Friday, April 25, 2008

Broken Hearts & Other Kinds of Waiting

Painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

A young woman waits at the Dog Pond
hidden deep in the dunes.
Her husband stalks shore birds
with high-power binoculars.

He treads on quiet feet
through dune grass and sedges,
disappears in a swirl of fog.

The wife fiddles with her binoculars,
never gets past a blur,
folds them back into her pocket,
looks for something to do.

When I arrive early next morning
for my stint of watching bird-watchers
I find a series of loops stretched around a shore pine
like paper chains children make at Christmas.

Intrigued, I follow the bored one's thoughts,
scan the scene around me.
Finger the seamless loops,
ponder their angular circles.
I pull up a juncus rush, study its form,
tear off the resistant first six inches.

I slip the juncus tip through the last hoop of the chain,
slide its needled point into its hollow end.
Add another few feet to the tree's decoration.
Wonder if tomorrow's waiting woman
will find our tree.


Thanks, PWJ! Patricia Wellingham-Jones is one of the many poets who responded to Taylor Graham's invitation to write poems about or while "waiting" in the last issue of Rattlesnake Review. And yes, it's time to start thinking about sending in your next batch of poems for Snake 18 (deadline is May 15 for the mid-June issue). Send 3-5 poems (no bio or cover letter needed; no previously-published poems or simultaneous submissions, please) either to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Send photos and drawings, too! And we're always looking for interesting articles, but please query first.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Saturday (4/26), 7-9 PM: The Show Poetry Series presents rattlechapper and Red Fox Underground Poet Brigit Truex, two-time back-to-back Black Expo Comedy Champion DoBoy, Poet Sean King & 3rd place Sac Idol vocalist Jessica Teddington at Wo'se Community Center (Off 35th & Broadway), 2863 35th St., Sacramento. $5.00 (group and season ticket discounts available); 18 years of age and under FREE. Open mic and live band LSB. Info: T-Mo (916)208-POET.

•••Saturday (4/26), 2 PM (note time change from the original 6 PM): Poet, writer and editor of Unspeakable Visions, a literary journal of Beat Generation writing, Arthur Winfield Knight celebrates the release of his latest novel, Misfits Country, at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. This won't be a reading, but instead it will be an opportunity to have a conversation with an interesting author as part of his booksigning. Tap into Knight's interest in and experience with: the Beat Generation, Film, Sam Peckinpah, the West, Marilyn Monroe, Allen Ginsberg, James Dean, his days as a photographer taking shots of Philip K. Dick, Kenneth Patchen, and the writing life in general. Arthur Winfield Knight has published more than 2,000 poems and short stories and, with his wife Kit, has edited eight volumes dealing with the Beat Generation, including Kerouac and the Beats (Paragon House, 1988). His most recent novel is Misfits Country (Tres Picos Press, 2008). Other novels include Blue Skies Falling (Forge, 2001), based on Sam Peckinpah; Johnnie D. (Forge, 2000); The Darkness Starts Up Where You Stand (Depth Charge Books, 1996); and The Secret Life of Jesse James (BurnhillWolf Books, 1996). He has also completed a novel about Billy the Kid. Arthur is a film critic and has taught at the University of San Francisco and Western Career College. He has photographed many famous writers, including Henry Miller and Aldous Huxley, and has over 200 book jackets to his credit.

•••SnakePal Ellaraine Lockie writes to say that, if you're going to be down in Los Angeles this weekend for the L.A. Book Fair or other reasons, drop in on her reading down there. On Sunday, April 27th, author, poet and professional paper-maker Ellaraine Lockie reads newly-published poems at Golden River Concrete Gothic (1700 E. 4th Street, East L.A., 90033; three-storey building on the 101 S. on-ramp). Doors open at 5:30 PM. Also performing will be Marshweed and Friends (featuring members of Listing Ship). An open reading of five readers (first two people to sign up and then three selected from lots thereafter) for three minutes each will open the event. The $7 entry fee includes food, drinks and raffle ticket for Ms. Lockie's hand-made paper. A limited edition, letter press-printed broadsheet (on hand-made sheets measuring 12" x 18") will also be available for a special, one-night only price.

•••Monday (4/28), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents William O’ Daly in a night of translation. One of the country’s foremost translators of Pablo Neruda, Daly’s book titles include: Still Another Day; The book of Questions; The Yellow Heart; The Sea and the Bells; The Separate World; Winter Garden; and the forthcoming The End of the World The Hands of the Day. William O’ Daly has spent the last seventeen years translating the late and posthumous poetry of Pablo Neruda. He has published six books of Neruda translations (see above) with Copper Canyon Press, as well as a chapbook of his own poems, The Whale in the Web. He is also putting the finishing touches on a historical novel based on China's Cultural Revolution, which he and his co-author have been working on for over a decade. A resident of Auburn, California, he makes his living as a teacher, editor, instructional designer.

•••And make a note of next Tuesday (4/29), 6:30-8:30 PM: Carmichael PoetryFest at the Carmichael Library, 5605 Marconi Av., Carmichael: A reading by Sacramento Poetry Center Board Member Stan Zumbiel and lectures by Board Members Tim Kahl and Board President Bob Stanley. Stan Zumbiel was born in the Midwest, but very early in his life was transplanted to the central valley of California, spending time in Auburn and Lincoln before ending up for good in suburban Sacramento. He started writing poems in 1967 while serving in the Navy. He raised four children, taught both middle school and high school, and became involved with the Sacramento Poetry Center about 1985. He lives with his wife, Lynn, in Fair Oaks, and continues to write.

