Friday, August 17, 2007

Melting Into the Perfect Light

Ted Hughes, 1930-1998

—Ted Hughes

There you are, in all your innocence,
Sitting among your daffodils, as in a picture
Posed as for the title: 'Innocence'.
Perfect light in your face lights it up
Like a daffodil. Like any one of those daffodils
It was to be your only April on earth
Among your daffodils. In your arms,
Like a teddy bear, your new son,
Only a few weeks into his innocence,
Mother and infant, as in the Holy portrait.
And beside you, laughing up at you,
Your daughter, barely two. Like a daffodil
You turn your face down to her, saying something.
Your words were lost in the camera.
And the knowledge
Inside the hill on which you are sitting.
A moated fort hill, bigger than your house,
Failed to reach the picture. While your next moment,
Coming towards you like an infantryman
Returning slowly out of no-man's-land,
Bowed under something, never reached you—
Simply melted into the perfect light.


Today, Ted Hughes would've been 77 years old.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (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 tonight, 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. [See below for a sample of Rattlechapper Bill Gainer's poetry.]

•••Saturday (8/18), 7-9 PM: Underground Poetry Series presents Tchaka Muhammad, Rebecca Morrison, Taifa Jamari and Supanova. Underground Books, 2814 35th St., Sacramento. $3. Info: 916-737-3333.

•••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:

•••Also Saturday (8/18), 7:30 PM: Nevada County Poetry Series presents Harold Roy Miller, Willis Lamm and Ken Gardner for an evening of cowboy poetry. Center for the Arts, 314 Main St., Grass Valley. $10 general, $1 ages 18 and under. Info: 530-274-8384, ext. 14.

•••Sunday (8/19), 2-5 PM: Poetry, hip-hop and R&B event featuring Larry Ukai Johnson-Redd, Candy, Rob Anthony, Claudia Epperson, Noah Hayes, Izreal and Sene. Culture Collection, 6391 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento. Free. Info: 916-427-7715.

•••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 (

•••Monday (8/20), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Michael Cluff and Devin Davis at Headquarters for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Open mic afterwards.


—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

I always liked
the soft part
of the thigh;
the inside,
just below
where the leg
and the body
come together.
It's a good place
to start
when considering
the tender meat.


—William S. Gainer

I heard you quit your job
and went to Mexico
to stay with Ellen and Diane.
I was hoping to hear from you,
maybe just a card.

I went by your mom's
and asked about you,
she said you told her
it still hurts,
but that it's warm down there
and you're working on your tan.
She said,
you met a guy named Carlos,
from San Diego
and that it might work
but if it doesn't,
it doesn't matter.
She said,
"He's just
what you need—

Let me know
the next time
you're passing through.
I'll buy you lunch:
I always liked watching you
mess with your chopsticks
and licking the sticky
from your fingers.

Yeah, I still think about you—
a lot
and miss you—

So if you're free
maybe you can just
drop a card;
they still deliver
from Mexico,
don't they?



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.) For more info about the Snake Empire, including guidelines for submitting to or obtaining our publications, click on the link to the right of this column: Rattlesnake Press (

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

ZZZZZZZ: Shh! The Snake is still sleeping! There will be no readings/releases in 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 mid-September: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (15), plus a littlesnake broadsides from dawn dibartolo ("Blush"), and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including #4 (frank andrick) and an anthology of interviews to be released for Sacramento Poetry Month (October). Next deadline for Rattlesnake Review is November 15.