Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Air Is Thick With Solutions

Basses at Bill's
Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

There they were.
There must have been
A couple of hundred of them.

Clear balloons floating
Across the road.
Each with a lizard inside of it.

They were the breeze
For ten minutes, then
Drifted out of sight.

Talking to Jody
At the bar, he said,
“They’re going to make
A series out of that,
You know. You never
Know what you’ll see."

Three persons walked
Into the bar and sat down.
One of them was Kenneth Patchen.
“How’s everything today?”, he said.


Join us tomorrow night, 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!

This latest volume of B.L. Kennedy's series of books of interviews of NorCal poets includes Lytton Bell, Gene Bloom, V.S. Chochezi, Robert Grossklaus, Vincent Kobelt, Arturo Mantecón, Jackie Schaffer, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Bob Stanley, Monica Storss—and a bonus feature of S.A. Griffin. It's a fine addition to our other four volumes, bringing the interviews to a total of somewhere around 55.

In his interview, Donald Sidney-Fryer talks about the California Romantics, including Ambrose Bierce. Then this crossed my desk (thanks to Monika Rose, who was interviewed in Vol. 4):

A “Devil's Dictionary" Contest:

The Georgia Review seeks submissions for a special feature, "A Devil's Dictionary for the Twenty-First Century"—an update of Ambrose Bierce's brilliant satirical work, The Devil's Dictionary, published just about one hundred years ago. Writers are invited to send one or two original dictionary entries—maximum length, two hundred words each—for publication consideration. Those who renew or purchase a subscription to the Georgia Review may send up to six dictionary entries. All entries considered for publication. All accepted authors will receive an honorarium. The competition pays $500 for first place, $150 for second, and $100 for third. Deadline is June 30, 2009. Info: http://www.uga.edu/garev/devil.html/.

Monika also writes: The Tuolumne Meadows Summer Poetry Workshop program this year will include Jane Hirschfield, Joseph Stroud, and US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan....should be a good one! It's free—sponsored by the Yosemite Association. Watch for it about the middle of August.


Also tomorrow night:

Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993-1995, will speak at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento at 7:30 PM, with a preview lecture at 6:30. Tickets are $27. There's an article in The Sacramento Bee about her today; it says her hobbies are ballroom dancing and playing viola da gamba.


We could all use a little levity. Today's Seed of the Week is the Cler·i·hew: A humorous verse, usually consisting of two unmatched rhyming couplets, about a person whose name generally serves as one of the rhymes. [After Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), British writer.] Send me your clerihews: kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 94726; no deadline on Seeds of the Week. The American Heritage Dictionary online included the following (anonymous) examples, and below them is Pat Hickerson's take on last week's SOW: When I Was Lost. Thanks also to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and photos!


Sir Humphrey Davy
Detested gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I'm going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing St. Paul's."

Tom Hanks
Has accounts in fifty banks.
His earnings took a jump
When he said, "Call me Forrest Gump."

Computer wizard Bill Gates
Eats off silver plates.
If his fortune ever slips,
He'll cash in his chips.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

R stalks the afternoon
looking for G
(rein her in, someone)
she's mindless
not knowing G doesn't exist
walking past his house
down Ashby Avenue
it's near the corner of Shattuck
(oh, you have to know Berkeley)

she keeps walking
past his house
starts early in downtown Oakland
dark men standing around
clustered all day long
men who don't work
stand around killing time
stare at her as she passes by

a black police wagon rolls along
dark faces like his behind the bars
didn't he do time at Leavenworth
busted for heroin?

she follows the route she knows
all the way up Broadway
switch over to Telegraph Avenue
then turn left at Ashby
go Bayward past his house
tucked away behind something larger

it all looks familiar
walking the East Bay map
R will pass his house
reliquary for her children's tears
her broken husband who says
take him back
G's wife faces up to it
while G hides in the bathtub

the one dreaming
waits for him
at the designated spot
close to Telegraph Avenue
a park bench
in her big yellow coat
without toothbrush or nightgown
waits for him
and he never shows up
(help her, someone,
mindless in her delirium)

he no longer exists
he's buried in Alabama
no, he's buried in her brain
did she really want him anyway?
what was it?
someone, please explain


—D.R. Wagner

The air is thick with solutions.

More water flows under the bridge.

There is more here than meets
The eye.

The eye blinks.

It was the house.


—D.R. Wagner

The clouds open and for a moment,
Form a circle in the sky. One could
See angels moving within this circle.
Tall and pale, they are towers,
Leaning into each other and moving
Their giant wings slowly, as in breathing.

I dropped the car into a lower gear,
Swerving to avoid the back of a semi
As it exploded the road, caught up in a
Frenzy of delivery. The sky was all a gold,
A blue hole revealing a churning from
Heaven to Earth. Highway 80 West,
Aflame with the eccentricities of the early
Evening. An endless stream of vehicles
Up and down the interstate, a Jacob’s
Ladder where we are all angels.

The spinning of the clouds moves,
Recedes as clouds change shape
Again. I see Sacramento in the
Distance, stringing its night lights,
Claiming the horizon. There, on
The edge of the night, it becomes
A remarkable presence. I begin to
Think that perhaps the angels dwell
There, a place of sacrament. A blue
Camero without lights on nearly clips
My pickup as it slides across three lanes.
Its license plate reads HLY GHST.

Photo by D.R. Wagner


Today's LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

I loved her
So very much.
Her heart had



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 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, 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!

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 fandrickfabpub@hotmail.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

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.