Current Features

Featured Reader

Johanna Ely

Virtual Event on February 13th, 2024–6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M.

Live stream will be available on our YouTube Channel at the time of the event!

Johanna Ely

Johanna Ely is the author of four poetry books, Transformation, Tides of the Heart–Poems for Benicia, Postcards From a Dream (Blue Light Press 2020), and What Still Matters (Last Laugh Productions 2023). She has also co-authored a book with three women poets titled, Love’s Meditation (Random Lane Press 2023). Johanna is an award-winning poet who has been published in literary journals and anthologies, including California Quarterly and The Poeming Pigeon. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was the 2022 winner of the Benicia Love Poetry Contest. Johanna served as the sixth poet laureate of Benicia, California, and is a board member of the Ina Coolbrith Circle of Poets, one of the oldest poetry groups in California.

The Calligraphy of Winter

So quiet, this moment,
as if a Chinese master
had painted the calligraphy of winter
on soft, grey paper.
Rising up from morning mist,
tips of branches brushed in black ink,
and there, two snowy egrets sit,
perfectly balanced.
Between them, a tangled branch
takes the shape of a mountain,
a sign of strength, serenity.
Below them, calm water
reflects their silent beauty,
the harmony of light and shadow.
In this breath of stillness,
the edges of the world disappear,
sky and water become one,
and I, too, become still.

-Johanna Ely

The Japanese Maple

The woman has loved me for a long time—
calls me the queen of her garden.

My gift is providing shade
and the constancy of change,
my seasons becoming her seasons—

uncurling my tiny red fingers in spring,
my large green hands catching light in summer,

scarlet stars falling from my arms in autumn,
the dark silhouette of my body, wet with winter rain.

My children scattered around—
one growing tall and strong among the hydrangeas,
the other confined to a clay pot.

I cannot change their fate,
but every day I sing
a song of fortitude,
hoping they will listen.

There is one like me
in the front yard.
We will never meet,
but the wind carries our voices
over the house—
secrets shared, warnings heeded.

I can’t tell the woman
what she’d like to know—
how many years I was here
before she arrived—
seasons and cycles
my only sense of time passing.

I feel her watch me from the house,
her mouth full of questions—
how my barely moving branches
speak a language
she almost understands.

-Johanna Ely


Every day, the light
disappears sooner.
This autumn afternoon
fades like an old quilt—
squares of past lives
covering my skin,
stories of redemption
worn thin.

where have you gone?
You have left me
with no map
for this journey.
I have no stars to follow
that hold the brightness
of your eyes.

I am your daughter,
your granddaughter,
swimming down
the long white river
of the Milky Way.

Even though I am tired
and lonely,
I refuse to drown.

What’s left of you
moves in leaf shadows
on the wall of my house.
I watch you dance
until you disappear—
see the stars I wish you were
shine without remorse—
silently call them
your forgotten names.

-Johanna Ely