Saturday, June 20, 2009

Turning Of The Year

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

Early summer—floating down a clear running river in
a wooden boat,
A lovely girl gently plays with a crimson lotus flower
held in her white hands.
The day becomes more and more brilliant.
Young men play along the shore

And a horse runs by the willows.

Watching quietly, speaking to no one,

The beautiful girl does not show that her heart is broken.

—Ryokan (translated by John Stevens)


—Adam Zagajewski

A certain traveler, who believed in nothing,
found himself one summer in a foreign city.
Lindens were blossoming, and foreignness bloomed devoutly.

An unknown crowd walked down the fragrant boulevard,
slowly, full of fear, perhaps because
the setting sun weighed more than the horizon

and the asphalt's scarlet might not
just be shadows and the guillotine
might not grace museums alone

and church bells chiming in chorus
might mean more than they usually mean.
Perhaps that's why the traveler kept

putting his hand to his chest, checking warily
to make sure he still had his return ticket
to the ordinary places where we live.


—Adam Zagajewski

That summer was so hot and muggy...
The white sky hung above me like a circus tent.
I talked to myself, wrote letters,
dialed interminable numbers.
It was so stifling that ink
dried up in fountain pens. Hawks swooned.
I even sent a telegram, accepted
with a start by the dozing post office.
Drunken wasps reeled above the table,
sugar cubes burst in black coffee.
I wandered through the town and turned
slightly invisible, out of habit,
from despair. I talked to myself.
An airport, a train station, a church
shot up at the end of every street.
Travelers spoke of fires and omens.
I looked for you everywhere, everywhere.
Shutters were locked, borders sealed,
only clouds stole westward.
It was so hot, the lead dripped
from stained-glass windows.


—Adam Zagajewski

This day's nothingness
as if from spite
became a flame
and scorched the lips
of children and poets.


Today's LittleNip:

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

We light the candle
and sweet smelling incense
at the bedroom altar
to celebrate the turning
of the year,
to celebrate the longest day,
the day we chose
not to turn away,
but chose
decided our sacrifices
have been enough.
We kneel and embrace
in a ritual
more ancient than
the altar calls
of our youth.



(Today's Zagajewski was translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh)

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.