Friday, July 24, 2009

All The Great Mad Poets

Leaf Shadows
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Thick packthread, lash of the knot, bristling multi-whip,

Lucrece fainting before Tarquin pain,

atavistic surgical botch,


Doctor. Her. Doctor

her up.

Red hemline, post-partum’s

ligature and cicatrice: Scarlett,

you’ll never have that seventeen-inch waist again,

you done give birth. Oh, yes,

by god, you’ll have those exact same dainty rose hips,

and everything mine will again

fit properly. Bring hoop skirt, corset, stays.

—Male to service.

—Officer Cervix, reporting for duty.

Reasonable excuse.

The most kindest cut.

Marital friction.

Where blood-silk, blood-satin, what does it matter

(needlepoint going in right now),

the barest hiss, long draw from the spool,

coarsens, scratches, gouges,



This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (7/25), 7-9 PM: TheShowPoetrySeries with live band LSB, vocalist Zionista plus poets Nate Hall, Alphonso Flowers, Nikki Brock and open mic. Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St., Sacramento (off 35th & Broadway). $5.00. Info: 916 208-POET or

•••Monday (7/27), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Shawn Pittard and LaVerne Frith at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Shawn Pittard is the author of These Rivers, a chapbook of poems from Rattlesnake Press. His poems, essays, and book reviews appear in a variety of publications, and he's written a screenplay, Junk Sick, with his brother, Trent. He holds degrees in fine arts, geography, and urban planning. He also writes for The Great American Pinup [] and for Rattlesnake Review.

Laverne Frith is co-editor of the poetry journal, Ekphrasis. His chapbooks are In the Translated Day (White Heron Press, 2004), In a Fast Food Place (Talent House Press, 1999), Sky After Summer Rain (Choice of Words Press), Drinking the Light (Finishing Line Press, 2007), The Range of Seeing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and Celebrations: Images and Texts (Rattlesnake Press, 2009). Among his many awards are a 2004 nomination for the Pushcart XXIX Prize by Adept Press, a runner-up finish in the 2004 & 2005 Louisiana Literature Award and honorable mentions in the Common Ground and Quercus competitions in 2004. Winner of the Nostalgia Poetry Award, he was awarded an HM in the New Millennium competition in April 2003 and semi-finalist in New Millennium in December 2003. His publication credits include Poetry New York, Louisiana Literature, The Christian Science Monitor, Sundog: the Southeast Review, The Comstock Review, The Montserrat Review, California Quarterly, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Perihelion, Main Street Rag, New Zoo Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Kimera, and others.


—Yu Hsuan-chi (843-868)

I have moved to this home of Immortals.

Wild shrubs bloom everywhere.

In the front garden, trees

Spread their branches for clothes racks.

I sit on a mat and float wine cups

In the cool spring.

Beyond the window railing

A hidden path leads away

Into the dense bamboo grove.

In a gauze dress

I read among my disordered

Piles of books.

I take a leisurely ride

In the painted boat,

And chant poems to the moon.

I drift at ease, for I know

The soft wind will blow me home.



—Yu Hsuan-chi

The mountain road is steep, the stone steps are dangerous;

The hard climb hurts me less than thoughts of you.

Don't listen to the singers, springsick with wine.

Don't call your guests to play chess at night.

Like pine or stone our promise stays,

So I can wait for paired wings to join.

I walk alone in the cold end of winter.

Perhaps we'll meet when the moon is round.

What can I give my absent man?
In the pure light, my tears fall: a poem.


—Dylan Thomas

In my craft or sullen art

Exercised in the still night

When only the moon rages

And the lovers lie abed

With all their griefs in their arms.

I labour by singing light

Not for ambition or bread

Or the strut and trade of charms

On the ivory stages

But for the common wages

Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart

From the raging moon I write

On these spindrift pages

Nor for the towering dead

With their nightingales and psalms

But for the lovers, their arms

Round the griefs of the ages,

Who pay no praise or wages

Nor heed my craft or art.


—Kuan Hsiu (832-912)

A mountain's palace
for all things crystalline and pure:
there's not a speck of dust
on a single one of all these flowers.

When we start chanting poems like madmen
it sets all the peaks to dancing.
And once we've put the brush to work
even the sky becomes mere ornament.

For you and me the joy's in the doing
and I'm damned if I care about "talent."

But if, my friend, from time to time
you hear sounds like ghostly laughter...
It's all the great mad poets, dead,
and just dropping in for a listen.


Today's LittleNip:

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.

—Henry David Thoreau



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

There will be no rattle-read 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: Peripherals: Prose Poems by Joyce Odam (illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love).
That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. 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 through, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.
Deadline for Issue #3 (which will be available August 21) was July 15; next deadline will be Oct. 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 (clearly marked for WTF).
And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at

RATTLESNAKE REVIEW: Issue #22 is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Or you can order copies of current or past issues through 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 add 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 packet 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!


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.