—charles mariano, sacramento
wish i could be like these guys in the paper, talented, confident, able to leap tall buildings. cursed early with low self-esteem, couldn’t shake it. rode the horse anyway.
a full moon hangs with the sun in the morning light. inspirational sight. a garbage truck slams a dumpster, rattles the building. opportunity, is a small, cracked window.
read about a guy who died recently, and what he left behind. house, money, lots of toys. realized i didn’t have jack.
keep finding crazy notes to myself on scraps of paper, scribbled months ago. notes like, Confessions of a Cockroach Boy, Pendulous Breasts, or, There’s a Bullet in my Burrito. somewhere back there, this was important.
a horn blasts loudly behind me. realized i was idling at a green light. gestures were exchanged.
last nights troubling dream kept me rolling unevenly. something about desire and death, or both. strangled my ass all night, woke up tired.
starbucks: “black coffee, two advils, and water for my horse”
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento
Hair pins and bobby pins
from coast to coast were
earnestly busy making
cross hairs and firing pins.
We were at war with
enemies from across the
Sophomores and juniors
were swept from their
homes and schools and
delivered to death’s door
step, where they got a
crash course in setting
priorities. We prevailed
in battle. Hooray!
Some came back with
more stripes on their
sleeves, with tallies of
hitting the target, more
is better. Others were
brought back missing
life or limb, and many
never made it back at
all. We’re so proud!
Today torpedoes and
heroes are sandwiches we
consume to feel good. It
is popular sport for people
in the press to second
guess military strategists,
and even assign a route
for the commander in
chief to take, as if he is
a milkman. Wave that
flag so they can see it
across the pond!
—Carl Bernard Schwartz
An immaculately groomed
celebrity dog stops to relieve
herself and immediately
dozens of dizzy flies descend
on the mess like a slate of
pompous political candidates
Moments later, a shaggy stray
stops and relieves himself.
All the flies rush over to the
What’s the big buzz this
November? Same old.
A drifting in the heart. Long
Sounds that find no solace. No matter
Where they go they remain wanderers.
We will find them on the shores of the lake
After storms that rip the lining of the night
Easily from its darling moon.
Someone must have seen where the careful
Touch has gone, where the sandals cut
The crust of the morning away from the bread
And no hand, oh pretty creatures they are,
Could move move as brutally, tearing the stars
Down from the black lion of night,
All kindness gone, its blue cart tipped
On its side in the crowded streets.
No one wonders any longer
Dammit all anyway all they ever
Wanted were blankets to keep warm
And just a touch of a hand,
Someone to say, “Do not be afraid at all.”
We were talking about how happy
The new snow made us feel.
That whiteness on white and the world
White as well. No wind and the light,
The magic light that made all things
When we lived in Kenmore, New
York the winter had to line
Up across the lake in Canada
And march down the winds
To do its lovely trick.
Out here in California the lens
Tends to cloud over like a wind shield
On a car driving in the mud,
Rain and dust. Two curved
Views of the world never quite
In agreement with each other,
As we dive through whatever
Season it declares itself to be.
We will gather all we can of white
In sugar, teeth, cake icing,
Clean paper, plastic forks, gym
Socks and soap bubbles and try
To tell others about this loveliness.
Only the babies will understand
What we have to say. But
We will say it anyway.
Sometimes the pain screams
Such a brilliant white light across
Our brains we forget everything
We were going to do or say.
So much for that sway snow
Had for carrying us away. Quietly.
(or are they mushrooms?)