Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't Let Go

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

On this day honoring
Martin Luther King's too-early death
three years earlier
you were in my womb

I carried you
and forced your father
back to New Jersey
My parents were not enthused

While we were there the NAACP
held its monthly meeting
I dragged the three of us
to my high school gym

My mother's cleaning lady
didn't know whether to be proud
or horrified at our two white faces
my bulging belly
our cheers in strange places

I seldom mentioned this event
until now
but always felt good
you and I went


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••NO READING TONIGHT at Sacramento Poetry Center. Next week (1/26): Reading for Flatman Crooked literary periodical with Joe Wenderoth and Chris "Whitey" Erickson.

•••Midnight tonight is the deadline for Medusa's surprise giveaway: write us a poem about The Seven Deadly Virtues (according to the song in the musical, Camelot, they're courage, purity, humility, honesty, diligence, charity and fidelity) and I'll send you a free copy of Danyen Powell's new rattlechap, Blue Sky Flies Out. E-mail 'em to or snail to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

•••Tues. (1/20), 6-8:30 PM: Our House Gallery in El Dorado Hills is officially back! You are invited to attend the Our House Poetry Night at their newly completed suite in Montaño de El Dorado (El Dorado Hills). Read—Sing—Perform—Enjoy! Everyone is welcome, readers and listeners alike, to join John Donnelly every 3rd Tuesday, 6-8:30 PM. (Sign up by 6 PM to read that night.) This is a FREE event (although donations to the featured poet are never discouraged). That’s Our house Gallery & Framing, 1004 White Rock Road, Suite 400 (Corner of Latrobe & White Rock Roads—at the waterfall), El Dorado Hills. Info: (916) 933-4278 (4ART) and For pictures and info on the renovation, go to [Note: This event is no longer sponsored by Red Fox Underground, which has moved to Raven’s Tale books in Placerville. It is now sponsored solely by the gallery, bless them!.]

•••Weds. (1/21), 9 PM: Poetry Night at Bistro 33 (226 F St., Davis) presents Joshua Clover, UC Davis Professor and Winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Joshua Clover teaches poetry and poetics, film studies and other things at the University of California Davis. His recent book of poetry, The Totality for Kids, was a book of the year finalist with PEN and the Village Voice; it is currently being translated into French and Polish. His book, The Matrix, has been translated into French, Russian, and Czech. His book on pop music and the end of the Cold War, 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About, will be published this fall by the University of California Press. He is a frequent contributor to the Village Voice, writes for The New York Times, and is a former senior writer for Spin Magazine. He has appeared in three editions of Best American Poetry, is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and recipient of an individual grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poetry Night at Bistro 33 occurs on the first and third Wednesdays of every month, beginning at 9 PM with an open mic at 10 PM. Poetry Night events are free and open to the public. A limited amount of free refreshments will be made available to attendees, courtesy of Professor Clover. Seating will be limited for this event, so plan to come early to claim a seat. Bistro: 530-756-4556.

If you plan to attend this performance and have a Facebook account, you are invited to register your interest at the official Facebook event. This might be our first poetry reading with more than 100 “committed” guests. Click to see how many of your friends are planning to attend.

Future Poetry Night Featured Readers at the Bistro:

February 4 – Kim Addonizio
February 18 – Mary Mackey and Brad Henderson
March 4 – Alice Anderson

•••Weds. (1/21) is the postmark deadline for the 83rd Poets' Dinner Contest entries. If you have any other questions regarding the Poets' Dinner, you should contact 2009 Contest Chair, Cleo Griffith. Her email address is: Remember, you must attend the Bay Area dinner in March in order to be a winner.

•••Thursday (1/22), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, presents Todd Cirillo, RD Armstrong and Josh Fernandez. Open mic before and after. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy.

•••Sat. (1/24), 8 PM: Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, presents Jack Hirschman, Sharon Doubiago, John Bennett and Jane Crown. $10 at the door; no open mic. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy.

