Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is It Time For Daffodils Yet?

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Red clay, black loam—we come,
soles weighed down with the journey-mud
we share—brown adobe, yellow soil,
white limestone sand—each
of us bearing the earth

we’re made of. Heavy with hope
and labor, burdens to bless, we come
with mind and spirit
that won’t be mortgaged or
repossessed; bare hands

cupped for water from the well,
the river, sweet Heaven’s rain, springs
that rise. We come,
faces open to the air we breathe,
our common sky.


—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

You twist and turn
your wedding band
(as you sit beside me),
take it off one finger
put it on another
then take it off entirely,
toss it from hand to hand
cover it with both palms
and shake it—
as if by magic
it might


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

A squirrel walks from the top of a bare sycamore
into a green magnolia.

The little phalluses of daffodils push up out of the cold earth.

Yesterday morning I walked out to get the paper,
surprised by the sun in the East
and to the West hanging curtains of fog in the trees.

Later, a man across the street
stood on the limb of an ash tree, sawing off the end.

The cold haze falls upward, out of the trees.

And now the full moon with its face on
rises in a lilac sky.

What courage to show one’s self to everyone this way!


Thanks to Taylor Graham for the Inauguration poem, and to Cynthia Linville and Jane Blue for poems about the Seven Deadly Virtues. Jane's talk of daffodils (and TG's yellow soil) leads us into our Seed of the Week: Yellow. Write about yellow. Send me the results. In case you've forgotten all the many shades of yellow, herewith is a list I made several years ago. Print it out, tack it up near where you write, add to it over the years—and let me know what else you came up with! (Methinks we should add "rubber-ducky yellow".) I have a similar list of the other colors, too; write and ask for it and I'll email it to you.

Yellow, Gold

old gold
banana, banana-slug
yellow jacket
lemon custard
lemon meringue
egg yolk
peanut butter
butter, cream
buttermilk, -cup
daffodil, jonquil
school bus
taxi cab yellow
gold foil


—Jafa ibn Uthman al-Mushafi (d. 982)

Yellow its color
As if it wore
A daffodil slip
A perfume
Penetrating as musk

Perfumed and hard of heart
As that woman I want
Mine its color, lover-color
Passionate, strong

It is pale with a pallor
Loaned from the midst of me
And when she breathes
She breathes its deep odor

It had grown on a branch
Ripe in its odor
And leaves by then had woven
Brocade for its mantle

Hand outstretched
Gently I picked it
In the middle of my room
I placed it with reverence
A censer

In ashes, fuzz
Its golden body

Naked in my hand
Under ts daffodil slip

It made me think of her
I cannot name
I was breathing so hard
My fingers crushed it

(translated from the Arabic by
Christopher Middleton

and Leticia Garza-Falcon)



keeps her fully busy: endless
shopping, searching the 'Net, combing

through catalogs for an elusive
puce, or just the right dandelion. She

tries to collect an abundance of
yellow—huge billowing

baskets of it: keeps it filed in
folders, even cages the more exotic

shades (amber, harvest gold, daylily)…
And this chase is a full-time job, like

tending children or a husband: it catches
every ounce of her: dances with all

her hours: frames every movement
of her hectic, graying life…

—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines


—Kathy Kieth

Daffodils are up, peering around the edges
of stiff new bonnets to see if the pain and grief
of winter are gone. Out of the corner

of my eye I can see them, their buttery
promises of spring; out of the corner of my eye
through the window. But I'm afraid to turn full-

face and look straight out: afraid of the glare
of lemony daffodils and purple beads of muscari
and long-necked lilies-of-the-valley. . . Three

months are nowhere nearly enough time
to heal: not nearly enough time to get up courage
to look out the window: nowhere nearly enough

time for my purple beads of bruises to fade
from grape to magenta: from magenta to brown:
then slowly into yellow. . .


Today's LittleNip:

Winter retreat—
how old the pine traced
on the golden screen.




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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 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.