The faux bois gazebo at Landa Library. Photo by Francis Hicks.
The faux bois gazebo at Landa Library. Photo by Francis Hicks.

The concept behind Writers Take a Walk is simple: every few months, writers from across the city gather to take a walk someplace interesting – and then write about it.

[Read more: Writers Take a Walk: The 2014 MLK March, Stemming from Greatness – Inspiration from Foliage, and Bat Loco in San Antonio.]

On April 12, about 15 writers gathered at the Landa Library to celebrate Earth Day  (April 22 nationwide), National Library Week (April 13-19), Fiesta (April 10-27), and National Poetry Month.

Wrought Ironwork at the entrance (photo by Peter Holland)
Wrought Ironwork at the Landa Library entrance. Photo by Peter Holland.

The Hannah Landa Memorial Branch Library was named for the wife of Harry who was the son of Joseph (the merchant whose land became Landa Park in New Braunfels). In 1929 Harry and Hannah moved into their new Italianate home in the Monte Vista neighborhood. According to the library website, Robert B. Kelly was the architect, Ernest B. Hays was the designer, and Gramer’s Iron Works crafted the ornamental iron in this two stucco residence.

Many of the aesthetic features (stone, tile, wrought iron) and artwork (paintings, statues, marble mantles) still adorn the home.

Hannah was loved by the social and civic leaders in San Antonio, but most of all by Harry. A few years after her death in 1942, Harry bequeathed their home and grounds as a living memorial to be used as a public library and children’s playground. Several times since it’s opening on April 1, 1947, the home, landscape and playgrounds have been renovated and today it is one of the hidden jewels of the city.

The writers’ group also enjoyed the grounds maintained by the Landa Gardens Conservancy. One of the features is a medieval garden. This geometric layout contains four distinct areas: 1) beauty and color, 2) culinary, 3) medicinal, and 4) grasses. The playground is large and modern. And the faux bois (French for false wood) structures carry on the concrete tradition of Dionicio Rodriguez of Brackenridge Park fame.

Several of the writers who visited the mansion last week were inspired by the muse and wanted to share their poetry. They hope you enjoy it, too.

Landa Land – by Don Mathis

Library home
Garden gnome

Colorful tile
Set a while

Classic tub
There’s the rub

Twisted steel
Sex appeal

Porch for sleeping
Hall for eating

Grand staircase
Dragon’s face

Ceiling and chandelier of the Landa Library lobby. Photo by Peter Holland.
Ceiling and chandelier of the Landa Library lobby. Photo by Peter Holland.

Ceiling skylight
Gorgeous sight

Marble chair
Lamp-lit stair

Miniature door
Ceramic floor

Friendly staff
Makes me laugh

Shady trees
Gulf coast breeze

Bench of faux bois
Wood gazebo

Grounds for play
Springtime day

Children swinging
Birds are singing

Nouns and verbs
Medicinal herbs

Blossoming flowers
Idle hours

Thank you Hannah & Harry
For the Landa Library

Landa – by Susana Nevarez-Marquez

The mansion is grand.
The rooms are many.
The mistress has left.
The master is gone,
but daily life stirs
in between the pages
of the thousand books
that live in the shelves
that hug the walls.

Susana Nevarez-Marquez currently lives in Southeast Bexar County. She was recently published by VIA Poetry on the Move and Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is a regular at the weekly Sun Poets’ Society open mic.

Peace Is Not A Place – Francis Hicks 

If there is a place of repose,
it is not a garden, a park, a mountain top,
a room of perfect solace.

If there is a place of repose,
it is in the mind;
the everyday mind.

Solace. Peace. Quiet.

These arise from the pliable tissue of the brain,
facilitated by neuropeptides,
by the placement of dendrite and axon.

Why be such an ass?
Why stomp on the wishes of the tired and harassed?
Why not let peace be a place?

That would be nice,
but is only a hopeful fabrication.
Everywhere you go, there you are.

Peace is not a place.

See a flowering tree,
or the Grand Canyon,
or a hummingbird,
and chemistry cascades through the mind.

Regular repetition of these visual,
audial,
tactile delights,
reroutes the river,

eroding anger,
fear,
prejudice;
reordering the grooves in the substance of the brain.

The narrow passageway
that only allowed a trickle of serenity
widens and deepens
until the joy that surrounds me takes up residence.

And this is not a miracle. It just feels like one.

Francis Hicks enjoys writing fiction and poetry and typically shares his work at La Taza Writer’s Group every Monday. He is a finalist in the competition of La Voz de San Antonio

Cycle – by Lea S. Lopez-Fagin

Seeds of life
hibernating,
germinating
in winter’s mist.

Now awaken
dressed in green,
crossing vines
with the wind.

Red poppy’s open,
to lady bug’s wings.
The cycle returns,
Springtime is back.

