From My Journals 1977-78

From My Journals 1977 – 1978
Napa Valley, California

House on Grayson Ave. St. Helena CA

At night
Wind blows the Oleanders
Against the window screens
Trying to get in.

We live
As an island in the vineyards
Marking time
With ticking clocks
While the seasons change

Hiking in Calistoga, CA

Mushrooms on the trail
Pushing up from the dark earth
Glistening with dew.

Brittle yellow leaves
Filtering and reflecting
The autumn sunlight.

Calistoga, CA

I remember bein’ once in Calistoga
The road-dog stopped there
Long enough for coffee
And some pie.

We sat at horseshoe counters
Eatin’ fast
And feelin’ lucky
That we still had many more miles
Left to ride.


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1414 Third Street
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Breakfast at the Yountville Diner

Woman with a bloodless face
Her cold fingers
Weakened by grief
Her life struggling to assert itself
A quiver in her limbs.
She has seen the face
Of anti-life
And now dark glasses
Shield her scalded eyes

The Yountville Diner, Napa Valley, CA

I went to the Yountville Diner
They were serving poetry
Spilled onto the floor.
We soaked them up.

I went to the Yountville Diner
The menu had changed
Spilled on the counter.
We moved to a booth.

The Arizona Face

Old Arizona Indio
What are you doing in Northern California
Walking slow
Let me take your picture
So the landscape of your face
Can take its place
On my Napa Valley wall.
Joyce Martin Perz writing as Joy Martin


Creative Process

Creative Process – Essay by Joyce Martin Perz    July 2016

2016 June - Victoria signing a bookIn June 2016 I took a class from the quilting celebrity, Victoria Findlay Wolfe. The workshop was based on her popular book, “15 Minutes of Play”.

The  focus of her book and workshop is not skill-building, but rather on the creative process, a subject I have been interested in since art classes in the early 1980’s. (For the sake of this essay, my definition of process is the way an artist approaches their medium.)

In the 1990’s I heard the author John Irving speak in Chicago during his “A Widow for One Year” book tour. Some of the properties of storytelling are characters, setting and plot – beginning, middle and end. John Iring said his process for writing fiction was to write the ending first and then figure out how his characters go there.

In 1987 a documentary film gave us a glimpse into Jackson Pollock’s approach to paint and canvas. And a 2002 documentary filmed the painter Agnes Martin‘s meditative process applying pencil lines in stripes on a 6-foot square canvases with a twelve-inch ruler.

EDM (Electronic Dance Music) DJ’s like Calvin Harris, Tiësto and Steve Aoki approach composition through a process of digitally slicing and dicing existing musical pieces and re-mixing them for dance parties in Las Vegas and around the world.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s medium is fabric and in “15 Minutes of Play” she uses a similar slice-and-dice process.

Victoria urged us to step out of our comfort zone, suspend our aesthetic bais and invite the randomness of play to guide our process.  She gave us the opportunity to participate in her process and it was FUN…2016 June - Victoria Findlay Wolfe book signing





ICEBERGS  by Joyce Martin Perz

Robert and I affectionately call the large wooden balcony off our dining room “The Deck of the Titanic.” This is our way of acknowledging the unseen hazards lurking on the course of our voyage into old age, not unlike the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

“Another cup of coffee?” Or depending on the hour- “a glass of wine?”

We sit on the deck, enjoying the yard, companionship and laughter.  We watch the birds eat seed from the feeder or drink water from the birdbath  – finches, sparrows, woodpeckers.  Hummingbirds flit from flower-to-flower or drink sugar water set out especially for them.

I love waking up to a robin’s song, so I was delighted when a pair of robins nested in the limbs of the black locust directly across from where we sit.  Their tidy gathering of twigs rested securely in the crook of two strong branches.

We watched. Soon the female rarely left her nest. Was she keeping eggs warm? It rained. The wind blew. The temperature was unseasonably cool.

We waited. The first indication of hatch-lings was the Robin’s tag-team flights, carrying bugs to the nest. Then Robert found half a robin’s egg at the base of the black locust. The robins’ feeding rotations became frantic.

I watched the Robins through binoculars: eye-to-eye, up close-and-personal. They seemed to know what I was doing and accepted I was with them.

Three birds hatched. Beaks wide open. Blind to everything except the large bugs dropped down their throats by Mom or Dad.

On the evening of May 23rd, I was inside watching television and sewing.

“We have a problem,” Robert announced from the dark yard.

“What? What happened?” I asked and rushed outdoors.

He was standing under the black locust, aiming a flashlight at the gravel path.  In the circle of light at his feet was a tiny featherless robin.

I ran back inside, returning with three tissues. Scooping up the robin, I felt her undeveloped wings flex and saw an over-sized foot reach out to grasp safety. I kept her cupped in my hands while Robert got the ladder.  He placed it near the nest. I  handed him the baby bird and Mama Robin flew off as he reached out to shake her back into the nest. Robert took down the ladder and we went inside.

Did we do the right thing? Would Mama Robin return? Would the hatch-ling survive?

In the morning, Mama and Papa Robin’s feeding activities were normal. I tried to see how many small heads reached up to receive the bug or worm they offered, but I couldn’t be certain..

