Monday, April 05, 2010

While You Lived

Brain Drain
Photo courtesy of Carl Bernard Schwartz

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

We are so lucky today
to have word processors
with all those defaults
that do the thinking for us.

Once they work the bugs out of Spell Czech,
we can expect to see even more handy AI shortcuts:

The Provincial Default:
Type in “America” and AI
will recognize that as USA only,
automatically filtering out
any references to of all those other Americas
beyond our borders.

The Spin Default:
Use words such as “liberal” or “conservative”
even in an innocent recipe for cookie dough,
and AI will automatically adjust the context
of the surrounding words
to reflect a political ideology.

The Stakeholder Default:
AI will reduce any mention of an individual’s effort
no matter how great the personal pain and sacrifice,
to terms that quantify a business outcome
for people who invested money in the venture.

The Fanfare Default:
AI will present a 2-3 minute parade
of your credentials and testimonials,
complete with loud musical accompaniment,
each time you submit your
carefully crafted resume.

The Grieving Widow Default:
Begin typing a letter to anyone
who has demanded your immediate response,
and AI will compose a form letter
tearfully reminding the recipient(s)
that you are presently occupied with concerns
that are far more important than theirs.
AI will then ask them for a donation to your cause.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

You are not supposed to be here,
you are supposed to be out there.
You can’t get there from here.
Why did you come here
and not go over there?

So you started out closer
to here than to there.
We all face challenges,
that is not an excuse.
Many of your family and friends
are here, not out there.
That in itself,
like touching finger to flame,
should have taught you something.

Out there, most people
are not perfectly good,
but they usually respect
what another values.
In here, most people
are not perfectly bad,
but there is really nothing to value,
save the notion of not being here.
That is not a transferable skill.

There are a few ways to get out of here,
but none of them is guaranteed
to get you over there.
Of course, I am not supposed
to be here either,
so don’t listen to me.


Thanks to Carl Schwartz for some poems and "drain" photos today; I especially like the Brain Drain. Been there...

The Spring ‘10 Issue of Convergence is online!

Managing Editor Cynthia Linville writes to say that the Spring issue of Convergence: An Online Journal of Poetry and Art can be seen at Look for work by Amy Bernays, Jeff Foster, Sasha Geffen, Anne Germanacos, Kyle Hemmings, Richard Luftig, Simon Perchik, Elahzar Rao, Brenton Rossow, Nate Shearer, and J. Zimmerman in the Spring 2010 issue. In addition, Editors' Choice pages and photos throughout the website are updated monthly, so stop by often. The site currently features new work by poet Viola Weinberg, artist Francis Raven, and photographers James Lee Jobe, Daniel Rinne, Casey Kretzmer, Christopher Flemming, Chris Jackson, and Brent Wiggans.

This week in NorCal Poetry:

(for a more complete listing of poetry events and workshops, go to

•••Monday (4/5), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Visions of Joanna Newsom: a reading with Rae Gouirand, Tim Kahl, Christian Kiefer, Brad Buchanan and others to celebrate Roan Press’s 2010 release of her work. Sometimes mentioned as one of the most prominent members of the psychedelic folk movement, Joanna Newsom is a harpist and songwriter from Nevada City. Her music incorporates elements from Appalachian folk music and avant-garde modernism. She has recorded the following CDs: The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City, 2004); Ys (Drag City, 2006); Have One On Me (Drag City, 2010). She is the second cousin, twice removed, of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

•••Weds. (4/7), 8pm: The Poetry Night Reading Series is proud to welcome Davis Poet Laureate Allegra Silberstein and Davis Poet Susan Wolbarst at Bistro 33 at 226 F St. in Davis. In 2010, Allegra Jostad Silberstein was named the first-ever Poet Laureate of the City of Davis. A longtime Davis teacher (now retired), dancer, and philanthropist, Allegra is known widely for her work as coordinator for The Other Voice, a reading series that takes place at the UU Church of Davis, and for her support of local writers. Her poems have been published in Poetry Depth Quarterly, The Yolo Crow, Blue Unicorn, Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, Iodine Poetry, Poetry of the New West, California Quarterly, and other journals. She has also placed poems in a variety of anthologies, including The Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems, Gatherings, A Woman’s Place, and Where Do I Walk. Her first chapbook, Acceptance, was published in 1999, and In the Folds was published by Rattlesnake Press in 2005. She is currently working on a full-length book of poems.

