Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento
For info and more photos, go to
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Praise be to clouds assembled like skyey grumbles.
Grey eminences flood the air with bitters,
monks muttering odes and chants peculiar
to their unbreakable order. And the will,
though sun seems to want to assert the otherwise,
is to be the blackening rack, bananas old
shriveling to a dry and seedlike song.
The cloud-wish to breed rain attentuates
to grey dandelions of gloom and lower and brood.
All this over the under, and the under
is trees of blackforest green through which houses poke.
An artificial Tuscany of rooftile,
and if the red outtops a sere outcropping
of pastel nouveau mansions mansard-headed,
the scene is doing worse what’s been done better:
where are the Firenze olive trees in place of black oak,
olive suited to surround or crown a savior’s head
laid forehead crosswise to forearms, praying in conflict?
Into such scenes epiphanies ache to thrust,
to open like a pronged opener a can,
that is, brilliantly laser into the tough body
of dis- or non-belief, as in film cliché.
But isn’t the decadence of the scene mostly me,
looker from well ensconced behind a window?
Isn’t mine one decaying voice within the immortal
vocalise, all unison finished linear perfection?
Then I must be Prester John of this high window,
dead but outwitting death in fleshlife pulses,
centuries lapping and lapping at a friable edge…
Thanks to Bob Dreizler for the photo and to Tom Goff and our other poets who sent in poems today, including haiku, our Seed of the Week [see yesterday's rant on Medusa's Kitchen]. Tom will be releasing a new chapbook from Rattlesnake Press on May 13: Sinfonietta. Join us at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Tom is also our Historian-in-Residence for Rattlesnake Review; watch for his wonderful articles about California poets of the past in each issue.
Tom says: Last week was the birthday of Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, claimant to the Shakespeare plays (1550-1604). That's right: one day different from the traditional Stratford Shakespeare, he was born on April 12th (old style), April 22nd (new style)...
FOR EDWARD DE VERE, SEVENTEENTH EARL OF OXFORD
(who renounced all title to the authorship of the Shakespeare plays)
“Sometimes the title is the last to come.”
—observation often stated by James Merrill
Sometimes the title is the last to come.
What need have you of title? Every day
with lightning lines you gave us our ears hum:
think, “to the manner born,” “husband, I come.”
Snatches, like “things nothing worth”; “give o’er the play.”
Sometimes the title is the last to come,
but come it must, as truth will enter, stun
pryingly open to sun the dungeoned brain.
Our ears with the lightning lines you gave us hum.
Your rod can reach still darker, deeper to plumb
than Earth exists to be thrust through, or time remains.
Sometimes the title is the last to come,
sometimes the first to go. Not simply dumb,
you dispensed with lands and power as one sells plate,
but you gave us those lightning lines, and our ears hum
still. King Lear with mad self-knowledge numb,
or that busybody by the Dane’s sword slain:
with lightning lines you gave us our ears hum
and buzz. The foremost title taken from
you, we would restore—but that, you did convey.
Though with lightning lines of yours our ears still hum,
sometimes the title is the last to come.
Flower, then leaf-bud.
Green…why stop here, on this brink?
What ice browns your stem?
squeezing the joy from the hours
as from a ripe orange
this tastes too sweet to last
a tight pink rosebud
your voice blossoms me
I trace my tongue
over all your scars—
tasting your pain.
—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento
Storm clouds in April—
clay wind-chimes clash and clatter.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Poetry is any page from a sketchbook of outlines of a doorknob with thumb-prints of dust, blood, dreams.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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.