Monday, July 23, 2007

Neglecting the Night

—Poems by Tyler Swinney, Sacramento

Part I

Every door slams shut,
mini-blinds slowly descend
to neglect the night.

Artificial light
reflects on half-empty glass,
begs for attention.

Caramel bottle,
tipped, cuts gently through ice.
Sweat bleeds through pale skin.

We scream and kick, drunk,
like we own every street.
The moon howls my name.

Fist-fights in alleys,
rain falls on school uniforms.
We were meant for this.

Streetlamps hum and pulse,
keeping tempo, while water
sings down gutter drains.

Midnight car rides through
Existential bliss, dreaming
Of science and love.

Pitch black park benches
Smoked out, whispering secrets
All is understood.

Trees sway in the wind,
lean and whisper rumors that
morning quickly nears.

Sun threatens daybreak,
the moon refuses defeat.
We all neglect sleep.

—Tyler Swinney


Thanks, Tyler! Tyler Swinney says: I was born in Lodi, Ca, and grew up in that area. I am 19 years old, and I am a student at Sacramento City College. I am a creative writing major. I am somewhat new to poetry, and I have just had a poem published in Poetry Now, due out in the October issue.
—Tyler Swinney

The disc jockey talks quickly
through the car radio, tells me
there’s a show soon and
he wants me to go.

I lean back into the seat and
wait for the light to turn green.
Her dress gently teases her ankles
as she steps off the curb into
the dusty city streets,

a matador’s cape
dancing in the wind.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (7/23), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents A French Poetry Night, featuring Monique Heusner, Marie-Cémence Mayssonnier, Ellénore Bienick, Marc Feldman & Béatrice Hildebrand. HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Sponsored jointly by The Sacramento Poetry Center [] and Alliance Française []. Next week at SPC: Brandon Cesmat.

Ellenore Bienick was born in Paris to a French mother and an American father. She studied British and American literature at the Sorbonne and counseling at Sacramento State. But she admits her true passion is the literature and theater of her native France. She feels that, in order to enjoy fully other literary cultures, you must first know your own! Ellenore and her husband David moved to Sacramento in December 2005. David is a news reporter for KCRA and performed in the 2005 Sacramento Stage production of Moliere’s The Marriage Trap. Ellenore taught language and literature at the the Alliance Francaise for five years. Then, last December she became a full-time mother of twin boys. She now looks forward to teaching Daniel and Philippe to read... French poetry, of course!

Monique Heusner was born in France, but has lived in the U.S. for the last 40 years, where she studied to become a high school teacher in French and Art, while being a wife and mother. She is a part-time teacher at the Alliance Française. She states that, “Above all I cherish my family and friends. My personal interests are varied, ranging from spiritual development to music, to reading, to dabbling in paint or clay, to puzzle solving, ballroom dancing, movie or play watching, or traveling... and last but not least to laughing... In short, juggling with time while it lasts!”

Béatrice Hildebrand is originally from Brussels, Belgium. She is co-founder and director of the Alliance Française de Sacramento. She teaches conversational French in the community and reads French literature when not working or gardening.

•••Tuesday (7/24), 8 PM: Comedy and Poetry Open Mic at Butch-N-Nellie's, corner of 19th & I Streets, Downtown Sacramento. The hue & cry for more open mic opportunities for poets has been answered. Butch-N-Nellie's now host a weekly poetry and comedy feature with open mic. Support the businesses that support the literary arts. Info: 916-548-8391.

•••Wednesday (7/25), 6-7 PM: Hidden Passage Poetry Reading at Hidden Passage Books, 352 Main St. in Placerville. It's an open-mic read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen.

•••Thursday (7/26), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Care, 1414 16th St., Sacramento features Tana, Tessa, Kristin Lucas, Linsey King. Info: Art Luna at (916-441-3931). Hosted by B.L. Kennedy.

•••Saturday (7/28), 7:30 PM: Unheimlich Theater presents A Baudelaire Evening at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St. (between J & K Streets), Sacramento. We invite you to the first performance of Antonin Artaud and His Dopplegangers! Unheimlich unfolds as a weekly presentation of poetry such as you've never seen or heard before, featuring Artaud & His Doppleganger and a rotating roster of special guests. Unheimlich Theater re-emerges from the Bardo state at The Book Collector 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, in order to undermine a society that has allowed psychology & technology to be on a first-name basis with the creation of its imperious culture. Info: (916) 442-9295 or

•••Thursday, July 26 through Sunday, July 29 is the weekend of the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, starting with the Kick-off Celebration Thursday in Jack Kerouac Alley in North Beach (6:30 PM), hosted by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The Main Reading at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater on Friday (7 PM) will feature Ferlinghetti, Bei Dao, and lots of other readers from around the world. Saturday is Branch Library Day, with readings at various SF Library branches beginning at 2:30 PM; then at 7 PM, another reading at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater featuring Jack Hirschman and more international artists. Sunday’s North Beach Poetry Crawl, beginning at noon at the Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, will feature readings at several venues (one after the other), including Purple Onion, Caffe Trieste, City Lights, and Live Worms Gallery. Info:

•••Also this weekend, attend the Sixth Annual Sacramento French Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. Info: 916-442-7378 or


—Tyler Swinney, Sacramento

The sun beats at the black top, who,
beating back at us, turns our pale winter foreheads to vinegar sweat.
The children smell of life, a blend of dirt and hot cement,
the way roads smell after the seasons’ first rain, saturated by the day,
rich and deep, they scream, in fear, in hate, in love, with everything,
with nothing,
with everything.

They laugh, without reserve, without inhibition;
they laugh if only to hear the sound.


—Tyler Swinney

The metal pipe rings hollow against his mouth.
The dirt is cold against his swollen cheek.
A few teeth lie in front of him, discarded.
He hears an engine start, they drive away.
Uncertain of his ability to stand,
he lays limp in the fetal position in which he fell.
The shade of the trees moves slowly over his face
while the sun abandons him for the West.
Two jays sing to each other from the lowest branch of
an oak tree as the creek whispers him to sleep.



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:

(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 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).