Monday, January 26, 2009

Tender Beads of Spring Light


—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

If you continue reading past the words

sour mash


and sour wood

you'll find the word "sousaphone."

And there in the margin

of the dictionary is a tiny

picture of a woman

trapped in a huge sousaphone.

The bulky metal tubing winds around

her waist and up over her shoulder.

A large flaring bell reigns over her

head. Her hands are gripping

trumpet-like keys as she tries to pull
sousa off. But the long narrow

tube pressing against her lips holds

her face pinned, in a pained expression

to the front of her head. She has

no way of escape, being drug along

by the marching band, her baseball cap

cocked to one side.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Mon., 1/26), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Flatman Crooked with Chris “Whitey” Erickson and Joe Wenderoth. HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Open mic after. [See last Friday's post for bios.]

Coming Up at SPC:

February 2: Miles Miniaci and Bo Lopez and Crawdad Nelson, with music by Chéne Watson and Bob Wilson of Litany.

•••Weds., 1/28: Chicano Poet & Educator Francisco X. Alarcón will make two appearances at the Mondavi in Davis on January 28, presented by the UCD Dept. of Education. The first is entitled Words Take Wing; Honoring Diversity in Children’s Literature, a Matinee for children and teachers, and including illustrator Maya Gonzalez (Jackson Hall, 10:30 AM), and the second will be an evening Lecture & Conversation with the Author in the Studio Theatre at 7 PM. Tickets are $11 General; $7 Student/Child; purchase them at the Box Office, online at, or call 866-754-ARTS. Info: Dr. Joanne Galli-Banducci, Lecturer and Supervisor, University of California, Davis School of Education or (530) 752-4877; (530) 752-5411 (fax).

For more about Francisco Alarcón: /

•••Weds., 1/28, 6-7 PM: Upstairs Poetry Reading at The Upstairs Art Gallery, 420 Main St. (2nd floor), Placerville. It's a poetry open-mike read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen. No charge.

•••Thurs., (1/29), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mic before and after. Free.

•••Sat. (1/31), 7 PM: The Show Poetry Series, 2863 35th St., Sacramento (35th and Broadway). $5.00. Info: (916) 208-POET.


—Virginia Hamilton Adair

The sun has gone down,
pulling the warm day with it behind the maples,
almost leafless now.
We stand by the mailbox, talking.
Flobo is a year older than I, a doctor's daughter.
After a pause, I say,
"my parents would never do such a thing."
Flobo says kindly, "They all do it.
Come over tomorrow after school;
I'll show you the pictures in Dad's medical books."

We part and I walk slowly by the long brick wall.
I begin to run and do not speak to the old lamplighter
raising his pole up to the gaslight.
At our gray-and-white front steps I stop and sit down,
pretending to tie my shoe.
Suddenly I feel ashamed to enter my own house.
Like the leaves on the sidewalk
under the gas streetlight, I feel cold and homeless.
All at once it seems sad for the leaves
never to return to their safe place along the bough.


—Virginia Hamilton Adair

The day we danced all day
wherever we found music
we were followed
by a thousand bright leaves
cutting loose
thumbing rides in air
from honey noon
to a mandarin sunset
to cold mists
circling streetlights
to the black porches
of what now.

The night it snowed
and you stayed
before the plow came
you had to walk away
from our bed of summer
across the huge whiteness
your dark flowers.

The day of the icicles
when we made love
on the floor
in the winter dazzle
sunfire melting
us together
forced the crystal phallus
by the window
to drop tender
of spring light.


—Carol Louise Moon

Look long and lustfully at
the green plant life, the abundancy
of straight rows and the dirt between.
Search for pale clouds
in a rather contented sky.

Ancient oaks ever-present advise
vintners in a wisdom-imparting way:

"Vetchers, be gentle to this wild land,
the land of natives and wild hogs.
Cowbirds that fly around and
land on purple vines are to be
viewed suspiciously."

Herds of cattle on distant hilltops
milling around sheepishly
seem content, and 'though not sharing
autumn harvest, they share space.

Look again, and again:
grape vines in lines in the sunshine.

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis


Today's LittleNip(s):

—Ibn 'Iyad (1083-1149)

Look at the ripe wheat
bending before the wind

like squadrons of horsemen
fleeing in defeat, bleeding
from the wounds of the poppies.

(translated from the Arabic by Cola Franzen)



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.