Friday, August 03, 2007

Between the Two Deserts

Camel Cricket

—W.S. Merwin

In the dark
there is only the sound of the cricket
south wind in the leaves
is the cricket
so is the surf on the shore
and the barking across the valley

the cricket never sleeps
the whole cricket is the pupil of one eye
it can run it can leap it can fly
in its back the moon
crosses the night

there is only one cricket
when I listen

the cricket lives in the unlit ground
in the roots
out of the wind
it has only the one sound

before I could talk
I heard the cricket
under the house
then I remembered summer

mice too and the blind lightning
are born hearing the cricket
dying they hear it
bodies of light turn listening to the cricket
the cricket is neither alive nor dead
the death of the cricket
is still the cricket
in the bare room the luck of the cricket


August Boot Camp:

Molly Fisk writes: The August Boot Camp is almost upon us; it runs from Sunday, Aug 12 through Friday, Aug 17. If you'd like to briefly tear yourself away from seasonal treats like fresh corn, real tomatoes, and hand-picked home-made blackberry pie in order to gather a bouquet of seasonal poems from your summer, this is the week to join us. If you don't know about Poetry Boot Camp, it's a six- day intensive and fun poetry workshop done via e-mail. Here's the place to read more: Boot Camp dates through the end of the year are posted on the left side. In addition to the regular Boot Camps, which are for generating new poems, I also work privately with people on revisions during Boot Camp weeks. It's the same format and price; just drop me a line if you're interested.


Stephen Sadler sends us this address for KCRW's Bookworm program: Thanks, Stephen!

Poems for Ina:

The Ina Coolbrith Circle 88th Annual Poetry Contest is open for entries. Postmark deadline is August 15. All ICC members (including out of state) and non-member California residents may enter. For contest rules and more info on the ICC, visit the website:


—W.S. Merwin

Would you believe me
if I told you the name of the farmers
at the end of the lake
where it grew shallow over the mossy rocks

and if you came in the morning the grass was blue
the fur of the rocks was wet the small frogs jumped
and the lake was silent behind you
except for echoes

you tied your boat carefully to a tree
before setting out across the cool pasture
watching for the bull
all the way to the barn

or if you came in the afternoon
the pasture glared and hummed the dark leaves smelled
from beside the water and the barn was drunk
by the time you got to it

to climb on the beams
to dive into the distant hay
will you believe
the names of the farmer's children


—W.S. Merwin

Naturally it is night.
Under the oveturned lute with its
One string I am going my way
Which has a strange sound.

This way the dust, that way the dust.
I listen to both sides
But I keep right on.
I remember the leaves sitting in judgment
And then winter.

I remember the rain with its bundle of roads.
The rain taking all its roads.

Young as I am, old as I am,

I forget tomorrow, the blind man.
I forget the life among the buried windows.
The eyes in the curtains.
The wall
Growing through the immortelles.
I forget silence
The owner of the smile.

This must be what I wanted to be doing.
Walking at night between the two deserts,


And Tom Goff sends us this gem: thanks, Tom!

(from a photo)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael

It might be Mingus, but the silhouette’s
fedora, not porkpie. This
shadow holds great substance
(is a style, augments the substance),
reveals a brooder, a forehead.
Some dark thing warms inside the head,
rises in music, to the music.
Afar, a sort of spire, a sort
of spice grinder, peppermill,
prayer wheel. The hat
sprouts a building sign: “HOTE.” The eye
rushes to complete the word;
but careful. It could spell “Hote”
as in Hote Jazz. Listen,
while le jazz hote steams. Concentrate,
while the hat overhangs the shadow brow,
on the taut hand pinning down string,
clawing fingerboard. Were this
not a double bass with a scroll atop,
those might be fingers
dangerously around a human



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/free 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).