—Taylor Graham, Somerset
What I dreamed last night
was mushrooms — all the wild beauties
so foreign, I don’t know
their names, nor who’s a poison,
who a prince.
Every fall they push through
beyond the road-end junked cars,
springing out of their upholstery
like weeds; beyond
woods cleared for the next block
of neighbors at our flanks; fireweed
disheveled on the lot lines;
felled spruce, gamey with sap
as a battlefield
burning off its dead. I dreamed
the mushrooms to names: bullfrogs
warted and wide as my hand,
old brown men slouched under their caps;
crimson dangerous roses;
I dreamed the whole dwarf forest,
and how the first snow of November
would pack it under,
deep and safe
as a forest under a dream.
(First appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal)
Thanks, TG! Check out Taylor Graham's "Making Fun of Poetry" column in Rattlesnake Review, and watch for her upcoming chapbook, Among Neighbors, coming in November from Rattlesnake Press.
TG took Medusa's Fall challenge, which continues through midnight this Wednesday: Send me your poems and/or photos, artwork, whatever about Autumn and I'll send you a free copy of Susan Kelly DeWitt's new chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree. E-mail them to kathykieth@hotmail com or snail them to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
Stephani Schaefer sends us this fall poem; if you saw some earlier lines that were from Rumi, well, that was my fault. Sorry, Steph!
—Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos
This week in NorCal poetry:
•••Monday (10/1), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Six Sierra Poets, reading from the new Yuba Flows, a collection from Hip Pocket Press. Reading tonight will be Iven Lourie, Kirsten Casey, and Scott V. Young. Iven Lourie worked as Poetry Editor and Editor in Chief at Chicago Review literary journal in the 1960s, and he has pursued editing, writing, and performance art since that time. After completing his MFA at the University of Arizona (1978), where he studied with poets Richard Shelton and Peter Wild, he moved to Northern California where he still works as Senior Editor for Gateways Books, teaches composition at Sierra College, and leads creative writing classes. He has been married twice and has two daughters and one step-daughter. (Iven and Dick Lourie are the only 2-poet brother act in the Directory of American Poets & Writers.)
Kirsten Casey’s accomplishments include aspiring to be a professional roller skater and choreographing complex routines in her driveway; planning, and then giving up, on becoming a graphic designer when she found out it involved math; actually designing a book cover for a recent published novel; living in England for six months on Virginia Woolf’s street; earning a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State; giving birth to a 10-pound baby; and teaching poetry to sixth graders through the California Poets in the Schools program. She can be found at the kitchen sink in conversation with her husband or behind the wheel chauffeuring her three children to various activities. Sometimes she has a minute to write a poem.
Scott V. Young is a part time teacher, poet and actor, appearing in Corpse with the Foothill Theatre Company and Glengarry Glen Ross at the Northern California Center for the Arts. He did graduate work in creative writing at San Francisco State University where he co-founded Ink, an independent publication of creative expression. A former journalist and bookseller, his writing has appeared in the Publisher’s Weekly, the American Bookseller’s Association magazine, San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Santa Cruz Good Times and the San Francisco Independent as well as in smaller publications over the years. Along with his three delightful children, he lives in an unfinished house by a creek in the country just north of Nevada City, California, where he gardens a little and sometimes stops to look at birds.
Next week's SPC readers will be Nina Lindsey and Helen Wickes.
•••Tues. (10/2), Open mic at 7 PM: M&M Poetry presents frank andrick, Alan Satow and 'benjamin the baudelaire bear' (AKA Bear) at JAVAnate, 3300 E. Flamingo/Pecos, Las Vegas, NV. That’s right, Las Vegas! Info: 702-253-7721. What happens in Vegas, though, will hopefully not stay in Vegas, because we need frank and Alan back here in Sac!
