A Poem as Lovely as a Tree
In the spring issue, we asked readers to send a poem or a short prose piece describing this glorious maple or the beauty of the Chico campus. We received 18 entries. A panel of three judges reviewed all the entries (with the names of the authors removed) and came to a unanimous decision about the three winners, whose poems appear in the print version of Chico Statements. We are pleased to present all 18 poems below. Photo by Francie Divine.
By Sharon DeMeyer
Autumn amber leaves
Delicate lace canopy
Hushed luster shelter
Sharon DeMeyer (BA, English, ’96) is pursuing a master’s degree in English at CSU, Chico and is an administrative support assistant in the English department office.
A Ghost on Campus
By Tim Jones
Red, red Japanese maple
In front of Kendall Hall!
If Basho were still making
upon the narrow road
what seventeen syllables
would he pen
before this maple rooted
far from home?
by memory and nostalgia:
Lennis Dunlap’s resonant voice,
air, and the toll
of a distant evening
bell. Will I ever again
be as inspired
Tim Jones (BA, English, ’84) is a machinist and has a home-based business. He has had an essay and a few poems published, and PoetryEast recently accepted one of his poems.
Tanka Memories of CSU, Chico
By Glynda Tejada Velasco
creek flows between stage
and stone wall while seats remain
empty and still a
theater roofed by leaves and
clear skies, student’s sacred space
cherry blossoms and
leaves the color of deep wine
line the walkways of
time passing through wizened years
rebirth and age meet again
the crimson maple
fiery red orange burst
dangle like jagged earrings
catching the spring afternoon
yellow fans sail low
hit the wet campus below
now shut in a book
of bound handwritten pages
gingko leaves in wax paper
Glynda Tejada Velasco (BA, English, ’95) is the author of Unsent Letters: Selected Poems. She is currently writing a movie screenplay and producing music videos and local TV programs.
Oh the Fire!
By Barbara Cowley
When setting sun gilds trunks
Caresses deeply and lovingly
Elfin gold paints Ancient Oaks
And gently creeps on
I stop to bask in magickal light
As the gold brushes face and cheeks
I turn to see the tree of light
Welcomed like a friend
And then the Fire. Oh the Fire!
Reflected upside down
Seared in Retinal Camera Obscura
Fires the neurons to race
In synaptic journey to my brain
The fiery glow of one magnificent tree
Earth’s daily gift
To Stewards who seize the moment
To wonder at greater truths
Told by this magickal Seen
Barbara Cowley (BS, Applied Computer Graphics Production, ’02) was a registered nurse for 30 years and is currently taking evening classes in ceramics at the Red Bluff extension of Shasta College. She has seven grandchildren, two of whom she is raising.
The Little Maple
By Edna Curtis
A small tree stands with crimson leaves
Blushing quietly in the breeze
Till now it blossomed quiet, green
Totally bashful and unseen.
What makes the little tree such a treasure
Sparkling red—giving pleasure
To everyone gathered on the street
A cadence to my dancing feet.
Soon the wind and rain will come
Her party dress will be undone
The splendid leaves will disappear
Until this lovely time next year.
Edna Curtis (attended summer ’66) attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley 1941–1943. She retired as secretary of Hamilton Union Elementary School in 1975, and she and her husband live in Chico. Curtis facilitates a creative writing class in Paradise.
A Patriotic Sight
By Kitty Ichelson
The Red, White and Blue I see.
Am I speaking of our Flag?
No, just sky and tree!!
Kitty Ichelson (attended spring ’71, fall ’79–spring ’81) finished her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at CSU, San Francisco. She developed a passion for Polynesian dance and has taught and danced it professionally. Ichelson has been published several times and is writing a book about her life.
By Teresa James
A leaf falls silent to the base.
Its brother beckons to join the race.
Now others start to join the run.
Truly fall has just begun.
Red, yellow, green and brown.
All the leaves are falling down.
As if on cue they pick up pace
as others beckon, “Join the race”!
Fall with all its vibrant glory
tells the Chico campus story.
We are a many colored tapestry.
Thus our mantra “Chico Values Diversity!”
Teresa James works in the School of Social Work at CSU, Chico.
Chronicles of a Creek
By Mila Johansen
Flowing through our lives
For so many centuries
Crossing to find art forms
To explore the nature of Science
Finding the nature of a creek
The science of flowing friend creek
Once upon a time I needed a friend
I found a friend
A creek snaking
Bringing comfort to a stranger
At a campus glowing with beauty and possibilities
But lingering to watch
The flow of soothing waters
To watch pass under bridge
To join leaf at next bridge
Friend creek is constant
Offering time treasures
Higher in the hills
Swimming through caves
Baking on lava
And then one day
Many centuries later—or was it years
Introducing friend creek
To precious daughter
Mila Johansen (BA, Recreation Administration, ’78) and husband Rich (attended spring ’77–spring ’78) farm an 80-acre organic citrus ranch. She founded The Nevada County Performing Arts Guild in Nevada City 25 years ago and currently teaches children’s theatre. Johansen is also the author of three books and 22 plays and has a daughter. She was known as Adrienne Davidson as a CSU, Chico student.
The Pink Tree
By Zoe Karch
Once upon a time there was a tree. It was the only tree in town that was pink. Everyone picked its petals. And one day someone really liked it so they chopped it down. The people were sad. And then one day another pink tree came. And someone else chopped it down. It was a sad day again. And then ten pink trees came. But in less than a week all the pink trees were gone again. And then another patch came but this time a person came with an axe. But he didn’t chop down the trees. He put a fence around it so no one could get it. And one day someone took the tree out of the ground and they re-planted it in the park next to Chico State.
