Friday, April 23, 2010

As If There Were A World

Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Chrys Mollett, Angels Camp

In a long-parched land
rain seems fruit enough for celebration.
But rain—plus earth—plus sunshine
coax these sleeping seeds to burst
with manifest life.

Willing hands, browning shoulders,
longer days to work the soil—
We compost yesterday's bits & pieces
with silent help of worms and unseen nematodes.

Paper catalogues—a January voyeur's dream—
now line the dust bin.
We have the real thing
growing and twining—
Daily I go out and count the buds
until I cannot count them all.
Paradise surrounds
and Food for millions starts right here.


—Chrys Mollett

Green stems thick and succulent
from so much rain.
Mud puddles welcome the joyful galoshed feet,
the oblivious trudger
and bold sparrows taking a cold bath.

Garlands of tiny yellow Banksia roses
make sprays of spring
in their single, showstopping bloom time,
wandering way up into the oak trees
some 30 feet with yellow pompom blossoms.

Until this last heavy rain
even the weeds were still cute.
But now they'll become overbearing tyrants.
Out, damn weeds!
I want to save the soil for food and fruit.
Impossible to keep up with Nature.


We’re celebrating Earth Week with a give-away—send me a Seed of the Week poem about Fruits of the Earth and I'll send you a copy of Emily and the High Cost of Living by Kathy Kieth from Tiger's Eye Press—or any rattlechap of your choosing from Rattlesnake Press—free. Send 'em to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. There's a deadline on this SOW though: postmarked or e-mailed by midnight, Sunday, April 25.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (4/24), 2-4pm: An Afternoon of Poetry at the Arden-Dimick Library (Watt and Northrop in Sacramento), featuring Indigo Moor, Kathleen Lynch and Bob Stanley.

•••Sat. (4/24), 2-4:30pm: Going to be in Santa Cruz this weekend? Bookshop Santa Cruz is launching the second season of its popular series, Bookshop Santa Cruz Outdoors, with a Hike & Poetry event led by Ellen Bass. In honor of National Poetry Month, be inspired by nature while discovering your poetic voice. Join poet Ellen Bass ( as she leads a moderate hike through beautiful Wilder Ranch State Park and guides you through writing exercises inspired by the natural world. Individual price: $30 includes the 2+ hour hike, refreshments, & one copy of either of Ellen’s books, Mules of Love or Human Line. Couple's price: $45 includes the hike, refreshments & one copy of a collection of Ellen’s poetry for the couple to share. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Please call 831.423.0900 to purchase tickets. Customers who register over the phone will have their book, ticket, and registration materials placed on hold for them to pick up at the store. Info:

•••Sat. (4/24, and every last Sat. of the month), 7-9 PM: TheShowPoetrySeries features The Show's 6th Annual Stopper Slam, as some of the best poets around compete to see who can grab the $50 grand prize for the most electrifying poems. Plus poet Kelly Freeman-Richardson. Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St. (Off 35th & Broadway), Sacramento. $5.00. Info: 916-208-POET or E-mail:

•••Sunday (4/25), 4-6pm: Booksigning at The Book Collector (1008 24th St., Sacramento) with Arthur Winfield Knight. Poet, writer and editor of Unspeakable Visions, a literary journal of Beat Generation writing, Arthur celebrates the release of his latest book. Arthur will be hanging out at the bookstore on Sunday afternoon to sign books and chat with anyone who comes for a visit. Join us in a relaxed environment with light refreshments to talk with the author.

SMALL PRESS SALE: All small press poetry publications from presses like Rattlesnake Press and Swan Scythe will be on sale between 4-6pm for 20% off.

FREE POEMS-FOR-ALL: In honor of Poem in Your Pocket Day (coming up on April 29th) dozens of free little books are yours for the taking! Come grab a pocket full...

