Monday, May 04, 2009

Breathe-Out Poetry

Photo by Claire J. Baker

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

After Emily D.
chamomile tea
her poems for thee
and for me
After thirty three
sips of eternity
now at last I see
"New Englandly."


—Claire J. Baker

If a nightingale
sings & pleases you
it is only fair

that one night
you sing
for the nightingale.


—Claire J. Baker

Well, tap my head
and rub my belly—
I nearly brushed
with KY Jelly.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (5/4), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center hosts its annual high school poetry contest reading, featuring the original work of many of the Sacramento area’s aspiring poetic talents who have entered their work in the contest that the Sacramento Poetry Center sponsors. HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento.

•••Thursday (5/7), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St., Sacramento) presents featured readers with open mic before and after. Free.

•••Saturday (5/9), 2 PM: Open Mic will be held at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore on Sunrise Boulevard in Citrus Heights. Margaret Bell of Citrus Heights Area Poets writes: There will be nothing else on the program except poetry readings and anything else poets choose to discuss. COME SHARE!

•••Sat. (5/9) 1:30-3:30 PM: A reading of Volume 6, Number 2, of the Central Valley poetry quarterly, Song of the San Joaquin, will be held in the downstairs theater of the McHenry Museum, 1402 “I” Street, Modesto. Poets will read their own poems. The reading is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. There will be an "open mike" following the presentation. The quarterly will be for sale and information on subscriptions and submissions will be available. Information can also be found by contacting Cleo Griffith at or (209) 577-5366 or PO Box 1161, Modesto, CA 95353-1161.

•••Sat. (5/9), 10 AM-5 PM: Stockton Arts and Multicultural Celebration at Weber Point, Stockton. Free community event featuring artistic, cultural and ethnic traditions in music, dance, theatre and visual art. Activities for all ages; food and beverages available. Volunteers needed: contact Dean Gorby at 209-933-7030 (x2304) or Robert Rojas, 209-430-5117. Info:


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

We envied you, the youngest,
as if you had been singled out
for a coat of many colors.
We said Mom spoiled you.

We were wrong.
Love made you strong.
You grew to manhood with courage
enough to hold at bay

the gnawing years that would
chew upon the heart remorselessly,
the way packs of wild dogs
devour the downed lamb.

You stayed with Mom and Dad—
held back the dark
that folded in on the farm,
holding fast to our mother.

You stayed to tend the fields,
to mind the cattle and we were free
to leave: to embroider our garments
with threads of red and gold.

You stayed,
steadfast in your faded coat.


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

Sun breaks through the fog.
See, on that brown thorny stem
a rosebud opens.

The swallows have left.
Our barn seems lonelier now—
only dust motes fly.

Swollen purple buds
open on the apple tree—
look, white butterflies.

Summer sun lifts the
tender flower faces
the summer showers bent.

Delta breeze humming
orange blossoms fall to earth
whispers light the night

Morning light opens
the chrysanthemum petals.
I am wet with dew.
(Published in Yolo Crow, 2007)

owl cries in the night
yellow eyes light the darkness:
forgetful new moon

between orange clouds
a cluster of crows circling
calling out return

Photo by Claire J. Baker


Today's LittleNip:

Breathe-in experience,
breathe-out poetry.

~Muriel Rukeyser



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!

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 (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 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.