Thursday, June 18, 2009

Proportion Is The Secret

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Margaret Ellis Hill, Wilton

The problem involves infringement:
not satisfied to stay within borders.
Armies of offspring use the wind

to invade nearby lands. The ruse
involves the use of soft green quilts
that sport lemon-yellow flowers.

In setting up a spiked offense,
thistles withstand every weather change,
wait to stab and strangle anything

that tries to stop them.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

A slow bike ride on the Triumph
was all I needed, he pleaded.

Two weeks past due and I couldn’t,
shouldn’t consider such a thing,

the thought of a slight bump,
a slip off the seat...

Knees pressed to his hips, stomach
welded to his back, hands gripping his belt

we idled down Rubio Road, neighbors
chuckling, clapping, cheering us on.

He posted the sign next morning—
her name and a bouquet of pink balloons.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

If you really loved me baby
I know you wouldn’t refuse.
If you really loved me baby
you’d see what you could lose.
You’d get me that red dress, baby
so I could lose these blues.

I got the no red dress blues
no thanks to you.
I got the no red dress blues
nothing left to do.
Gonna get me some money
for that dress and some high heeled shoes.

I’ll be wearing my new red dress
and a little flimsy lace.
I’m gonna shine in my red dress
gonna light up the place.
I’m gonna show my stuff in public
put that red dress right in your face.

I’ll be showing off my candy
finger licking sweet
I’ll be showing off my candy
so baby if you want a treat
Well, you can cry into your pillow
cuz your sweet tooth’s getting nothing to eat.

If you really loved me baby
why do you refuse.
If you really loved me baby
you’d see what you could lose.
You’d get me that red dress, baby
so I could lose the no red dress blues.


Thanks to Peggy Hill for her take(s) on our Seed of the Week, which is Tuesday's photo of a target. Hit the bull's eye with a poem about—what?—being a target? Feeling like you're on the spot? Good/poor "marksmanship" of one type or another? Cupid's arrows? Send me a Seed of the Week poem and I'll send you a free copy of Bob Stanley's new rattlechap, Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger. There's a deadline for this one, though: Midnight on Sunday, June 21. Send 'em to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Here's Tom Goff's take on the target:

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Proportion is the secret of the master
poets, critics, musicians; that I lack
that sense embarrasses my ecstasies:
volitionless auditory witnessings,
vast, exaggerated, engorged dark asters.
Violent acoustic phantasms fan my back
with icy nettles: her delicate hands at ease,
a child violinist scuttles curt lengths of string:
but string-distance in Sibelius or Prokofiev
leaps physical geometries into voids
so gigantic, no chordal charting, no notes, keys, clefs,
can grid such polyphonies of asteroid,
musicians turned water-striders skimming the skies
of stars—thus my inadvertencies blur into lies.


Poetry Tonight in Grass Valley:

•••Thurs. (6/18), 7:30 PM: Nevada County Poetry Series presents Monika Rose and Christine Irving. Monika Rose lives in San Andreas, Calaveras County, where she enjoys the solitude of rural life. She teaches composition as an adjunct instructor at San Joaquin Delta College and high school English full time in Lodi. Rose edits Manzanita: Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra, an anthology of new works about the region. She is founding director of Writers Unlimited, a writers’ group affiliate of the Calaveras County Arts Council that is expanding its publishing activities and transforming Manzanita Publishing into a nonprofit cooperative literary press. She is widely published in various magazines and journals including: Tule Review, Poetry Now, Rattlesnake Review, Squaw Review, The Journal, Mindprint Review, Missouri Review and others. Her work is included in Shadows of Light, an anthology of poetry and photography of the Sierra and poems are forthcoming in a collection of Yosemite area poetry. She has a book-length collection of poems coming out in October of 2009, and she is preparing a collection of her parents’ European WWII stories and working on a novel.

Christine Irving is enamored of the spoken word. “This is our oldest art,” she says, “an ancient heritage to which we are all privy. Almost everyone has written at least one poem in their life. It’s a form we turn to naturally when all other language structures fail us.” Christine loves to perform and recites frequently on local stages. She is the author of Be A Teller of Tales and the CD, Originals. With fellow poet Kathryn Smith she has written and performed in two full-length stage productions: A Rose in Winter, and Crazy Wisdom. Christine is also an artist and a priestess ordained in both the Gnostic and Pagan traditions. She brings a deep understanding of symbol and story to her work.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 general, seniors and students, and $1 for those under 18. Refreshments and open-mic included. The show will be in Off Center Stage (the Black Box theater, enter from Richardson Street) at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley, CA. Info: (530) 432-8196 or (530) 274-8384.


B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:

by Laure Anne Bosselaar
Ausable Press
69 pp, $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-931337-32-8

It’s always a wonderful thing to discover a poet you have not previously encountered, and that is what happened to me with the poetry of Laure Anne Bosselaar. Here is a true maker of poems whose voice fully emerges from inside a dark place to illuminate the self-awareness of the author with style and simplicity. I love this collection and I additionally love what the poet has done with the pestering matter of words. She shows a masterful control of pacing, tone, and execution. A New Hunger is a book that I highly recommend to all true lovers of poetry and other verse junkies. The poems collected in this volume are embroidered with urgent meditations which celebrate the fractured echoes of a fine poet and a Master craftsperson. To say any more about this book I feel would be doing a great injustice to its author. So my recommendation is discover it yourself and experience the hoopla. Trust me, you won’t go wrong.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Tom Goff

On the path to a full-flowing, sun-tinged river
we pause where the parkway parking lot gives on to green.
Amid the greenery, close yet almost unseen,
a branch-perched, nearly motionless song-giver:
a Rufous-Sided Towhee emitting notes
like ice being scraped into shavings then laced with syrup.
Whole-throated the splintery song trills over the tongue to float
out the wide-open beak. He seems to stir up
feelings we’ve known for love and love to own
—but has, for quite some time, a flung stone
so rippled pools in accord with ambient rapids?
Nora’s the first to train her lenses’ pellucid
red upon the small bird
and then I’ve swung thereabouts my blurred
pair of redoubled eyes—binocular proof
that song’s a monarch even in the dullest of evening coats,
with a reddish obsidian bubble for an eye
and, scoring his off-white side, a rust-orange swipe like a logo.
Uniting our burning-glass gazes as if sharpening flame
we listen, and away falls a week’s residue
of routine or rue,
amusement or blame.
Small mystery; even less ghost-holy rapture:
just one small bird, in the chesty present tense,
telling his tiny metallic beads of woodsong essence.
We, straining to capture,
brush a branch too near;
he flies off, I—lightly, a touch dismissively?—sigh.
Without one humanly translatable word
he’s breathed upon the moment the breath of the Logos,
here instantly, gone instantly, and I lip the word, Why?


Today's LittleNip:

If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don't remove it—I might be writing in my dreams.

~Danzae Pace



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 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 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.