Photo by D.R. Wagner
(for James Bradley Jones)
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
For years, south of Sacramento,
California, south of the drive-in
Church, north of Elk Grove,
There was a sign painted on a barn.
'ED KLOSS, Bull Shipper' it read.
Proud, sincere, blatantly declarative.
It was like no other sign anywhere.
A most difficult profession always.
Today, the church, the barn, the sign,
Ed too, all gone. With this loss
The definition of the place changed.
The long views across the pastures,
Gone. Even distance swallowed up
By bigger signs, new roads, houses.
Farms have no names. They dissolve between
Rainstorms, it seems, without landmarks,
Without insistence of purpose, without place
At all. A most difficult position always.
(previously published in Rattlesnake Review #13)
Donald Anderson writes from Stockton: For those of you following along with my publishing ventures, I've made some important changes to the current publishing projects. Please review these changes posted on the website: http://sunshadowmountain.ning.com/profiles/blogs/big-changes/. Also I'm starting up an Open Mic night at Empresso Coffeehouse just for poetry,to complement the Songwriting one by giving poets more of a voice. The next one is Tuesday, May 12 at 6:30 PM. The Empresso Coffeehouse is located on Pacific Avenue just a block and a half from Harding Way in Stockton, where the big theatre sign is on the Miracle Mile. Chinetana Na2 Phounsavath will be my co-host, though I could use others if interested.
This week in NorCal poetry:
•••Monday (4/27), 12 PM: Poet/critic John Yau reads at UC Davis in 126 Voorhies Hall. Books include The Passionate Spectator: Essays on Art and Poetry; Paradiso Diaspora; and Borrowed Love Poems.
•••Monday (4/27), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Lucy Corin and Danny Romero, HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Open mic after. [See last Friday's post for bios.]
Next week (May 4) at SPC: High School Poetry Contest Reading
•••Tuesday (4/28), 7-8 PM: Acclaimed poet Li-Young Lee will read at Morris Chapel at University of the Pacific in Stockton, sponsored by Ethnic Studies, ASUOP, Writing in the Disciplines, Humanities Center, Celebrate Diversity, Office of the Provost, and COP Dean’s Office at University of the Pacific to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. There will be a reception at 6:30 PM. Info: www.uop.edu/.
•••Thurs. (4/30): The American Academy of Poets will be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day on the last day of Poetry Month, April 30: select a poem, carry it with you and pass it along to family, friends, and coworkers throughout the day. In coordination with this event, our community is invited to share a Poetry Quench to mark that day from 4-7 PM in front of La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd St. in midtown Sacramento. All passersby are invited to have a small cup of water and accept a free poem—two necessary elements of life! Poets and poetry lovers will be there to help QUENCH the public thirst for these necessities. This new idea was initiated by Graciela Ramirez and Writers of the New Sun / Escritores del Nuevo Sol, who has invited members of the Sacramento Poetry Center, The Book Collector, ZICA writers, and other local poetry writers and teachers to participate. Interest has grown quickly. The general public is welcome. We strongly encourage those who wish to, to read—one at a time, one poem at a time. Any reader can present his/her own poem, or one by anyone else, just so credit is given. Afterward, stay for the LRGP movie presentation, City of Men, or visit Luna’s Café (1414 16th St., Sacramento) for their weekly poetry reading which starts at 8 PM.
•••Thursday (4/30), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged @ Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento presents the man who began Poetry Unplugged @ Luna’s 14 years ago: Poet/songwriter Joe Montoya takes to the stage that he spawned with Vincent Montoya and Scott George from The Tattooed Love Dogs on Guitar, Guitars, Guitars backing and working with the words of Joe Montoya in an explosive mixture of Poetry, Prose, Tone Poem, and Songs. This ain’t the past, this is the future. Be There. Open mic prior and following the feature.
•••Fri.-Sun. (5/1-3): Last call to sign up for the Gold Rush Writers Conference May 1-3 in Mokelumne Hill at the Leger Hotel. Email Antoinette May to reserve your space (firstname.lastname@example.org/). Al Young, and others at open mic, will be reading at the Mokelumne Hill Library on Friday night at 7:30 PM. This is a free event. Everyone is invited, but only original material can be read. And Sat. (5/2), 6 PM, Al Young will be speaking at dinner in the Leger ballroom. The price of $35 includes a tri-trip 3-course dinner, tax, tip and talk. E-mail Antoinette May for reservations; check the Gold Rush Writers Conference site (goldrushwriters.com) for the address. Payment will be at the door, cash or check.
•••Friday-Sun. (5/1-3): The California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. will host its annual convention in Modesto. Detailed information and registration forms are available at http://www.chaparralpoets.org/welcome.html/. If you are not a member, you are encouraged to sign up for the Saturday workshops (the fee is $15.00), or to attend the free presentation by John Fox on Sunday.
—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento
It’s the color he loves best: salmon, ginger, sunset pink, mango, blush, coral, shrimp, tequila sunrise—some shade of tropical. The bird stood next to its plaster mate in his aunt’s yard along White River. He and his sister are photographed in sun suits in front of long arching necks. That time reminds him of romance over the airwaves, melodies of lovely hula hands, war chants from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. During hardships over a twenty-year tour of duty—Iran (where wandering camels ate the roses he planted in the sand), Ethiopia, Korea—he thinks about the color, it gives him something to laugh about as he remembers his fluorescent socks, in the same shade, running track in high school, and the brightly painted bird, framed in little square sections of a mirror, on the wall at home. Eventually, he settles in the foothills above Chico—a sign—DEER RUN—attached to the mailbox. White tail bucks and red maples watch over the new plastic flamingo sitting in the backyard under tiki lights. A classic Chevy pickup is parked in the driveway—high gloss, in the same color, mixed by a computer at Ace Hardware down the road. In a new century, towers down, he offers the flamingo to his sister who declines—it will not fit in with starman, or dancer with bird-on-toe that play next to her dry streambed. He thumbs through a newer catalogue, and selects a great blue heron with silver tips, to keep the other company, and guard his dreams of paradise. His daughter, the one with pale peach cheeks, is deployed to the Gulf.
(previously published in Arabesque)
—Sammie Robertson-Corp, Coos Bay, OR
My baby sister's name was Karon, and we were pals.
She followed me everywhere…she was my shadow.
Karon had been sickly as a baby.
I was only twenty-one months older, but I took care of her.
In our childhood years I had been Karon’s protector.
If someone bullied her, I beat them up or chased them away.
We had a connection, a bond…“We two” were our family.
We had twin sisters who looked and acted nothing alike.
As kids, everyone thought Karon and I were twins.
I loved all the attention we got from people.
Karon was shy and would hide behind me.
Sometimes I think Karon identified with me so much,
She did not know we were separate people.
I have many wonderful childhood memories of Karon and me.
Memories of us playing together, going to town with Dad together.
Doing everything together…
I have three other sisters, but I have no memories of them.
Just Karon and me…“We two” were our family.
Karon died of cancer almost twenty years ago.
Karon died a young woman. In my mind she is still young.
Though I have connected with a few other people in my life,
Since Karon is gone, I am an only child.
Photo by D.R. Wagner
A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
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 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, 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) rattlesnakepress.com/.
WTF!: Join us on Thursday, May 21 at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento for the unveiling of the second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick. Next deadline, for issue #3, is July 15. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
ALSO 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
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.