Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stealing Our Holidays

Photo by Art Beck

—Art Beck, San Francisco

Summer with all its clothes off, meets you at the door
with a mouthful of licorice and roses.
The sinews of peace stretch like cats as you work the cork
from the cold, sweating bottle.
You may as well forget another Monday's
just a week away:
something greener than money's got
hold of you. July's never shy
about anything here, and earth insists
on pulling you back to earth.


Thanks, Art Beck for today's poems (and photo). We're still having "curious journeys", our Seed of the Week. Owning a second home is a curious journey, indeed—almost like having an affair. About his work, Art says: These poems are from my 2005 chapbook, Summer With All Its Clothes Off. The photo is of our Clear Lake cottage from around this time of year in 2006. Check out Ellaraine Lockie’s review of Summer at the Rattle e-review site. It has purchase information, etc. That's

Big news for Sacramento poetry!

Last night at our Rattleread celebrating the release of Bob Stanley's new chapbook, Sacramento Poet Laureate Julia Connor announced that Bob is the new Poet Laureate for the City of Sacramento! Quite a night for Bob: new book, new post... Between his teaching, his position as President of Sacramento Poetry Center, and his new post as Poet Laureate,
Bob will be busy these next two years! Congratulations, Bob, and thanks for serving Sacramento in all these capacities.

I don't know when we've had a better reading than last night! Bob and frank andrick were in the finest of fettle; they're both accomplished readers and accomplished poets, and our thanks to them for last night's presentation (SRO, as usual)—a wonderful way to end up the Snake's season! Be sure to stop in and pick up copies of the new (free) Snake, frank's new (free) broadside, and Bob's new rattlechap, Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger ($5).

And Heather Hutcheson brought some copies of the latest issue of the Cosumnes River Journal to The Book Collector last night; pick up one of those (free) while you're there. It's so nicely done, with lots of Snake pals and pals-to-be within its pages.

Remember: no reading in July, then we're back at it with two books from Joyce Odam on August 12. Yes, that's right—two books from the wee Joycey! And don't forget the two journals' summer deadlines: July 15 for WTF and August 15 for Snake 23.


B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Mini-Review from B.L. Kennedy:

by Gregory Maguire
Limited Hardcover Leatherbound Edition
Barnes & Noble
ISBN: 978-1-4351-1030-4

Who would have guessed that, when Gregory Maguire accidentally stumbled into the world of Oz and wrote his classic ode to the Wicked Witch of the West (titled Wicked), it would open the doors—not only as an introduction to new generations who love all things Oz—and not only would it address the issue of how hard it is to be born green—but it would also cross the line and become one of the most successful shows on Broadway today. For those of you who have not read Wicked or its sequel, Son of a Witch, this edition is made-to-order. It’s affordable, nicely bound, and a damn entertaining read. So yeah, I’m gonna tell ya, go to your nearest Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of this book while it’s still available. You won’t regret it.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Art Beck

In music it’s called “theory”—with the implicit
understanding that it’s an after the fact
discussion: The way lovers talk about fucking—amazed,
nervous and curious about all the tangled

pleasures they realize they can’t help.
But language is more political, more tempted
by the Byzantine ideal, the totalitarian compulsion
for dogma to dominate art. For a musician,

it’s like asking Stravinsky to stick to minuets.
Because, trying to fake our sonnet feels like dixieland,
like white college boy jazz—like picking up someone else’s

trumpet and clarinet and cadence and meter and long and
short vowels—while our breath slips between the lines,
caught in the echoes of the words I didn’t use.



and even after a winter as deep as the hundred year
flood of a winter we had, Annie, the night air
suddenly smells of road dust again, and hay, and even
a trace of skunk. It’s only two weeks since serious rain,
but the hill grass is already turning blond at the roots.
Not quite yet, but soon enough and all of a sudden,
I think we might have another summer.
Is it a consolation of age, that sometime around
the middle of flu shivering January, we forget
just how nice July can be? So that each new
summer becomes a fresh revelation of how bright
and quick that fire was, before it sputtered into smoke.

Except when this year’s over, I’ll be fifty five
and you’ll be fifty nine, pumpkin, and while the short
years somersault and rewind themselves like
elegant wristwatches, our bodies keep, their own, straight
ahead, digital time. Fiftieth birthday parties remind me
of Christmas, Annie, a reckless festival of candles
against a patient, relentless night. And I remember your
party—how you began the celebration a good
two weeks early and carried on like the champagne
queen until the month was over. You were an
inspiration to me, hiding behind the curtain
and peeking out the window of what’s next.

For myself, when the great day came, I kept as quiet
as a burglar, hoping to steal my holiday
without paying the usual, exorbitant price.
Well, all that’s behind us, and so quickly,
too. But I wonder, if like myself, you sometimes
find yourself in the middle of a dream, realizing
you’re such and such an age and wondering
how this thing could ever be. What is it
in our dreaming selves that’s so startled
the time has passed? What is it that’s
beginning to mourn, even in my deepest sleep?
What do I have to let go of to fly?

—Art Beck

(This poem was originally a letter/poem to Ann Menebroker; it first appeared in Caprice.)


Today's LittleNip:

In this room,
so many people—
my head hurts

—SLiC (Stuart Livingston Canton, Sacramento)



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.