Tim Kahl, Professor at Sacramento City College and Sierra College, is an SPC Board Member and published poet in many publications, including Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Quarterly, Berkeley Poetry Review, Indiana Review, Nimrod and The Texas Review. He will speak about the musicality of poetry in “Head Melodies: Bringing Song into Verse”, looking at how music (especially popular song) in many cultures offers its cadences, rhythms and forms to verse. Tim translates verse from Austrian and Portuguese and spends what time is left coaching youth in soccer and baseball.

Bob Stanley, SPC Board President, has served on the SPC board since 1999, and he has served on a number of non-profit boards in the past, including Wellspring Renewal Center and Alameda Poets. He currently teaches English at Sierra College and Sacramento City College. Bob will talk about “Who’s Reading Whom?”, the amazing diversity of good poetry that’s available from new writers.

Open Mike lead by Elizabeth Krause, SPC Board Member and UC Berkeley Graduate. Free, including refreshments. Info: 916.264.2920.


—Wayne Robinson, Lodi

And I watched the rain clouds come up the valley,
Raiders of the rain, charging across the sky,
Blankets of water rolling toward my space.
I watch numbly, a calm look on my face.

Cold, cold wind ravages me, rain pelts me too,
Wet, and cold. Yes cold, but not as icy as you.
I roll up my collar and proceed on.
Can’t change anything, you’re still gone.

In this little valley of unrest that I am passing through
It was the daffodils that reminded me of you,
Yellow delights atop of dull green stems, covering the hill.
My mind suddenly brought forth its own will.

A time passed, when we walked the paths of the park
Arm in arm, we oooed and aaaahed till it was dark
And they forced us to vacate. GOD I MISS YOU.
I shake my head and move on, all that I can do.


Thanks, Wayne! It's not too late to respond to our giveaway/Seed of the Week: The heart once broken... Send in your poems about broken hearts to (or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) by midnight tonight (4/25), and I'll mail you your choice of either Ann Menebroker's new chapbook, Small Crimes, or Katy Brown's new journal, Musings. Or some other rattlechap without which you'd be broken-hearted...


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones

(from the painting, Two Figures, by Caitlin Schwerin)

Hello I see you
walk out of the sun
across a meadow
bordered by darkening trees
Your history scrawled
across the sky
in streaky clouds
Hello long bones
warmed inside your gaunt frame
your greyed skin stretched taut
How can you leave
the writing of your life
and wander away
Of course you are welcome
in this new world
Please bring the sun with you
Let it warm my bones
Oh hello oh bring the sun


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Former teacher Jenny
arrives just in time
to resolve my current quandary.

I've got the fool-proof
English teacher's method
for sexing that kitten, says she.

You lift it on your palm
to eye level, hold up the tail.
If you see a period underneath,
you've got a boy.
A colon means a girl.

I snort at this silly solution,
discover later she's right.


Today's LittleNip:

Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
After you know my poems are not poems,
Then we can begin to discuss poetry!




Here's Medusa's weekly menu of features.
Contributors are welcome to submit to any and all of these!

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Seed of the Week: Tuesday is Medusa's day to post poetry triggers such as quotes, forms, photos, memories, jokes—whatever might tickle somebody's muse. Pick up the gauntlet and send in your poetic results; and don't be shy about sending in your own triggers, too! All poems will be posted and a few of them will go into Medusa's Corner of each Rattlesnake Review. Send your work to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOW; respond today, tomorrow, or whenever the muse arrives. (Print 'em out, maybe, save 'em for a dry spell?) When you send us work, though, just let us know which "seed" it was that inspired you.

Wednesday: HandyStuff Quickies: Resources for the poet, including whatever helps ease the pain of writing and/or publishing. Favorite journals to read and/or submit to; books, etc., about writing; organizational tools—you know—HandyStuff! Tell us about your favorites.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy

Friday: NorCal weekend poetry calendar

Daily (except Sunday): LittleNips: SnakeFood for the Poetic Soul: Daily munchables for poetic thought, including short paragraphs, quotes, wonky words, silliness, little-known poetry/poet facts, and other inspiration—yet another way to feed our ever-hungry poetic souls.

And poetry! Every day, poetry from writers near and far! The Snakes of Medusa are always hungry.......!


SnakeWatch: News from Rattlesnake Press

New in April: Ann Menebroker’s new chapbook (Small Crimes); Ted Finn's SnakeRings SpiralChap of his poetry and art (Damn the Eternal War); and Katy Brown's blank (well, not really) journal of photos and prompts, MUSINGS (For Capturing Creative Thought). All of these are now available at The Book Collector and will soon be available through

Coming in May: Join us on Wednesday, May 14 for the release of Among Summer Pines by Quinton Duval; a littlesnake broadside, Before Naming, by Stephani Schaefer; and Volume Three of Conversations, our third book of interviews by B.L. Kennedy. That's at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM.

Also in May: Deadline for Issue #18 of Rattlesnake Review is May 15. Free copies of Issue #17 are available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.

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 ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.