Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Night Children

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Virginia Hamilton Adair

Draw the hour

dark as a bruise

where neon shopfronts

jerk and implore

on-off, arrow-arrow

enter me, like any whore.

On streets of soot and stain

the first brushes of rain

daub jewels and holocausts

through violet exhausts

and the wet deepens like a dream

while souls in stereo

ferry the black and fiery stream.


Today's Seed of the Week is the Nocturne. Originally a musical term, the nocturne extols the night, kind of an "ode to the night". So write to me about... the night. Below are some poetic nocturnes, plus a poem about yesterday's turtles/tortoises by Michelle Kunert, and a poem from Tom Goff about roots and our drought year that seems to fit Katy Brown's tree picture just perfectly. But first, an addition to the calendar (Kim Addonizio!) and some news about Stockton's arts scene:

Kim Addonizio in Davis tomorrow night!

•••Weds. (2/4), 9 PM: Poetry Night at Bistro 33 proudly welcomes award-winning poet Kim Addonizio. The author of four books of poetry, two novels, and two popular manuals on writing, Kim Addonizio has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other awards and recognitions. In addition to her original creative writing projects, Addonizio has also produced a spoken word and music compilation entitled, Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing, and co-edited Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. About Addonizio’s latest novel, Andre Dubus III has written the following: “My Dreams Out in the Street is one of the finest American novels I've read in some time, a night-blooming flower you will not be able to put down, so honestly rendered you'll wonder, as you turn the last page, why you feel so much hope.” Kim Addonizio teaches private workshops in Oakland as well as online, and her fifth collection of poetry, Lucifer at the Starlite, will be published this October. To see an example of her work, pick up this month’s Poetry magazine.

Poetry Night at Bistro 33, co-hosted by UC Davis faculty members Andy Jones and Brad Henderson occurs on the first and third Wednesdays of every month beginning at 9 P.M. with an open microphone at 10 P.M. The event is free and open to the public. Come early for a seat and for a spot on the Open Mic list.

Stockton Grant Program Accepting Applications

The Stockton Arts Commission is soliciting applications for the City’s Arts Endowment Grant Program for 2009-10. The program funds annual grants to Stockton-based arts organizations, individual artists and arts educators who present and produce arts projects in the City. The Stockton City Council established an endowment of $1.3 million in January 2001 for the creation of the program. It is administered by the Arts Commission. Grants are funded from interest earned on the Endowment so it will remain a permanent resource for the community. $66,950 was awarded to eleven artists/organizations for 2008-09.

Two workshops have been scheduled to assist in grant preparation. Interested applicants are urged to attend one of two workshops: February 25 from 5-7 PM, or February 28 from 9-11 AM. Both sessions will be held at the Philomathean Club, 1000 North Hunter Street. Call the Stockton Arts Commission at 937-7488 to register. Grant guidelines and application information can be downloaded at the City web site, www.stocktongov.com/arts or by email to deena.heath@ci.stockton.ca.us. For additional information, call 209-937-7488.

Annual Arts Awards Nominations

The Stockton Commission is seeking nominations from its community for individuals, organizations and patrons who have made major contributions to arts and culture in the community. The categories include the STAR Award (Stockton’s Top Arts Award Recognition), the Patron Award, the Volunteer Award and the Career Achievement Award. Other categories may be designated if appropriate. Recipients will be honored at a celebration at the Bob Hope Theatre on September 11, 2009 following ART WALK. Criteria and nomination forms can be downloaded at the City website, www.stocktongov.com/arts or by email to deena.heath@ci.stockton.ca.us. For additional information, call 209-937-7488.


—Anonymous, c. 1500 BC, Old Babylonia

The gates of the town are closed. The princes
Have gone to sleep. The chatter of voices

Has quieted down. Doorbolts are fastened.
Not until morning will they be opened.

