Saturday, May 02, 2009

Coming Up To Breathe

Sophia Stirdivant

—Sophia Stirdivant, Loomis

I didn’t say the Lord’s prayer
when I listened to mass through speakers outside a crowded church
in the plaza of Tlaquepaque
Or when
I watched streams of holy water wash away the clean sins
of babies at a baptism in Leon.
I didn’t say it because
I didn’t know how
in Spanish.
So my lips sat
and I on the polished pew
Looking like a sinner/foreigner/atheist

But I found a solution
to help myself—
Invite a native Spanish speaker
to my bed.
He said it out loud
as I wrote it down,
and at the end, “la tentacion” that’s you—he told me
“todo mal”—that’s you I answered back
Two sinners in one bed
We ended with a cognate:
Time, time,
It goes on by,
doesn't pause, doesn't rewind,
it pushes forward, shoves in line,
leaves the room
without saying


Thanks, Sophia! Sophia Stirdivant is an EFL teacher who spends her time between California, U.S.A., and Jalisco, Mexico. She graduated from UC Riverside in 2006 with a degree in Anthropology and minors in Creative Writing and Dance. She plans to attend grad school when she figures out what is worth spending her (or whoever’s) money on. She has no boyfriend, no babies, nor pets. But she does have gray hair and two married parents. Viva Mexico.


—Sophia Stirdivant

From the roof I can see everything.
How the unholy streets cross
Like the blue one glows above
The Gothic Expiatorio.
The weed man,
but not the plastic bag of weed he hides in his sock.
Who comes banging on our door from time to time.
Making me glad I’m me and not him.
And then there’s the Cathedral.
Making us all glad we are us.
I sometimes look beyond it all and let the palm trees trick me into
thinking I’m in L.A.,
to feel home.
But the flat roofs and hanging clothes let me know I’m here.
Living my little-girl fantasy.
That took a woman to complete.


—Sophia Stirdivant

I want to be like a whale,
And only come up to


—Sophia Stirdivant

I do not know how to spend
My first day without you
Like that one
when you tried to leave me before
in my mango house
My only desire now, besides seeing you
Is to see the ocean
and then come back home
But I can’t do either,
It’s far too cold a day for that.


—Sophia Stirdivant

You tell me you miss that mango house
but what you really miss is
being free
trapped on that hill
your humid escape
Before I moved and
your wife returned
we’re both trapped,
but this time, on flat land.


—Sophia Stirdivant

Laying on the ocean
We discovered
The same reason we moved here
comes in waves
and crashes before us
nothing means more
than your own child
And I can't understand
'cause I have not yet to see
something greater
than what’s in front of me.


Today's LittleNip:

This one takes his lesson from the thorn; that one from the flower.

—Stephen Dobyns



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.