Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where The Earth Is Still Flat

Climbing Rose
Photo by Jane Blue, Sacramento

—Chrys Mollett, Angel’s Camp

No fair!
Too easy.
I want mine!
You always take the bigger piece!

Mom loves you better,
She'd never say it.
But Dad loves me
So there.
And you should learn how to share!
You poke me tease me pick on me
It's just because I let you.

I'd rather be nice.
So what I'm chubby—
You're too skinny.
And stingy
Your feet are like ice.

That's not fair—
I just want to visit your white pet rat.
I don't think I should have to pay a quarter
To come into your room.
You never want to come into mine.

Everything's all twisted between you & me.
Twisted like a bramble tree.


—Donald R. Anderson, Stockton

Too tired to drive, but forced to,
my brother-in-law negotiates with the drivers
in masterful awareness of the lanes, the traffic,
somehow overcoming the slumbering numbness
of long hours. He has made a life
of being awake at the odder hours of night,
and perhaps that has grown on him.
He would like retirement, if he could afford it.
He also tells of technology
for providing energy for the nation by
covering a couple miles of desert with
solar panels. The truth is sad: that it could
possibly happen, but the business isn't in it.
It would get bought out just like the patents
to electric cars and alternative fuel engines;
the technology isn't the problem,
it's the way we use it.
He sings the fabricated words to popular tunes
in soft satire, as we eat and gather
for our family outings,
and I ride with him, my gracious ride back
to the apartment in town, where I have no car,
no bike, and walk to work 30 minutes
every Monday through Thursday morn,
watching the sun rise on a new day.


WRITING AND KNOWING: 6th Annual Poetry Workshop

Join Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar for their July 5-10 writing workshop at Esalen, Big Sur, CA. The topics this year will be:

TRUTH AND BEAUTY with Joseph Millar: For Keats’ Urn, these were one and the same. We will look at poems by various contemporary masters with a view toward discovering whether one has ascendancy over the other, and what the tensions between them might mean to our own poetics (or general beliefs about writing).

THE PERSONAL UNIVERSE with Dorianne Laux: What makes your voice your own? What makes it uniquely yours? How does a poem create a feeling of intimacy with the reader? How can we make our poems daring, distinctive, unmistakably ours? Using the poems of Ruth Stone, a poet who is adept in all these matters, as examples, we'll practice writing poems that discover and reflect our personal universe.

THE LIST POEM with Ellen Bass: Lists are irresistible. There were lists in the library of Alexandria and they've continued from the Bible to Homer, from the Elizabethans to Whitman, from Cole Porter to us. Writing a list poem can be a lot of fun because once you've got your theme, you can just keep thinking up more and more and more. We'll look at a few list poems from the past and some contemporary catalogues, learning techniques to keep the tension high and the poem alive.

Although the emphasis is on poetry, this workshop is open to prose writers too. Rich, textured, evocative language is the province of all writers, so this workshop will be applicable to writers of fiction and memoir as well.

Lastly, there's Esalen itself. If you've been to Esalen before, you already know it's one of the most magnificent places on the planet. If you haven't, don't postpone it. It's breathtakingly beautiful and deeply nourishing. We'll be having our group meetings in the Big House overlooking the Pacific. We'll also be breaking into smaller groups for individual attention. Participants will have an opportunity to work with all three teachers.

Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations--ranging from $570 to $1105. The least expensive rate is for sleeping bag space which can be very comfortable, but it's limited, so you need to sign up for it early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts.

All arrangements and registration must be made directly with Esalen at 831-667-3005 or visit If you have questions about the workshop itself, please email Ellen (, or call her at 831-426-8006.


—Marie J. Ross, Stockton

The frilly Easter dresses were her pride and joy,
the fabric had tiny red and yellow flower buds,
with a matching bonnet she stitched; oh, how we
loved those outfits.
We were young then full of vitality, our screechy
voices a little too loud. We were rambunctious
weren’t we?
Our sandals would kick dust in the vegetable garden,
in the summer sun, and we argued who would water or
pick the harvest.
A tinge of jealousy arose when puberty seated us on the female
throne of competition, but, we managed didn’t we?
Then womanhood's verdant grasses flourished on different paths,
mine on different soils far-away, yours on homestead and children.
But, we loved the yesterdays, the skies of living,
and survived in the grey winds of loss,
loving the love of a sister.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Aunt Polly Meadors 90 years old
widow of Jeremiah Meadors
(the tobacco farmer)
she smoked a corncob pipe
plug of tobacco bulged her cheek
last years of her life
she lived with her son's family at Jellico Creek
little Ethel had a geography book
spread out on the floor studying
it showed the world was round
Aunt Polly sneered ever'body knows the earth is flat

Years later in Appalachia
I see an old lady with a corncob pipe
chaw in her cheek
rocking on a front porch
she gets off her rocker
leans over the porch railing
spits down a long, lingering hot stream of ebony tobacco
I thought that's just like Aunt Polly

well, right now
(things the way they are)
I wish I were high up in the mountains
where the earth is still flat
smoking with Aunt Polly

Jeremiah Meadors


Today's LittleNip:

Months pass, days pile up
like one intoxicated dream—
An old man sighs


(translated by John Stevens)



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.