Friday, April 24, 2009

A Day to Wear

Dewell H. Byrd

—Dewell H. Byrd, Eureka

Old moon rubs cue dust

on the church steeple,
lays a shimmering beam

across the flight of a night heron:
silent hunter.

Patient fishing bird poised

in mid-stride

stares unblinking

into a minnow's eye,
waits, ignores

the sound of trucks in caravan
that rip the night
like glaciers calving,

across the belly

of the bay.

Blue moon on black beak,
ivory streaks of wear.

Fish frozen in terror.

Late snack

by moonlight.


Thanks, Dewell! Dewell H. Byrd is a retired public school administrator living where California's beautiful north coast meets the mighty redwood forest. He has been writing poetry for six years and has published two books: Moments in Time and Reflections of the Heart; the latter is available via Trafford Press (online at He has been named California Senior Citizen Poet Laureate by Angels Without Wings Foundation FY 2004, 2006, 2008. Dewell's poems have been published in The Aurorean, Tiger's Eye, Mid-America Review, Prairie Schooner, Sage Trail, Poetalk and a variety of other journals. He is a proud contributor of every issue of Rattlesnake Review.


—Dewell H. Byrd

Everyone hushed about the house;
family, friends, neighbors

as if speaking above a whisper
might awaken him.

Cold wind whined under watery skies,
whispered through clapboard cracks.

Small children sought safety
in the corner behind the Franklin stove.

Preacher brought a wooden box, black book.
Everybody wore clean clothes, shiny shoes.

Folks brought Sunday food, hugs, tears,
muffled voices, songs soft and low.

Years have softened the images,
soothed the hurt in my heart.

David became seven forever
that gray November day.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (4/24), 7-9 PM: Barnes & Noble (Sunrise Boulevard in Citrus Heights) open mic as part of their "Turn Off" week. Margaret Bell writes: I would like to cast the net wide and get a lot of poets from a 50-mile radius to come and share their poems. They could use the event as an opportunity, not only to read their poems, but to advertise their own poetry activities and open mic opportunities. I just received confirmation that a truly wonderful guitarist will play some background. He is going to play softly behind one of the poems I intend to read and asked me to send him a copy of the poem so he can prepare for it. He can play behind one of your poems if you want him to do so. Just send me a copy of the poem. I will forward it to him, with your request that he play.

•••Friday (4/24), 8:30-10:30 PM: TheBlackOut poetry series at Sacramento’s new and hot smokin' word venue inside the Upper Level VIP Lounge every 3rd and 4th Friday. $5.00. Located inside of Fitness Systems Heathclub, by Cal State Skating Rink, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento, 916-681-2555. (Exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie right past Motel 6.) This week features Chris Jones, Felicia McGee and DeLaire Doyle, plus open mic. Info: 916-208-Poet or

•••Saturday (4/25), 7-9 PM: The Show Poetry Series features Eldridge Batiste, Ike Torres & the Jimmy James Acoustic Guitar Experience, with live band LSB and house singer Chris J. $5.00. Wo’se Community Center, 2863 35th St., (off 35th & Broadway), Sacramento. Info: 916-208-Poet or

•••Saturday (4/25), 7:30 PM: 17th Annual Listening to the Wild at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley. The theme this year is Harmony/Disharmony. Poetry, prose, film and music featuring local and regional artists. Tickets are available at Center for the Arts, 314 Main St., Grass Valley. $10-12. Info: 530-274-8384.

•••Sunday (4/26), 11 AM-12:45 PM: El Camino Poets meet on the fourth Sunday at the Hart Senior Center, 27th and J Sts., Sacramento. Please bring 8 copies of your poem to be critiqued. There will be no El Camino Poets in May.

•••Sunday (4/26), 1-5 PM: The second annual Marin Poetry Festival will feature Kay Ryan and Jack Hirschman (among others) and will take place at the Bay Model Visitor’s Center, 2001 Bridgeway, Sausalito. This will be an amazing event for poetry, with Kay Ryan, Jack Hirschfield Agneta Falk, Clive Matson, Sharon Doubiago, Robert Flynn DeSilver and many other poets and performance artists—plus the chance to buy local poets’ books, and even an open mike. Music by Avoteja and Ian Dogole, Kirk Lumpkin and the Word-Music Continuum and Owen Davis and Steve Shain. No charge, but a $5 donation is requested. This event sold out last year, so plan to come early! Sponsored by Marin Poetry Center, The Rebound Bookstore of San Rafael, Book Passage of Corte Madera, and Army Corps of Engineers Bay Delta Model. Info: 415-382-8022 or