Arthur Winfield Knight has published more than 2,000 poems and short stories and, with his wife Kit, has edited eight volumes dealing with the Beat Generation, including Kerouac and the Beats (Paragon House, 1988). His most recent novel is Misfits Country (Tres Picos Press, 2008). Other novels include: Blue Skies Falling (Forge, 2001) based on Sam Peckinpah; Johnnie D. (Forge, 2000); The Darkness Starts Up Where You Stand (Depth Charge Books, 1996), and The Secret Life of Jesse James (BurnhillWolf Books, 1996). He has also completed a novel about Billy the Kid.

Knight is a well-known chronicler of the Beat Generation. In addition to his correspondence with and photography (with over 200 book jacket photos to his credit) of the poets and writers of the Beat Generation, Arthur co-edited The Unspeakable Visions of the Individual series of books in a total volume of eight. The Beat Book (Arthur Winfield and Glee Knight, editors) was published in 1974 as Vol. 4 of The Unspeakable Visions series—an essential beat book, with a wealth of photos and contributions by key figures of the beat movement, including Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carolyn and Neal Cassady, Phil Whalen, Carl Solomon, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, John C. Holmes, Paul Bowles, Bob Kaufman, Micheal McClure, Jack Micheline, Larry Rivers, Gary Snyder, Diane di Prima, Paul Metcalf, Herbert Huncke, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others. The Beat Diary (Arthur Winfield and Kit Knight, editors) was published in 1977 as Volume 5 of The Unspeakable Visions series. It featured contributions from Kerouac, Corso, Ginsberg, and di Prima, among others.

•••Monday (4/26), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents John Murillo and John Bell at R25, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. An afro-chicano poet and playwright, John Murillo ( is the current Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. A graduate of New York University's MFA program in creative writing, he has also received fellowships from the New York Times, Cave Canem, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is a two-time Larry Neal Writers' Award winner and the inaugural Elma P. Stuckey Visiting Emerging Poet-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Callaloo, Court Green, Ploughshares, Ninth Letter, and the anthology, Writing Self and Community: African-American Poetry After the Civil Rights Movement. Up Jump the Boogie is his first full-length collection. His choreo-play, Trigger, is commissioned by Edgeworks Dance Theater and scheduled for production in early 2011.

John Bell is a member of the English faculty at American River College who did his MFA at Wichita State University. According to a Facebook poll, John is 70% black and 100% Brazilian. He sings bass in the church choir and is a member of the Two-year College Caucus and the National Council of English Teachers. He watches C-Span when Congress is in session and Cops. He defies you to be more than one degree of separation from him.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Our first house was on
a skinny, little lot
in Long Beach, California.

The so-called improvement
on the land
was barely the size
of a trailer home.

But we had a back yard,
so we thought we’d plant
tomatoes. Beefsteaks.

We cleared about
a 2-foot square
patch of soil
right alongside the water heater.
That must have been the difference
because the area remained
warm and damp
most of the time.

The vine grew like
Jack’s fictional bean stalk,
relentlessly in pursuit of the sun.
I built a wooden trellis
that let the vine climb
clear to the eaves,
held in place with
old shoe laces.

We must have done
something right,
as we were rewarded
with a bounty of large
delicious tomatoes,
some fully 2 pounds.

There was enough
to enjoy ourselves,
and to give away
to family and friends.

When it was done
it just shriveled away.
But we kept the trellis
for another day.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

It was getting time to clean
out weeds from the garden,

but my tuxedo needed to be cleaned and pressed,
and my barbells needed to be cleaned and jerked,
and my wounds needed to be cleaned and dressed.

Of course I’ll need to stay clean and sober,
and keep my energy clean and renewable,
and my bike chain needs to be cleaned and lubed,
and for Earth Week I’ll need to be clean and green.

So those weeds will just have to wait.

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz


Today's LittleNip:

—William Bronk

Not Plato's cave upon the wall of which
we see, he said, the shadows of reality.
There is reality but I've never seen
even its shadow on that or any wall.

We use, instead, whatever we find: scraps
and peels of something as if shards, but not
of a world that was. We calculate, predict
with them—as much as if there were a world.