Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day One: Dad-a-Thon

Fernando Pessoa

Symbols? I’m sick of symbols...

Some people tell me that everything is symbols.
They’re telling me nothing.

What symbols? Dreams...
Let the sun be a symbol, fine...
Let the moon be a symbol, fine...
Let the earth be a symbol, fine...
But who notices the sun except when the rain stops
And it breaks through the clouds and points behind its back
To the blue of the sky?
And who notices the moon except to admire
Not it but the beautiful light it radiates?
And who notices the very earth we tread?
We say earth and think of fields, trees and hills,
Unwittingly diminishing it,
For the sea is also earth.

Okay, let all of this be symbols.
But what’s the symbol—not the sun, not the moon, not the earth—
In this premature sunset amidst the fading blue
With the sun caught in expiring tatters of clouds
And the moon already mystically present at the other end of the sky
As the last remnant of daylight
Gilds the head of the seamstress who hesitates at the corner
Where she used to linger (she lives nearby) with the boyfriend who left her?
Symbols? I don’t want symbols.
All I want—poor frail and forlorn creature!—
Is for the boyfriend to go back to the seamstress.

—Álvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa)
From: Poesia, published by Assírio & Alvim, Lisbon
Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith
From: Fernando Pessoa & Co. – Selected Poems
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1998


Today Fernando Pessoa would've been 119 years old. And W.B. Yeats would've been 142:

—William Butler Yeats

These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye;
The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,
Till that be tumbled that was lifted high
And discord follow upon unison,
And all things at one common level lie.
And therefore, friend, if your great race were run
And these things came, so much the more thereby
Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.



On Saturday (6/16) from 11 AM to 6 PM, don't miss the Juneteenth Talent Show at Sacramento's 6th Annual "Juneteenth in the Shade." Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday in 14 of the United States. Celebrated on June 19, it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. This year, join the parade of exciting events taking place Saturday in William Land Park, located at 1401 Sutterville Road in Sacramento (across from Sacramento City College), including the Juneteenth Poetry Jam: Catch some of Northern California's BEST poets performing live Black History and inspirational pieces. This will be the biggest poetry jam explosion in years, if not ever, in Sacramento. Saturday, 4-5 PM—ONE HOUR OF POWER!!!!!

Performers include:
1. NerCity
2. Rodzilla
3. Rob Anthony
4. V.S. Chochezi
5. Marianna Sousa
6. Terry Moore
7. Yoke Breaker
8. Yardley Griffin Jr.
9. Supanova

And then on Sunday (6/17), it's Gospel Sunday with Tommie Goss of the 103.5 - thebomb's Gospel Express, from noon to 5 PM. Other activities include Juneteenth Golf Tournament and the Juneteenth Education Theater. This is a FREE event— bring the entire family, your lawn chairs and blankets, and enjoy the festivities. More info:

The State Library currently has a Juneteenth display, though rumor has it that it could be better-lit. (Couldn't we all?......)

Medusa wants Dad poems:

Thank you to those who have responded so far to the Dad Poem Giveaway: send me poems about dads: wry, sentimental, disgusted, or otherwise, and I'll send you a rattlechap of your choosing. Photos, too! Dad's Day is Sunday; let's give 'em a proper send-up. Send poems and whatever to by midnight on Saturday, June 16, or snail 'em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA. Here are a couple from Taylor Graham:

(for Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith, 1810-1879)
—Taylor Graham, Somerset

In a pious family, it was your father who kept
the faith. Ploughshare laborer on rocky
Connecticut soil, earning pennies — he’d walk
two extra miles from market to offer an orange
to the elderly widow or the crippled man.

When he died, what father-example in your
eldest brother, Elijah the golden-haired?
He mapped the heavens. And then he led
two brothers and a sister into the wilderness
of Texas to make their fortune. Instead,

they died, all four, of fever. That left you, Elihu,
to take up your father’s vision and make it
yours: like him, a penniless dreamer, fighting
for brotherhood with voice and pen,
hammering the ploughshare from the sword.


—Taylor Graham

Short spare taciturn man,
he never let on
he spoke to trees and clouds
in passing; didn’t mention
there was anything ahead
worth seeing. Just
went striding along, not

so I had to try that much
harder to keep up,
didn't have time
to button my eyes or ears
shut. Finally
heard what it was
the clouds and trees were


Thanks, TG! Judy Taylor Graham is one of our resident columnists here at Rattlesnake Review; watch for her column, "Making Fun of Poetry", and more of her wonderful poems in the next issue, which is hatching as we speak, and will be out sometime next week, with luck.

And one more, from Marie Riepenhoff-Talty:

—Marie Riepenhoff-Talty, Roseville

I was the only one who went with
daddy to the only store in town.
He needed some twine for his corn binder.
At four years of age, I felt so important—
When the store keeper said,

Harry, I didn’t know you had another girl.
When was she born?

I backed out of the door and
prayed to turn into a boy.

Ten years later, when I could
hook and throw forty pound hay bales
easily and place them exactly,
my father said I was as
good as any boy.


Thanks, Marie!


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 Review #13 is available at The Book Collector; RR #14 will be out in mid-June. Next deadline, for RR #15, is August 15. VYPER #6 (for youth 13-19) is in The Book Collector; next deadline is Nov. 1. Snakelets #10 (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.