Friday, July 17, 2009

Beside the Cherimoyas

Vinca minor
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Teresa Breeden, Carson City, NV

pour a bowl of flowers
that curl and smell like marmalade, sweet
sickly when they die, their black
petals smooth and soft as eyes,
a spoonful of pollen and scent

pop pebbles into mouth,
softened river grains to strengthen
the bones, wash them down with the sound
of water trickling, the silence of wet
absorbed into a depth of sand

crumpled lunch sack contains music:
nibble notes, suck symphonies through a straw,
floss a sinew of rap from between
those back teeth

snack on clock tickings, munching
crunchy mouthfuls from the bag,
licking fingers to seduce the last salty
seconds to the tongue

dining time and
vowels roll around the mouth,
dissolving in saliva, commas
tickling the soft palate as they pass
swallow a mouthful of words,
a sentence side dish

dessert: a finger morsel, taste of tongue,
smack of lips on back, and slide
of other inside, providing sweet
sustenance, a belly full


Teresa Breeden says: Everything is a poem; the difficulty is in attempting to write it down before it forgets its name and swerves into an entirely new poem. Having attempted the Herculean task of caging words into poems the entire second half of her life, Teresa imagines she was devouring poetry during the first half. Hopefully two halves do not make a whole in this case, as she hopes to continue seeing the looming shadow of poetry behind every cracked door for many years to come.

Teresa is a member of the Ash Canyon Poets, has an unrequited love for the words of Tony Hoagland, and likes garden tomatoes. She was a recipient of the 2007 Nevada Arts Council Fellowship for Literature, and has poetry published in 13 states. Teresa’s best two poems are her children. Thanks, Teresa, for letting Medusa feature you today.

And thanks to Jane Blue for sending us a poem related to this week's SOW: Autobiography—though, as Jane says: ...remember, autobiography is always fiction.

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

Is it good to go where you’ve been as a child?
To feel the wind on your face and smell the bitter
dune-grass, to know so much more
and so much less?

Wouldn’t it have been better not to have
scampered here, thoughtless,
sunburned and sleepy at the end of the day, to simply
have discovered this place as an old, immobile tourist?


Purple, gold, coral, half-animal, half-flower
sea urchins, anemones and starfish, opening
and closing with a sucking noise,
and hermit crabs walking drunkenly out
of a tide pool, wearing the borrowed hats
of their houses; seagulls’ yelling so insistent
we forget it, crouching there, poking things, Mother
fishing out on the sea shelf, calling back against the wind,
“This is good for the soul,” and we leap,
sure-footed as goats, away from her.


The stone of the pillars of Julia Morgan’s
architecture, each with a different kind of light
on them, the ocean talking far off,
reminds me of those aggregate sandstone
tide pools, which we are no longer permitted
to disturb, and Mother standing on the edge
of the continent, she said, fishing for hours,
which she would no longer
be permitted to do.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sunday (7/19), 7 PM: Time-Tested Books presents the Montoyas: Jose, Joe and Tomas. 1114 21st St., Sacramento (between K and L Sts.). Info:

•••Monday (7/20), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents MC Sho’Nuff and Jenilynn with Litany. NOTE NEW LOCATION: HQ for the Arts at 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [Due to a new policy about using the electrical outlets at Fremont Park, this event has been moved to HQ for the Arts.] Admission: FREE (though donations are encouraged). Rebecca Morrison will be on hand to host, as well as share stories from her recent trip to France.

Local poets DJ Sho'Nuff and Jenilynn will perform spoken word and slam w/musical accompaniment by Litany. Included will be material to be performed by Jenilynn at the Slam nationals in November. Then, SPC regulars Litany will play an electric set to rev up an already rockin' evening. Open mic will follow for the inspired and the adventurous. If you feel so moved, we invite audience members to help contribute toward Jenilynn's transportation to the Slam nationals in Florida later this year. Go, Sac-Town!

Litany is a three-piece band from Sacramento which performs both acoustic and electric sets of non-traditional folk, rock, and prog rock. Litany has played such northern California venues as Tower Records, Capitol Garage, The Distillery, Luna's, Butch 'n' Nellie's, Cesar Chavez Park, and the Sacramento Pride Festival, as well as numerous local Second Saturday events, poetry readings, and open mics. This is their fourth time featuring for SPC, and they are thrilled to be returning.

