Monday, June 08, 2009

When Life Meets The Open Window

Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis

(my grandmother's house)
—Erica Jong

We entered you like a house,
blowing along
the white curtains.

In the kitchen
with its old aroma of pot roast,
in among the cannisters of tea,
the lavendered closets,
with pillowed rows of pink soap,
boxes of cottonwool
& unfinished embroideries,

we said
how we'd like to be lived in
after our death.

Then we began to replace you,
seeping in like cave water,
changing your old order,
defending ourselves
with our own smells.

(I poured espresso
from your teapot,
hung black curtains
in your bathroom.)

coming home suddenly,
I'd catch you,
your cheek as soft as willow tips,
shaking your head from side to side,
the cancer that was eating you.

I knew
your ghost as my own wish
& wasn't frightened,
but you
refused to stay.

Now, armored by oiur walls of book,
paintings you wouldn't have approved
& foods you'd never taste,
we find ourselves
alone at last.

we visited your grave.

You were all there.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (6/8), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents C.E. Chaffin at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento.

•••Weds. (6/10), 7:30 PM: Rattlesnake Press is proud to present the release of
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. Free!

•••Thurs. (6/11), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mics before and after.

•••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.


—Erica Jong

She left him in death's egg,
the bone sack & the gunny sack,
the bag of down & feathers‚ all black...
Somehow he couldn't get back.

It was night,
a night of shark-faced jets
winking brighter than blue stars,
a night of poisoned cities
mushrooming beneath the eyes of jets,
a night of missile silos
sulking in the desert,
a night of babies howling in the alleys,
a night of cats.

She left a death so huge
his life got lost in it.
She left a bloodstained egg
he had to hatch.


—Erica Jong

Truth has very few friends and those few are suicides.
—Antonio Porchia

The mouth of the night is open.
It wants to eat me.
It says the stars are lonely for me.
It lures me
with a faint wind
like a song.

This window
is the exit of the world.
Beyond it hover
my friends who have stepped off the earth,
out of themselves.
Like beginning swimmers,
they are treading air.

Why does the window
sing to me that way?

At the bottom of the pit
are alley cats & bottle glass
not truth.

Twenty windy stories down,
would I become
wholly myself?

The window hisses.

It is trying to blow out
this poem.

In memory of Joel Lieber


Today's LittleNip:

holes loudly swallow
oceans of spilt air
when worms squirm back in water

Toblerone, yum
Switerland's version,
a special ras el-hanout.

flexibility design
the hidden divine
an alive kitchen

—Ann Privateer



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

COMING JUNE 10: 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, 7:30, on Wednesday, June 10. Free!

Rattlesnake Review: Snake (RR21) is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. RR22 will be available next Wednesday, June 10, at The Book Collector. Deadline is July 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 Medusa are always hungry; let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one, and please—only one submission per issue.

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.

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.