Friday, June 05, 2009

And Watch The Run-Ons

Poet in the Reeds
Bob Stanley, Sacramento

—Bob Stanley

To recreate the flower
she draws it,
chooses and cuts the fabrics,

re-cuts what’s outside into
strips of color, red, yellow, green
waiting to be rejoined.

Besides what’s in the middle
the tulip she started with
everything else is gone.

This quilt
teases the eye

takes something clear and turns it
the way a writer

her characters’ minds
the reader
gets to unravel.

Sewing strips back together
she reassembles
a new flower around the old.

The storm
swirls around
but know the center:

soft folds rendered true:
Light, eye-

goes where your eyes go
holds them,
broken, bright.


Thanks, Bob! Join us at The Book Collector this coming Wednesday, June 10, for
Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger, a rattlechap by Bob Stanley; Mandorla: A Prelude; a littlesnake broadside from frank andrick; and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review! All at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30, on Wednesday, June 10. Free!

Bob Stanley has written poetry and volunteered in poetry organizations for over three decades. Currently president of the Sacramento Poetry Center, Bob has also served on the board of Alameda Poets, and he has led hundreds of poetry workshops and readings. In 2008, he organized and moderated a gathering of poets laureate from across California on behalf of the California Arts Council, and in 2009 he edited Sometimes in the Open, an anthology of poems by sixty-five laureates. His poems have won a number of awards, including the California Focus on Writers prize for poetry in 2006, and have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies. A fourth generation Californian, Bob and his wife Joyce have four children, and make their home in Sacramento. He holds a BA in English from UCLA and a MA in Creative Writing from CSU Sacramento. Bob teaches creative writing and English at CSU Sacramento, Sacramento City College, Solano College, and UC Davis Extension. Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger is his first chapbook.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sunday (6/7), 2 PM: Poetry Reading in Oroville at Bicentennial Park. Mike Young writes: My friend Chelsea Martin and I will be reading. Neither Chelsea nor I are really cowboy poets, but I used to do a radio show in Oroville (I grew up there) right before Jim Cardwell did a cowboy poetry show, and I remember being really excited by the whole idea/scene of cowboy poetry. So if you could maybe let the word get around to some of your friends and get some cowboy folk down to the park where we're doing it, we'd really appreciate it. Also I think it would be really funny and great to fill up Bicentennial Park in Oroville with people there to see poetry on a Sunday afternoon. More info and bio stuff about us here:

•••Monday (6/8), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents C.E. Chaffin at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Craig Erick Chaffin goes by his initials because he doesn't like his first name, though he is trying to make peace with it now. Born in Ventura, California, in 1954, he graduated from UCLA in 1976, Summa Cum Laudanum, winning the top honors award in English, The Edward Niles Hooker Award, though he was not in the honors program. He later taught Family Medicine at UCI and was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians before the age of 40. Due to chronic spinal pain and manic-depression, he elected to retire on disability from medicine in his early 40s, which led to his discovery of the literary internet. He published, and edited, The Melic Review: a journal that distinguished itself not only by its content but through the work of poets at its board in winning and/or placing in the InterBoard Poetry Competition repeatedly.

In addition to poetry and criticism, Dr. Chaffin has published fiction and been a regular columnist for three magazines. Married to Kathleen Chaffin, he lives in Mendocino in Northern California where he enjoys his four children and one grandchild. He is the author of two books: Elementary (Mellen Poetry Press 1997) and Unexpected Light (Diminuendo Press 2009). He has won one poetry contest (Desert Moon Review, 2002) and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in By Rose and Thorn. He quit counting publications several years ago but has been the featured poet in various journals over twenty times. He also keeps a blog, and provides tutoring through an intensive, fee-based, online poetry course.


—Bob Stanley

Sailing upon this noble ship of words, this craft of language, I come before you, full of the wisdom with which I shall bring you your own true fullness of speech. Yea, follow me through the beloved steps that will make you articulate in the extreme. For I am the English teacher, the one for whom America has waited; I hold the key to unlock the meaning in what is now your uncertain, your broken attempts at paragraphic journeys.

For I know you have much to say, as you have traveled this wide land, and played its video games of great graphic violence, and stared at its screens for so many hours that the wisest of sages might ask what are these screens, these mesmerizing tops of lap, or book of face, as they be known? What are the stories that lie within these magic pads? They must be very deep and compelling stories indeed.

For as you, dear student, now in college dwell, this highest institution of our corn-fed land, where the noblest thoughts occur to those of us who bury themselves in deeps of thought, even now I, your dedicated teacher, read a message from my colleagues – teachers’ union – beneficent grange of thinkers – as they happily negotiate with the leaders of the school, scholars thinking deep and wide on your behalf.

But even as I digress, the work lies before us. For we shall embark upon the essay together, and attack the article. We shall summarize the story, define the description, opine the opinion. For we have so much to speak of, sap and root, spring and fall semester side by side we will amble the quad of sycamore and plum, from bud to blossom to leaf upon the vale.

So let us join hands, and raise our arms, and together we will banish the endless and thoughtless run-on, and join the orphan fragment to its nurturing mother sentence. What once was lost shall be found. Listen closely, that we will identify and capture passive verb forms, and recast the hapless agent, pinned by preposition, until it become the wise and forthcoming subject, and lay waste to what is not direct, and godly, and pure.

For the English teacher shall reveal and bless the semi-colon, a wink of crescent moon and star.

For the English teacher shall make clear the comma, the breath, the moment’s pause.

For the English teacher shall create equal access to the apostrophe, joiner of subject and verb, the mark of ownership yet democratic and even-handed.
Ah, ownership, Ah, America, our capitalist utopia! We will embark upon the thoughts that have made us so free, and kind, and outspoken.

But first the professor will explain effect and affect. It’s and its. There, their and they’re. The pleasant foibles of the language we love. So egalitarian in that we equally can not spell its simplest words! English, we laugh with you, and you with us, as we sail confidently towards our first thesis statement.

But first the professor will explain the five-paragraph essay, although what we read will seldom fit the form. The professor will become increasingly lost on the journey, yes your journey to clear expression. Imagine Brooklyn Ferry, not on a sunny day, but a sleet-filled windstorm. And running among the weary travelers, from drenched face to drenched face, your professor runs, looking for a way to know you, to waken you from the danger that lies if the craft continue unchecked. The roiling waters are not clear.

Ah but this is merely frivolous metaphor – I know the student of today is prepared. He comes with many languages that prepare him for so much more, and so much less than what this class asks of him.

And as the winds of thought may blow, may thy craft carry thy wisdom forward to new lands that you may look back upon your essay a hundred years hence, and smile, remembering the open dreams of youth, and the power of the word as it leaps the page, now and forever, in sound and sight and mind, I ask you now to begin to craft the task that I have assigned.

Seven minutes of pencils upon paper, seven minutes as close to heaven as the bards of time have come, now, ephebes, bathe in these immortal waters of written word as I observe you, glowing with thought, even as the sun reveals itself above the eastern range. Write, and bring light to the world. And watch the run-ons.


Today's LittleNip:

black coffee
in blue mugs
warms my tongue

—SLiC (Stuart Livingston Canton)



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

COMING JUNE 10: Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger, a rattlechap by Bob Stanley; Mandorla: A Prelude; a littlesnake broadside from frank andrick; and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review! All at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30, on Wednesday, June 10. Free!

Rattlesnake Review: Snake (RR21) is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. RR22 will be available next Wednesday, June 10, at The Book Collector. Deadline is July 15 for RR23: 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!: The second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick, is now available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one. 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.

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 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.