Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Descending once from an unfamiliar hill
on what we thought was the only path until
we came to a place we never saw before
and, hesitating, took a few steps more
and stopped again.
Here, finding ourselves on unexpected ground,
we picked some withering berries that we found,
and seeing each other in fading and sallow light,
we counted the number of hours there were till night.
We knew we needed once again to inure
ourselves to a faltering world. We had been too sure
of the rightness of this path to go back now
or pretend we were wiser than the woods allow.
We'd meant to go down. At least this way led down
and led, no doubt, to some place nearer town.
Thanks to D.R. Wagner for the captivating photo! Today's Seed of the Week is When I Was Lost, and these poems by William Bronk capture the mood, I think. (Sam and I just came out of a few years of lost-ness; oddly enough, we ended up IN the woods, not out of them...)
Should you want to computer-listen to frank andrick’s Pomo Literati radio program in which he interviewed Bob Stanley and Kathy Kieth, you can use the following address: http://www.kusf-archives.com/2009/04/kusf-041909-6-8-pm-pomo-literati-dj.html/. Be forewarned that it’s a two-hour show of which we are just a part; to find us, you’ll need to fast-forward a bit. Or enjoy frank’s other offerings!
Publishing Workshop in Marin County:
•••Sat. (5/16), 9 AM-Noon: Poetry Publishing Workshop with CB ('Lyn) Follett, Rebecca Foust, and Susan Terris at Falkirk Cultural Center in Marin County. This workshop will give tips and strategies for getting your poems published in journals and magazines: handling submissions without wasting writing time; the value (or not) of poetry contests; the do's and don'ts of cover letters; tracking submissions; choosing the right places to submit; and dealing with rejections. Bring your current cover letters for advice. If time permits, the workshop will close with a brief discussion about how to position yourself for the next challenge—publishing your book or chapbook of poems. Info: Susan Terris: SDT11@aol.com/ or Rebecca Foust, PO Box 399, Ross, CA 94957 (www.rebeccafoust.com).
THE WOODS, NEW YORK
I walk through city streets as once through woods
without the benefit of map or plan.
Failing to get to places when I should,
I learn a twisted pathway through the land.
Or lost, with nothing near to set me right,
where brick facades are similar as trees,
I walk along and suddenly come to a quite
familiar, remembered place, surprised and pleased.
This is a city the world will always remember
as one remembers Babylon or Thebes.
In the distant summer that follows our last November
the sifting screens and the shovels will fail to perceive
its being in me. I walked here once toward dark
and felt the wind come up across the park.
IN NAVAJO COUNTRY
To live in a hogan under a hovering sky
is to live in a universe hogan-shaped,
or having hogans in it to give it shape,
earth-covered hovels, holes having a wall
to heave the back of the heart against, or hide
the head, to black the heavens overhead,
a block and a shapening in the windy vast.
This could be said of other houses too.
How is it possible for this to be so
is that the universe as known-unknown
has no discernible shape and not much
in it. We give it the limits and shape we need
it to have. What we want is a here with meaning, more
than a vague void moving with weightless balls
or the distant view of a glitter of gritty dust.
We housel the universe to have it here.
We do wrong: using houses or whole
blocks of houses, or other devious
enclosed volumes, ingenious inventions of space
to have us here, has limits. We deceive
ourselves, but not for long. We only avoid
the empty vastness, leaving it there unfilled,
unknown, unlimited. Where is here
when nowhere in a place of no discernible shape?
THE SUMMER AIRS
and even before that, there was such a one,
and he did thus and so.
It was much the same. It needed such deep
concentration, so many hands
he thought that if they ever let go
all this would be lost. And it was lost.
They lost it. It was a long time.
And before him also, there was one.
Who can remember the final losses?
Earth vagues the firmest bones interred.
See, here, where we are always,
in a particular, no particular time
where the summer airs flow past and over
as the congregations in air of birds.
THERE IS AN IGNORANT SILENCE
IN THE CENTER OF THINGS
What am I saying? What have I got to say?
As though I knew. But I don't. I look around
almost in a sort of despair for anything
I know. For anything. Some mislaid bit.
I must have had it somewhere, somewhere here.
Nothing. There is silence here. Were there people, once?
They must have all gone off. No, there are still
people, still a few. But the sound is off.
If we could talk, could hear each other speak,
could we piece something, could we learn and teach, could we know?
Hopeless. Off in the distance, busyness.
Something building or coming down. Cries.
Clamor. Fuss at the edges. What? Here,
at the center—it is the center?—only the sound
of silence, that mocking sound. Awful. Once,
before this, I stood in an actual ruin, a street
no longer a street, in a town no longer a town,
and felt the central, strong suck of it, not
understanding what I felt: the heart of things.
This nothing. This full silence. To not know.
Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.