Monday, June 18, 2007

Big Nasties

—Robert Beverly Hale

All of a sudden the big nasturtiums
Rose in the night from the ocean's bed,
Rested a while in the light of the morning,
Turning the sand dunes tiger red.

They covered the statue of Abraham Lincoln,
They climbed to the top of our church's spire.
"Grandpa! Grandpa! Come to the window!
Come to the window! Our world's on fire!"

Big nasturtiums in the High Sierras,
Big nasturtiums in the lands below;
Our trains are late and our planes have fallen,
And out in the ocean the whistles blow.

Over the fields and over the forests,
Over the living and over the dead—
"I never expected the big nasturtiums
To come in my lifetime!" Grandpa said.


And you'll never find a finer poem about Big Nasties, I bet! No nasturtium poems in the new Rattlesnake Review, though—but that's just about the ONLY thing it doesn't have. Final count: 74 pages of poetry, artwork, photos, articles, plus the usual cryptogram, Sam Kieth art and other tasty ophidian fare... Bring your pack animals to carry the weight and come see us Weds. night at The Book Collector to pick up your copy!

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Monday, 6/18), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Luke Breit and José Montoya at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [See last Saturday's post for bios of these fine poets.] Next Monday's SPC reading (6/25) will feature Modesto's editors of the journal, Hardpan, including rattlechappers debee loyd and Karen Baker.

•••Wednesday (6/20), 7:30 PM: Rattlesnake Press is proud to present a new chapbook by Sacramento Poet Tom Miner, entitled North of Everything. Also featured that night will be a brand-new littlesnake broadside from Stockton Poet/Publisher David Humphreys, entitled Cominciare Adagio, and #3 in B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series, this one a conversation with Sacramento Poet Jane Blue. Not to mention the hefty Rattlesnake Review #14!
Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.

•••Also Wed. (6/20), 7 PM: Writers of the New Sun / Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol presents Rosa Martha Villarreal introducing The Stillness of Love & Exile (Tertulia Press), her contemporary novel of a spirited Mexican woman’s escape from entrapment in a loveless and abusive marriage. The author, a local teacher and writer, follows Lilia’s escape from a wrathful Mexican drug lord to a rural Mexican town where a series of events that started in Medieval Spain come to fruition, leading Lilia to her final journey of love and magic. Rose is the co-founder of Tertulia Press, an online magazine dedicated to the tradition of independent, non-ideological discourse through art and written word. La Raza Galeria Posada, 1022-1024 22nd St., Midtown Sacramento, 916-446-5133. Rosa will answer questions about her writing and publication process. Her novel is available for sale. No charge for this event. You may contact her at: (916) 543-9364 or (916) 367-1167. For more information about Los Escritores call Graciela Ramirez at 916- 456-5323; website is

•••Thursday (6/21), 7:30 PM, Poetry Unplugged presents another Six Ft. Swells Book Release Party at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, wherein Six Ft. Swells Press presents the release of the third chapbook in their Cheap Shots Poetry Series: Cocktails & Confessions: A Collection of Poetry Inspired by Lust and Libations. Free. Special guests include Ann Menebroker, Matt Amott, Todd Cirillo, Luke Warm Water, Gene Bloom, Barbara Noble and, bringing up the/her rear, Kathy Kieth—plus others too numerous to mention! Info: (530) 271-0662.

THIS JUST IN: Todd Cirillo informs me that B.L. Kennedy has been inadvertently left off earlier publicity for the 6FSwells release party, and that he will definitely be reading. Todd says: "Todd Cirillo would not read if BL Kennedy was unavailable to read; it is important to observe mastery of the poet on stage."

