Friday, June 12, 2009

Of Condos, Cell Phones, & Hair

Photo by Sam the Snake Man, Pollock Pines

—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

He knows how I love feeding
woodland creatures: stately, cautious
deer, crippled old fox, forest rainbow
of birds. And the squirrels! Three busy

versions threading from deck to cedar
to pine, up and down the steps day after
day, in and out of their old glass-and-wood
feeder full of rich black-oil sunflower

seeds. He knows how I love them, so he
thinks more is better: buys a fancy
birdhouse poised to go
condo: tiny wood shingles with a slanted

roof, Cape Cod-style like our old house
that he knows I miss. Every day he works
on his squirrel condo-to-be: tries to make it a
home: pours all his hopes for my happiness

into a fancy new feeder for
these lively little grey creatures that
he knows I love…


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••TONIGHT (Fri., 6/12), 7 PM: Lake Tahoe Community College features Christopher Coak and June Seranceno. Free.

•••Sat. (6/13), 2 PM: Barnes & Noble Poetry Reading at the Sunrise store, located in the Birdcage shopping area on Sunrise Boulevard in Citrus Heights, between Greenback and Madison.

•••Sat. (6/13), 9 AM-3:30 PM: "The Business of the Arts," a workshop co-sponsored by the Stockton Arts Council and Small Business Development Center, will be held at the SBDC, 56 S. Lincoln in Stockton. (Behind the Children's Museum on Weber.) The cost is $49. You may register by calling 209-954-5089.

•••Monday (6/15), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Clive Matson, Q.R. Hand, and H.D. Moe at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, PLUS a poetry workshop facilitated by Clive Matson at 6 PM: "Let the Crazy Child Write". Clive Matson's first book (Poetpalooza, Litquake 2008) will be reissued by Regent Press in the Spring of 2009. While a young man, Matson immersed himself in the counterculture and in hard drugs, but he emerged later drug-free and with full appreciation of the passion and honesty of the 1960s. These qualities are crucially important, he thinks, for the current era. Matson earned an MFA in Poetry at Columbia University in 1989. He has had 30-plus years of teaching creative writing.

Q.R. Hand, Jr., was originally published in the 1968 classic, Black Fire, an anthology of African American writing, edited by Amiri Barak (Leroi Jones) and Larry Neal, which has recently been reproduced by Black Classics Press. Q.R. is the author of three poetry books: i speak to the poet in man (jukebox press); how sweet it is (Zeitgeist Press); and whose really blues: new & selected poems (Taurean Horn Press). He is an original member of the Wordwind Chorus, a Bay Area quartet that has performed poetry with jazz for over 20 years and produced a CD: we are of the saying.

H.D. Moe is a living legend among Bay Area poets. One of the original Baby Beats, he was an important part of the scene that included Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. H.D. continues to write jazz poetry. Jack Micheline wrote of H..D. in 1973: "David, poor bastard, is a genius/He is Alive/His work jumps for me,/Like a dark magician he has magic." H.D.'s latest book is Winged Wows (Beatitude Press).


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

We had come on the train and I was faint with hunger
so we stopped into a tourist cafe, the others
impatient with me, with my hunger.

Sun glared behind the cathedral,
its two spires uneven so as not to be perfect
shooting up to Heaven. The cathedral rose
like a mountain from the plain. I see myself

turning back as we left, cats scrambling
in the stones, neat squares of lawn, roses and lavender
sprouting in the walls; the famous rose window

dull on the outside; you had to be inside
in the pewless cool, the vast buttressed ceiling,
the labyrinth polished by centuries of meditations,
to see the focused light.

I see myself, turning back for a moment on the path
like Lot’s wife, then turning away
from the focused light.


—Jane Blue

You're a passenger in your daughter's car, traveling
Interstate 5 to L.A. She's doing 80, eating
strawberries and drilling French into her daughter
behind her, passing the textbook back with one hand.

You think suddenly of hair, the oddity of it, as though
the highway and its feeders on the valley grid
are a skein of hair. Hair in the shower, clawed out
of the drain, like a strange, indigestible animal.

Hair on men's faces, how it pokes out, how
it's dead but needs control. You watch your own hair
helplessly as it turns gray. You think, the world is
going by too fast for you ever to find a good hairdresser.

Soon your hair will hang around your ankles. You'll
become a crone with long stringy locks. You'll stumble
on it, get lost in it, as in the ground fog of this valley.
The headlights of the world will blind you.

You'll never get to L.A. Your ears pop as you descend
the Grapevine, and you're momentarily deaf.
You remember your grandmother, when she said
her glorious chestnut hair fell out at the birth of your aunt

and reappeared lush on the infant girl's head. Your
grandmother was jealous of her daughter after that.
Childbirth itself is so odd, so monstrous,
you can't eat or sleep or even get your shoes on.

After that you're a mass of pain. It's like
driving to L.A. from San Francisco on Interstate 5
and back again in two days. You say
you'll never do that again, but you will, you will.

(Previously appeared in Mamazine, October 2005, and later in The Best of Mamazine)


Remember when cell phones were the size of a brick,
but when you lugged them around they were impossible to forget
or to pull tricks such as slipping it in between car seat cracks
or getting it "lost" somewhere else outside of your pocket or purse
Reaching to make a call and finding suddenly it’s not there,
wondering if you now need over $100 to replace it
because it’s now become a necessity you can't live without
A survival tool just like your credit card and your keys
as if, to live, you must talk or text…

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Today's LittleNip:

—Myrna Scott

no two snowflakes are identical.
we humans have unmatching fingerprints.
no two minds are identical.
I believe in the uniqueness of the individual soul.
like snow flakes in a storm
what individuals have in common
is very little indeed.
precious is another with a similar idea.


Condo in progress


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 rattleread 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. Contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail next week. 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 include 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 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 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. (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.