Friday, May 01, 2009

A Rainy May Day

Photo by Frank Dixon Graham, Sacramento

—Janet Butler, Alameda

A tumble of smoky clouds coils
and loops and twists and rolls the gusty winds,
a fat snake gliding gray currents
on invisible panes that hold the beast in.

A sudden crack of sky eyes
that gleam then close—
a shudder, then, to wakefulness. Remembrance:
it came to drink stray milky wisps
and bloat to bursting.



—Janet Butler

A café au lait under a Berkeley sun
students like birds fluttering a spring-speckled patio
a bustle of wings, a shimmy to settle
and nibble with sly indifference
whatever morsel of oblique desire
falls nearby.


—Janet Butler

Harsh winds fatigue a flag
flapping on rough airs
that strain an anchor poled to earth.
Winds crash through cluttered streets
and churn a flood of airy brilliance
into dervishes of light,
sweeping grey winter days
into night.


—Janet Butler

The sound is faint, but grows
with silence.
A swish of silk as waters
froth and ruffle moon bleached shores,
white sands that hem a sea heavy with summer.
Its warm waters cool to a late night freshness
under a black sky
another sea washing distant shores
that wait us.


First Annual Poetry Quench a hit!

JoAnn Anglin writes: [On Thursday] we passed out many—maybe 65-75—poems while set up in front of La Raza Galeria Posada. People walking by were first a little startled, then charmed to receive a free poem. Not so many wanted a drink of water. A few stopped to chat. Besides Graciela Ramirez and me, Zheyla and Natalia came by to share poems and visit. Local writer Becca Costello brought a collection of Hafiz poems and read from it. Overall, this was easy and fun and would be a good thing to repeat next year. Fortunately the weather held up.

We owe special thanks to Richard Hansen [owner of The Book Collector on 24th St.] who put together little packets with POETRY QUENCH labels, and containing several of the Poems-For-All mini-booklets he is famous for. My set contained poems by Albert Garcia, Xico Gonzales, Jose Montoya, Jack Spicer, Ted Joans and Sor Juana.

La Raza Galeria Posada Bookstore and Gallery made for a most gracious host of this event.

This weekend 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.


Geese fly upstream
Garbled honks bounce off water
Feather-trapped voices


The great blue heron
up to his knees in the creek
Minnows for breakfast


Square grid of round holes
green silk eucalyptus bark
Woodpecker pattern


Candles on the black pine
Cottonwood flickers new leaves
Vultures circle above

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama


Today's LittleNip:

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.

~Karl Kraus



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.