Monday, January 03, 2022

Which Side The Norm?

—Poetry by Caschwa (Carl Schwartz), Stephen Kingsnorth, 
Joseph Nolan, Claire J. Baker
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of Joseph Nolan

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Before the miracle of my conception
there was a most useful device called
the Dick Tracy Wrist Radio, at first
deployed strictly for official, police

eventually the device evolved to
encompass the entire world wide web,
available to all kinds of speakers and
listeners, so Future Shock fast that
even before we had half a clue what
the old normal was, this thing had its
own reserved, first-class seat in the
exclusive New Normal section

while parts of the world are still using
wring washers, and rely on freezers
that require manual (ugh!) defrosting,
members of the New Normal club
have every task programmed to perform
by themselves while they sit back and
read ratings and reviews on the latest
crafty inventions to hit the market

most recently, some scientists have
devised a revolutionary (what else could
it be?) telescopic apparatus to finally
divulge, in terms the mass media can
understand, the secrets of the origin of
whatchamacallit, as if we had sent up a
wise owl to the stratosphere to report on
what it saw

so what will next replace New Normal?
stay tuned, kids, set your decoder rings
to blah, blah, blah, you know the drill 


(“Three things displease God and man,
A poore man proude, a rich man a lyer,
and an olde man in loue.” John Florio:
Firste Fruites XXIII)

the Civil War was fought and won
the loser’s pride was not undone

they kept the fight alive with might
the winner’s win tucked out of sight

a bid to reconstruct our laws
was laden with too many flaws

we could not use defeat to stop
what had begun ere mom and pop

medieval rites of flags and such
put equity beyond our clutch 



long before I was old enough
to even have my own bicycle
I knew the experience of being
blinded by bright lights shone
by other people, perhaps to
gesture that they had the greater
power, and don’t mess with it

there was the school principal
with that hard, wooden yardstick
to enforce the rules, and all kinds
of other people blinded by bias,
hate, addiction, feud, bloodline,
tradition, and every manner of
extremist positions

stepping outside, I might as well
sport a red-tipped, white cane
because even though my vision
is good enough to pass the DMV
test without corrective lenses, the
landscape I peruse will likely not
reveal the military assault weapons

so dearly embraced by ubiquitous
gun enthusiasts who grab a fully
automatic killing machine with the
same casual abandon as reaching
for a cigarette after sex, ears still
ringing from the gunfire, just like in
the movies 

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales, UK

How long can normal remain new?
What was for granted, drained itself?
As if no record, that before?
Elders have always blamed the young
as profligate, indisciplined.
But what is benchmark for the norm?

Without extremes, how measure mean—
I reckon most are sometimes so?
Do we mean mode, highest in group,
or median for middle, range?
But maybe all unique as set
and average does not exist,
for every norm is deviant?

For what it’s worth, my norm seems strange;
incarnate deity, veiled flesh,
so born to raise those born of earth,
participants in the divine—
so what earns ‘normal’ in this case?

My grandad had a cousin, Norm.
The irony, those whispered words,
‘he wasn’t normal, breech at birth’.
Dramatic, he was kindest soul,
too loving, kindly for this world.

Can we divine the thumbprint norm?
Or name its pattern, snowstorm flake?
Some faith, its founder, or their book,
depends, reflection, well sourced look,
the mirrorwork, despite the depth,
so close aligned with who we are?

The type, it varies round the globe;
how often it is wrapped in flag
and hoisted that the globe might see?
The freedom fighter, terrorist,
two sides, same coin, in a spin?
It just depends which side your norm? 
Let’s just have a cuppa and take a nap…

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Come October,
Weather is colder,
Leaves full of color,
Before they fall.

When trees
Are devoid
Of leaves,
Winds blow colder,
Summoning Winter,
That comes first in frost,
Then, in ice-covered puddles,
In morning,
The ice, just a warning,
Of much colder days to come!


—Joseph Nolan
Blind in one eye,
Deaf in the other ear,
Switching back and forth,
From week to weak
And year after year,
In an election cycle,
In a two-party
System of fear!

The one thing the
Rulers agree on
Is the need for continuing war,
To support our MIC
And the need for funding, more!