Two days later the nest was empty. It didn’t look disturbed. Abandoned!

I wept.

Robert said he’d heard a commotion the night before. “Maybe a predator got them,” he said. “On Saturday I’ll setup the ladder and check their nest.”

This morning I heard a robin singing in the distance.


From My Journals 1977-78

I had the pleasure of living in St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA in the late 1970’s.    My poems were written under the name Joy Martin.

From My Journals 1977 – 1978
Napa Valley, California

The Rites of Alta Napa

Pilgrims travel north
In auto caravans
To tour the wineries
Guided through chambers of alchemy.

They come to view
Grottos dug by coolies
To store the New World Rhine Wine
Of the Berringers.

They come to praise
The new technology
Creating vintage wines
Labeled Mondavi.

They come to learn
Of Christian Brothers,
An order dedicated
To education of the poor.

They come together
A celebration of the grape
In Rites of Alta Napa.

Napa Valley Wine

Pour the wine
Raise your glass
Taste the grapes
Of summers past.

Toast your friends
Wish them well
Share their joy
Or say farewell.

Remember with wine
Year after year
Savor the times of your life
You hold dear.

A Toast

Last summer
Tourists fermented in The City,
Then poured themselves
Into the long stemmed Napa Valley
It was a vintage year.

– Published by Alta Napa Press 1978
Voices of the WINELAND
Anthology of 22 Napa Valley poets
Joyce Martin Perz writing as Joy Martin

Voices of the WINELAND

AMAZON listing: Voices of the Wineland: An anthology Paperback – 1978
by Carl T. Endemann, Joy Martin, Isis, Barbara Rosson and others Michael Dow (Author)




AGEING      by Joyce Martin Perz

Forsythia blooms     

Bright yellow – announcing Spring

Bulbs sprout from the earth.

Image result for free images spring bulbs

Fruit trees flowering

New green on bare tree branches

Beckoning us out

Image result for cherry blossom images free

We sit on the deck of the Titanic.

Knowing an iceberg awaits.



Hot coffee, companionship,

Smiles, hugs and laughter.



A Sketch for

Hallmark TV

by Joyce Martin Perz

Lexi’s official name was Alexandra Regina Stephanopolis. She often wondered what her parents were thinking when they gave their tiny newborn such a long name.

“A child is named for the adult she will become,” Grandmother explained.

In grade school Lexi was simply called Alex. She was a good student, but really came into her own on the playground. Alex could hit a baseball, shoot hoops and scramble up the climbing wall with the best of them – girls and boys.

“You’re a Tom Boy!” her Grandmother scolded and shook her head. “I look forward to a time when your long beautiful hair isn’t tied up in braids and you’ve grown into the name Alexandra.”

When she got to high school, Aye of a handsome senior named Greg Martin. Greg was called Marty by his friends. He named Alex ‘Steph’. The two of them became a popular couple on the teen party scene.

Martiy was a star in his own mind. He strode onto the stage as if he were born to be a leading man and soaked up the applause. Marty achieved a status usually reserved for the quarterback on a winning football team.

On graduation day, Marty took the stage to receive his diploma and his classmates chanted, “Marty! Marty! Martiy!”

The after-party was legendary. Marty hit on every girl. Rumor had it that he ‘got lucky’ with most of them. Steph left the party early. She cried into her pillow all night and the next morning she took a shower, colored her hair a bright blond and refused to speak to Marty on the phone or when he came to the house.

“Marty and Steph are over!” she yelled through the closed front door.

“From now on I want to be called Lexi,” she announced to her family. By this time they were accustomed to her name changes and everyone repeated her most recent choice, “Lexi.”

That is everyone in the family except Grandmother. “Lexi? What kind of name is that? Isn’t that some kind of car?”

“The car is a Lexus,” Lexi calmly corrected her. “Lexi is a modern, upbeat name for an independent young woman.”

“If you say so,” Grandmother grumbled. “I look forward to the day when you agree to be called Alexandra Regina Stephanopolis and your hair isn’t movie-star blond.”

Lexi got tired of coloring her hair when she got into law school. She joined a study group and met Benjamin Duke Barclay.  He was brilliant! Ben explored every nuance of a case and cited obscure decisions that were pertinent to his argument. Opponents groaned when Ben argued against them in moot court and point-by-point demolished their case.

After Ben passed the Bar Exam, he invited Lexi to a celebration dinner. They went to an elegant restaurant and Lexi raised her glass in a toast, “Congratulations to Ben.”

“Thank you, Lexi,” he said. “Now that I’ve been hired by a major law firm, I think I should go by Benjamin, instead of Ben. What do you think?”

“Benjamin Barclay is a perfect name for a successful attorney. I must admit, I’ve had more than one nickname in my day.”

“In grade school I was called Benji,” he told her.

“I was Alex,” Lexi said. They laughed and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

When Lexi passed the Bar Exam, Benjamin threw her a party. He invited mutual friends from law school and three buddies from high school.

“I want you to meet these guys,” Benjamin told Lexi. “We’ve been friends forever.” When his friends left the party, they high-fived Benjamin, “Ask Lexi to join us for Sunday afternoon softball.” “Way to go Dog!”