Lea S. Lopez Fagin, born in Peru, South America, is a Family Nurse Practitioner. She lives in San Antonio Texas. She writes poetry, children’s stories and works on her memoir. Her poems have won The Alamo Area Poets of Texas awards, published in the San Antonio Poetry Fair Anthology-Voices Along The River, and The Connective Tissue at The University of Texas Health Science Center poetry and medicine contest. She wrote The Immigrant poem and sent to the White House, and got a reply from President Obama. A section of her memoir has won a second place at The Lois Steward Award at the San Antonio Writer’s Guild. She loves to play tennis and gardening. 

Haiku for Hannah’s Home – by Peter Holland

Hannah Landa’s home
Blending play and peace to form
A radiant gem

Resting – by Peter Holland

Statue of a gleaner in the Landa Library. Photo by Peter Holland.
Statue of a gleaner in the Landa Library. Photo by Peter Holland.

Life abundantly bubbles up
washing the world in green,
new day, new season, new life.
Robins bop about joyful.
Half way home they enjoy
a breezy south Texas noon.
I take a moment to slow
the relentless pace of my life.
Just a moment to forget
about responsibility and care,
a necessary oasis in my life.
Here I rest on the green lawn,
in the shade of old live oaks
of the stately old mansion.
A home for twenty years,
for more than three times
that a well-loved library.
A grand neighbor resting
in a grand neighborhood.
I am at peace here amidst
the raucous chatter of birds,
the infectious play of children,
and the beauty of a spring day.

Peter Holland is a lifelong San Antonian.   The beauty of the land and history are an endless wellspring for his inspired pen. He shares his love of the place and of words at several local open mike events in and around the town he so loves. 

Under the Faux Bois Tree – by Antonia Murguia 

I sat quietly under the faux bois tree
feeling I was being pulled back into time.

I turn to see Hannah smiling in her white silk dress.
Her ivory pearls hanging delicately on her neck
making her as beautiful as her Landa home.

Construction inside the home was being completed.
Hannah had just given directions for the landscape.
She comes and sits next to me.
She smiles and offers me lemonade.
I tell her I love the detail she is putting into her home.
She says she loves decorating.

She describes the design around the door
with its concrete lines. “The wood doors are strong
and heavy with an elaborate design, a preview to the bold
yet welcoming entrance to my home,” she says.

I tell her the style of each room and layout of the floor plan
are exquisite and are like no other.  She explains that she
has always loved small details to make a room complete.

She reveals one of her favorite parts of this whole project
is the landscape.  She wants beautiful foliage with striking colors,
yet the landscape must be an inviting escape from the day’s worries.

I tell her she has a great start with this faux bois tree.
She smiles and offers me more lemonade.

I feel the wind breeze softly, bringing me back to the present.
I smile because I can still see Hannah sitting with me.
I feel her kindness and know I am lucky to have met her.
For she can be felt everywhere in this wonderful Landa home.

Antonia Murguia is a poet who writes from the heart.  She has served as secretary for the Alamo Area Poets of Texas.  She also belongs to the San Antonio Poet Association and Poetry Society of Texas.  She has won many awards for her poetry and has been published in Agave and Tequila, and many anthologies.  She has self-published Walking In the Footsteps of Faith.  She is currently working on a second book of poetry about her grief journey after the loss of her son.  Antonia is a Business Instructor at Career Point College. 

Landa Library – by Carlos Carreon

Italian tile sings Schubert’s Ave Maria
Graceful chandelier hums O Solo Mio
Playground echoes children’s cackle
Faux Bois pavilion enchanting petrified wood
Books nourish intellect
Atmosphere induced solace
Generosity bides
Unheard gratitude

Carlos Carreon is a freelance writer. He has a short story and poem published in San Antonio’s Gemini Ink Organization anthology. He is a regular at the Sun Poet’s Society open mic. Carlos is also a member of the San Antonio Writer’s Guild.

Group portrait (from left): Susan Salzman, Lea S. Lopez-Fagin, Don Mathis, Susanna Nevarez-Marquez, Antonia Murguia, Francis Hicks, Carlos Carreon, Cathy Leonard, Peter Holland, Cat Lee (photo by Lea S. Lopez-Fagin)
Group portrait (from left): Susan Salzman, Lea S. Lopez-Fagin, Don Mathis, Susanna Nevarez-Marquez, Antonia Murguia, Francis Hicks, Carlos Carreon, Cathy Leonard, Peter Holland, Cat Lee. Photo by Lea S. Lopez-Fagin.

Dramatic Limbs – by Emily Meier

Swirls grabbing hearth,
meeting heart of life,
Welcome, they whisper,
stay and gather
around us, see
our growth ongoing.

Contorting in spirals –
an upward direction.
Sheets of leaves
moving with our
expressionistic turns, when
sunlight is what we crave.

Emily Meier is currently a college sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio, working to earn a degree in English with a Creative Writing concentration. She enjoys writing poetry to clear her mind and express imaginings, exploring and learning anything in relation to the subject.

*Featured/top image: The faux bois gazebo at Landa Library. Photo by Francis Hicks.

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Don Mathis

Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...