Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Art of Fire

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento

Wanting to write about small things, like red-violet
lupines, tangled sweet peas, wild rose and redbud,

four stallions interrupt me, roaring, barking
like old dragons at the sky, barn, pond, road,

anything that will listen. They make me think
of larger things, green shrubbery dotting scorched

flowerfalls clinging to fire eroded canyons, and bare
streams fed by thin springs, a few spewing—silent,

as a baby’s easy regurgitation, leaky mountain milk
from a weak wet nurse, withering breasts, arid and dry

as Black Butte, the cinder cone around Mt. Shasta.
Born in a firebomb, so many remnants of a molten

birth, a gradual fading, like striped awnings on old brick
porches. And, I must shade my eyes from sinking

arctic ice wedges, collapsing, leaving spongy depressions,
spotted rinds, over-ripe fruit, rendering the soil useless.

Medusa is still having a give-away: send in your poems about fire, whichever side of her you choose—horrifying, capricious, passionate, humbling, cleansing—and I'll send you a free copy of Tom Miner's new rattlechap, North of Everything. Email your poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com or snail them to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by midnight tomorrow (Weds., July 25). Here are some more contributions; all of today's poems are by Rattlechappers, and mightily proud of 'em, we are! Thanks, kids!

—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

There’s fire all around,
some over there
and some over here,
some back behind
and some right out front.
The smoke’s getting thick,
the ash heavy
and they’re packing up the house;
taking a few pictures,
mom’s pearl earrings,
the bible and the dog.
Spray painting a note,
on the garage door,
for the guys with the big trucks
and big hoses.
And somewhere in the mountains
there’s a kid
with a half frozen
package of weenies,
a single serving can of pork and beans,
a little piece of flint
and a small
metal bar.
He’s thinking about sewing
the merit badge on
and telling the rest of the guys
in the troop,
“That’s how you do
it without matches,


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

Flesh rubs upon flesh.
The dance kindles sweet fire

In the Green Room words wait:
fallen pine needles from
conifers that hide in the walls.

When you reached over to touch my foot
peonies rooted in my pelvis
blossomed in the air of my lungs.

Now you are gone
my flowers uncut.

I am one with the half moon
seven days from the new moon
each night diminished.

My shadow dance does not
rekindle fire,
does not light the night.


—Allegra Silberstein

Her fingers stumble on the keyboard,
reaching across letters
into elisions or doublings,
the backspace employed to gain
inch by inch, words imbedded
in fragments of incendiary thoughts.
I am one with the valley fog, she sighs,
that shrouds this day in widow-weeds of gray.

On her cluttered desk she notes a news item
clipped from the Sunday paper:
Old flames burn the hottest.

She remembers and remembering laughs…
lets memory lead her astray,
goes to build a fire in the old wood stove.
After carefully stacking the wood
she lights a bunch of crumpled newspaper
to get a good upward draft
rushing through the chimney
strong enough to pierce the heavy air.

Her fingers know the art of fire.

(This poem appeared in Allegra’s rattlechap, In the Folds.)


—Allegra Silberstein

Laurel gathers kindling,
scraps of wood that easily ignite,
to build the fire that warms her house.

Upon the kindling, side by side
she places reluctant logs—
not too close, a little space between,
for the breathing place a fire needs.

With one stroke she lights her match.
Soon the flames
bring welcome warmth.

Strange, she thinks, how bits
and pieces bring the wood to burn,

little odds and ends
kindled to the burning point
inflamed by one light touch.



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 kathykieth@hotmail.com (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 Review14 is now available at The Book Collector; contributors and subscribers should have received theirs by now. If you're none of those, and can't get down to The Book Collector, send two bux (for postage) to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 and I'll mail you a copy. If you want more than one, please send $2 for the first one and $1 for copies after that. 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 also at The Book Collector; next deadline is Oct. 1.

Books/broadsides: June's releases include Tom Miner's chapbook, North of Everything; David Humphreys' littlesnake broadside, Cominciare Adagio; and #3 in B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series, this one featuring Jane Blue.

ZZZZZZZ: Shh! The Snake is sleeping! There will be no Snake readings/releases in July or August. Then we return with a bang on September 12, presenting Susan Kelly-DeWitt's new chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree. See the online journal, Mudlark, for a hefty sample of poems from her book; that’s http://www.unf.edu/mudlark/. Also coming in the Fall: new issues of the Review, Snakelets and VYPER [see the above deadlines], plus more littlesnake broadsides from NorCal poets near and far, and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including an anthology of interviews to be released for Sacramento Poetry Month (October).