Saturday, May 22, 2010

Promoting World Peace Thru Cinquains

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Growing up in the city
everything is sausage:
lots of processing of
who knows what
raw ingredients
until somewhere downstream
a product is certified, stamped,
packaged, labeled,
and offered for sale.

Wheat bread,
whole, cracked, or otherwise,
is just so much sausage.
On cattle, the brand is
one of the smaller images,
while on a loaf of bread in
the supermarket,
the brand is the whole thing.
Either way we’re getting bull.

When I retire,
I’m going to visit a field of wheat.
Real wheat,
not just the word on a plastic wrapper.

I want my 5 senses to experience wheat:
to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste
what wheat really is
before it is processed
into a cereal grain
and marginalized into tiny print
alongside dozens of other ingredients.

If only they held wheat tasting tours
like they do for wine…


Thanks, Carl! Carl Schwartz has recently been on a cinquain binge; this happened to one of our poets once before—I believe Mitz Sackman of Murphys was the victim that time. Carl discovered the various types of cinquains, too, and merged them into one poem (see below.) He says, Cinquains are not only great fun, but they help promote world peace because you're not hurting anybody.

You don't have to climb onto the cinquain for inspiration though. Try one of the many festivals that are braving the rain this weekend for sights and sounds and subjects a-plenty (and take your camera!). Or scroll down to Calliope and rummage around in her closet; there are some new duds there to try on, just for fun...

Some workshops coming up, too:

Bob Stanley’s Summer of 2010 Poetry Workshops

Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley writes: For the last 25 years, I’ve been leading poetry workshops, but this year, thanks to the Sacramento Poetry Center, and a grant from the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation’s Advancing Arts program, I will be leading groups all over the county! Sign up for a series, or, if that doesn’t work, drop in when you can—I’m hoping you can join one of the groups. Summer is a great time to get back to work on your poetry! Here’s my schedule for Summer 2010; please contact me if you have any questions! Note: For the library workshops, you can let me know, but I think you also need to contact the library coordinator at 264-2920.

Also, after years of thinking about it, I have a fledgling website, which has all this same information, and more. You can find it at Thanks to Lawrence Dinkins of MyWordOut for his assistance with the website! [Note: As Sac PL, Bob has a permanent spot on Medusa's b-bd at the right. Scroll down to find Bob in the weeds and follow the instructions to all his various web "locations". His email is to sign up for workshops.]

Bob's Workshop Schedule:

May 27-July 30
Rancho Cordova Library
Ten Thursday nights, 6-7:30pm, Free
May 27, June 3, 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

June 29-Aug 17
Southgate Library
Six Tuesday nights, 6-7:30pm, Free
June 29, July 6, 20, 27, August 10, 17

Sept 14-Nov 2
Valley Hi/Laguna Library
Eight Tuesday nights, 6-7:30pm, Free
Sept 14, 21, 28, Oct 5, 12, 19, 26, Nov 2

June 2-July 28
Sacramento Poetry Center
Wednesday afternoons, 12-2 pm, $20 per session
June 2, 9, 16, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28

June 16-Sept 8
Sacramento Poetry Center
Alternating Wednesday evenings, 6-7:30pm, $20 per session
June 16, 30, July 14, 28, Aug 18, 25, Sept 1, 8

East of Eden Writers Conference: September 24-26 in Salinas

This conference will offer 8 workshop sessions, 6 classes at a pop. The 48 classes are grouped into 5 tracks, some of which include General Fiction, Mystery, Poetry, Nonfiction, and the Business of Writing. Early registration for the full conference is just $375—but only through June 30. Fee includes all 3 days, all 48 workshops, all meals and events, plus multiple opportunities to pitch your work to agents. (Saturday Only early rate is $206.) Prices go up after June 30: $435 full, $239 Saturday only. Discounts for students. Reg and more info at

Also: Pro authors and editors David Henry Sterry, Jana McBurney Lin, Nina Amir, Joyce Krieg, and Diane Lindsay Reeves have agreed to critique up to 8 pages of your work at the conference. You'll meet with the editors at the conference for a 15-minute session. Fee is $35 per submission. Deadline to sign up is August 15. For details and submission guidelines, visit the conference website's Critique Sessions page.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Want their
Voices heard now
Which explains all that
Tacky, imperfect
imposing, proclaiming, looming
larger than life
Let people choose
Who sits, but handlers rule.
I, Carl Schwartz, approved this


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Tin prison cups
Folsom and empty some
Do not get quatrain to escape
Hard time.

Beyond repair
If only we
Had gotten better advice

Mystical, tricky
Flowing, rhyming, going
Wherever you take it


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Playing music soothes me:
when I am tense, it is my therapy.
But this I do alone, since my instrument
is the slide trombone.

Medieval call to battle; fanfare,
stampeding cattle, I don’t care.
Hang it out and let it roar,
cut off the calls, ignore the door.

Garage: acoustics wild, loud,
loud, loud restless child.
Half tones, injured moans,
accidental clones.

Don’t sing along, this ain’t
that kind of song. Downbeat, upbeat,
stuck in between. I can’t leave now:
The audience loves it, take a bow.

Deep breath, deeper, is that all you’ve got?
The mouthpiece is peeling, starting to rot.
An acid forms and burns the tongue; use
your diaphragm to push air from the lung.

The octaves are deadly, from close range or far;
a medley of wounds that are too big to scar.
Now I think my chops are just about spent, and
there’s no way to lubricate a slide that is bent,

so I’m going to pack it up and put it away,
then it’s right here when needed, any old day
when my nerves are shot, and put to the test:
I’ll just open up my trusty trombone war chest.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Early one dewy morning
a scrawny mountain lion sauntered
down into the foothills, looking
for prey to feed her hungry cubs.
She wandered into our very quiet neighborhood
following a very different code of quietude:

Moving far more silently
than the rumble of cars cruising by
with arrogant lyrics blasting
over flimsy speakers;

Blending in far less assuming
than the man down the street
who is always talking, talking, talking,
about other people’s business;

Approaching homes far more softly
than the incessant advertising,
which reaches out to pound our
doors and windows as if to announce
an event of biblical proportion;

Scanning the area far more restrained
than the media, remaining even ho-hum quiet,
not jotting names or snapping pictures,
as she views people in their private situations.

At last, she finds a suitable meal
in the generous backyard of a family
that is preoccupied with hitching up
the boat trailer to their motor home
for that restful trip to the mountains…

…to her backyard.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

(in memory of Rod Sirling)

It was an inconspicuous place
beside a cobbler’s quaint shop,
in the old part of town
where stores were mom and pop.

I needed to rent a tuxedo
to wear to my big wedding,
to project an air of confidence
like I knew where I was heading.

The door creaked shut behind me
as I was greeted by the tailor,
who measured me in silence
as he breathed through an inhaler.

When I expressed my early doubts
that the tux would come out right,
he brought out an old catalog
and held it open tight.

The bess thing you can do, he said,
is tess it out today.
Rent a wife and kid and everything,
then rehearss it like a play.

Have them look at you real close
while you’re dressed in your nice tux.
You’ll be assured it fits you well,
and it’s worth a few more bucks.

Then the tailor turned the page
and showed me more that I could rent:
a time machine that works just once,
then leaves you where you’re sent.

It was tempting to rent out that stuff,
on just a trial basis,
until I saw the coffin lids
still impressed with people’s faces.

I left the place without a tux,
but learned a lesson of life:
it isn’t clothes that make the man,
it’s all about his wife.

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz


Today's LittleNip:

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.

—Thomas Merton