Judith Terzi is the author of The Road to Oxnard (2009 Pudding House finalist of note) and Sharing Tabouli (Finishing Line, 2011). Her poetry appears widely in print and on line and has been nominated for the Best of the Net and Best of the Web anthologies. She has received awards and recognition from Alehouse Press (2009 Happy Hour Awards, runner-up), Atlanta Review (2010 International Publication Prize winner), Mad Hatters' Review (Knock Our Hats Off Contest, honorable mention), and Newport Review (2010 Bananagram Contest, 2nd place). She taught French language and literature for many years at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California, as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles and in Algiers, Algeria.

The Road to Oxnard
Waves of plastic shimmy along this highway
In field after clear, white field, mirror Xochimilco
In the distance to an unaccustomed eye.

Stooped figures wade in long, geometric rows,
Or cluster like four-legged animals crossing streams
Wearing straw hats hechos en México.

An enormous sarape of straw blankets the earth, it seems.

Under an impartial midday sun, unnoticed men bond.
What human secrets could be left unplowed, I wonder,
In such seeding and picking intimacy with pungent soil.

A Goddess south of the border holds her breath.
She waits for palabras from her Oxnard gondolier,
Or a single white rose collected in solitude

Under the gleam of midnight's chandelier.

From The Road to Oxnard
first appeared in Borderlands, 2007

––starting with a line by Sappho
Who is the one with violets in her lap?
After the earth shook, she rang the bell
to warn the town to run. The women who sell
wool, their skeins spread out like garlands of tulips
and lilies, fled, but what about their shawls,
caps and gloves piled in the beds of trucks?
The sea grabbed boats of fishermen like a shark,
twisted roofs and furniture, churches, schools
in its wild walls. The rage complete, it displaced
their planks onto black sand, into forests, streets.
Violet is the light of mourning, luz divina,
luz of healing, luz of valor for Martina.
She is the one with violets; she knits wreaths
for the silt of the Río Maule and shredded lace.

from Sharing Tabouli
Mad Hatters' Review: Knock Our Hats Off Contest, Honorable Mention

Party Bus
 You can bet your money on fiesta here,
the women wearing dresses short & tight.
Smoothed, oiled thighs glide onto leather seats,
hips & bare shoulders rocking to the jolts
of this party bus down Cahuenga Boulevard.
I'm face à face with dazzle, breaths hot &
minty after cigs & the joints hid in compartments,
along with the Don Julio & Casadores tequila.
Twenty of us stream into Club La Vida,
corner of Sunset & Gower, my white hair
stark, stark as bleach as I hit the champagne
trail & the dance floor. Twenty-somethings,
some foxed from liquor, others foxed by me––
a jadis diva circling under the strobes.
I'm photographed, I'm fire-foxed, I'm Lady Gaga'd.
I'm re-fired, re-minted in this Hollywoodland
hormonal blitz. For a moment, I become
the young woman in a black sheath, her dress
almost skimming her crotch. After each groove
& grind, she nudges slippery cloth back down,
her partner holding on to accessible parts,
releasing her, then holding on again until the pulsation
ends. I face down time here, though so much closer
to the index than to the preface of a vida loca.

Newport Review: Bananagram Contest, 2nd place
Judith Terzi ~ Poet at Moonday Poetry East

© 2011 Judith Terzi

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