The gods of the place, and the goddess.
Ishtar, Sin, Adad, and Shamash,

Have gone into the quiet of the sky.
Making no judgments. Only

The voice of a lone wayfarer
Calls out the name of Shamash or Ishtar.

Now house and field are entirely silent.
The night is veiled, a Sleepless client

In the still night waits for the morning.
Great Shamash has gone into the sleeping

Heaven; the father of the poor,
The judge, has gone into his chamber.

May the gods of the night come forth—the Hunter,
The Bow, the Wagon, the Yoke, the Viper,

Irra the valiant, the Goat, the Bison
Girra the shining, the Seven, the Dragon—

May the stars come forth in the high heaven.

Establish the truth in the ritual omen;
In the offered lamb establish the truth.


—Wole Soyinka, b. 1934, Nigeria

Your hand is heavy. Night, upon my brow,
I bear no heart mercuric like the clouds, to dare
Exacerbation from your subtle plough.

Woman as a clam, on the sea's cresent
I saw your jealous eye quench the sea's
Fluorescence, dance on the pulse incessant

Of the waves. And I stood, drained
Submitting like the sand, blood and brine
Coursing to the roots. Night, you rained

Serrated shadows through dank leaves
Till, bathed in warm suffusion of your dappled cells
Sensations pained me, faceless, silent as night thieves.

Hide me now, when night children haunt the earth
I must hear none! These misted calls will yet
Undo me; naked, unbidden, at Night's muted birth.


Mom found a turtle had crawled into a flower box
languishing in a little mud puddle left by the rain
because alas, she was not a tortoise
Her neighbor before found another in her swimming pool
making one wonder if it too had been dumped the same
"Yertle" as mom called her after a Dr. Suess character
was a female red-eared slider turtle
with the edge of her shell possibly clipped by a car wheel
another non-native turtle to California sold as novelty pets
One couldn't help but feel sorry and cuddle her
attention she likely had not received before
But she only partially retreated her head and clawed flippers
and gave out a little snort like some reptiles give for pleasure
rather than in utter defense for fear
She needed a shallow-filled dish pan,
being she was weak to swim in a leftover fish tank
having to be always changed due to her eliminations
She recovered strength from eating fresh fruits and vegetables
Her neighbor said "Why not just sell her to an aquarium store?"
ignoring poor "Yertle's" health and predicament
and the vet later said she likely well over twenty years old
Yertle was be treated no differently than any creature with fur
(just remembering to wash our hands to avoid possible samonella)
We would instead find a home that loved turtles
through a local society (we did)
Meanwhile staying with three cats fascinatingly staring
Perhaps wondering what kind of hard-shelled ‘fish’ was this
crawling out of water to also bask in the patio sunbeams?

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

To uproot a tree,
break the dams, the dykes, the levees;
thrash the trunk, storm,
soften the rock, the loam, flood.
See that the leaves, green,
brown, whatever the lash has left,
disperse, whirl wildly away.
After, let every water stand
where it fell, lapped at cat-tongued
by remnant winds, as if licking clots, in blood.

To uproot an egret,
dry what you might have thought
to wet. Let bare dirt, or the worst
dry sands, auguring how many months’ thirst,
have place. Let the great bird treelike
topple, but upward, so that when these
large soft leaves fall, this too is a raining

up, an invert justice, a hail of farewell,
a drift on a draft: twin thin sticks
each scarcely more than stalk,
the gliding away far, a last letter simply writ
on two facing pages of white.

Photo by Katy Brown


Today's LittleNip:

—Dennis Brutus, b. 1924, Zimbabwe

Sleep well, my love, sleep well:
the harbour lights glaze over restless docks,
police cars cockroach through the tunnel streets

from the shanties creaking iron-sheets
violence like a bug-infested rag is tossed
and fear is immanent as sound in the wind-swung bells;

the long day's anger pants from sand and rocks;
but for this breathing night at least,
my land, my love, sleep well.



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; 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!

Coming 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.)

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.