Thursday, July 02, 2009

Like Sapphire...

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale

I like the not knowing
The span of time
that suspends in exquisite tension
When possibilities are endless
and optimism animates ambition
without ignorance deceived as denial

I like the not knowing
The span of time
after submissions are sent
And suspense is delivered
daily by the mailman
Dreams of literary immortality
that stay alive in his empty hands

I like the not knowing
The span of time
since failing the mammogram exam
When statistics leave space for faith
Between fresh appreciation
for perfectly balanced breasts
And the scalpel that slices
symmetry into grave reality

I like the not knowing
The span of time
where you live luminous in my mind
Wishful thinking and what ifs
fantasizing fairy tale endings
Before facts dim the delusion
Or convention devours us
in conspicuous consumption

I like that span of time
The not knowing


Thanks to Ellaraine Lockie for the "repeated line" poem, and for this one by Jane Blue, who says The repeated lines in this poem are from a prompt in Katy Brown's journal, Musings. Thanks also to Ray Hadley, who sent us some summer poems from Lake Tahoe.

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

The angle of the copper sun moves
farther up the sky each day; sunset is an orange
that falls into the horizon in a haze of pollen,
into the drought-mild river. The wind cuts
like emerald, like sapphire. A ruckus of crows
disturbs the silence. Daffodils come and go.
Tulips rise. A car passes. What do I cry for?
I cry for Pete Seeger, because he is old, because
his single-minded enthusiasm for justice
has never dimmed; but it will, he will die.
The mailman comes up the walk and the dogs
set up a call and response of barking.
In the documentary Pete is 88 years old
and still rows with a crew of his relatives
on the cleaned-up Hudson, sparkling, like
emerald, like sapphire. He still sings
with no voice left. He insists that you sing.
If only my life had been such a straight line
that I could row with all my children and grand-
children in a place we’ve called home forever.
The wind sweeps down from the north,
pollen smeared in it a golden chartreuse, smeared
on everything. It distributes pollen like fish
that spill their milt into the murky ocean, carried
to a female, inseminating her miraculously.
Pollen mists the air. This is what trees do.
To stay married like Pete and Toshi for 67 years
takes patience. The grass and the sky
are hard and bright, like emerald, like sapphire.


Tonight at Luna's Cafe:

Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe features Poet Dr. Tchaka Muhammed, a long-time stalwart of the Sacramento Poetry Scene. He is a founding member of the Birthing Project in Sacramento, director and founder of several public service programs, and "edutainer" through use of poetry, prose and storytelling. That's at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8 PM tonight. Open mic before and after.


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

Bradbury Stories: 100 of Bradbury’s Most Celebrated Tales
by Ray Bradbury
888 pp, $29.95
ISBN: 006054242X

Ray Bradbury is an American Master, a living treasure in the annals of American literature, and one of the greatest short story writers in the world. This collection was the winner of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and trust me, that award is well deserved. Bradbury’s short stories are more poetic than his attempts at poetry, and always a treat, for here is an original writer, and according to some, the best writer in the world, who for more than 60 years has lived upon the food and fruits of the imagination. I cannot think of another author who has entertained and inspired young writers as much as Ray Bradbury, for the author has the power to tantalize, mystify, elate and, at times, bring his reader to tears. That’s one hell of a talent. So, if you’re looking for something to take you out of the day-to-day of the post-George Bush administration, if you are looking for something to make you reconnect with all the innocent beauty of your childhood dreams, your living dreams, the ones you never tell anyone about, then buy a copy of this book and rediscover who you are in this or any other world.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Ray Hadley, South Lake Tahoe

To cut open a cantaloupe is to destroy
a small city and spit out the seeds of new city
in the dirt.

The fat kids do the cannonball.

At noon the shadows of trees prove
that the earth is round.

The morning stars, like Rain-bird sprinklers,
forgotten, are left out all night.

Inside a broken lawn flamingo
there's a small frog in a pool of water.

In the morning, the boat of white geraniums
is presumed missing at sea.

A bird enters a bird house and feels around
in the dark with his hands.


—Ray Hadley

All summer the map of North
and South America
hangs over the blackboard
at the one-room school house,
and then for twenty years
because they decided
to move the school.

Revolutions have come and gone.
Hugo Chavez is the leader
of Venezuela, Castro has resigned,
Bush is gone, Pinochete is dead,
but wool and tin are still a product
of Peru and cotton in America's
Deep South.

When he came here after college,
it was easy to roll up the map
and put the desks into a van.

The North Pole ice was melting,
you could get ships through there
now via the North West Passage.

It used to be a privilege to crack
open the old lead windows,
so he went to do that, opened them
all to let in some fresh air.

When he looked up, the crown
of the trees were above the roof,
lush and green.


—Ray Hadley

Everyone's gone home
and they are slowly turning
the lights down
at the bowling alley,
the manager turning the knob
to the left until the lanes
of polished wood
give back their light.

The pins still hang
in their cradle above the floor,
the bowling balls return to the
darkness they so richly

Then scoreboard goes off,
random numbers, 110, 75, 159,
flash briefly the results
of the last game played.

Pencil and paper wait on desks
that are like the desks
in a one-room school house
during a long,
hot summer vacation.


Today's LittleNip:

What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

COMING FOR SUMMER: 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. 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 (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 Contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail this week. 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.