Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
My Lord, I loved strawberry jam
And the dark sweetness of a woman's body.
Also well-chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,
Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.
So what kind of prophet am I? Why should the spirit
Have visited such a man? Many others
Were justly called, and trustworthy.
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress's neck.
Flawed and aware of it. Desiring greatness,
Able to recognize greatness wherever it is,
And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,
I knew what was left for smaller men like me:
A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,
A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.
Tonight in Davis:
•••Friday (9/7), 7:30 PM: The Other Voice in Davis is pleased to open its 2007-08 season with a presentation by the poets and writers from In This Quiet Light, a book of writings by the Worship Associates of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Davis. The group meets in the Sanctuary of the church located at 27074 Patwin Road. Along with other writers, the poets featured are Ray Coppock, Ruth Hall, Nancy Jungerman, Alexandra Lee-Jobe, Bryan and Rebecca Plude, and Carlena Wike. Refreshments will be served after the reading.
This weekend: The party goes on:
•••The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library is sponsoring a fundraising book sale Saturday (12-5 PM) and Sunday (12-4). Book Den, 8250 Belvedere Ave., Sacramento. Books, CDs, records, 25¢ to $2. Info: 916-812-9199.
•••Sunday (9/9), 2:30-4 PM: Open mic poetry reading at Juice and Java, 7067 Skyway, Paradise. Info: 530-872-9633.
•••Monday (9/10), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center will feature Sacramento Poet Laverne Frith at HQ, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Laverne Frith has been co-editor of Ekphrasis for ten years, with chapbooks from Talent House and White Heron Press, and a chapbook, Drinking The Light, recently released from Finishing Line Press, plus a Pushcart Prize nomination. Laverne was runner-up for the 2004, 2005, & 2006 Louisiana Literature Prize In Poetry. His poetry has been accepted or appeared in Poetry New York, Christian Science Monitor, Sundog, Comstock, Montserrat, California Quarterly, Song of the San Joaquin, Dalhousie, Perihelion, Architrave, Maryland Poetry Review, Sonoma Mandala, New Laurel Review, Permafrost, Main Street Rag, New Zoo Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Kimera, etc. He has won honors and awards in a number of poetry competitions. Open mic to follow.
WHEN AFTER A LONG LIFE
When, after a long life, it falls out
That he takes on a form he had sought
And every word carved in stone
Grows its hoarfrost, what then? Torches
Of Dionysian choruses in the dark mountains
From when he comes. And half of the sky
With its snaky clouds. A mirror before him.
In the mirror the already severed, perishing
And yet you experienced the flames of Hell.
You can even say what they are like: real,
Ending in sharp hooks so that they tear up flesh
Piece by piece, to the bone. You walked in the street
And it was going on: the lashing and bleeding.
You remember, therefore you have no doubt: there is a Hell for certain.
The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.
Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle's flame.
Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, though it is a warning, is ignored.
I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.
But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own—but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.
The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it's late. And the truth is laborious.
A PORTRAIT WITH A CAT
A little girl looks at a book with a picture of a cat
Who wears a fluffy collar and has a green velvet frock.
Her lips, very red, are half opened in a sweet reverie.
This takes place in 1910 or 1912, the painting bears no date.
It was painted by Marjorie C. Murphy, an American
Born in 1888, like my mother, more or less.
I contemplate the painting in Grinnell, Iowa,
At the end of the century. That cat with his collar
Where is he? And the girl? Am I going to meet her,
One of those mummies with rouge, tapping with their canes?
But this face: a tiny pug nose, round cheeks,
Moves me so, quite like a face that I, suddenly awake
In the middle of the night, saw by my side on a pillow.
The cat is not here, he is in the book, the book in the painting.
No girl, and yet she is here, before me
And has never been lost. Our true encounter
Is in the zones of childhood. Amazement called love,
A thought of touching, a cat in velvet.
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:
Chapbooks/readings: The Snake returns with a bang on Wednesday, September 12, presenting Susan Kelly-DeWitt's new chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree, at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. See the online journal, Mudlark, for a hefty sample of poems from her book; that’s http://www.unf.edu/mudlark/. And read more about Susan at her nifty new website, http://www.susankelly-dewitt.com/. Click on "Chapbooks" for a sneak preview of Cassiopeia's cover.
Also coming September 12: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (15), plus a littlesnake broadside from dawn dibartolo (Blush), and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including #4 (frank andrick). Next deadline for Rattlesnake Review (16) is November 15.