Susan Wolbarst’s poetry has appeared in Naugatuck River Review and Poetry Now. In 2008 Susan placed first in the Sacramento Poetry Center Poetry Contest for her poem “Diagnosis,” and she won an honorable mention in the same contest for “In the Ladies Room” in 2009. A longtime Davis resident who has been published in The Yolo Crow and elsewhere, Susan Wolbarst writes poetry, short stories, and essays.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early at Bistro 33 to secure a table, and to sign up for a spot on the Open Mic list. The Poetry Night Reading Series, hosted by Andy Jones and produced by Brad Henderson, occurs on the first Wednesday of the month at Bistro 33, and third Thursday of every month at the John Natsoulas Gallery, both at 8 P.M., with an open microphone segment at 9 P.M. Info:

•••Weds. (4/7), 6pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Sacramento Poetry Publishers Robbie Grossklaus, Brad Buchanan and Kathy Kieth reading their work and talking about publishing at the First Wednesday Library Reading. Hosted by Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley, Sacramento Room, Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento. Info: 916/979-9706 or

•••Thurs. (4/8), 7-9pm: Outta the Blue Poetry Series features Bill Gainer and Michelle Johnson at Roseville Arts Blue Line Gallery, 405 Vernon St., Ste. 100, Roseville. $5 members and students; $15 nonmembers, or sign up for Roseville Arts membership. Info: or 916-783-4117.

•••Thurs. (4/8), 7-9pm: First session of the Screenwriting Class at 25th and R with acclaimed Writer/Director/Producer Walter Klenhard. The free class will be taught by Walter Klenhard, a writer and director with over twenty produced movies. The class (limited to ten students) will meet April 8, 15, 22, May 6, 13, and 20 from 7-9pm, (except 7-10pm on May 20). SPC and Room to Write are located at 1719 25th Street, next to Alliance Francaise in the R25 Arts Complex at 25th and R Sts. in Sacramento. Classes are free, but we are requesting a $5 per class per student donation ($30 for the six class series) to benefit the SPC/Matrix Arts building fund. To register, contact Walter at

•••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.


—Pablo Neruda

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made out of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it—our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal—
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowzy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.

(translated from the Spanish by Christopher Logue)


—Pablo Neruda

A different ship will sail by on the sea
at its particular hour, it appears,
Not iron with orange
flags flying:
no one knows the port of departure
or the hour:
but all is in readiness.
The finest salon in the fleet, with everything
planned for the passenger's convenience.
Even the spray is spread fine
as the pile of a carpet
with stars in the threads,
and beyond lies the blue
and the green, the ultramarine movement.
Everything waits.
The reefs open out
scrubbed clean and eternal:
they rise from the sand
like a cordon of castles,
a cordon of towers.
All things
are amenable,
all silence, welcome:
even the watchers forget their habitual distractions
and wait for some presence that must not be missed:
they are wearing their sabbatical best,
they have polished their boots,
and slicked down their hair.
They grow old as they wait
and the ship never passes.

(translated from the Spanish by Ben Belitt)


—Pablo Neruda

Matilde, sleeping
that feverish sleep, a day or a year,
here or there,
nailed down
to my backbone, or breaking it,
bleeding real blood,
waking, at times,
or comatose, lost:
clinical beds, foreign windows,
the white uniform of the caretakers,
that sloth in my feet.

Later, those journeys
and my ocean again:
your head on my pillow,

your hands flying
in light, in my light,
my terrain.

How lovely it was to live
while you lived!

The world is bluer, the night
more terrestrial, while I sleep,
grown enormous, in the brief clasp of your hands.

(translated from the Spanish by Ben Belitt)


Today's LittleNip:

pine needles inches deep hug the ground
no one lives here




Storm Drain
Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz