Saturday, October 30, 2010

Starry Veins of Words

Michelle Kunert

For Halloween I'm a can of spray cheese
with a red and blue logo saying "KRAP"
also as an entry to chef Jimmy Oliver’s bad food contest
(also to get a $2.00 burrito at Chipotle)
to be one of the creepiest foods ever with strange history:
Starting in 1903
J.L. Kraft couldn't sell his processed cheese in Chicago
can you imagine this German immigrant
actually pushed it, going door to door
with a wicked grin like Jehovah’s Witnesses
"Scuze me Madam pleaze buy my vun-derful cheeze!
Okay, den it haz many other uzes if you don't eat it…"
But alas for Mr Kraft, Americans still ate "real" food—
being an era when food was still "slow"
from the farms, to be prepared in kitchens
not cranked out of factories and made with petro chemicals
But in WWI he sold his cheese to the military
because they wanted stuff that wouldn't spoil
Therefore "cheese" goop with indefinite shelf life began
along with other pre-packaged products sold as "food"
that would last in the same state for over a thousand years  
to make Americans sick and clog their arteries
and make them the fattest people in the world

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

The morgue
is full of unmet deadlines:
ice cream fallen from its cone,
the vitality of tomorrow gone
from the marrow.

A bustling maternity ward
features due dates
throughout the room
oft hastened by technology
that severs the womb.

The editor’s desk
juggles brilliance and dull,
a zillion submissions lay on the floor
what’s one to do with this unrefined ore?
too much cargo will sink this old hull.

Rehearsals, rehearsals,
we must all be ready
when it is our time
to stand up and shine
like a wave pounded jetty.

Now we’re back to the dead
lined row after row
under markers and gravestones,
flowers, silent moans,
it was too soon to go.

The new issue of Sacramento Poetry Center's Poetry Now is now online at And don't forget that today is the new, extended deadline for SPC's Tule Review:


—Nelly Sachs

White serpent 
polar circle
wings in the granite
rose-colored sadness in blocks of ice
frontier zones around the secret
heart-throbbing miles of distance
wind-chains hanging from homesickness
flaming grenade of anger—

And the snail
with the ticking luggage of God's time.

(Translated from the German by Michael Hamburger)


In the blue distance
where the red row of apple trees wanders
—rooted feet climbing the sky—
the longing is distilled
for all those who live in the valley.

The sun, lying by the roadside
with magic wands,
commands the travelers to halt.

They stand still
in the glassy nightmare
while the cricket scratches softly
at the invisible

and the stone dancing
changes its dust to music.

—Nelly Sachs
(Translated from the German by Ruth and Matthew Mead)


—Nelly Sachs

Be perhaps
smoky with error
have still created a wandering universe
with the language of breath?

Again and again the fanfare
of beginning blown
the grain of sand coined at full speed
before it grew light again
above the embryo's
bud of birth?

And are again and again 
in your domains
even when we do not remember night
and bit off with our teeth
the starry veins of words
from the depth of the sea.

And yet till your acre
behind the back of death.

Perhaps the detours of the Fall
are like meteors' secret desertions
but inscribed in the alphabet of storms
beside the rainbows—

But who knows
the degrees of making fertile
and how the green corn is bent
from soils eaten away
for the sucking mouths
of light.

(Translated from the German by Ruth and Matthew Mead)


Today's LittleNip:

Moderation in all things—including moderation.

—Mark Rotter



Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove