Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis and James Cagney

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by admin 

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series! Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is  curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman. For a full line-up and more information please visit our website at

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library

On October 9th  we are excited to have  Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis and James Cagney read!

Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis is a writer and a poet. she received an Associate of Arts degree from City College of San Francisco, before beginning her university studies at the renowned Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University. Her first poem was published in a CCSF anthology followed by three poems published in a SFSU anthology, published by the Humanities & Women Studies Departments. In 1987 she self-published a 50 page poetry chap book entitled Inquire Within, and is currently completing a poetry anthology entitled Faces:The Nine Stations of Pain and Joy. Zarou-Zouzounis co-authored an historical fiction children’s book as part of a series about the ancient world for young readers.The first story, Asham and the Smart Ox is set in ancient Jericho after the last Ice Age. Another work in progress is a memoir–a collection of stories about her mother’s life in Ramallah. 

Zarou-Zouzounis has performed hundreds of readings in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, beginning in the late 1980’s at Small Press Traffic Book Store with friend and well known Lebanese poet, writer Etel Adnan. Many of her poetry readings have music accompaniment.

Zarou-Zouzounis has been published in numerous magazines and her poems published in the following anthologies–Out of the Maze-Ink Magazine #5; SFSU, Food For Our Grandmothers; South End Press; The Space Between Our Footsteps; Simon & Schuster Children’s Division; The Flag of Childhood-Poems from the Middle East; Simon & Schuster Children’s Division, War After War-City Lights Review #5; City Lights Bookstore & Publishing-S.F., A Different Path-An Anthology of Radius of Arab American Writers, Inc.; (RAWI); and The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology; Interlink Publishing Group and two poems published in 2013 in Heartfire-Second Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthology, Kallatumba Press, San Francisco.

Our Mother Is Watching Over Us 

If I were to call you brother,

you might take me for

a religious well-wisher,

a spiritual soul by nature,

or a servant of the cloth.

You might think me

African-American, Chicano,

Native American, Arab or Asian.

You may call me a masquerader,

or an only child lonely for a sibling.

You might not hear what I call you.

You might not have learned to listen.

I might not hear what you call me,

and I too, might not listen.

I call you brother

in the spirit of love and oneness.

If I were to call you sister,

you might think me

suffering from an emptiness

acquired by having only brothers;

or perhaps I like using tantalizing words–

sister, sister, sister,

never tiring on the tongue or psyche

when repeated over and over.

Think again,

I might be a feminist, a flower child,

or that spiritual searcher,

wandering, reaching out to what pulls.

Think again,

I might be reaching out to convert you.

We humans need transformation

with the aid of conversionary souls,

that are not satisfied with the human

that is racist, ignorant, violent, greedy.

You might see me as a nun,

or I might mistake you for one.

You might think my jargon is

typical talk in a diverse community,

speaking American vernacular.

I call you sister

in the spirit of love and oneness.

If I were to assign everyone on planet Earth,

(which I call Mother)

a mantra, it would be two words,

brother, sister.

Repeated daily by every able living soul

around the world–

brother, sister, brother, sister, brother, sister,

(translations permitted)

could result in positive global change

for a species not loving unconditionally,

and has not co-existed peacefully.

While repeating, the voice and heart will soften.

Updated version 5-16-08

Oakland native James Cagney is a storyteller, poet and Cave Canem Fellow.  He has appeared as a featured artist at Midnight In Mumbai, The Shout Storytelling Series, and the Mahogany Urban Poetry Series.  James has also facilitated writing workshops at the San Francisco Public Library.  His work has been published in Eleven Eleven Journal, Oakland Local, Ambush Review, Fresh Hot Bread, and Sparring with the Beatnik Ghosts.

Bandon Beach – James Cagney

We race a drowsy sunset & storm

barrel rolling the ocean to return

after 10 years to Bandon beach.  Rain

pin-wheeling before the cars headlights

like sparklers.  We park at the belly

button of sentient sand dunes sprouting

sea grass & let the motor idle.

We stand at cliffs edge, turn our backs to

the firing squad of the ocean (this

is ill advised)

& lean into the soft coffin

of impatient wind racing up from

the beach 2 stories beneath us at

sixty, seventy miles an hour..

I turn towards my friend, his eyes fevered

with joy & watch as he slides down the

staircase to a shoreline of boiling milk.

Basalt boulders rise from the surf

in natural totems, bellowing

to the blackening sky like Shakespeare’s

  1. Everything around us wails.

He runs into the black portal of

a nearby cave & screams. Here, in the

chaos & shrapnel of falling night,

a scream seems appropriate

shorthand for prayer.  I run in after,

lighting the cold torch of my cell

  1. He rinses the peppery sand

from his palms beneath the alabaster

light, confessing then how he’d fallen

while skipping down stairs rendered soft

as flour.

The cave, its scalloped, reptilian

walls, the soft palate of its floor,

is dependable & safe while

outside, the sea roars its death song

& waves chew the shoreline.

We dare one another to leave first

while the tide soldiers forward

& night falls hard drunk against the ocean.

All while the sea clamors towards us

harvesting screams from both our mouths

leaving us, as one leaves a lover,

speechless & swallowed by darkness

Requiem – James Cagney

Shut down the highway

there’s nothing up ahead.

the catfish have stopped biting.

the great man is dead.

Board up the liquor stores

hide our guns beneath the bed

old river has run dry

the great man is dead.

Jump out the back window

your shirt quickly shed

hit the ground running

the great man is dead.

Gamble your last check

the chil’ren don’t need bread

our cupboard will remain bare this year

the great man is dead

A fight breaks in the bar

broken glass, razor, hot lead.

fire one off for Cowboy.

the great man is dead.

Momma dances alone

an old 45  replays in her head

all love is now rationed

the great man is dead

This trail leads nowhere

in whose steps shall we tread?

fill up that hole, boy.

the great man is dead.

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Author: thereadersreview