Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Improbable Moons

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos


—Chang Chi (A.D. 765-830)

We inscribed our names
In the courtyard
By the river's bend;
And you
Were the youngest
Of the nineteen guests.

Today you are not here
To see the light of spring
Nor the blossoms
Of the apricot
Fluttering to the earth
Before the temple door.


Thanks, Steph, for the photo. Stephani Schaefer lives farther north up the Sacramento Valley, where so many fruit trees are in bloom right now.

Taylor Graham sends us this tidbit in response to yesterday's Seed of the Week. Her husband, Hatch, by the way, is in the hospital and has been pretty sick with the flu.

Watch for more of both of these ladies' work in Rattlesnake Review #17, due out next Wednesday—Yikes! That's a week from today!

—Taylor Graham, Sunset

Here you are — alive.
Would you like to make a comment?
—Mary Oliver

I stand at the chalkboard
while everyone sits silent, waiting
for my answer.

What’s the paradigm of creation
reflected in the sonar frequency of bats,
or the extrasensory gaze of horses
in their dark fields?

A quirk-quiz posed by an unseen

as all the quarks, quanta, chips
and scurf glisten like chalk-
dust charmed in air,
bright against the black-
board. Sunlight’s speechless


This just in: calendar additions for tonight:

•••Tonight (Weds., 3/5), 9 PM: Bistro 33 presents Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff in the restaurant’s banquet room at 226 F St. in Davis. Paul Hoover has published eleven collections of poetry, including Edge and Fold, Poems in Spanish, Winter (Mirror), Rehearsal in Black, and Totem and Shadow: New & Selected Poems. He is editor of the anthology, Postmodern American Poetry (W. W. Norton) and, with Maxine Chernoff, the literary magazine, New American Writing. He won the Jerome J. Shestack Award for the best poetry to appear in American Poetry Review in 2002. With Nguyen Do, he edited and translated the anthology, Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry, recently published by Milkweed Editions. With Maxine Chernoff, he edited and translated Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin, forthcoming from Omnidawn in Fall 2008. Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, he curates the Friday Night Poetry Series at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

Maxine Chernoff is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Among the Names (Apogee, 2005) and Evolution of the Bridge: New and Selected Prose Poems (Salt Editions, 2003). Her most recent collection of fiction is Some of her Friends That Year: New and Selected Stories (Coffee House). Chernoff has published poetry and fiction in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Story, Partisan Review, North American Review, TriQuarterly, and Conjunctions. She is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune. She chairs the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

Brad Henderson and Andy Jones will host this evening of poetry at Bistro 33. An open mic follows the featured readers. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

•••Also tonight (3/5), 7 PM: Poet Gillian Wegener at the Modesto Library, reading at the Friends of the Modesto Library's annual meeting. Stanislaus County Library, 1500 I Street, Modesto.


—Thomas James

Under branches of white lilac
They crop the wet grass just before dawn.
They move smokily through the half-light, smudge pots
Pulsing against a thick morning frost.
My watch glows like a small, improbable moon. Six o'clock.
I have been driving into the dark too long.

I pull to the side of the road.
I am a branch, a stone. The lambs are not aware of me.
They have been fading into the hillside
Like shadows that have peopled someone's fever
In the shut room of a dilapidated farmhouse
Where the walls reiterate a spray of honeysuckle.

They ignore one another. They are blanketed with thistles,
A little out of sorts in this shabby light.
Five or six of them are wandering through a peach orchard,
Not even aware of my personal squalor.
What stumbles from their tongues is never music;
It is the echo of a badly damaged shell.

Now they are moving by a ditch or rainwater,
Inspected for flaws in the foggy mirror.
I walk into the field, I am not afraid of them—
They scatter like the last edges of a sickness.
The sun has begun to enlarge its tawny fleeces
At the expense of no one in particular.



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.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. 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: News From Rattlesnake Press:

Coming March 12: Rattlesnake Press will be releasing a chapbook from Ann Privateer (Attracted to Light), a littlesnake broadside from Jeanine Stevens (Eclipse), Conversations Vol. 2 of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series, and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#17—next deadline is May 15). Join us to celebrate all of this at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, on March 12 at 7:30 PM.