Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Let's See: Where Were We....?

Photo by Stephanie Schaefer, Los Molinos


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

(oil on canvas, Franz Marc 1913-14)

Remember how we came
by bits of talk & wary
steps, scraps of gold glimpsed as if
through trees, by fits of
speech between us, blinks &
at a sound, the crimson
flit of bird’s wing
flecks &
swatches, purple-lake floating
as we walked, footsteps
brittling (listen!) fallen leaves
as we skirted shards
of seeing
only fragments, seeking
clearing, a reason why we’d
come. Toward dusk
was it deer we saw, or
only thought so?


Didja miss me?

The Kieths headed off for a wee trip on May 17, but when we got back, the Internet on my computer refused to wake up. Finally, Andy Lang, Computer Wizard of Mac Solutions (yes, we're Mac people), got it up and running yesterday. Thanks to those who wrote and asked where the heck I was...

And thanks to TG and Steph for the poems today, and to Steph for the astounding photo. Both of these artists will be represented in the new Snake (#22), which will be emerging at The Book Collector reading next Weds., June 10, along with a new rattlechap by Sacramento Poetry Center President Bob Stanley (Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger) and a new littlesnake broadside from WTF Editor and Poetry Unplugged Host frank andrick (Mandorla: A Prelude). Join us that night at 7:30 PM, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Free!

Meanwhile, here are a couple of calendar items for this week:

•••Tonight, Weds. (6/3), 9 PM: Poetry Night at Bistro 33 (226 F St. in Davis) presents the great actress, prolific author and talented singer-songwriter Bella Merlin. UK-based performer Bella Merlin is the creator of Love, Loss and Lyric, a kaleidoscope of poetry, song, monologue and mystery. Combining original songs with rhythm and rhyme, Bella invites you to explore the human soul in what promises to be an unusual evening of theatre at Bistro 33. Bella's acting work includes two seasons at the Royal National Theatre (both new works and classics) as well as appearances on BBC Radio and television and in theatres across the UK. Her publications include the best-selling The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit, and her latest book, Acting: The Basics is due out in February 2010. She is currently working on an album of original songs entitled Barefoot and Guitars, and she is Professor of Acting in the Theatre and Dance department at UC Davis. She will be performing in Jade McCutcheon's new play, Elephant's Graveyard, at the Mondavi Center in Fall 2009. Free! Open mic at 10 PM. Hosted by Andy Jones; produced by Brad Henderson.

•••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:

And Gail Entrekin writes: I'm happy to announce the newest issue of our online journal, Canary. We have a new format which includes photos of the writers and the ability to scroll right through the issue, and I think you're really going to enjoy it. Hope you'll take a few minutes to read the issue and pass it on to friends: that's


—Steph Schaefer

I lean into the wind.
It pours in my mouth, my ears.

The weight I give to it
exactly balances its power to lift.

I drink this deep pause in time
like flying.


—Steph Schaefer

Silence is hard to break
when you've been silent a long while.

It stretches and bends around
everything while you walk toward speech
but never get there.

You could almost sing
to the steady drumming in your mind
and that might be like speech

if you could begin
with the smallest sound,
a low humming maybe.


—Taylor Graham

(for Elihu Burritt)

A thousand mortars torch a red sea’s shore,
the heart of England’s industry and pride.
Peace has her battle-fields as well as war.

You climbed the donjon tower; a stony door,
this midnight lookout over countryside
where thousand mortars torch a red sea’s shore.

Here Vulcan rules by hammer-stroke and roar
of furnace, molten metal’s sleepless tide.
Peace has her battle-fields as well as war,

with spade and trowel, bolts and nuts, a store
of cotton hoes and rakes. Man’s prospects ride
a thousand mortars. Torch a red sea’s shore

of coal-fire smoke and flames, consuming more
and more – wherever man delves deep and wide,
peace has her battle-fields as well as war.

But how can Peace be armed with drill and bore?
Tonight you watch the white moon over-glide
a thousand mortars, torch a red sea’s shore.
Peace has her battle-fields as well as war.


—Taylor Graham

you don’t curl around my ankle.
I have to lay my ear
against your heart to hear the purr.
Almost no purr, hardly more
than tremor.

For years I’ve cursed and
thrown you from my lap when you
traded teeth for petting.
On swelter-nights, you’d cuddle
to share body warmth.

Shelter cat with no history,
among so many homeless strays
you stepped forward, cougar-
black. Never begged
with words.

But you could purl in my ear
to set the coiled shells humming.
Then, bored, you’d ruin
it all, nailing me
with a piqued claw.

Ten years, this marriage
no better than most. But tonight
you won’t eat. What ease
can I give a cat
I was never even sure I liked?


Today's LittleNip:

—Myrna Scott

I would like to know the plains
as a prairie dog knows them,
I wish I could touch the sea's depth
as a whale does,
I would like to know the high mountains
as a deer knows them,
I wish I could feel the desert sky
as a vulture does,
then, perhaps my heart would be home.



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.