MC Sho' Nuff and Jenilynn are the hosts and producers of Live 'n' Direct, a weekly spoken word & music event at Butch 'n' Nellie's Coffee Co, recently voted "Best Poetry Open Mic" by the Sacramento News & Review. Both Sho & Jen are noted local poet/performers, having appeared at numerous Northern California venues. In addition, Sho operates his own thriving music production business, & Jenilynn designs clothing for her own line, Interior Motives []. Most recently, Jenilynn was selected to represent Sacramento at the National Slam Poetry finals later this year, and is busily raising funds for her transportation. They are thrilled to be sharing some of their acclaimed material w/ SPC audiences as co-features.

Armando Cid passes on:

Armando R. Cid, a prominent Sacramento artist who celebrated Mexican folk ways as an educator, activist and founding member of the Royal Chicano Air Force art and literature group, died Monday at age 66. Mr. Cid was a printmaker, painter and craftsman whose art expressed respect and affection for the traditional folk life of Mexico. His works portrayed artifacts and icons in brilliant colors, including animals, chili peppers and skeletons. He was renowned for his brightly colored, papier mâché masks and altar pieces for annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. The obituary in the July 15 Sacramento Bee is available at:

Services will take place this Sunday, July 19, at Sierra View Chapel, 6201 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, (916) 481-1515. Josie Talamantez and her family have organized a day of remembrance and celebration as they prepare for his later cremation and distribution of his ashes according to his wishes. Josie asks those interested in participating in the planned services and viewing to come at any time between 1-8 PM. The ceremonies will start with ritual dancing by local danzantes followed by a traditional church service at 2 PM. This will be followed by a color guard service. Food will be available in the afternoon and is planned to allow friends and community to visit with each other and with the Cid family. During this time as well, the family is planning to sing traditional songs. A rosary is scheduled at 6 PM, with testimonials following.

Letters or messages of condolence can be sent to Josie and her family at:

Josie Talamantez
3931 3rd Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 731-4345


—Teresa Breeden

no books with me, no lesson plans or forms.
nothing to fill out or finish
and a delayed meeting, a distended hour to fill
with waiting.
ten minutes are occupied… find
a parking space, lock the car
unlock the car to get meter money, walk
a block to buy coffee, choose
any table, in my mind, the time
is already wasted.

I rummage the crossword from a discarded paper,
coffee-stain crinkling one edge.
I crossword in pen, my feet tapping floor.
the boxed letters hold no meaning, edged in
by stiff square bars, the words, definition without taste
or texture, without any warmth for me to cup my hands around.
it is not how I am used to words feeling.
30 minutes left
both feet tapping
racing somewhere with sound

a brusque glare around, my head darts in birdlike jerks
empty shop, employee’s dark hair leaned low over book.
empty lot out the east window, weeds
gray on gray ground.
red-lit intersection
green yellow red green
yellow 24 minutes

a slant
of morning sun dribbles onto my table, plucks
my preoccupation into its light
I breathe in the gold of pollens and marigolds, my gaze
swings slowly, feet still,
etching the connections of coupled stones
in the church wall across the street
wasted, my ears swallow
the hum of coffee machines, wasted, and I nod
at a cloud shaped like a watch
which simmers then shifts, drifting,
leaves only a soft wash of pale
blue in its wake.


—Teresa Breeden

that last night together how
we pressed in the supermarket,
picking out peaches, I buried
myself in your chest, my breath
in the cavity between
your chin
and shoulders,
how something poignant
crept out of the garlic,
made us cling silently,
falling against the cherimoyas

I’ve memorized key buys and
hidden foods
like the water chestnuts
that sneak behind the catsup,
grazing with metal shoulder the cans
of baby corn,
but I never saw the cherimoyas

pine needle green
surfacing into pungent yellow,
sliding up against soft speckled
brown, your eyes that spread,
pinwheeling with color
to catch me
next to the cherimoyas

and our thick breaths, sectioned
like a pomegranate, seed filled

fibrous, pulpy
the size of my hand, finger outflung
against your back,
pulling you into me,
is the size of the cherimoya

not love, but instinct,
wild cravings
of exposed throats and stretched skin,
you folded your lips
into the heat of my neck
and the cold peaches bumped
against my thigh
beside the cherimoyas


—Teresa Breeden

oh, to stretch
my legs and feel the
edges of
both sides of the bed, to

wrangle the sheets into
any lump i desire, to
tear them out even, free from
the mattress, wrap them
around me and
sleep cocooned,

to stretch my arms, to kick
in my sleep, leave
the light on or
off as i choose,
the window open, the fan
blowing directly, oh to sleep
again, alone.


Today's LittleNip:

It's those summer doldrums between July 4th and Labor Day... hot and seemingly endless—but somehow lovely when we look back on them.
—Carol Frith, Sacramento

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
—Russell Baker

I call it DENIAL.
—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines



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'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.