Tuesday, September 02, 2008

We're Circus People

Patrick Grizzell

(for MW)
—Patrick Grizzell, Sacramento

One dream is as real as the next.
What I remember is how quickly
you came and went. The dust settling.

I never learned to go so straight.
There's always something in the way:
a room with a closed door
a hat too lonesome not to wear
a woman to whom you'd give a key
and say: tell me what it opens,
and wait as long as it takes
for whatever the answer is to come.

That's the thing. The answer.
I've learned to be good at asking,
at walking towards the middle.
Once there, I can spin.

My trick is to walk in the direction
I am facing when I stop.
There is always a surprise: a door,
a hat, this woman who, no matter
which direction I walk, is turning a corner.

She knows. Dreaming is risky.


Thanks, Pat! That shadowy figure in the photo is Patrick Grizzell, poet, songwriter and visual artist. His books include Dark Music: Selected Poems and Stories (edited by D.R. Wagner); Chicken Months; The Goat of Esmeralda; and, with painter Jimi Suzuki, a chapbook of sumi paintings and poetry entitled Minotaure Into Night. He has a new book of poetry in manuscript entitled Writing In Place.

Grizzell was a founding member and previous director of the Sacramento Poetry Center. He has been published in numerous literary presses and anthologies in the U.S., Italy, Japan, and the U.K. He has performed poetry and music with, among others, Allen Ginsberg, Leon Redbone, Gary Snyder, Jim Ringer and Mary McCaslin, David Raitt, Ed Sanders, Taj Mahal, Shizumi Shigeto, William Stafford, Robert Creeley and Anne Waldman.

Grizzell currently performs original music solo and with his band, Junkyard Burlesque. He's working on an album with Junkyard as well as on a solo project. John Lee Hooker once said he "sound pretty good" on the dobro.

More at: www.myspace.com/patrickgrizzell/.

Rattlesnake Press is proud to announce the release of Pat's latest chapbook of poetry and art entitled Thirteen Poems. Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 PM at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.


—Patrick Grizzell

You were sick when I met you
and always a small black dog followed
a block behind as if it knew
you were as good as meat.

Together each morning we checked
for a star, watched as it followed
the curve of time and disappeared
with the promise to return.

It would of course, in all likelihood—
a pattern knitted into the cosmos
that will unravel eventually
but not now; now it will return whole.

Is it hard to believe such things?
I believe anything as much as nothing
and nothing any more than that.
It's always worked in a certain way.


—Patrick Grizzell

What will happen today without one
knowing that will fall on us in a week
or a year like a blanket or stone or wind
and cross our eyes and breath with its
sudden or slow arrival?

It's already done.

You know the deal:

At the moment you know something
it's undone.
Too long in the sun and the skin
begins to sing.
Fall in love and dreaming
pounds in the heart like redemption,
but from what, you ask.

After all measuring, what strikes you
is that you will make any decision out of
passion anyway.
Consequences will be a surprise
even if you know that lingering too
near the fire has them.

And in that, the beauty of the whole damn thing.


Seed of the Week: Things We're Afraid to Write About

Got any subjects you shy away from? Violence, maybe, or violence against animals? The hot, lazy summer is over; time to plunge into the tough stuff, head-first. See what you can face for this week's Seed of the Week! Here are a couple of bold examples:

—Gary Gildner

After the doctor checked to see
we weren't ruptured,
the man with the short cigar took us
under the grade school,
where we went in case of attack
or storm, and said
he was Clifford Hill, he was
a man who believed dogs
ate dogs, he had once killed
for his country, and if
there were any girls present
for them to leave now.
No one
left. OK, he said, he said I take
that to mean you are hungry
men who hate to lose as much
as I do. OK. Then
he made two lines of us
facing each other,
and across the way, he said,
is the man you hate most
in the world,
and if we are to win
that title I want to see how.
But I don't want to see
any marks when you're dressed,
he said. He said, Now.


—Robert Phillips

Joe's serves approximately 1000 pounds of crab claws
each day.—Florida Gold Coast Leisure Guide

Delicacy of warm Florida waters,
his body is undesirable. One giant claw
is his claim to fame, and we claim it,

more than once. Meat sweeter than lobster,
less dear than his life, when grown that claw
is lifted, broken off at the joint.

Mutilated, the crustacean is thrown back
into the water, back upon his own resources.
One of nature's rarities, he replaces

an entire appendage as you or I
grow a nail. (No one asks how he survives
that crabby sea with just one claw;

two-fisted menaces real as night-
mares, ten-tentacled nights cold
as fright.) In time he grows another,

large, meaty, magnificent as the first.
And one astonished day, snap! it too
is twigged off, the cripple dropped

back into treachery. Unlike a twig,
it sprouts again. How many losses
can he endure? Well,

his shell is hard, the sea is wide.
Something vital is broken off, he doesn't
nurse the wound; develops something new.


And here is a musing from Marie Ross, based on a previous SOW: After Midnight. Thanks, Marie!

—Marie J. Ross, Stockton

I stroll the moonlight
in shoes illuminated with romantic dust
and await fantasy to whirl from his rapturous sway.
Slowly, a sensual flare revolves from alluring spaces
of the dome, and I reach for the pewter, anticipating
a vision of an Adonis;
the flesh and blood God myth, with aura unabashed,
but—from patterns of moonlight and shadows of dance,
I refrain from the urge, the thought of passion,
as moments of daylight awaken in her yellow phases
of reality.


Today's LittleNip:

If I came home and wanted a new doll or special shoes to match my dress, my mom would say, "Terry, you don't need that. We're circus people. We don't need what other people need." Circus people didn't care about material things. They valued experience over acquisition. They didn't live by other people's rules. My mother taught us to be proud no matter what we had or what we looked like, as long as we were good people with real friends and interesting experiences.

—Teri Garr, in her autobiography about dealing with MS,



SnakeWatch: What's Up With Rattlesnake Press

September 10, we shall roar back onto the scene with Thirteen Poems, a new chapbook from Patrick Grizzell; #2 in Katy Brown's series of blank journals (Musings2: Vices, Virtues and Obsessions); a littlesnake broadside (Wind Physics) from Jordan Reynolds; plus Issue #19 of Rattlesnake Review (next deadline, for Issue #20, is November 15.) Meanwhile, look in on Medusa every day, and, for heaven's sake, keep sending stuff! The snakes of Medusa are always hungry...

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for 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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 (sometimes): 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 favorite tools.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy.
Send books, CDs, DVDs, etc. to him for possible review (either as a Drive-By or in future issues of Rattlesnake Review) at P.O. Box 160664, Sacramento, CA 95816.

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 ravenous poetic souls.

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


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