Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pen & The Sword

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

The image in the skinny blue column
passes off an image of a man with his
arms down and a complacent expression,
as William Shakespeare. This cannot

During Broken Promises week, the
man should be poised with his arms
raised, white-knuckled fists clenched
around a spear that he shakes relentlessly
while his clearly strained face betrays
the hopeless desperation of a man who
has entirely exhausted all avenues of
civil remedy.

Back in his day there was no “Call Curtis”
or any other ombudsman to fix your
problems. A man had to stand his ground
and beat off any detractors. Even if the
pen is mightier than the sword, as later
authors would conclude, William Shakespeare
knew that you had to keep them both sharp,
just in case.


Thanks, Carl. The "skinny blue column" he refers to is, of course, Medusa's bulletin board. And, of course, this is Broken Promises week on Medusa, about which Carl says: Bridges are built from wood, steel and concrete. If weak, they can be reinforced, and if broken, they can be rebuilt. Promises are built from trust. Once weakened or broken, there is no more trust.

Recently I realized to my shock and dismay that, although Carl sends us lots of fine material and is frequently posted on Medusa, he's never been featured—an oversight which we are rectifying today. About himself, he writes:

Born and raised in Culver City, California, blocks from MGM Studios, superstars, limos, etc. I appeared once on Bowling for Dollars (where I got a spare) but have no other nexus with Hollywood. I entered college on crutches as a left-handed, near sighted, coma survivor who fondly remembered his motorcycle, but not what hit him. After getting a degree in music from UCLA I sampled sales, banking, teaching, law office support, and now I’m a state worker. Married (27 years) to my sweet soul mate, and we have one grown son. That’s it, no ungrown sons or daughters, unless you count our pets, Chica Chihuahua, Myrtle Turtle, and Rosy Boa. I used to pepper newspapers with my opinion letters, and when we moved to Sacramento I found a greater opportunity for expression in the local poetry scene. In 2008 I read some left-leaning poems at Queen Sheba’s, and more recently I have attended the [Hart Center] Tuesday Workshop, been published in Medusa’s Kitchen, and will be in the next Ophidian.

Thanks, Carl!

Ekphrasticism Lives in Livermore!

Sacramento is the home town of Ekphrasis, Carol and Laverne Frith’s poetry journal that combines art and poetry. Now the City of Livermore presents the Third Biennial Ekphrasis Exhibition of Poetry and Art. Paintings and photography by local artists are on display weekdays during regular business hours and by appointment at Windermere Welcome Home Realty in the Vine Cinema Plaza. Writers are invited to create poetic responses to whichever artwork they choose, then submit two copies of up to three poems along with a $10 entry fee (payable to the City of Livermore) to Cher Wollard, c/o Windermere Welcome Home Realty, 1790 First St., Livermore, CA 94550. One copy must include your name, address, e-mail and phone number. The second copy should include no identifying information.

Entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 1. Winning poems will be displayed beside the art at ArtWalk from Oct. 9 through Nov. 30. Other entries will be included in an album for the public to see.

Info: Peggy Schimmelman at or Cher Wollard at


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Their ancestors were dinosaurs
dominant, tough, cold-blooded, deadly,

landed aristocracy
leaving children their old money.

Now they fly to where the weather suits them
educated, incorporated, mobile, cunning,

children of democracy
in the land of milk and honey.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Welcome to the people farm
where all parenting is delegated
to surrogates, and the primary
role of couples who mate is to
produce a marketable product.

During your stay here, you will
be escorted around by handlers.
Attorney coached, they make no
promises they can’t break. About
the best you can do here is to be a
free range chicken, free at least
until you become someone’s meal.

You get special treatment if your
meat is lean and trim, as there
are wonderful opportunities for
you in sports and entertainment.
Once your body is worthy of
showcasing, or whenever it is
not, you’re history. There is no
emotion here, because meat isn’t
capable of harboring opinions.

If your mind is quick and your
movements agile, you may be the
lucky recipient of awards and
scholarships. Congratulations,
you are now a more marketable

The time has come to shut the
gates and let everyone get some
sleep. Don’t even think of trying
to leave here…


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

In certain carefully defined circumstances
a handy law gives an out:
enter a plea of justifiable homicide,
when that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

In politics, it is anything goes,
one’s candidate to anoint:
lively campaign with justifiable truth-aside,
when that is necessary to make a point.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

We moved from Southern to
Northern California and expected
to experience four seasons. But
this year there was no summer.

Those glorious two-pound
beefsteak tomatoes that we grew
in Long Beach would just be a
distant memory, offset by all the
broadly smiling weather reporters
who are just deliriously happy that
temperatures stayed below triple
digit. We’re not celebrating.

A year without summer is like a
sailing vessel caught in the
doldrums, or a multi-cell flashlight
with one battery missing, or a top
notch race horse with a broken
leg, and on and on…

This winter we are going to really
turn up the heat.


Today's LittleNip:

The secret of being tiresome is to tell everything.




Carl Bernard Schwartz