•••Also Thursday (6/21), 7:30 PM: The Nevada County Poetry Series presents Terry Moore and Theresa McCourt at the Off Center Stage, (the Black Box theater, enter from Richardson Street), at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley. Terry Moore is the "Sounds of Soul" Black Music Awards' 2005 Best Male Spoken Word Performer and 2001 Poet of the Year and in 2002 was nominated for its Entertainer of the Year Award. He has worked with The Temptations, CeCe Winans, Lalah Hathaway, Maya Angelou and many others. Terry is the author of 15 poetry books and 7 spoken word CDs. He has appeared on the world-famous Showtime at the Apollo, been nominated by the Los Angeles Black Music Awards for its "2004 Best Spoken Word Performer" and is a Twelve-time Slam Champion. He is a founder and member of spoken word group Born 2B Poets and a member of the 2003 and 2004 Sacramento National Slam Team. Check him out at Theresa McCourt is a transplant from Manchester, England. She has a B.A. in English Literature and Drama from Birmingham, England, and an M.A. in English Literature from CSU Sacramento. She worked for the California Legislature for five years and ran her own business, Capital Wordplay, for the next eleven. While in business, she taught writing and wrote freelance articles for national and local magazines and newspapers, including an eight-year run as a biweekly columnist for The Sacramento Bee. April 27 of this year, she was selected to participate in the 2007 Artist Residency Institute, funded by the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. In January 2007, she won a first place in the Maggi H. Meyer Memorial Contest, and in Fall 2006, a first in the Ina Coolbrith contest. Credits include, Poetry Now, The Sacramento News and Review, Rattlesnake Review, Song of the San Joaquin, Toyon, and Night and Day. To read a sample of her work, go to Click on archives, then on Marginalia/Billy Collins (September 2006). For more information about the reading, call (530) 432-8196 or (530) 274-8384. $5 general, seniors and students, and $1 for those under 18. Refreshments and open mic included. For map:

•••Saturday (6/23), 7:30 PM: The Book Collector presents Unheimlich Theater: Antonin Artaud and his dopplegangers. Unheimlich Theater re-emerges from the Bardo state to inseminate a new myth of Chaos, Anarchy, and Lucid Unreason. Unheimlich is here not to raise consciousness, but to release the tide of the Uncanny, to break out the underside of Pandora's hoary box and release the likes of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Poe, Hoffmann, Holderline, Michaux, and especially Antonin Artaud order to undermine a society that has allowed psychology & technology to be on a first-name basis with the creation of its imperious culture. We invite you to the first performance of Antonin Artaud and His Dopplegangers. That’s at The Book collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento (between J and K Sts.). Info: 916-442-9295 or

•••Sunday (6/24), Open mic at 6, program at 7 PM: Borders Books in Stockton (10776 Trinity Parkway, just off Eight Mile Road) presents Marie Ross. [See the new Snake14 for a sample of Marie’s poetry.]


—J.R. Pope

O what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
But when we've practiced quite a while
How vastly we improve our style!



Oh that my soul a marrow-bone might seize!
For the old egg of my desire is broken,
Spilled is the pearly white and spilled the yolk, and
As the mild Melancholy contents grease
My path, the shorn lamb baas like bumblebees.
Time's trashy purse is as a taken token
Or like a thrilling recitation, spoken
By mournful mouths filled full of mirth and cheese.

And yet, why should I clasp the earthful urn?
Or find the frittered fig that felt the fast?
Or choose to chase the cheese around the churn?
Or swallow any pill from out the past?
Ah no, Love, not while your hot kisses burn
Like a potato riding on the blast.


—Eli Seigel




Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events to (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) 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.)

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

Journals (free publications): Rattlesnake Review13 is available at The Book Collector; RR14 will be out June 20. Next deadline, for RR15, is August 15. VYPER6 (for youth 13-19) is in The Book Collector; next deadline is Nov. 1. Snakelets10 (for kids 0-12) is now available at The Book Collector; next deadline is 10/1.

Books/broadsides: May's releases are Grass Valley Poet Ron Tranquilla’s Playing Favorites: Selected Poems, 1971-2006, plus a littlesnake broadside by Julie Valin (Still Life With Sun) and a Rattlesnake Interview Broadside (#2) featuring Khiry Malik Moore and B.L. Kennedy. All are now available at The Book Collector. Rattlechaps are $5; broadsides are free. Or contact or for ordering information.

Next rattle-read: Rattlesnake Press will present Sacramento Poet Tom Miner at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, on Wednesday, June 20 from 7:30-9 PM to celebrate the release of his new chapbook, North of Everything. Also featured that night will be a new littlesnake broadside (Cominciare Adagio) from Stockton Poet/Publisher David Humphreys, plus #3 in the Rattlesnake Interview Series by B.L. Kennedy, this one featuring Sacramento Poet Jane Blue. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's. More info: NOTE: For June, and for June only, our monthly Rattlesnake reading will be on the THIRD Weds. instead of the second one. And there will be no Snake readings/releases in July or August.