Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Call It Something

Beauty peaks
The curiosity
Of man
Of beasts

—Poem and Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar

—Kim Sowol

Should you come to me
Years from now,
I shall say: "I have forgotten."

Should you scold me,
I shall say: "After much longing I have forgotten."

Should you persist in scolding me,
I shall say: "For lack of trust I have forgotten."

Not yesterday, not today,
But years from now,
I shall say: "I have forgotten."

(Translated from the Korean by Kim O'Rourke)


Thanks to today's contributors! Our Seed of the Week is "Things I Have Forgotten"—although, as Taylor Graham says, how could we remember them? Anyway, send your riffs on things you remember that you've forgotten to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 96726.

Call for Chapbooks:

The Special Collections Department at the University of California, Davis, seeks copies of chapbooks published by presses and poets in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Literary Watershed, including the Sierra Nevada, and in the North Coast region, Marin County to the Oregon border. Self-published chapbooks are also desired. The Library seeks a comprehensive record of press production and of the poets who live here, and seeks at least a representative collection of these Northern California literary landscapes. Well over 90% of the poets’ chapbooks held at UCDavis which are listed in the UCDavis Library HARVEST catalog are also in WorldCat, the international online library catalog.

Please send them to John Sherlock, Special Collections Department, University of California, General Library, 100 North West Quad, Davis CA 95616-5292. You may check the websites which list publications already known about or held at 

You may direct some questions to David Anderson, a Lincoln poet and a UCDavis Library retiree at David can answer non-technical questions. Direct your questions about the chapbooks collection and bibliography to Sherlock at

Note: If you download the pdf of the UCD collection, you'll see that they already have all the Rattlesnake Press books and broadsides; no need for rattlechappers and SnakePals to send their work.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

I’ve forgotten (if I ever knew) how to read
a fortune in tea leaves drowned at the bottom
of a cup. Likewise, the words to Un Hombre
Solo, and the name of the cinema in Freiburg
where I sat in the dark without subtitles.
I’ve forgotten the difference between mildew
and mold, but not the smell of books that lost
their stories to the flood. I’ve forgotten
the name of a little girl who was nowhere
near the dredger piles we searched; but I
recall she was found; not a little girl anymore.
And I remember how those heaps of rocks
grow glorious with poppies every spring.
Is this good fortune, tea leaves or not?
Shall we try to translate every tale to happy-
ending—even the words that wash away?


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

In the nursing home
among moans of misgivings
and odors of can’t get there myself

all the poetic images about
fields of flowers more delicate
than the dying poets themselves

are fused into cheery wallpaper
that is pasted so distant in time
and space behind the handrails

those annoying reminders of
immediate needs that drive a
weak body further and further
into the oblivion of helplessness.

If only I had been more careful
tearing the wrapper before
devouring that candy bar
I might be a millionaire…

If only I had actually read and
digested the books I bought then
shelved about how to better
manage one’s affairs…

If only I had properly anchored
those helium filled balloons we
could still celebrate childhoods
that have drifted away…



And death is done with us
We lie scattered across the fields,
Oh lovely little flowers no longer
Noticed by even the swift birds
Gathering colors to themselves so they
May deliver songs to the trees,
The banks of the river. Hear. Hear.

I don’t know why they are here.
They have found something else to do
Now that death has slid its gray
Hands away from us, stopped its
Fear mongering and no longer plans
To show us what we were unable
To see before he showed up with
His lovely capes and shoes and that
Music we were attracted to despite
The entire artificiality of the set.

I’ll walk you to the corner where
We can find the teachers looking
Up the roads and down the roads,
Explaining how it all works.
They will not seem strange to us.

We are the strange. We have seen
The ice crystals in the air and have
Moved them into shapes we can
Understand but are unable to find
Words to describe. Offer to
Dance with them, play the
Pauses where there is breathing and
There is no longer breathing.

And there it is again.
Let us not suppose that things
Will always work out this way.

Call it something.

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove


—D.R. Wagner

We watched the earth forgetting.
There were animals no longer seen,
Gems so brilliant they could create
Silence in the mouths of great kings,
The humming across Summer of insect
Joy, drifting their song above flowers
No longer seen in the draperies
Gathered by the seasons. Whose
Smile was that? and it is gone
Down the street, not part of
Memory at all, a flash, then nothing.

The music of a piano and a concertina
Wrapped in late evening and dressed in
Sharps and flats has gone dancing.
It will not come back. Perhaps
It will be mined from a lost manuscript
Far from now and be seen at eleven o’clock,
But for now, the earth has forgotten.

It is busy counting waves against a thousand
Shores, finding them unspeakably beautiful.
It watches the moonlight on wheat fields
Ready for harvest beneath a full moon
Wondering what color they are, how it
Might be called, if at all. There is
Always more. It forgets the leaves of
A thousand trees and waits for us to
Notice they no longer have names.

Our families stretch their blood lines,
Their nets of living and dead upon the
Days, one upon one and suddenly one
Is forgotten, then two, then an uncle
Who was last remembered by a niece
Many years ago because he offered her a
Lovely glass he had found in a small
Store in the midwest. “I believe that store
Is no longer there. Perhaps you will
Like this glass. Look, it catches the sun
As if it being careful of the light.”

For now we will sit on the steps just
Outside the house and allow the moments
To come down around us without purpose
So we might better understand the earth,
Her strange habits, her long, long thoughts.


Today's LittleNip:

Put your regretter on zero.

—Mervyn Hine



Fish swim
Between the legs of men

—Poem and Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane