Monday, August 13, 2007

Have You Met the Rattlesnake?

—R. Condon Plaice, Rocklin

Lizards and mice could not be found
when the chubby rat prowled around.
Even chipmunks and squirrels stayed away
as he wandered around night and day.
He imagined himself King of creatures small,
and in his mind he had it all.
He ruled over the park but not the lake,
until the day he met the rattlesnake.......


Thanks for this, R. Condon! This is just a wee reminder that this coming Wednesday, August 15, is the next deadline for Rattlesnake Review. Send 3-5 poems, photos, artwork, whatever to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No cover letter, bio, prev-pubs or simul-subs. RR15 will be out in mid-to-late September.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Monday, 8/13), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Stan Zumbiel and John Allen Cann at the Carmichael Library, 5605 Marconi Ave., Carmichael. Stan Zumbiel was born in the Midwest, but very early in his life was transplanted to the central valley of California, spending time in Auburn and Lincoln before ending up for good in suburban Sacramento. He started writing poems in 1967 while serving in the Navy. He raised four children, taught both middle school and high school, and became involved with the Sacramento Poetry Center about 1985. He lives with his wife, Lynn, in Fair Oaks, and continues to write. John Allen Cann is the author of Lemurian Rhapsodies [Mudborn Press, 1976] and Accompaniments for a Dozen Roses [Aetheric Press, 1980]. He is also leader of many poetry workshops for school-aged children in the Sacramento area and at University of the Pacific. Next week's SPC reading (8/20) will feature Michael Cluff and Devin Davis.

•••Thursday (8/16), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured Poets: LOB Instagon and Murray, a double-feature pairing of Nor-Cal and So-Cal Poets—respectively, Sacramento’s Poet-band leader LOB Instagon and So-Cal’s Poet, Publisher and Next Mag. Empire maven Murray. Hosted by frank andrick; thanks also to Poets & Writers, Inc.

•••Friday (8/17), 7:30 PM: Escritores del Nuevo Sol/Writers of the New Sun presents A Poetic Presentation in the Two Voices of Susan & Joe Finkleman, entitled “Visions & Views”, at La Raza Galeria Posada Gallery, 1024 22nd St., Midtown Sacramento. Cost: $5 suggested, or as you can afford. It's poetry, it's drama, it’s jazzy, it weaves musical improv with spoken word—it's Joe & Susan Finkleman! Stylistically, no two poems are structured the same, but each features the interweaving of two voices, two views and two visions, with music subtext. Instrumental accompaniment by: Francesca Reitano and Sharon McCorkell. Info: 530-220-0535 or Also available: The Rattlesnake Press book of Susan and Joe’s two-voice poems, illustrated with Joe’s vibrant watercolor paintings; the Finklemans also have CDs of their work available.

•••Also Friday (8/17), 7 PM: Our House poetry reading features Sacramento's Ann Menebroker and Grass Valley-ite William S. Gainer. Free; an open mic follows. Our House is located at 4510 Post St. in El Dorado Hills Town Center; from Sac., take the Latrobe exit off to the right (south) and turn left into the shopping center; Our House is on the southern edge.

•••Saturday (8/18) & Sunday (8/19): Tuolumne Poetry Festival in Tuolumne Meadows (past Yosemite) at the rustic Parsons Memorial Lodge. It's free! Dorianne Laux, David Mas Masumoto, and Kay Ryan are featured poets, and Shira Kammen (violin and vielle) is the musician. There are lodges within an hour of Yosemite, so that's your best bet for overnight, as the camping cabins in the area are usually booked months in advance. Or make it a day trip—! You have to hike in: parking along the main road is fine all day, and then the hike up to the Parsons Lodge is about a half-hour on a good trail, uphill the last stretch, but not too strenuous, as you're in the meadow near the Tuolumne River. Workshops are next to the river in the outdoors, so dress accordingly. No dogs or pets on the trail. Info: for the complete Parsons Memorial Lodge Summer series schedule, or e-mail Monika Rose (

•••Saturday (8/18), Noon-4 PM is the 12th annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, to be held at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, Berkeley. Since 1996, thousands have gathered together with environmental and literary groups to celebrate writers, nature, and community at the annual Watershed Festival. For an update on the "State of the Planet," join National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Robert Hass, reading at Watershed from his poem of the same name. This year's event also features famed Beat poet Michael McClure with saxophonist George Brooks, Montana Poet Laureate Sandra Alcosser, author/cultural historian Rebecca Solnit, Poetry Flash editor/poet Richard Silberg, poet/naturalist Maya Khosla, student and youth poets from River of Words and California Poets in the Schools. Voices of the Watershed Poets, curated by Nevada City poet Chris Olander, presents Guarionex Delgado, Grace Grafton, Indigo Moor, Margo Pepper, Chad Sweeney, and Jennifer K. Sweeney. Smooth Toad, country blues music with G.P. Skratz, Hal Hughes, and Jean Robertson, will play throughout the afternoon. We Are Nature open reading (sign up on site). Environmental updates provided by Kirstin Miller of Ecocity Builders and Kirk Lumpkin from the Ecology Center. Info:


—Theodore Roethke

Walking this field I remember
Days of another summer.
Oh that was long ago! I kept
Close to the heels of my father,
Matching his stride with half-steps
Until we came to a river.
He dipped his hand in the shallow:
Water ran over and under
Hair on a narrow wrist bone;
His image kept following after,—
Flashed with the sun in the ripple.
But when he stood up, that face
Was lost in a maze of water.


CUTTINGS (later)
—Theodore Roethke

This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?

I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it,—
The small waters seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out,
Slippery as fish,
I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet.


—Theodore Roethke

Vines tougher than wrists
And rubbery shoots,
Scums, mildews, smuts along stems,
Great cannas or delicate cyclamen tips,—
All pulse with the knocking pipes
That drip and sweat,
Sweat and drip,
Swelling the roots with steam and stench,
Shooting up lime and dung and ground bones,—
Fifty summers in motion at once,
As the live heat billows from pipes and pots.



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).