•••Monday (4/27), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Lucy Corin and Danny Romero, HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Lucy Corin is a fiction writer. Her work has appeared in journals including Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Conjunctions, and Fiction International and in anthologies such as Algonquin's New Stories from the South: The Year's Best (1997 and 2003), and The Iowa Anthology of Innovative Narrative. Her novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls was published by FC2 in 2004. She was a Walter E. Dakin fellow at the Sewanee Writers' Conference in 2006. Her latest book, The Entire Predicament, was published in 2007.

Danny Romero was born and raised in Los Angeles. He has degrees from University of California, Berkeley (BA, 1988) and Temple University (MA, 1993) in Philadelphia, where he taught writing (part-time) for many years. Romero’s poetry and short fiction have been published in literary journals throughout the country, including Colorado Review, Drumvoices Revue, Green Mountains Review, Paterson Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, and Ploughshares. His work can also be found in such anthologies as West of the West: Imagining California (1989), Pieces of the Heart: New Chicano Fiction (1993), Under the Fifth Sun: Latino Literature from California (2003), Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets (2006), Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (2008) and Pow Wow: Charting the Faultlines in the American Experience: Short Fiction from Then to Now (2009). He is the author of the novel, Calle 10 (1996) and two chapbooks of poetry; the later being Land of a Thousand Barrios (2002). A new poetry collection is forthcoming from Bilingual Review Press. He teaches in the English Department at Sacramento City College.


—Dewell H. Byrd

kitchen spotless
oven pre-heated
ingredients laid out
dates chopped
spices measured
flour sifted
eggs cracked
pan greased

date bars baking
pleasing aroma

oops, two eggs
left over

poetry critique group
yummy munchies

compliments galore
recipe requested

scrambled eggs
for breakfast.


—Dewell H. Byrd

We sprawled across a quilt
in front of her fireplace,
playing phonograph records,
laughing nervously...
on a Sunday afternoon.

Her mom brought popcorn
and iced tea.
Her pop cleared his throat
behind the newspaper...
on a sunny afternoon.

We talked of school
and classmates,
she had just turned thirteen
and I, plus two...
on a glowing afternoon.

She draped her silk scarf
across my face
as I held her hand
and traced quilt patterns...
on a flaming afternoon.

I pledged that moment
to protect this angel,
lovingly, forever,
from guys like me...
on a loving afternoon.

Now with weathered hand
I trace a quilted face
and listen to the music
from granddaughter's room...
On a Sunday afternoon.


—Dewell H. Byrd

Inside my vessel of endless days
I search the nooks and crannies
of yesteryear.

The memory of my first love
butterflies a teasing dance.
Mirages mingle.

Was it in the fat-egg month of June
when the moon drapes a cloud
across its face?

Was it where a lonely country lane
touches my road and the mailboxes
keep silent vigil?

Geese glide where crumbs of her laughter
linger like bubbles.
Ah! The river... The swimming hole...

When twilight fills my empty day
she moves to me, a flower's golden song,
warm honey.

Little by little memory diminishes
and any way I play this game ends as it began: with love.


Today's LittleNip:

—Dewell H. Byrd

sea and sky fused in crimson
song of surf loving the land
a wild rose robed in spring
diamond dew on currant leaf
whirr of quail lifting my step

this is a day to wear.



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest Snake (RR21) is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. 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 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, and please—only one submission per issue.

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 APRIL: A SpiralChap of poetry and photos from Laverne Frith (Celebrations: Images and Texts); a (free!) littlesnake broadside from Taylor Graham (Edge of Wildwood); and Musings3: An English Affair, a new blank journal of photos and writing prompts from Katy Brown. Now available from the authors, or The Book Collector, or (soon)

April 15 was the deadline for the second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be over 18 years of age to submit. Copies of the first issue are at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one. Next deadline, for issue #3, is July 15.

COMING IN MAY: Join us Weds., May 13 for a new rattlechap, Sinfonietta, from Tom Goff; Vol. 5 of Conversations, the Rattlesnake Interview Series by B.L. Kennedy; and the inauguration of a new series, Rattlesnake LittleBooks, with Shorts: Quatrains and Epigrams by Iven Lourie. That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. 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.