Zoe Karch is 7 years old and in the first grade at Emma Wilson Elementary School in Chico. She is the daughter of Sharon DeMeyer, author of the winning poem “Japanese Joy.”
Ode to Maples
By Gordon Leppig
Acer the maples,
shrubs and trees,
Diversity abounds near Shinto shrines
and where Lao Tzu walked and Confucius pined.
Maple syrup manna,
sap to syrup 40:1,
sweet brown concentrated sun.
Brilliant foliage calls us to cultivate,
smooth clear grain makes cellos resonate.
The Trojan Horse, as Virgil tells,
was hewn from maple trees,
it’s otherwise mentioned meagerly
in history, herbals and mythologies.
behold their beauty,
Gordon Leppig is an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Game in Eureka. He writes poetry, bakes baklava, and conducts regional conservation planning on the North Coast, where he lives with his wife and two maple syrup-loving children.
Reflection Near a Japanese Maple
By Suzanne Martin
This maple tree
I must see
Crimson leaves against blue sky
Demand that I
I cannot pass
And rush to class
Across the grass.
Slow down my pace
Pause in this place
Breathe in this space
I must rest
Then take a test
And do my best.
Red leaves float down
Swirl on the ground
And dance around.
Then float up higher
My heart inspire
Aflame with a fire.
I hear a chime
Interrupt my rhyme
I’m out of time.
Within these walls
As Beauty falls.
By Gabriella McCrosky
I remember this place under this tree—
It’s where my favorite self stands
She’s young and vital and she’s always there in Chico—
I go see her sometimes
But she just grins at my grown up ideas ...
And as quick as I find her she’s gone again.
Jumping on that bike blazing down the avenues.
On that crazy green bike, everyone called Kermit.
But I know I’ll always find her
Under that lovely campus tree waiting to be found, only to be lost again ...
Under that maple in front of Kendall Hall spinning around, the whole world at her feet ...
Gabriella McCrosky (BS, Recreation Administration, ’95) is a self-employed interior designer.
A Single Tree
By Avis McGriff Rasmussen
A vibrant vision
of timeless beauty
stands before me.
A single tree
the Japanese maple
thriving in fertile soil
in a brilliant mosaic
of crimson, gold and orange
a glorious sight to behold.
In spectacular harmony
the sculptured trunk
and curvaceous branches
reinforce its ancient appeal
while supporting its
This bold display
of creation bursts forth
for a season—the fall
enticing the onlooker
its delicate cycle of life.
As you pass this way
stand with me
and be amazed by this
intricate work of natural art
designed for our daily pleasure.
Avis Rasmussen (BA, Speech Pathology, ’85; Paralegal Certificate, ’92) is co-owner of a land development company in Southern California and a writer. She is married with a 9-year-old son.
By Jenna Jordan Romero
I can feel the wind blowing through,
and the warmth of the sun.
As I float down on a breeze, I can see it clearly.
The limbs, and the rest of the leaves.
Oh, the grand color, the majesty of it all.
I am a fallen leaf from this magnificent tree.
I am like the people who pass me every day
a simple small part, but together, as with life,
we are colorful and unique.
As we pass through the grounds on our journey of life,
remember to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around you
Jenna Jordan Romero (BA, Communication Design, ’06) traveled around Europe for a year after graduation and is planning to move to Los Angeles.
By Audrey C. Small
Fall is your spring
when we come home
you light our room
maple tree glowing
on a grey day.
Fanning dark branches
of an aging year
you cast star
after flaming star
my autumnal way.
Audrey Small (attended spring ’97) enjoys attending classes offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSU, Chico, continuing an interest in learning she shared with her late husband, Philip L. Small. She is also interested in people, poetry, and string figures, better known as cat’s cradles.
Our Japanese Maple
By Susan Stone
The beautiful maple tree
Dressed in crimson
For us all to see
Is a campus treasure
That the wind stirs gently
While we find inspiration
In its quiet but strong support
Like in an old friend
With whom we have great rapport.
Susan Stone has written freelance newspaper columns in Southern California, Monterey County, and Anderson. She was also a social worker for the Siskiyou County Welfare Department. Her poetry is published in several anthologies in the United States and Europe.
By Christine (Ryerson) Votava
In autumn, the trees of Chico shed their leaves in celebration of the students’ arrival. They’ve waited all summer to shade us as we scurry by on our way to class. Our voices echo through the ruffling of their branches as the September wind is aroused from its slumber. We stand beneath the trees at backyard parties and cherish their vibrant hues of gold, amber, and crimson.
Christine Votava (BA, English, ’97) has taught seventh-grade language arts and yearbook in Orange County for the past nine years. She also works part time as a curriculum resource teacher for middle school literacy.
A Blaze of Glory
By Karen L. Zinniel
Dressed in a magnificent cloak of crimson,
The maple leaves shimmer and glisten in the sun
A beautiful blaze of glory!
A gentle breeze beckons the glorious leaves for a final dance
The delicate go first
Fluttering and twirling, to the wind’s own deadly tune
They start their slow descent to the ground below
As they land gently, the grass embraces and tenderly caresses them,
As if their death would not be imminent, if shown compassion
But alas, the Maple will eventually stand bare, stripped of all its glory
Do not be sad,
Winter is only temporary death
Come Spring, life will burst forth
Like the resurrection of Christ,
New life will come forth and live again through the seasons
Until the elements and brunt of nature,
Turn the Maple, once again into
A Blaze of Glory!
Karen Zinniel (BA, Home Economics, ’83) has worked as a designer since graduation and started her own business, LHP Interiors, in Chico in 1995. She is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and the California Council for Interior Design Certification.