•••Sunday (1/25), 6 PM: Poems-For-All presents its annual Burns Night: Burns 250, this year, featuring Kevin Jones and presenting “Haggis: A Rebuttal” by Rachel and Richard Hansen. This year's featured reader, Kevin Jones (producer of Low-Rent Dojo, a recent littlesnake broadside for Rattlesnake Press), is a scholar and poet who has proven his mettle when it comes to getting tongue and tooth around the challenging dialect of Burns' poetry. You'll enjoy his reading of poems by the National Bard of Scotland.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns. We'll mark the occasion with our annual Burns Night Poetry Reading. Burns Night is traditionally an opportunity to heap praise upon the Scottish foodstuff the Haggis. And Mr. Jones will, of course, read Burns famous poem “To a Haggis”. In reply, Rachel and Richard Hansen will offer up their “Haggis: A Rebuttal”. Please join us for an evening of food, drink and poetry. There will be an open-mic, an opportunity to read poems that pay tribute to Burns or his native Scotland. Anyone who braves a go at reading a Burns' poem earns themselves a dram! The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, between J and K Sts. Free! Info: 916-442-9295.

•••Sun. (1/25), 11 AM-1 PM: El Camino Poets invites any interested poets to attend its regular monthly workshop and tea at the Ethel Hart Sr. Center, 27th & J Sts., Sacramento. Please bring 8 copies of your poem for critique.


—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

black leather combat boots with bright green laces
buzz cut blends me with other faces
anarchist patches on tattered jeans
a stack of subversive books and zines
a backpack so heavy I can hardly lift it
a cross-country Greyhound ticket
maps, aspirin, scissors, knife
(not enough cash to save my life)
a length of rope
a bottle of soap
some paper for notes
expired IDs
apples and cheese
a collapsible cup, plenty of Ts
a short list of people who still take calls from me


—Cynthia Linville

I have picked locks
listened at keyholes
made use of clever disguises

stabbed enemies in the back
dropped bombs
taken shots in the dark

burned bridges
switched allegiances
stolen battle plans

led sorties
shown courage under fire
and taken my share of the spoils


—Cynthia Linville

the hair on my arm rises
in response to your electricity,
I lean in closer
smell fresh fish
pleasant on your skin
sea-breeze in your hair;
your breath whispering in my ear
drowns out your words
as the ocean-roar of my heartbeat
drowns out mine


borrowed between dawn and never

so much of now
began ago

on days too short
below anything skies

rough winds shake
summer flowers into snow

your hand in mine
holds all these years

you hold on
you don't let go

—Cynthia Linville


Today's LittleNip:

—Hu Shih, 1921

It's all ordinary experience,
All ordinary images.
By chance they emerge in a dream,
Turning out infinite new patterns.

It's all ordinary feelings,
All ordinary words.
By chance they encounter a poet,
Turning out infinite new verses.

Once intoxicated, one learns the strength of wine,
Once smitten, one learns the power of love:
You cannot write my poems
Just as I cannot dream your dreams.

(translated from the Chinese by Kai-yu Hsu)



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue (#20) is currently available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one. Deadline for RR21 is February 15: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to include all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

Coming in January: Other than the ever-restless Medusa, the Snake will be snoozing during January; no releases or readings.

Then, in February: On Weds., February 11, Rattlesnake Press will be releasing a new rattlechap from Sacramento's Poet Laureate, Julia Connor (Oar); a littlesnake broadside from Josh Fernandez (In The End, It’s A Worthless Machine); and the premiere of our new Rattlesnake Reprints, featuring The Dimensions of the Morning by D.R. Wagner, which was first published by Black Rabbit Press in 1969. That’s February 11 at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else’s.
And on February 19, the premiere of our new, free Poetry Unplugged quarterly, WTF, edited by frank andrick, will be celebrated at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8 PM. (For those of you just tuning in, Poetry Unplugged is the long-running reading series at Luna's Cafe.)

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

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 or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOWs; 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, or any other day!): 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 (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.