Swimming with Elephants Publications

an independent, not for profit, publishing agent focusing on supporting the working author and non-profit organizations

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Hellywood by Jim Landwehr

200_sHellywood – an entry from the On a Road poem series

On our way to see a bit of Hollywood
what the big attraction is
driving down some six lane holocaust
through miles of calighetto in our chevy
– it just goes on and on, the blight –
rundown buildings, trash in the gutter
barred windows, last ditch cars
with junkyard fenders
duct-taped plastic windows
boarded up buildings, razor wire
and gates on every door
for godssake even the
sorry looking palm trees long for
the suburbs to try and get out of
this shithole. California is its own kind of
gecko changing colors without warning
and laying motionless in the hot sun.
It seems we’ve got to go through
hell to get to Hollywood.

“LA is a jungle.”
— Jack KerouacOn the Road

 


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Setting Place by Jim Landwehr

 

road-endless-straight-longSetting PaceThe first entry from the On a Road poem series

Sitting at the bar in southwest Minneapolis
the boys and I realize we’re starting the trip
out with recklessness and wonton disregard for schedule
as we sip our beers, talk and contemplate
the estimated forty hour trip we have in front of us.
Dean raises his glass and declares, “to California, boys!”
Sal and I echo back “to California.”
and take long draws from our
watered down American pilsners.
We’re just three twenty-somethings
with highly uncertain futures doing what we do best at
this point in our lives; drinking, hanging out and
living in the immediate because, if nothing, else
we’ve got each other, these drinks and dreams
of palm trees, the pacific ocean and So Cal girls
on this grey day in March and
I guess that will have to do for now.
At the moment, everything is alright by me
as the beer squelches the uncertainty of the road ahead
and the jukebox plays Def Leppard’s
counsel to the lost boys of minnesota

 

“All right
I got somethin’ to say
Yeah, it’s better to burn out
Yeah, than fade away…”*

 

“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.”
― Jack KerouacOn the Road

 

*Lyrics courtesy of Def Leppard, “Rock of Ages” from the album Pyromania


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The Book You Need to Have

Language of CrossingWhen the manuscript of Language of Crossing first crossed my desk, I immediately knew it was an important work which profoundly reflected upon some of the most disturbing issues concerning immigration in America. In light of recent events, the building of “the wall” and American relations with Mexico, it is even more important than ever.

Through poetry, Liza Wolff-Francis tells the stories, demonstrates the horrors, and gives a human face to those people who are so greatly affected by the immigration. The struggle continues. This is not a reflection of what is past, but a collection of what continues. If you want to truly understand the strife of the undocumented, start here.

Order the Language of Crossing from Amazon for only $10.95 by clicking here.

About the Publication:

Liza Wolff-Francis’s Language of Crossing is a collection of poetry that mirrors the true heart-stories along the US/Mexico border. Giving face, voice and humanity to all those who make their way across fronteras, her work is that of a necessary endeavor. She writes of a reality that must be ignored no longer. It is the struggle, strife, and violence that is endured by those who flee their country in hopes of a better life. Her poems, brutally honest and minute, rouse compassion as all good poetry must and begs the question of accountability. Language of Crossing is a political outcry, a finely tuned collection of endurance of a people, and a passionate advocacy for all to take notice. Wolff-Francis is a real activist planting poetic prayer flags across the vastness of a desert.

Reviews from Amazon.com:

By Francois Pointeau

“In Brownsville there’s a hundred
stash houses where they keep the immigrants
once they’ve crossed over in north heaven.
The coyotes take their shoes from them,
take their clothes so they don’t run, keep them
behind locks. Quiet. Callados.
En silencio, until the next trek
on into the land of the free.

(from the poem “In Brownsville there’s a stash house where they keep the immigrants”)

The poems in Language of Crossing by Liza Wolff-Francis will break your heart. Is this the America we live in? Yes it is. Is this the way we treat the poor and the needy? Yes it is.

Whatever happened to: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” –The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus

These words have become the Myth of America. Wolff-Francis brings the tragedy, the reality of the true faces of the immigrants to life, not the myth…she paints us a picture of what is going on right now on our southern borders. She gives individuals crossing our borders a human face, a human heart, and a human longing for a better land, a better place, a simple place where you can raise your family without the fear of death at every corner. And for many of these immigrants, what they find is everything but. Wolff-Francis doesn’t pull any punches. What she writes about, we can not ignore, we can no longer turn a blind eye to. This is an important collection of poems, and you need to read it.

By hanginwithlewis

I’m so glad I was able to get a copy of Language of Crossing. As I’ve been listening to NPR and hearing about humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East, I’ve kept wondering at how strong our national political policies must be, that we turn a blind eye to what’s happening at our threshold. Before the book launch reading at La Resistencia Bookstore in Austin, I knew there were people crossing the border, and many if not most of those journeys did not have a happy ending. But I hadn’t realized there was a humanitarian crisis in progress, so I feel that I’ve at least had my eyes opened in a way that allows me to look at what’s going on more critically and realistically. Not that I’ve saved any lives yet, per sé, but I’m glad to be able to read about your perspective, rather than only hear the President’s. And the found poem that opens the collection, “Border Trauma,” is still haunting me months later.

LizaHeadShotAbout the Author:

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and a member of the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. She has an ekphrastic poem posted in Austin’s Blanton Art Museum by El Anatsui’s sculpture “Seepage” and her work has most recently appeared in Edge, Twenty, unseenfiction.com, Border Senses, and on various blogs. As a social worker, she has worked with Spanish speaking immigrant populations for twenty years. She wrote the play “Border Rising” from interviews with undocumented Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Albuquerque, NM.


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Prayer on the way to the grocery by Sarah Allred

Prayer on the way to the grocery

by Sarah Allred

is she in there
would they let me enter
can they smell my expatriation, my absence
the reek of logic and earthy pleasures
would I dip my hand
in that confusingly municipal
basin of hallowed water and
dredge it across my body
in quarters and
would I remember to genuflect and
would I find the comfort
she gave at fourteen:
slightly left of the altar
the byzantine magdalene
not who we are supposed
to supplicate to but
the mother instead,
the mother I still crave