Friday, April 09, 2010

The Immense Vocabulary of Being

I am a flowing river,
come join me in my quest.
There is no compensation
and you'll rarely get to rest.
—Photo and Caption by Carl Bernard Schwartz

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

I knew as soon as I found you
that you would leave me and not look back.
You the incessant wandering warrior,
taking to task all who would defy
your approach.

You are a mystery, coming from afar
and disappearing in the distance,
as if seeking the company of another river
in another hemisphere
flowing in the opposite direction.

Is it your chameleon personality
that blends in with each riverbank,
or is each moment along your winding course
one scene in a grand play
of which you are the author?

Sometimes you show
a deceitfully calm exterior,
while underneath, your untamed energy
gleefully swallows
all who fall prey to your charms.

I will always love you,
even though you cannot
share and return my love.
But somehow you do,
on our daily visits,
when your fingers wrap around mine.


Folsom Lake College Celebrates Earth Week week with “Literature of the Wild”. Scheduled readers include Taylor Graham, Jennifer Pickering O'Neill, Tim McHargue, and Tom Goff. Public Invited! Bring poetry, prose, creative fiction or non-fiction or read from a favorite “wilderness” work or writer. Or just come and listen! Two readings:

•••Tues. (4/20), 12-1:15pm in FLI-20 (Community Room).
•••Thursday (4/22), 1-2:20pm in the El Dorado Center Library. Info: 530-642-5637 or 916-608-6611 or contact Kathy Leland at

Call for Manuscripts: The 2010 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize

Bona Fide Books will award annually The Melissa Lanitis Gregory Prize for an unpublished collection of poems, 48-100 pages. The winner will receive publication, ten copies, a $500 cash award, and a reading at Lake Tahoe. Prizes are awarded upon publication. Deadline: postmarked by August 31. See for submission guidelines.

Aid for Haiti:

•••Sat. (5-15), 7pm: Save the date! Poetry by Dennis Schmitz, Bob Stanley, Quinton Duval, James DenBoer, Victoria Dalkey, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Mary Zeppa. Music by Pat Grizzell and Junkyard Burlesque, plus a presentation by long-time Haitian Activist Larry Castagnola. Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct., Sacramento. Suggested donation: $25, but all donations welcome. All proceeds to Partners in Health, Dr. Paul Farmer and his medical workers in Haiti. Sponsored by Castagnola Haiti Project, Grandmothers for Peace, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Sacramento Poetry Center. Info: 916-457-2478.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (4/10), 2-4:30pm: Join Sacramento's Poet Laureate Bob Stanley, NY Times Best-Selling Suspense author Brenda Novak, and other local writers as they discuss their craft at the Local Author Appreciation Fair at the Folsom Public Library, Georgia Murray Building, 411 Stafford St., Folsom. This free event will feature author presentations, question and answer session, book sales and signing, and refreshments. Come for the entire fair or drop in when you can! For more information, visit the library’s website at or call the Adult Services desk at (916) 355-7357.

•••Sat. (4/10), 7:30pm: US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan will read at Modest Junior College. To order tickets:

•••Sunday (4/11), 3-5pm: Poets Club of Lincoln presents Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley. A creative writing and English professor at CSU Sacramento, Sacramento City College, Solano College & UC Davis Extension, Bob has written poetry for over three decades. He’s also president of the Sacramento Poetry Center. Bob has led hundreds of creative writing workshops and readings, and his poems have won a number of awards. Willow Room, Twelve Bridges Library, 485 Twelve Bridges Dr., Lincoln. Free! Open mic: bring up to 3 poems. Sponsored by The Friends of the Lincoln Library.

•••Monday (4/12), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center features Catherine Daly and Margaret Hehn at R25, 25ht and R Sts., Sacramento. Catherine Daly is author of eight books of poetry. She has worked as a technical architect for twenty years; much of her work engages technology. Three of her books are available online, and she has also developed online courseware in creative writing. She has an MFA from Columbia University, continues a visual art practice as a member of the LA Art Girls, and, as an independent scholar, researches women's writing in general, women's modernist poetry, and the relationship of art movements to writing. She lives in Los Angeles, where she has designed and managed the restoration of two historic homes. Her husband is screenwriter, novelist, and playwright Ron Burch.

