Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Singing Of Our Tribe

 Gary Snyder, 2011
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

They use the same words I do:
wind, water, heart, omen.
They use sentences, usually English,
as I do. And walk as I do,
through a similar world.

Yet the pens they hold
put words in a different order.
They notice things I never see
until they point them out.
They keep an orderly muse.

My muse hands me scrambled thoughts,
directs my attention to motes of dust,
leads me into blind alleys and dark corners.
My pen is mostly dry or blotchy.
No clarity, here. No observation

of grand spaces or unfolding ideas.
It’s rambles of image, colliding in confusion,
a cacophony of words, randomly chosen,
attention skipping from flower to star.
How am I to make a poem of this?


Our thanks to today's contributors, including Katy Brown, who has been making the best of her brand-new retirement by attending readings and book shows, snapping photos wherever she goes, then coming home and writing about it. Her photo of Gary Snyder was taking at UCD last week.

Snow and ice will probably keep me up on the hill tonight—not that we'll be snowed in, but once the roads are plowed, they turn icy at night and unsafe for travel. [See "Life in Pollock Pines" at the bottom of the skinny blue box for a visual.] Anyway, frank andrick will be holding down the fort this evening, February 17, at 8pm at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sac., for the release of WTF9. He'll be starting our third year and welcoming Rachel Leibrock to the staff as Associate Editor. Check it out! And don't forget the March 1 deadline for O2—the second issue of our online journal, The Ophidian. Check the b-board at the right for details on these happenings and many, many more!

Do you ever go to Check it out—but save plenty of time for it; it’s addictive!


There are many shades and hues of blue
within its own scheme to fit one's mood
for some reason most "color blind" individuals see it
even replacing it for many other colors in the rainbow
Symbolic of either sadness or joy
it can mean death or life
depending on the culture or circumstances
Azure and cyan sky colors on clear days
Warm baby blues, electric and aquamarine
reflections in water and the seas
Dark shades for above when it rains
Midnight and indigo surrounding the moon

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

I wait in my blue gown
lips lined
throat gone dry
for the call that does not come.

Pictures on my bedroom wall
ease this wanting time:

a seated ballerina, her back to me,
turns her gaze to a blue-shadowed
painting: a Degas dancer
on the wall beside her.
She waits there.

Ingres’ woman in blue,
Comtessa d’Haussonville,
crooks the pointer finger of her right hand
beneath her chin and smiles.
She has no need to wait.

Beyond these walls,
beyond pictures here,
minute by minute days grow shorter.
Startled moments fly like wild geese
crying above autumn clouds.

On his white horse
Rembrandt’s Polish Rider looks
into distance. No one knows for sure
the meaning of this enigmatic painting
so alone
here in my bedroom I can believe
he rides to me.

By my garden wall
a blue jay
brash blue with shades of brown
splashes in a puddle fed by a sprinkler
feeding thirsty grass.

(First published in Poetry Now, August, 2009)


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

What a terrifying adjustment it must
be for people to visit our country
and find out what really, truly
dominates in this land of opportunity.

Put away those rosy expectations
of Constitutional guarantees. The
front-runner far and away is a
long standing, pert near-immovable
culture based on entitlements that
overshadows the Constitution’s ban
on honoring titles of nobility.

The Meg Whitmans of America,
joined by many, many others,
believe that their financial success
fully entitles them to hire foreigners
cheaply to come and clean their toilets.

If we are to save the country money
by reducing entitlements, it will
take far more than just some hurried
legislation mandating spending cuts.
Meaningful change will require a
thorough program to re-educate the
public about the whole culture of

Then start cutting from the top.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

Ever since our fiscal freight
train has gotten off track
and there are just not enough
earnings and revenue anymore
to take care of our basic needs,
we have been looking for an answer.

One thing that could help put
our hocked-to-the-hilt house
in order is to adjust our currency
to reflect true market value.

When someone plays a game
of chance and wins a huge
amount of money for example,
they should be paid off in
dumb luck bucks, worth about
10 cents on the dollar of the
regular wages paid for sweat labor.
The other 90 cents goes to the
General Fund.

When someone enjoys lucrative
gains from investments made by
their folks, this pampered parents
paper should be valued at 5% of
the typical earnings of disabled
veterans. The other 95% goes to
the General Fund.

When the survivors of an hourly
employee who is shot to death on
the job are awarded restitution by
the court, that token tender should
be a sum equal to the average
annual bonus pocketed by corporate
executives. The state should tax
these bonuses at a rate sufficient to
fund such restitution payments.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

OK, we all know that silk
comes from silkworms,
but where does the blue
come from?

I couldn’t pull any blue
out of bombyx mori, and
the mulberry fruit many
feed on is not that hue.

Maybe the worms just
feel blue because they are
overworked, underpaid,
and command little respect,
like legions of human blue
collar workers

Blue could also just be an
arbitrary advertising gimmick
like the blue plate special
meals at diners. It may
require such a gimmick to
sell blue silk fans, with all
the competition from air

On St. Patrick’s Day we
enjoy green bagels and
other foods that are not
normally green. How
about having a Blue Silk
Day, where everything is
presented in blue?

I like blue.


Today's LittleNip:

...poems follow the contours of life, the loneliness of the artist, the uses of war, the role of nature, the constancy of love, and the coming on of death.  They are the singing of our tribe, called out from the heart across the noisy business of daily life.  Read them in a generous spirit, prepared to hear your own heart roaring in your ear.

—Christopher Burns



—Photo by Katy Brown