Friday, July 31, 2009

In The Company Of Owls

Elfin Owl
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

Wipe that scowl off your face—
spring rain



—Mary Oliver

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings—
five feet apart—and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow—

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows—
so I thought:
maybe death
isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us—


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (7/31), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries presents Open Mic Love Jones Poetry Night, Neketia Brown (special presentation), plus singers Chris J. and Zionista. Hosted by Jean Hooks. Bring your BEST love poems and share them. That’s inside the Upper Level VIP Lounge, located inside of Fitness Systems Heathclub, by Cal State Skating Rink at 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento. (Exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie right past Motel 6.) $5.00. Info: (916) 208-POET.

•••Monday (8/3), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Noah “Supanova” Hayes and Stuart “SLiC” Canton at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento (25th and R). Noah "Supanova" Hayes is a versatile entertainer who has been delighting audiences around the Sacramento area and abroad since 1982. He is a gifted poet, vocalist, dancer/choreographer, actor, and musician who enjoys sharing his talent and working in the community, teaching classes in the performing arts. In 1996, Noah became the youngest chorus member ever to perform with the Sacramento Opera Association. Internationally, Mr. Hayes has performed in England and Ireland, and locally with Sacramento Music Circus and the Sacramento Theatre Company. In addition to his theatrical credits, Noah is an accomplished poet who has been published in a number of poetry publications in addition to two spoken word CD's: My Thoughts (2006), and WAKE UP! (2008). He was also a member of the 2005 and 2006 Sacramento Poetry Slam Teams that competed at the national poetry slam in Albuquerque, NM and Austin, TX. Noah earned a B.A. in Theatre this December from Sacramento State. On campus, he has performed with the CSUS Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Julie Adams. In addition to his musical and theatrical credits, Noah is a former principal dancer and choreographer for Sacramento/ Black Art of Dance.

SLiC is a poet who's broken into the Sacramento poetry scene with his unique blend of distinctly American styles, reminiscent of the work of Walt Whitman, Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, and Tom Waits. His poetry has landed him page time in Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, Medusa's Kitchen, Brevities, and WTF. Weekly performances at Luna's Cafe have helped to make him a force in the poetry scene. Pick up SLiC's chaps and broadsides at The Book Collector, Luna's Cafe, and local coffeehouses.


B.L.'s Drive-bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:

Finding Beauty
by Marine Robert Warden
Bellowing Ark Press
71 pp, $14.00

I have had a great battle of the soul in deciding whether or not to review this book by Marine Robert Warden, also known as Bob (shades of “Twin Peaks”, eh?). For one, I have a hard time with books that are shabbily bound and poorly scored with uneven page numeration. I do acknowledge the author and his many accomplishments, though; here we have somebody who has been published in Abraxas, California Quarterly, and numerous other journals. Although I like some of the poems in this overpriced 71-page collection, I don’t like all of them. And with that alone, I can’t legitimately recommend this book to my readers. I want to thank Marine Robert Warden, a.k.a Bob, for being so kind as to send me a review copy. But maybe with a nice cup of coffee and some more focus, Bob will consider revising, editing, and cutting at least a quarter of the text. So, dear readers, here is Kennedy once again making a goddamn ass of himself. But I’m gonna save your bucks and tell you not to purchase a copy of Finding Beauty.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Mary Oliver

The litter under the tree
Where the owl eats—shrapnel

Of rat bones, gull debris—
Sinks into the wet leaves

Where time sits with her slow spoon,
Where we becomes singular, and a quickening

From light-years away
Saves and maintains. O holy

Protein, o hallowed lime,
O precious clay!

Tossed under the tree
The cracked bones

Of the owl's most recent feast
Lean like shipwreck, starting

The long fall back to the center—
The seepage, the flowing,

The equity: sooner or later
In the shimmering leaves

The rat will learn to fly, the owl
Will be devoured.


—Mary Oliver

Every night
the owl
with his wild monkey-face
calls through the black branches,
and the mice freeze
and the rabbits shiver
in the snowy fields—
and then there is the long, deep trough of silence
when he stops singing, and steps
into the air.
I don't know
what death's ultimate
purpose is, but I think
this: whoever dreams of holding his
life in his fist
year after year into the hundreds of years
has never considered the owl—
how he comes, exhausted,
through the snow,
through the icy trees,
past snags and vines, wheeling
out of barns and church steeples,
turning this way and that way
through the mesh of every obstacle—
undeterred by anything—
filling himself time and time again
with a red and digestible joy
sickled up from the lonely, white fields—
and how at daybreak,
as though everything had been done
that must be done, the fields
swell with a rosy light,
the owl fades
back into the branches,
the snow goes on falling
flake after perfect flake.


Just watching...
Photo by Katy Brown


Today's LittleNip:

If you could transport yourself to any place in the world at this moment, where would you go?



P.S. And happy birthday (yesterday) to Katy Brown!

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.