wha Mine.

So he left his village

and went to Chungju

and learned to dig the earth

for minerals. Then one day,

in a poorly lit tunnel,

smelling of sulfur and damp,

he dug out, with his pick

(the machinery was down, as so often),

a clump of quartz – several million years old,

formed by magma thrusting

from deep within the earth –

the mine was along the rim of fire that followed

the edge of the northern Pacific

from America to Asia,

and made volcanoes erupt

and quakes shake the earth

(a smaller quake had woken me

not long after I was given the clock) –

a clump of quartz that had been deposited

in milky white crystals

with other rocks, from fire and river and wind,

in the dark earth.

He placed it, using his shovel, into the cart,

and the cart rolled away to the surface

and the sunlight,

then he turned back to the wall of rock

with his pick, and swung.
And that is the list of people to whom I am indebted

for the appearance on my bed table of the little alarm clock.

The list could go on –

there is really no reason to stop here:

What about the parents, and the grandparents, on and on,

of all those people who at one point or another

touched or handled or carried the clock, or

what would later become the clock?

What about their siblings, uncles, aunts,

cousins, teachers, friends?

What about the original inventor of the very first clock?

And who, or what, invented him?
One could go on and on. And on and on,

without end.
And that is just for the clock I looked at

when I woke up that morning.

What if I had to do the same thing

for everything else in my life?

The mind suddenly flies off

like a flock of startled crows,

shredding the air with caws . . .
I woke.

It was the alarm,

its shriek

telling me “get up! get up!”

Christopher Bernard is author of A Spy in the Ruins, In the American Night, and The Rose Shipwreck. He is also co-editor of Caveat Lector. His poetry can be found at his blog, “The Bog of St. Philinte.”
Image from: Alarm Clock Wallpaper

Poetry from Sonny Zwierkowski



Scrawled grocery lists

and Friday afternoon traffic jams,

the smell of lumber in a big box hardware store

and sprinkles on sundaes.

Toothpaste splatters on a 6am mirror

and yearly performance reports.
Separate fibers



weaving day by day

such a warm tight

swaddle of flames.

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Cristina Deptula on San Francisco’s Fashion Tech Week

Does San Francisco have its own fashion aesthetic and sense of style? While not as well known for its fashion industry as, say, Paris or New York, the city houses a number of emerging clothing and accessory entrepreneurs. Many would say that San Francisco is creating its own scene rather than emulating the more established areas.

At the invitation of Owen Geronimo, founder of the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance, I attended the opening reception of 2015’s Fashion and Tech Week and a panel discussion on personalizing the retail experience through technology.

The opening reception included displays of clothes, jewelry, scarves and purses from several designers. Highlights included a line of leather purses made to fit inside each other so one could bring all of one’s belongings, including one’s laptop, to the office and then remove a smaller interior purse with only one’s cash, cards and ID at lunchtime. Another designer created a display that resembled a wooded cabin lodge and explained how her leather was sourced humanely, harvested from cows who had already died of natural causes.

Several people at the event pointed to other cultural influences that have shaped San Francisco, including startup and small business culture, environmental consciousness and the do-it-yourself ethic practiced here and highlighted at the annual Burning Man festival. During the festival, which now takes place in the Nevada desert but used to be hosted at San Francisco’s Baker Beach, participants camp for a week in the wilderness, relying on food and water and other supplies they have brought with them. These cultural ideas have brought natural and recycled fabrics, acceptance of creative re-use through consignment and thrifting, and a more individual and personal sense of style into San Francisco’s aesthetic.

The following night several entrepreneurs, software developers and bloggers discussed technical and business methods for tracking and anticipating retail customers’ preferences when they buy clothes and accessories. In addition to being able to target marketing to the individual consumer, small and larger retail businesses hope to eventually incorporate customer preference into a feedback loop guiding product design. So, customers would become co-creators to some extent with the companies who produce and design fashion items.

I was not able to make it to the remaining three events of San Francisco Fashion and Tech Week, so I talked with Alexius Kaitlynn Baker and others there about what was planned for those nights. Alexius invited me to read her blog Divine Imperfection  where she reviewed and posted photos of Dapperhood: The Evolution of Menswear, Fashion Bloggers Connect with SheTalks forum/Women in Tech, and WearTechCon: Art and Style of Wearables.

