Friday, June 19, 2009

Still On Target

Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis

—Robert Grossklaus, Roseville

A nefarious red stare,
a target of silt and
ashen hued lips under
the lit skies of sleep,

marbled awake by
the sound of eyes
missing their mark
behind bilious teeth,

rips through the heat of
pallid summer afternoon.


Thanks to Ann Privateer for another photo from France, and to Robbie Grossklaus for his response to our Seed of the Week, last Tuesday's picture of a target. Midnight on Sunday, June 21, is our deadline: send me your poem(s) about the SOW and I'll send you a copy of Bob Stanley's new rattlechap, Walt Whitman Orders a Cheeseburger. The rest of our poetry today is from Pat Hickerson, and you'll recognize some of our other SOWs in it. Thanks, Pat!

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (6/19), 8 PM: The BlackOut PoetrySeries inside the Upper Level VIP Lounge (located inside of Fitness Systems Heathclub, by Cal State Skating Rink, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie right past Motel 6). $5. Features and open mic. Marquita Ward, Phoenyx Reign and Richard Ambercrombie, plus open mic. Info: Terry Moore, 916-208-POET.

•••Friday (6/19), 7 PM: Poetry at the Vox in a new (yet again!) midtown Sacramento location: 1931 H St. (at 20th). Featuring Crawdad Nelson, Bill Gainer, James Lee Jobe, and Shawn Aveningo.

•••Saturday (6/20), 4-6pm. Summer Solstice celebration of the Women's Writing Salon at Coffee Town, 134 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley, featuring six local women writers for an afternoon of poetry, prose and song. Come at 3:30 to avoid the crowd at the counter, enjoy a nutritious nosh or a gourmet beverage, then you can settle in to enjoy our readers. Info: Patricia Miller, or Betsy Fasbinder, Free.

•••Sat. (6/20), 11 AM-3 PM: Manzanita Lit Fest at the Villa Bakery in Valley Springs. Free! The newly-formed Manzanita Writers Press and Writers Unlimited is sponsoring, with The Villa Bakery and the Amador Fiction Writers Critique Group in Ione, the Manzanita Lit Fest, a sharing of regional poetry and prose by writers and the general public.
There will be a writers’ table with books and works by local writers for sale, and scheduled writers, along with an open mic time, every hour from 11 AM until 3 PM. Villa Bakery is located at the Terrace Plaza mall near La Contenta on the corner of Hwy 26 and Vista del Lago Rd., at the site of the Farmers Market, 1906 Vista Del Lago, Valley Springs, 530-772-1008. Manzanita contact: Monika Rose: 530-754-0577.

•••Monday (6/22) 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Julia Levine and Nancy Bodily at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Julia Levine is the author of three books of poems: Practicing for Heaven (Anhinga, 1999), Ask (University of Tampa Press, 2003), and Ditch-Tender (University of Tampa Press, 2007). She has published in many journals, including Ploughshares, The Nation, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner and Crab Orchard Poetry Review. She lives and works in Davis as a clinical psychologist. Nancy Bodily has worked as a journalist and has recently set her sights on becoming a registered nurse. She lives in Davis with her husband and daughter, Cassidy. She is the DJ for Earth Mama Mountain Music Hour on KDRT in Davis, as well as the next-door neighbor of James Lee Jobe.

Surprise Valley Writers’ Conference in September

The third annual Surprise Valley Writers' Conference is a four-day event held in remote and beautiful Modoc County in September, the most beautiful season in the high desert. This year's event, scheduled for Sept 17-20 will include two poets: Copper Canyon Press co-founder and well-known Neruda translator William O'Daly, and Julia Connor, Poet Laureate of Sacramento. Each will conduct a four-day workshop, and each poet will present a lecture. For details and to register, please visit or call 530/ 279-2099.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

bought me some ruble-cheap
bottlejack applejack
bitters and brandy
jacked for an age
dark stuff strong stuff
murky brown bottle
should have stuck with vodka, stupid!

lying here in a cloudy cabin
on the outer grounds of
the Intourist Hotel
on Moscow’s broad blvd.

and all I can see
chain link fence
not even the Kremlin fortress riverside
tho yesterday I saw Lenin’s body
alive and well under glass

bloody Aussie kids
partying all night in their tents
(nobody stopped the racket)
now at last they’re asleep
I thought this country was strict!

quiet under a dimmed-out sun
hangover cabin my place
happy cramped up

I’d rather be stupid but safe here
on well-guarded “Russky” Street
than Stateside stupefied by
the daily celebration of catastrophe

Russia smells different
sniff the enigma


—Patricia Hickerson

a tinny sound
little kids play at music
as you have played with me
while she looked on

say, weren't you the one?
grabbed me by the tit
hurled me into the air
caught me on your pointed boot
whirled me around
hugged me tight
forced my lips into your needy neck

while she looked on

your tail between your legs
sniffing me out
snuggling into my armpit
leering at my breast (but slyly)
keeping up the front
while she looked on
mocking your puritan soul

your three-cornered hat
thrown down in the grass
mad matador facing an addled cow
out to pasture feeding slowly
ruminating on her milky past
rethinking her lineup of well-hung bulls

the pasture now your stadium
your wife the jeering crowd
I fell back, tired of
waiting for the prick of your lance
heard her triumphant ho ho
from the nearby stands

let me tell you something, sonny
I never really wanted you


—Patricia Hickerson

At Pobiti Kamani
ancient site of oracles
she doesn't remember a
dry plain of underwater stones
only a sway of delicate birch trees
forested in the yellow sand of Black Sea soil.
Becalmed among the dappled spirits
she heard them sigh
in the language of Bulgaria.
She was quieted anyway.

(previously appeared in Poetry Now)


—Patricia Hickerson

All the way down from Prague
sleeping 22 hours upright by train
from a throbbing jet lag week
to you, darling, your soothing yellow walls
puff-cobbled streets
hotel staircase swathed in red carpet
we descended like royalty from our
lace-curtained room

spawned ourselves out
to your sun-plenished square, darling
under our cafe table
dark and dusty gypsy kids
crouched grinning
waited for leftovers

a Courvoisier at the bar
then the restaurant
shepska salad
old flapfoot waiter
seven years an elevator operator in Chicago
came all the way back to you, darling
slow-pitched slavic Sofia—
he couldn't stay away


Today's LittleNip:

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.

~Truman Capote



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.