“Dog?” Lexi asked.

“Last name Barclay – sounds like bark and Dogs bark – get it?”

Benjamin and Lexi had much more in common than silly nicknames. They built their careers and counted on their relationship for encouragement and support.

Lexi told her friends she was in love with Benjamin. “We trust each other and are good friends. After our careers are established, I think we’ll have a ‘forever’ future.”

Lexi was stunned when Ben announced he was moving. “There’s a Junior Partnership open in the Chicago office. This is a chance of a lifetime.”

She pretended to be happy for him, but didn’t see Ben before he left town. Autumn came early and Lexi found herself staring out the window, watching leaves fall and then snow turn everything in her life white and cold.

No phone calls from Benjamin. Lexi worked hard and went to the gym every day. She was surprised when FedEx delivered an envelope to her apartment, addressed to ALEX.

“Merry Christmas to my favorite Tom Boy!”

Is that how he sees me? A pal, one of the guys, a little sister?

On Valentine’s Day a box addressed to STEPH was delivered to her apartment.

“Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Dog” Inside was an adorable plush puppy.

Note from the writer: At this point, I lost interest in the story line… so……

Benjamin shows up / they get engaged. At the wedding the vows are “Do you. Alexandra Regina Stephanapolis take this man, Benjamin Duke Barclay for your lawfully wedded husband?”

Alexandra says, “I do!”

Grandmother stands up and cheers.


Short Story: AGAIN

AGAIN written by Joyce Martin Perz

February 2016

AGAIN                    2012 July Birthday 94 mini - Marianne Martin        

Flora Carpenter Porter woke up – again. 

No one living or working at the Glendale Senior Care Center was more surprised than Flora herself. After all, she’d celebrated her hundredth birthday two days before.  Everyone had gathered in the dining room to sing “Happy Birthday.” Television cameras filmed Flora blowing out the ten candles on her cake.

“Thank goodness they didn’t light a hundred candles,” Flora told herself. “The blaze would have burned this place down.”

“Did you say something?” Asked a young nurse as she stepped into Flora’s room. “Can I get you anything?”

“A birthday cake with five candles would be nice,” Flora said.

“I can do that!” The cheerful  ninny replied. “Would you like me to sing Happy Birthday?”

“Do you have a particularly lovely singing voice?” Flora chuckled and closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes – again – in a room flooded with sunlight. Flora was puzzled by what was most definitely the smell of popcorn.”

“Why?” She asked no one in particular.

“Are you comfortable Miss Flora?” asked a girl’s voice near the head of Flora’s bed.

Flora turned her face as far as the pillows would allow “I can’t see you,” she said.

“I know it’s hard to lose your sight.”

The soothing voice was so irritating. What did this flibbertigibbit of a  girl know about loss?

“Loss? Are you still a virgin?” Flora asked sarcastically. She had no expectation the girl would answer and was surprised for the second time that morning.

“Yes I am, Miss Flora,” she replied with obvious pride.

Popcorn. Popcorn. Why popcorn in a place were people are waiting to die? At a circus – yes. At a movie theatre – yes. At Christmastime – stringing popcorn on a long thread, then hanging the garlands on a real pine tree. Real candles too, none of those bubbling lights that were so popular a while back.

“They were all the rage,” Flora said and looked up at the ceiling.

“What did you say?” asked the Virgin.

Flora closed her eyes and waited for the smell of popcorn to disappear.

“Lunch, Miss Flora,” said a young man carrying a tray. He positioned a bed table across Flora’s lap and raised her to a sitting position.

“Lobster?” Flora asked facetiously.

“Maybe tomorrow,” said the dark-skinned boy. “Chicken broth today.”

“Rules are made to be broken,” Flora told him.

“What rule did you have in mind?” he asked.

Flora had hopes for this one. He seemed to have his wits about him. “Sit in the back of the bus,” she said.

“That was a long time ago,” he replied.

“Free at last! Free at last!” Flora said and remembered those turbulent times as one of the golden moments her life shared with the country’s history.

“No chocolate!” Flora fixed her beady eyes on the handsome face behind a spoonful of lukewarm chicken broth.

“No chocolate?” he asked. “Are you trying to trick me into breaking the rules?”

“Maybe tomorrow,” she told him and closed her eyes.

Flora’s room was never totally dark. The hall lights were on twenty-four-seven. Her door was only closed when the nurses gave Flora a bed bath. She especially liked the almond-scented oil they massaged into her skin.

“Whose legs are those?” Flora asked when she looked at the withered appendages lying on her bed. Flora’s once sturdy legs had carried her to school, peddled a bicycle and had run into the ocean waves.

“Those are your legs, Miss Flora,” said one of the nurses.

“Can’t you feel us massaging you?” asked the other woman. Her words were cautious. She gave her partner a meaningful look.

They are seeking a sign, Flora thought. They don’t want any surprises

“No U turn!” Flora chuckled. “Exit here!”

“Driving on the highway can be stressful,” the nurse said adjusting Flora’s blankets.

I’m not driving, Flora thought. She closed her eyes – again.