Monday, June 29, 2009

Nijinsky, Bees, & Wednesday At The Waldorf

Nijinsky on film

(based on Christian Comte’s computer
animations of Nijinsky still photos)

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

All dancers freeze: their liveliness turns ice.
The Faun who writhed in love upon a veil
decays in languid snapshots, fame’s half-life.
While dance is frieze, his high relief’s turned ice:
sheer sinuous grace the lens has gorgonized.
Reactivate these fragments’ moving grail:
our dancer’s free, his liveliness burns twice,
the Faun still writhes upon a sheer white veil.


Thanks, Tom. Tom Goff writes: Have you seen a recent item in The New Yorker about film of Nijinsky dancing? The truth is both more and less than that phrase implies; the actual info can be seen once you click onto the link marked "The Faun: mysterious film footage of Vaslav Nijinsky," under the link for the June 29th issue.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (6/29), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Dorine Jennette and Valerie Fioravanti at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [See last Friday's post for bios.]

Next Monday (7/6) at SPC: John Allen Cann and Bob Stanley.

•••Thurs. (7/2), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Features, with open mic before and after.

Last chance to be in MHSOAC Expressions!

The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) is pleased to announce our newest publication, MHSOAC Expressions, which will exclusively feature artwork and writing from consumers in recovery, family members, and the mental health stakeholders community. All submissions are to be submitted electronically in the format of a Word document, PDF or JPEG via email to or via postal mail to the MHSOAC no later than Tuesday, June 30th, 2009. Please be sure to also sign and attach the submission form with your work. This document can be accessed on our website at

1300 17th Street, Suite 1000
Sacramento, CA 95811
Attention: Yee Xiong
Subject: Arts & Writing Submission
Telephone: (916)445-8780
Fax: (916) 445-4927

Chelsea Cecelia Hunt
Arts Education Training and Partnerships Associate
Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission
2030 Del Paso Boulevard
Sacramento, California 95815-3022
Ph. (916) 566-3979
Fax (916) 566-3996


—May Swenson

Two white whales have been installed at
the Waldorf. They are tumbling slowly
above the tables, butting the chandeliers,
submerging, and taking soft bites
out of the red-vested waiters in the
Peacock Room. They are poking fleur-de-lys
tails into the long pockets on the
waiters' thighs. They are stealing
breakfast strawberries from two eccentric
guests—one, skunk-cabbage green with
dark peepers—the other, wild rose and
milkweed, barelegged, in Lafayette loafers.
When the two guests enter the elevator,
the whales ascend, bouncing, through all
the ceilings, to the sixth floor. They
get between the sheets. There they turn
candy-pink, with sky-colored eyes, and
silver bubbles start to rise from velvet
navels on the tops of their heads.
Later, a pale blue VW, running on poetry,
weaves down Park Avenue, past yellow
sprouts of forsythia, which, due to dog-do
and dew, are doing nicely. The two
white whales have the blue car in tow
on a swaying chain of bubbles. They are
rising toward the heliport on the Pan Am
roof. There they go, dirigible and slow,
hide-swiping each other, lily tails flipping,
their square velvet snouts stitched with
snug smiles. It is April. "There's
a kind of hush all over the world."


—May Swenson

Your eyes are just
like bees, and I
feel like a flower.
Their brown power makes
a breeze go over
my skin. When your
lashes ride down and
rise like brown bees'
legs, your pronged gaze
makes my eyes gauze.
I wish we were
in some shade and
no swarm of other
eyes to know that
I'm a flower breathing
bare, laid open to
your bees' warm stare.
I'd let you wade
in me and seize
with your eager brown
bees' power a sweet
glistening at my core.


—May Swenson

Dark wild honey, the lion's
eye color, you brought home
from a country store.
Tastes of the work of shaggy
bees on strong weeds,
their midsummer bloom.
My brain's electric circuit
glows, like the lion's iris
that, concentrated, vibrates
while seeming not to move.
Thick transparent amber
you brought home,
the sweet that burns.


—May Swenson

It is the last night of the world.
I am allowed once more to show my love.
I place a jewel on a cushion.
I make a juggler's trick.
I become a graceful beast to play with you.

See here something precious, something dazzling:
A garden to be your home,
vast and with every fruit.
The air of mountains for your garment.
The sun to be your servant.
A magic water for you to bathe in
and step forth immortal.

But it is the last night of the world,
and time itself is dying.
Tomorrow my love, locked in the box of my body,
will be shipped away.


Today's LittleNip:

—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

I spend so much time isolated
Alone amidst the walls
Or outside in the garden
Poetry becomes the voice
In which I speak to myself
Assuring that yes, I am still here
In the silence
Which is so much of my day



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

NEW FOR JUNE: 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.

COMING FOR SUMMER: There will be no rattle-read in July, while the Snake enjoys a little summer hibernation. (Stay current on Sacramento poetry, though, by way of Medusa's Kitchen.) Then join us Weds., August 12 to celebrate Joyce Odam’s birthday month with two new books from her: a collection of prose poems (illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love). That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Free!

RATTLESNAKE REVIEW: Issue #22 is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Or you can order copies of current or past issues through Contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail this week and next. Deadline is August 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 add all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of the on-going Medusa are always hungry; keep that poetry comin', rain or shine! Just let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one, and please—only one submission packet per issue of the quarterly Review. (More info at

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 through, 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 (clearly marked for WTF). And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at

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.