Five-hundred thousand
Dead Iraqi children,
Between the two Gulf Wars,
“Was surely regrettable,”
Said Madeline Albright,
“But a justifiable price to pay,”
So William Jefferson Clinton
Could get laid,
In the Oval Office
Or blown,
Off to the side,
Since Hillary, his bride,
Preferred to be
With Yoko Ono,
Or someone else,
But not be his wife,
Except on the show,
In photos
For the press,
Where the worst
Among us, undress,
To reveal their fleas
And strange incapacities,
As they rule
Over us,
As a disease,
If you please.

—Joseph Nolan

It’s not
Always a lot,
All at once—
This thing
We call living.

But it’s always
At least
A little
At a time,
Always a little work,
A touch of this,
A touch of that.

So put yourself to it,
Here, in the present,
If closely
You listen,
You will hear
Moments rhyme
Over time.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

Not shy,
a poet won
the top-prize: Icarus
fell through the sea & back toward
the sun.


2022 has begun with a hoot ’n a holler, thanks to our many contributors and their varied takes on life and on our current Seed of the Week: The New Normal. For more about the Dick Tracy Wrist Radio, go to

Stuff happens. Editors trip over their fingers and mess things up; it’s a matter of fact and will happen far more than we would like. My latest TWO (count ‘em—TWO) mess-ups happened to former Brit and now Welshman Stephen Kingsnorth. Last Friday I titled one of his poems, “Reading the Moon”, when it was supposed to be “Reading the Mood”. Okay—sorry, I said, and fixed it (though reading the moon is kind of interesting as a title…). Then—bless his heart and sharp eye—Stephen realized I had left the last six lines off that same poem! Arghhh… Don’t be shy, though, about pointing out such pococurante (!) on my part in the future. A poet’s work is too important to be presented wrongly. So herewith is Stephen’s complete poem, last six lines intact, as it should’ve appeared last Friday. It was a response to an Ekphrastic challenge with a pink typewriter and a copy of
Little Women:

—Stephen Kingsnorth
What might the other volumes be?
A Study, Letter, Pimpernel;
the scarlet titles blow where will.
There’s much capacity for pink.
Brighton Rock, unlikely theme -
written Greene, but Pinkie starred.
Repeated panthers on the prowl -
Sellers’ market for the films.
By royal appointment taking place,
those bindings show fast fading past;
is that so, rehearsed arguments,
when colour codes lent poor excuse
to label, pigeon hole, enclose.
Dare publisher be Everyman—
all tied up as words evolve:
should we blame old as meanings change,
yet wicked ways hold to account?
Is it that body can be trap,
in gender or in spirit terms?
Why are flesh tones assumed pale pink,
art lovers of the renaissance?
Another berth, relaunch today,
would surely see a global earth,
and we would note the mastery,
mystery, cultures, not our own.
This not a setting for my tale.
I have no drama for this scene.
I would interrogate the props.
I need question director’s cut,
and muse on ‘what is meant by that?’
I should ask what the prompting is.
Will one stand and right-justify?
As was once said to Lazarus:
‘Unbind him now, and let him go’.

Sac. Poetry Center’s weekly workshops are still on hiatus (until the week of Jan. 10). But tonight (Mon. (1/3), 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center Socially Distant Verse features Fong Tran and Marvin Xia, with opening remarks from Sac. Poet Laureate Andru Defeye and SPC President Stuart Canton. Zoom (only) at (Meeting ID: 763 873 3462 / pass: r3trnofsdv/.) Info:

This coming Thursday at 7pm, Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis presents Andru Defeye and Holly Mitchell via Zoom: Open mic after the readers (one chosen text or three minutes). Host: Dr. Andy Jones. Info:{"source"%3A"29"%2C"ref_notif_type"%3A"plan_user_invited"%2C"action_history"%3A"null"}&notif_id=1641058547529962&notif_t=plan_user_invited&ref=notif/.

Sacramento Poet Eskimo Pie Girl Rebecca Morrison, who moved to France several years ago, is closing down her journal as of December, 2021. On that website, she has written, “Submissions are permanently closed for this website. Visit our new duo-language website at Please send submissions to” This is a loss to us; the eskimo pie website has been in action since 2002—almost 20 years! 



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