Thursday, August 10, 2006

While There Is Still Time

—Philip Larkin

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather later for me)—
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Up till then there'd only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for a ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me)—
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.


Well, that'll wake us up. Philip Larkin had a birthday yesterday; he would've been 84 years old.

—Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.


Like a Rocket:

Irene Lipshin launched her new rattlechap, Shadowlines, last night. She gave an excellent reading, as did littlesnake broadside author Norma Kohout (Out the Train Window). I'm always impressed with the loving, supportive quality of Nor-Cal poets and fans; 'twas a dandy launch, indeed, with Red Fox Underground poets coming out of their dens in the foothills to applaud the success of one of their own.

If you weren't there, take heed: announcements included the upcoming deadline for Rattlesnake Review (next Tues., Aug. 15); Phil Weidman will be releasing his rattlechap, Fictional Character: The Ernie Poems on Sept. 13; Patricia A. Pashby will release a littlesnake broadside that same night; the new, improved website just may be ready for launch in September, too!

To me, August is a time of endings and beginnings. Most of my life has revolved around the school system; August, ending with the State Fair, has always been both an ending (vacation, the major heat) and a beginning (starting school and a new cycle of the year). Send me poems about beginnings/endings before next Tuesday, August 15, and I'll send you a free copy of Irene's book and Norma's broadside. (Or something else, if you'd rather...) Send 'em to or P.O. Box 1647, Orangevale, CA 95662. [In case you didn't notice, Larkin's poetry that I posted today all deals with beginnings and endings, too. :-) ]

Tonight's readings:

•••Thursday (8/10), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged, TBA. Open mic before/after. Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sac. Info: 916-441-3931 or Free.

•••Also Thurs. (8/10), 8-11 PM: Open Mic for comedians, singers, poets at Cobbler Inn, 3520 Stockton Blvd. (next to Colonial Theater), Sac. Hosted by Flo Real and Malikspeaks. All ages, $5. Info:

J-Lee Has Moved!

Well, his blog, anyway. Rattlechapper and Raconteur James Lee Jobe has moved his blog to Check it out for postings of poetry, etc.—and send him stuff, too! J-Lee-J will also be taking over the Davis reading series, The Other Voice, in the fall.

Check Out The Raven:

The Raven Chronicles, a lively literary magazine out of Seattle, is looking for submissions on the theme: Citizen, Subject, Slave. They say, What do these words mean to you? What do they mean in the US? In other cultures? In a global society? In a nation's history? The Raven accepts prose, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction, interviews and book reviews. Mail to: The Raven Chronicles, Richard Hugo House, 1634 Eleventh Ave., Seattle, WA 98122-2419. Other details: or Deadline is Nov. 30.


—Philip Larkin

In the field, two horses,
Two swans on the river,
While a wind blows over
A waste of thistles
Crowded like men;
And now again
My thoughts are children
With uneasy faces
That awake and rise
Beneath running skies
From buried places.

For the line of a swan
Diagonal on water
Is the cold of winter,
And each horse like a passion
Long since defeated
Lowers its head,
And oh, they invade
My cloaked-up mind
Till memory unlooses
Its brooch of faces—
Streams far behind.

Then the whole heath whistles
In the leaping wind,
And shrivelled men stand
Crowding like thistles
To one fruitless place;
Yet still the miracles
Exhume in each face
Strong silken seed,
That to the static
Gold winter sun throws back
Endless and cloudless pride.


—Philip Larkin

Most people know more as they get older:
I give all that the cold shoulder.

I spent my second quarter-century
Losing what I had at university

And refusing to take in what had happened since.
Now I know none of the names in the public prints,

And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces
And swearing I've never been in certain places.

It will be worth it, if in the end I manage
To blank out whatever is it that is doing the damage.

Then there will be nothing I know.
My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.


—Medusa ("We should be kind, while there is still time...")

Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)