Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Rustle of Icebergs

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska
July, 2007
Photo by Margaret Ellis Hill, Wilton

—Czeslaw Milosz

Think however you like about this island, its ocean whiteness, grottoes overgrown with vines, under violets, springs.

I'm frightened, for I can hardly remember myself there, in one of those mediterranean civilizations from which one must sail far, through the gloom and rustle of icebergs.

Here a finger points at fields in rows, pear trees, a bridle, the yoke of a water carrier, everything enclosed in crystal, and then I believe that, yes, I once lived there, instructed in those customs and manners.

I pull my coat around me listening to the incoming tide, I rock and lament my foolish ways, but even if I had been wise I would have failed to change my fate.

Lament my foolishness then and later and now, for which I would like so much to be forgiven.


You never know:

JoAnn Anglin writes: You never know where life will be taking you. Do you consider yourself a citizen/artist/activist? If you find yourself in the vicinity of DC next spring, March 20-23, 2008, you may want to stop in at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Some of the poets: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Carolyn Forché, Sam Hamill, Joy Harjo, Galway Kinnell, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Alix Olson, Alicia Ostriker, Patricia Smith, and Pamela Uschuk. You can add yourself to a listserve of info if you wish. Check it out!

Cosumnes River Journal

Heather Hutcheson, former Poetry Now Editor and Sacramento Poetry Center Board Member, has had a hand in the production of Volume 1 of Cosumnes River College's new Cosumnes River Journal, along with her hubby, former SPC Board President Martin McIlroy. Handsome and highly functional, the journal (Martin, too) is a compendium of poetry, photographs and short fiction from what I'm guessing are mostly CRC students, though Rattlechapper Frank Taber is also represented. Apparently they are accepting submissions from non-students from Oct. through April (info: Pick up your free copy around town, including at The Book Collector.


—Czeslaw Milosz

A man should not love the moon.
An ax should not lose weight in his hand.
His garden should smell of rotting apples
And grow a fair amount of nettles.
A man when he talks should not use words that are dear to him,
Or split open a seed to find out what is inside it.
He should not drop a crumb of bread, or spit in the fire
(So at least I was taught in Lithuania).
When he steps on marble stairs,
He may, that boor, try to chip them with his boot
As a reminder that the stairs will not last forever.


—Czeslaw Milosz

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.


One more poem, this time from Tom Goff, who has a new publication out from Poems-For-All:

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Poets are all the same, rabbiting poems
out of hats that are inspirational gimmicks.
Today, you get to read my list poem. It came
by plan C, when we scuttled two choices

of trip and made straight for the garden. After miles
of valley sunflowers, farm towns, and peat bogs
studded with native reeds charred like punks,
we wanted the Berkeley Hills, needed

the greenery. Take my word for it,
we got swirled with purple. You can bet
we savored the changes of plant habitat,
from Spain to Morocco to Japan to Norway,

all in this one garden. Now watch as I dazzle you
with silk scarves of names tied for tugging
sequentially forth: we saw Natal Bottlebrush,
rocket pincushion, slipper flower and soapbark.

Let me tell you, we sniffed flax-leaved paper bark
—either the bark or the blossoming flax held
an evanescent cherrylike scent—while bees
bellied up to English lavender. We saw erica langifolia

and spiral aloe, pelargonium cordatum, and,
note the transformation motif, King Protea
appeared. I don't actually know this stuff,
but nor am I making it up: while being

bedazzled, I was writing down names
from the cards. There were reds, oranges, whites.
The hummingbirds were real, they were having
a hell of a good time, four or five of them.

One hummer came close as your nose,
wings all abuzz, throwing off tiny green glints.
At the garden shop, Nora bought
a gorgeous red penstemmon in a pot,

Guatemalan, a talisman
for the list poem
she's probably
going to write.


Thanks, Tom! And thank you, Peggy Hill, for the beautiful photograph from your recent cruise.


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 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).