Friday, March 26, 2010

Stoli & Lime

—Shawn Aveningo, Rescue

I remember my first taste
of pomegranates.
Mademoiselle Blanc
brought them to French Class one day.
She showed us how it was the seeds
that were actually the fruit
as she scooped them with a silver spoon.
It struck me as completely insane!

Summers I had spent
spitting out seeds of watermelon,
teasing my little sister if she swallowed,
she’d grow an entire watermelon patch
in her tummy.
The same tale held true
of pumpkin seeds at Halloween.
To this day my sister
won’t eat watermelon
or pumpkin pie.

Eating pomegranate
somehow made me feel
It wasn’t something we were accustomed to
in a suburban Missouri town.
Funny how things change.
Pomegranates suddenly so mainstream,
as soccer moms rush to Costco
to buy POM juice by the carton
getting their bulk of antioxidants
each day.

I prefer a more sophisticated approach.
I’ll take my daily dose of anti-radicals
from a sugar-rimmed
crystal martini glass,
my fingers caressing the stem,
while I sip the fruity concoction
of blueberry Stoli,
Pomegranate liqueur,
and twist of lime,
wishing I could remember more French
“voulez-vous couchez …..”
well, you know the rest.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing, go to

•••Fri. (and every last Friday of the month), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries inside The Upper Level VIP Lounge, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento (located inside of Fitness Systems Healthclub, by Cal State Skating Rink; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie, right past Motel 6) features Shemida Bernard-Lowe, Louie Ortega, Tamishia Clayborn, and Samona J; plus, Kevin Sandbloom from Los Angeles will be blessing the mic with his vocals. Plus open mic. Info: 916-208-POET or NOTE: EVENT PRICE CHANGE TO $10.00.

•••Friday (3/26), 7-9pm: Introduction to Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making with John Fox. Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists, 190 Finley St., Auburn. $25; open to all.

•••Sat. (3/27), 9am-4pm: Poetry, Community & The Flourishing Heart: workshop with John Fox at Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists, 190 Finley St., Auburn. $75, limited to 18 participants. Reg. with John Bowman at 916-751-9189 or

•••Sat. (3/27), 3:30-5pm: El Dorado County’s 2010 Season for Nonviolence will conclude this Saturday with a celebration of Peace through words, music and dance at Town Hall, 549 Main St., Placerville. Free and open to the public, the fourth annual “Peace Show” will feature the New Freedom Choir from Sacramento, the Sacramento Women’s Chorus, the Hill Country Band, Dance El Dorado, storyteller Martha De Aquino, poets from Red Fox Underground, and the Barefoot Singers Drumming Circle. There are also some art displays around town; Red Fox’s Irene Lipshin has some of her photography showing at Cozmic Café on Main Street. The Season for Nonviolence ( encompasses 64 days (Jan. 30-Apr. 4) commemorating the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez. This is the fifth year in El Dorado County that organizations, churches and individuals have joined communities around the world to get out the message about the hope for and necessity of creating a more peaceful world through nonviolence.

•••Monday (3/29), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents A Benefit Reading for Autism with Rebecca Foust, Julie Bruck and Geoffrey Neill. R25 at 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Free, but donations requested; donations will support the UC Davis MIND Institute to support autism research. Rebecca Foust was born in Altoona, formerly one of the country’s great railroad towns, located in the Allegheny Mountains in western Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Hollidaysburg, a tiny town surrounded by farmlands and forests, quarries and strip mines. After attending Smith College and Stanford Law School on scholarships, she practiced law in San Francisco for ten years, then worked as an advocate and grassroots political organizer for parents of kids with autism and other learning disorders. She continues to do volunteer work for causes related to autism and teach and write in northern California, where she lives with her husband and three teenagers. In January of 2010 she will receive her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Her recent poetry is published or forthcoming in small print journals including Atlanta Review, Margie, North American Review, The Hudson Review, and Women’s Review of Books, earning awards including two Pushcart nominations in 2008. Dark Card and Mom’s Canoe won the 2007 and 2008 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prizes, and her full-length book, All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song won the 2008 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Book Award and will be released in 2010. Also to be released in 2010, by Tebot Bach Press, is God, Seed, a book of environmental poetry with art by Lorna Stevens.

Julie Bruck has taught at several Canadian universities, and was a resident faculty member at The Robert Frost Place. She has an MFA from Warren Wilson, fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and the Canada Council, and has published two collections, The Woman Downstairs (1993) and The End of Travel (1999). A third book is in the works. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Ms. New poems are forthcoming in The New Yorker and The Malahat Review. A Montreal native, she has lived in San Francisco for eleven years.

Geoffrey Neill is one of the alternating hosts at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café in Sacramento. He has lived in California his whole life (thirty-one complete years, one partial year), currently on 2nd Ave. in Sacramento. He has a daughter (Muriel, and the pinnacle of evolution) who is nearly two years old, and he recently started publishing chapbooks of local poets under the name, /little m press/.


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

My dog and I rest in a meadow
where Sierra mountains backpack
ermine peaks, creamy clouds.

A breeze ripples her fur,
stirs wildflowers, pines,
the poems on my lap.

Shadows reshape boulders,
tree trunks, Shelley's white
paws, mane and tail tip.

Lines from Omar Khayyam,
Kahlil Gibran and John Muir
drift by and come back.

In such a pristine meadow
the camera at my side
clicks away without a touch.


—Claire J. Baker

Two white butterflies frisk about
the tops of sugar pines, dart in
and out of branches. A breeze blows
one to a near tree. Minutes later
the two rejoin, resume
their treetop quest.

They disappear, again return.
We relearn from a butterfly pair
to live our brief earth-flight
to the fullest, to wander where
it pleases us to wander,
to fly alone and fly together.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Standing tall
Shiny racks loaded with snacks
Bathed in light and a hum
You would surely like some
But the machine only takes quarters

Elegant wallet
Very large mingles with singles
You’ve earned respect for your stance
In the world of finance
But the machine only takes quarters

You look around for the sound
Of change being made
Your nerves are now frayed
Because the machine only takes quarters

Why not a dollar you holler
Small change you have not
There should be a bill slot
But the machine only takes quarters

The big cheese drops to his knees
Moved by desperate times
On the floor are just some loose dimes
But the machine only takes quarters

Losing temper
You abandon all care and yank up a chair
Smashing the glass
On the very first pass
Because the machine only takes quarters

A siren shrill the room does fill
So you flee empty handed
A vandal you are now branded
Because the machine only takes quarters

Your trusty car is not far
Now the exit gate is near
Just pay and you’re clear of here
But the machine only takes quarters

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz


Today's LittleNip:

Early spring—picking vegetables;
a pheasant cries—
Old memories return.