Monday, July 12, 2010

Ribbons of Inebriating Smoke

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Everything about me says
Look at me!

My color, design, flutter, swoop…
my very presence causes
faces to light up,
hearts to soften,
mundane worries to loosen their grip.

Upon watching me,
the mood changes to the brighter side;
small but delightful,
how blessed we are.

Or am I just a distraction?
Look at me!
I am the star and you are my audience.
Don’t pay any attention to that
man behind the curtain.

Wash away memories of predators
biting and crushing their struggling prey.
Concentrate and focus on the pretty wings,
those darling pretty wings.
Hold still just a moment longer.


Thanks to all of today's contributors, including Carl Schwartz, Pat Hickerson, Dawn DiBartolo, and D.R. Wagner for the LittleNip. Don't be shy about sending us contributions—and they don't have to be about the Seed of the Week, either!

Some of this week's readings are listed on the b-board, starting with Sacramento Poetry Center's presentation tonight of readers from the new issue of Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry. For a more complete listing of NorCal readings and workshops, go to

Surprise Valley Writers’ Conference in September:

Ray March writes: For writers intending to join us this year at the Surprise Valley Writers' Conference (Sept. 16-19), following are some dates and instructions you will need for submitting your manuscripts:

*Manuscript due date: August 1
*Submit only by email to:
*Manuscript lengths: Fiction (one short story or first chapter not to exceed 5,000 words with a brief synopsis), Creative non-fiction (one short story or first chapter not to exceed 5,000 words with a brief synopsis), poetry (three to five poems).
*Notification of acceptance: August 1
*Fees due: Fees of $429 are due with your submission. Please let us know if this poses a problem for any of you.
*Payment of fees: Make your check payable to Modoc Forum, P.O. Box 126, Cedarville, CA 96104. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit. For those using a credit card, please call Barbara at (530) 279-2099 so she can run your credit card number.
*Cancellation/refund policy: For cancellations prior to Sept. 9, fees will be returned minus $100 for administrative handling. Please note, there will be no refunds for cancellations after Sept. 9.

*Any questions? Please give us a call at (530) 279-2099 or e-mail We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the conference. Also, take a look at for information.


—Dawn DiBartolo, Citrus Heights

as peaceful as a bird
resting in the shade
of a mailbox…

the man who says
he loves me…

I was thinking about you
so I figured that meant
you needed me …
maybe I needed you.

dreams so conceptual
and fragmented ~
like pieces from

many different puzzles ~
nothing fits…

abstracts of reality ~
and he is never part
of the dream;
love should be

… peaceful…as a bird
resting in the shade
of a mailbox …


sun when the rain pours
—Dawn DiBartolo

rainbows shooting
from where speeding car tire
meets wet road…

a feeling of gloom
tempered by an anticipation
of something beautifully grand…

shadows cast en masse
and crossing over
into the sun…

umbrellas, yes
but smiles beaming
from beneath…

dreams of finer things
when lacking reigns and
puddles that sparkle
like diamonds…


—Dawn DiBartolo

the sun is out;
I’m looking for a reason
to go outside and touch it.

“trying to quit,”
I half-lie, “but
addiction is a bitch!”

he suggests, “pick up
your pen and write
some ribbons of
inebriating smoke”…

that curl into my hair,
my clothes, fill my lungs
with ephemeral inspiration.

weaving ink throughout
a particularly strong
strain of thought-craving, I

inhale surreptitiously,
slightly buzzed and
wishing I could
write in menthol.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Penny thought she might stop dating
as soon as
Otis flew home from Afghanistan
but she’s been having so much fun
what does he expect her to do
stay home with him and her knitting?

here is Joe at the door
his first question
whaddya hear from your old man?
Joe’s anxious about Otis
his former best friend
now pfc with a sharpshooting medal
but no more so than
Frank, Al, or Duane
she likes to tease them
you better look out
Otis is due any day now

she loves her status as an easy lay
a sireen, if you will
I’ll regret not doing more of this
when I’m 80…

being married to Otis for 7 years
is long enough
if he wants a divorce he can have it
anyway he probably
hasn’t been a model of purity overseas
Penny knows she isn’t the only sireen in the world


Today's LittleNip:

I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life. And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.

—Marcel Proust: À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past), Vol. 1 (1913)



Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento