Painting by Susan Hazard
—Katy Brown, Davis
The bride of poppies
pauses on her wedding day—
dressed in scarlet, gathering
her bouquet of leaves and flowers:
cardinal red to match her gown
and green for hope.
yet bewitchingly revealed
in flowing robes that reach the ground,
she works alone, reaches deep
into the flowers, harvests their sleep
to mitigate the day.
Parent of my dreams,
brother of my heart,
offspring of my desire:
you resolve the longing
of my spirit
EVE GATHERS THE LILACS
and wild lily blossoms out in the meadow
of that first perfect world.
She pauses in sunlight,
listens for skylarks and watches
the bees going back to their hive.
This ideal moment—this ideal woman—
suspended for now in the azimuth of joy—
caught in her innocence—
who could betray her?
What powerful forces tempt her to stray?
For now, honeyed Eve rests in the shade
of an elegant tree, heavy with fruit.
Somewhere in the branches, a serpent is waiting
to whisper his promises into her ear.
All of this sunlight, all of this ecstasy
fleeting as shadows cast in the grass.
And Eve all alone in the afternoon meadow
gathers the lilacs, lilies and thyme
to weave in her hair and place in her pillow
while she dreams of the whispers
she hears in the air.
Thanks to Katy Brown for the poems! Watch for Katy's "Snake Eyes" column in the up-coming Rattlesnake Review, due out March 11 (the Snake turns 21!).
Next TUESDAY at Sacramento Poetry Center:
Yes, this is an unusual day for an SPC reading, but next Tues. (3/3) at 3:30 PM, Sacramento Poetry Center (1719 25th St., Sacramento) will present Brian Turner, a soldier-poet whose debut book of poems, Here, Bullet, won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor's Choice” selection, the 2006 Pen Center USA "Best in the West" award, and the 2007 Poets Prize, among others. Turner served seven years in the US Army, including one year as an infantry team leader in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to that, he was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division. Turner's poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, and other journals, and in the Voices in Wartime Anthology published in conjunction with the feature-length documentary film of the same name. Turner was also featured in Operation Homecoming, a unique documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. He earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and has lived abroad in South Korea.
This reading will be in addition to Monday's reading, which will feature Richard Loranger (see Friday's post for his bio).
We're having a give-away here in the Kitchen. Send your own poems about Santa Cruz to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by midnight Monday, March 2, and I'll mail you a copy of Julia Connor's new rattlechap, Oar. See below for three dandy examples.
Patricia Wellingham-Jones writes: I was lucky enough to live in Santa Cruz County (in Felton, in the redwoods about 10 miles inland) for almost a decade. Was a camp nurse in the summer, school bus driver the rest of the year for much of that time. Loved it, still miss living there. So here's a poem for Medusa, a real life story. Sister Betsy and I still howl at the image we made.
SANTA CRUZ BEACH
—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama
My sister visited
with her baby in a stroller,
my lad was three years old.
We had to go to the beach, of course,
let these newcomers dip toes
in the Pacific Ocean.
I packed tea for the mothers,
juice for the kids,
and cookies—the all-purpose picnic.
Drove us down from the redwoods,
smiled at Betsy’s sigh
at beholding the sea.
found the perfect place on the shore,
started our trek.
That’s when we discovered
a law of physics: Strollers do not wheel
through loose sand.
Forevermore, we remember
carrying stroller, baby and food
in that endless stagger across Santa Cruz beach.
SANTA CRUZ 1970
—Mitz Sackman, Murphys
Just say the words Santa Cruz
Memories emerge, bubbling through the mind
I went to UCSC
Back in the day when
Berkeley got our rejects
Referred to us as Uncle Charlie’s Summer Camp
Envy no doubt
Ah life in the redwoods
The school was awash with valedictorians
Surrounded by nerds
Each the chief nerd from their high school
An overwhelming lack of social skills
People desperately seeking validation
In a college with no grades
Wanting to get away from campus
My friend and I rented a summer beach residence
A single block above the boardwalk
During the school year, inconvenient but cheap
My bedroom was the front door
Hers the bath, living room, kitchen closet as well as sleep space
Life took some negotiation
We gave a wild party near the end of the year
Dressed in old high school prom gowns
Went wading at the beach
Crawling on the floor the next morning hunting glasses or contacts
We vowed never again
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
We were just learning
each other; or rather, skimming, outlining:
those pre-reading gambits. How much
Latvian was I to learn? How much
of our fresh new partnership lay in back
rooms, old scrolls, yellow deeds,
ancient ledgers bespeaking inherited
legal flourish, crumbling handshake,
quarrels over stock dividends we’d never
fought but stood heir to? All that
ancient office routine
we were to untangle, declutter,
streamline, our heads together,
our unfamiliar faces, our lips
together. All this shyness
and pain, love and realizing, in hot
shafts of afternoon sun, after the long
drive: my first glimpse of these shores
and where she’d studied: UC banana slugs
nested in hilly, shadowy stands of redwood.
New Year’s, a freakish eighty degrees, as,
overdressed, we shambled past boardwalk
and beach, dabbled at good café soup,
picked at used books along Pacific Garden Mall,
chafing sunburnt places on our faces,
rubbing in the newness of it all—and us.
Those who welcome death have only tried it from the ears up.
SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:
Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue (RR20) is currently available at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Deadline for RR21 was Feb. 15; the issue will appear in mid-March. Next deadline is May 15 for RR22: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to email@example.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; let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one.
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!
New for February: Now available! A new rattlechap from Sacramento's Poet Laureate, Julia Connor (Oar); a free 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. Available from the poets or at The Book Collector (1008 24th St., Sacramento) or (soon) from rattlesnakepress.com/.
WTF is out!
Be sure to stop by The Book Collector to pick up your free copy of Rattlesnake Press's latest spawn, WTF—our new quarterly journal which premiered last night in a rousing event hosted by frank andrick which ran into the wee hours at Luna's Cafe. WTF #1 features 22 poets, artists and photogs from the Poetry Unplugged scene; next deadline is April 15 (oooo...tax day!). Guidelines are pretty much the same as the RR ones listed below, except that frank wants three poems (instead of 3-5), and you must be over 18 to submit. Send poems, artwork, and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or the RPress snail address. If you can't get to The Book Collector, send me two bux and I'll mail you one, or I suspect they're available at Luna's.
What's the difference between Rattlesnake Review and WTF? The over-18 thing should give you a clue. WTF is leaner (smaller), meaner, and more geared to the "Luna's voice", if there is such a thing—and if you ever go to Poetry Unplugged on Thursday nights at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, you'll see what I mean. Its material also tends to be more X-rated. The Review is big and fat, has articles and other features, and represents a wide variety of styles and genres. But if you're over 18, you're welcome to submit to either one. I edit the Review; frank andrick edits WTF.
Coming in March: On Wednesday, March 11, Rattlesnake Press will be releasing a new chapbook from Norma Kohout (All Aboard); a littlesnake broadside from Patricia Hickerson (At Grail Castle Hotel); and a new issue of Rattlesnake Review (the Snake turns 21)! Join us at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.
Medusa's Weekly Menu:
(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)
Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar
Tuesday: 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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.