Margaret Hehn lives with her husband and two children in Sacramento, where she practiced law for many years, then spent a decade volunteering with a hospice. She presently volunteers with a medical library. Her poetry has appeared in Atlantic Review, Bellingham Review, Margie, Nimrod, North American Review and many other journals. She is the author of four award winning chapbooks of poetry: Vanishings (Writer’s Voice, Tampa Metropolitan YMCA, 1998); Changing Shapes (Wind Publications, 2000); Balancing on Light (Riverstone Press, 2002); and Traveling Without a Map (Anabiosis Press, 2005). Her first book of poetry, The Trajectory of Sunflowers (The Backwaters Press, 2004), won the Readers’ Choice Award. In 2009, a volume of her collected work, Trajectories, was published by The Legal Studies Forum. Five Prayers of Apples is her latest chapbook, which is part of the InSPIREd Poetry Series (Spire Press, New York, 2009). She is a past winner of the Tor House Prize in Poetry and has received three Pushcart nominations.


—Margaret Hasse

She's a quiet clapper in the bell of the prairie,
a girl who likes to be alone.
Today, she's hiked four miles down
ravines' low cool blueness.
Bending under a barbed wire, she's in grass fields.
She's at the edge of the great plains.
Wise to openness, she finds it a familiar place.
Her clothes swell like wheat bread.

When she returns to her parents' house,
the foxtails and burrs have come home, too.
The plants seem intent on living in new ground.
She's the carrier. "Carrier" is a precision
learned in summer's biology class.
She likes to think of ripening seeds,
a cargo inside the bellies of flying birds.
Birds like red-winged blackbirds who skim the air
and land, alert on their cattail stalks.

They allow her a silent manner.
They go about their red-winged business
of crying to each other, dipping their beaks
into the swampy stand of ditch water,
full of the phantom of green.
The stiller she is, the more everything moves
in the immense vocabulary of being.


—Elizabeth Coatsworth

Today I walked on lion-colored hills
with only cypresses for company,
until the sunset caught me, turned the brush
to copper,
set the clouds
to one great roof of flame
above the earth,
so that I walked through fire, beneath fire,
and all in beauty.
Being alone
I could not be alone, but felt
(closer than flesh) the presences of those
who once had burned in such transfigurations.
My happiness ran through the centuries
and linked itself to other happiness
in one continual brightness. Looking down,
I saw the earth beneath me like a rose
petaled with mountains,
fragrant with deep peace.


—Abbie Huston Evans

Perhaps I needed something gray and brown
And did not know it,—something spent and bare,
That morning on the back-road, in November.
I may have stood in need of something bedded
Like the ledge beside me barnacled with lichen,
With a great wave of juniper breaking on it;
Or darkly needed something straight like cedars,
Black on the traveling cloud-fringe,—something steady,
Like slate-gray mountains in behind bare birches.

Perhaps I needed something bright and scarlet,
Like winter berries on the stone-gray bush
Beside the rock-pile,—something sweet and singing,
Like water in the gutter running down
From springs up in the pasture out of sight.

But if I needed these, I did not know it.
If you had told me that I wanted fulness,
Or life, or God, I should have nodded "Yes";
But not a bush of berries,—not a mountain!
—Yet so it was: fantastic needs like these,
Blind bottom hungers like the urge in roots,
Elbowed their way out, jostling me aside;
A need of steadiness, that caught at mountains,
A need of straightness, satisfied with cedars,
A need of brightness, cozened with a bush.

—Whatever it was I needed, know I found it!
The oak-tree standing with its feet in water
Behind me, with the wind hoarse in its top
Of paper, or the tousand-penciled bushes
Across the road, or alders black with catkins,
Fed no more deeply on the earth than I,—
Nor half so passionately, I must think,
As I, who, rooted in my tracks, appeased
Undreamed-of hungers with unlikeliest food,
The first at hand; amazed to find what sweetness
Can be wrung out of clay and flint,—amazed,
Like a starving man in a swamp, to find what relish
Is hid in grass, and bark, and roots, and acorns.


Today's LittleNip:

On the Sabbath try and make no noise that
goes beyond your

Cries of passion between lovers
are exempt.

—St. Thomas Aquinas

Step by step as I climb these stairs,
it lifts my spirit and eases my cares.
—Photo and Caption by Carl Bernard Schwartz