•••Weds. (10/3), 7:30 PM: Poems-For-All is pleased to present a poetry reading featuring James DenBoer, reading from his new book, Stonework: Selected Poems, published Sept., 2007 by Sandy McPherson's Swan Scythe Press. His other published works include Learning The Way, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969 (U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum); Trying To Come Apart, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971 (National Council of the Arts award); Nine Poems, Christopher's Books, Santa Barbara, 1972; Brandi & Brandts & DenBoer & Durand & Peters & Turner, Christopher's Books, 1973; Olson/DenBoer: A Letter, Christopher's Books, Santa Barbara, 1979; Lost in Blue Canyon, Christopher's Books, Santa Barbara, 1981; Dreaming of the Chinese Army, Blue Thunder Press, 2000; Poems: James DenBoer, Verdant Press, Pasadena CA (artist book), 2002; Bibliography of the Published Work of Douglas Blazek 1961-2001, Glass Eye Books, 2003; Back Until Then, Verdant Press, Berkeley, CA, 2005; prose poems; Black Dog: An Incomplete Segue Between Two Seasons, Rattlesnake Press, Fair Oaks, CA, 2005. James has had grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The National Council on the Arts, the Author's League of America, The Carnegie Fund for Authors, PEN Center-New York and other organizations and foundations. His works in progress include Small Gifts, Great Grace. Personal Poems of Venantius Fortunatus (Book 11 of the Opera Poetica of Venantius Fortunatus; with Maria DenBoer, never before translated into English in its entirety) and Fifty-Nine Kharjas (translations of the kharjas of muwashshahat in Arabic and Hebrew, never completely done before into English). Plus, Poems-For-All Chaplettes of Mr. DenBoer's work will be dispensed for free! All of this will take place at at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St. (between J & K), Sacramento. Info: 916-442-9295.
•••Thursday (10/4), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mic before and after. Info: 916-441-3931.
•••Friday (10/5), 7:30 PM: The Other Voice, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, presents two poets, JoAnn Anglin and Carlena Wike. The free reading is in the library of the church at 27074 Patwin Road. JoAnn Anglin grew up in a working class neighborhood off Franklin Blvd. in south Sacramento. She considers herself a late bloomer, having graduated from Sac State at age 42 with a communications studies major, the first of her family to finish college. JoAnn has privately written poetry her whole life. In her poetry she finds telling details that make images and experiences vibrant. She is a member Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol. Her first chapbook, Words Like Knives, Like Feathers, was published in 2004 by Rattlesnake Press. Carlena Wike, new to this area, has been writing poetry since childhood, sharing it sporadically as the rigors of raising a family have allowed. She won first prize for her poem, “The Executive”, at Valley College in Los Angeles, also has been a featured reader at venues in Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. More recently, she has read for The Other Voice in Davis and her poems were included in the UU anthology, In This Quiet Light. Her words bring light to our own inner thoughts and feelings. Open mic, follows so bring a poem to share. Info: 530-753-2634 or 530-753-1432.
•••Sat. (10/6), 11 AM: Monthly writing meeting and potluck of Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol at La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd St., Midtown Sacramento. Info: Graciela Ramirez (916-456-5323) or website: www.escritoresdelnuevosol.com/
Imagine a young man, alone, without anyone.
The moment a few raindrops streaked his glass
he began to scribble.
He lived in a tenement with mice for company.
I loved his bravery.
Someone else a few doors down
played Segovia records all day.
He never left his room, and no one could blame him.
At night he could hear the other's
typewriter going, and feel comforted.
Literature and music.
Everyone dreaming of Spanish horsemen
Processions. Ceremony, and
Days of rain and high water.
Leaves hammered into the ground finally.
In my heart, this plot of earth
that the storm lights.
This morning I woke up to rain
on the glass. And understood
that for a long time now
I've chosen the corrupt when
I had a choice. Or else,
simply, the merely easy.
Over the virtuous. Or the difficult.
This way of thinking happens
when I've been alone for days.
Like now. Hours spent
in my own dumb company.
Hours and hours
much like a little room.
With just a strip of carpet to walk on.
Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.
Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.
Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgivable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.
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 email@example.com (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:
Journals: The latest issue of Rattlesnake Review (#15) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Next deadline is November 15. The two journals for young people, Snakelets and Vyper, are on hiatus; no deadlines this Fall.
Coming for October: Rattlesnake Press celebrates Sacramento Poetry Month on Wednesday, Oct. 10 (at The Book Collector, Home of the Snake, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM) with the release of Spiral, a rattlechap by Kate Wells; Autumn on My Mind, a littlesnake broadside by Mary Field; and #5 in the Rattlesnake Interview Series by B.L. Kennedy, this one featuring Sacramento Poet Laureate Julia Connor. Also released that night will be Conversations, Volume One of the Rattlesnake Interview Anthology Series (a collection of B.L.'s conversations with eleven Sacramento poets)—plus other surprises (and cake!). Be there!