From what I read in her blog, these three events further illustrated how technology and entrepreneurship influence San Francisco’s fashion scene while showing off the work of many creative designers. While designers are still honing the balance between technical function and elegance when it comes to consumer products, the diverse ideas reflected through the product demonstrations show rich promise for the city’s developing aesthetic.

Poetry from Joan Beebe

The Waking of Spring

Today seems different as we venture outside
And a lonely shovel lies on its side.
There is a fresh and scented wind today
And I see many children out to play.
What is that coming up from the ground
With pretty little flowers I have found.
I hear sweet chirping and their songs fill the air,
There are melodies of joy for all to share.
The green grass is soft and beautiful to see,
And there is no other place I would rather be.
There is work to be done in the days to come,
Planting, watering and our chores have begun.
We smile and we’re happy to see the beauty of spring
And our days will bring pleasure for the gifts it brings.

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Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

Review of Ambrosia Chronicles: The Initiation


Double Wow!!! This is the second book in the Ambrosia Chronicles. As soon as you start reading it, it will be like you never even put down the first, it flows right into it. In the Initiation we are introduced to Regina the evil one who gave Lucas his powers and her assistant Anna. Emma and Alex are both brought to Mytholia whee they can train and become much stronger with their powers. Alex discovers she has many powers and cannot yet control them, so they must be filtered at first. Alex and Emma both learn of their past and their families. The Initiation is a whole lot of gripping thrills and suspense and possibly a bit more growing romance. It can be read as a stand alone, but so much better after having read the first book of the series. The Initiation will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. I absolutely loved the book. I personally hope it is made into a movie. What a great movie it would make!

Karolina Simos’ Ambrosia Chronicles may be ordered here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ambrosia-Chronicles-Initiation-K-Simos-ebook/dp/B00PKE08YO/ 

The first two books are now available and the third in the series will come out soon.

 Review of Ambrosia Chronicles: The Curse

(cover photo will be available soon)

This is the third and last book in the Ambrosia Chronicles, and it does not disappoint the reader at all. This book will keep the reader on the edge of your seat until the very last page. It is very exciting. I absolutely loved all three of them and highly recommend them for the fantasy lover’s personal library.

In this book, it comes to the battle between good and evil. The full amount of powers of Alex and Emma are revealed. The battle is in the land of Mytholia and on the grounds of the school. The students who do not have their full powers or haven’t trained enough are evacuated and the others stay there to battle the Rogues and Regina. The battle is so exciting you will not be able to put it down until the very last page. If you love the Harry Potter series, you will love the Ambrosia Chronicles.


Review of Save Dr. Jekyll and Destroy Mr. Hyde


Save Dr. Jekyll and Destroy Mr. Hyde is a Christian self help book that makes sense to anyone, whether you are Christian or not. It teaches us how to determine whether we should take someone’s advice or adhere to their opinions. It also teaches us to think things through and how to really listen to what God wants for us. For example, if someone is telling you one thing but deep down you know you should not heed their advice, then most likely God is telling you not to follow that person’s advice or listen to their opinion. This self help book is written in such a way that we can all understand. Pastor White uses many examples from the Bible to show us how God can speak to us and the consequences of doing things on our own. I highly recommend this book for everyone’s library.

Stephen White’s Save Dr. Jekyll, Destroy Mr. Hyde can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.com/Save-Dr-Jekyll-Destroy-Hyde/dp/1621366979/

Review of My Razzle Dazzle


My Razzle Dazzle is the memoir of Mr. Todd Peterson. He gew up in the midwest and at a very young age knew that he was different. As a young boy he endured being beaten up, taunted, mocked and called names. When he discovered that his difference was that he is gay, he was afraid. He would even pray for God to make him strainght. Back in the 60’s gays would be given shock treatments because they were thought of as mentally ill. What a horrible time that was! When he came to San Francisco, California to be in the Roller Derby, he was able to embrace his differences. Mr. Peterson has written My Razzle Dazzle in such a way the story pulls you in. It is funny, sad and very deep. You will not want to put this book down until you have finished it to the last page.  I absolutely loved it. The shame and pain that young Todd had to endure will make you feel like crying. This is an important book to let people know that everyone is different. Everyone deserves to be
treated with respect and dignity. I very highly recommend this book.