—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
Emily Dickinson once wrote of a fly
"I heard a fly buzz when I died."
Mom shuts one into a room to swat it;
for a cosmopolitan pest up to nothing good
but to spread germs onto food,
it possesses such an incredible will to live.
As Mom flaps her rubber wand-paddle through the air
like playing an aimless game of ping-pong,
it is as if the fly lives to party
every day of its estimated month-long life-span.
When mom sees the fly has landed on a window pane
she tries to sneak up
but then the fly suddenly takes off again
as the most excellent pilot in the world,
literally with eyes in the back of its head.
Mom feels foolish and exasperated
being as she’s whacked gophers and Norwegian rats
only to be eluded by the "Musca domestic Linnaeus"
or the "Drosophila melanogaster"
which moves faster than any bird
through the air without wind
unlike the moths
confused and blinded by household lights.
And her cats won't help by pouncing on it,
for they don't want to look foolish either.
Flies throughout time have represented sin
and it was said the devil takes on that form.
Not omnipresent but a steady nuisance,
only in Africa can its biting relative
bring on a deadly "sleeping sickness",
but still we act as if infected by lunacy by its buzz,
rushing to get it out of our domicile as if it could sting.
So perhaps we should be like its nemesis, the spider,
who just hangs back nice and cool
as it waits to catch one buzzing into its sticky "parlor".
Thanks, Michelle! Thus commences our "Wild Things in Suburbia" give-away; send me poems/photos/etc. about man's tendency to plop his houses down in the middle of the wilds and then complain that there are critters around. Every contribution will receive a rattlechap; let me know which ones you don't have. Get it all to me by midnight this Friday, August 24: email email@example.com, or snail to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
•••Sept. 28-30 at Stewart Mineral Springs, Weed, CA: poemcrazy: foolsgold workshop with Susan G. Wooldridge. Susan invites us into a realm where poetry is accessible, where poems are moments of discovery that often arrive unexpectedly. Susan has found that in a safe, free setting, surrounded with words, we can each write poems that express our soul and spirit—a playful, often profound and healing experience. Together we bring forth a word pool, gathering words from books of poems and from within and around ourselves. We borrow, jot, steal and conjure words that invite our soul’s expression. Next, we create images, practice close observation, begin to develop metaphor and gradually move into “dreamsense” where we explore who we are, where we come from and where we’re going.
Facilitator: Susan is the author of Poemcrazy: freeing your life with words (now in a 20th printing from Three Rivers, Random House) and a new book, Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing (and freeing your creative process) (Harmony Books, Random House, 2007). Poemcrazy was a long-running Quality Paperback Book Club Selection, and Foolsgold is now featured in One Spirit's catalog. Susan also has a chapbook of poems, Bathing with Ants (Bear Star Press). She has a B.A. in anthropology from Barnard College and an interdisciplinary Masters in art and writing from CSU, Chico—where she developed a love for performance art as well as collage, printmaking and ceramics. She’s held workshops on creative language with thousands of adults, children, youth-at-risk and teachers throughout the U.S. She has two grown children and lives in a co-housing village in Chico, California and sometimes on a houseboat in Sausalito. Check www.susanwooldridge.com/ for comments on Susan’s workshops.
This workshop will meet from Fri. 4PM-Sun 12noon; bring paper and a pen you love. Small boxes if it’s easy. Bring color pens and/or color pencils (optional). Info or to sign up: contact Rowena Pantaleon 530-938-2222 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org/. Cost: $250 by September 1 and $275 after September 1. Cost covers 2 nights shared lodging, 5 organic meals, 1 mineral bath and Workshop fee. Credit card or PayPal payment available.
•••Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar will be teaching a small poetry workshop at Ellen Bass’s house on the west side of Santa Cruz on September 1 from 9 am to 4 pm. Dorianne and Joe will each teach half the workshop (Joe in the morning, Dorianne in the afternoon). Each will give a brief talk about some aspect of the craft of poetry that they're currently excited by. The rest of the time will be devoted to individual critique of each participant’s work. Joe and Dorianne will each critique one poem by each participant, so you will have a chance to have two of your poems addressed. Please bring 13 copies of two poems to the workshop.
The cost for the day is $150, and the workshop will be limited to twelve participants. Shalom Victor will be handling all registration for the workshop. If you'd like to participate, please email her at email@example.com or call her at 831-423-3064. Checks can be made out to Ellen Bass and mailed to Shalom Victor, 338 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Payment is non-refundable unless they can fill your space, in which case they'll refund all but a $50 administrative fee. If you have any questions or concerns, call Shalom (831-423-3064).
A few logistical things: Ellen does have a dog and a cat, so if you have allergies to such, this won't be a good venue for you. Please bring a bag lunch as there won't be enough time to go out to eat. And please don't wear perfumes or scented body products because some folks have chemical sensitivities to those.
SWALLOWS OVER SAFEWAY
have built their nests again this year:
spent their spring molding mud around
the S and the A and the Y: spent
careful hours shaping fat cones
for chicks to live in, bring up a busy
brood or two… In March, the manager
put up some chicken wire, covered
some crevises, tried to halt
this noisy trespass. But still
the pushy swallow s have made
the front of Safeway their sub-
division again: taken it
back for themselves and their
future: made it their home…
—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines
TOUCHING THE WILD THINGS
Turkeys purr as I spread their scratch: a guilty
pleasure. They are wild: should spend their days
prowling the knotty fields: strut and stretch
in a sun that is different from the one
that warms my house each morning, spreads
its comforter over my easy-chair. They are wild
things that flirt behind big brown fans, mate
in the secrets of the oaks, coax tawny fluffs
out into the open once the sun is right. I shouldn't
be touching them with my fat-producing
scratch from the feed store, with domestic
complications. Still, they purr as the corn
clatters and scatters over the patio, purr about
our guilty secret, purr each morning while,
for a few bright moments, our suns touch. . .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (rattlesnakepress.com).
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 http://www.unf.edu/mudlark/.)
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.