Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Praise Be

Photo by Frank Dixon Graham, Sacramento

—Ann Privateer, Davis

to truncate, to terminate
to remove, to part abruptly
as in having no end point
a blunt cut, a leaf, a volcano
a truncated pyramid, a mountain
shortened by time, lacking in length
cut off, a short skirt, a short life
a short flight, a short holiday
a short stop, a few short months
a short hair-do
the board was a foot short
he threw a short toss
he was short with me
my memory comes up short
I’ll arrive shortly but not on the dot
her ears are short of hearing
Shorty’s band is the best
unless you like Short Shot
Sometimes I have a short fuse
and get shortsighted, I don’t want to be
short-listed, short ordered or out of short
ribs, shortbread, or shortcake, with short notice
If the shortstop shortcuts he might short-circuit
causing world shortages through his shortcomings
My shorts and your short story could short change us
I prefer a short fling to the long and the short of it.


It's Tuesday: Seed of the Week Day. Ann Privateer sent us (from Paris!) what I call a "definition poem": she chose a word and did a series of riffs on it. (In this case, the word was "short", though she didn't give it to us in the title; we had to figure it out—an interesting twist.) So our SOW is a Definition Poem; pick your word, have your way with it, and send your results to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

And thanks to the other poets listed here today and last week for their repeated line/word poems in response to last week's SOW. (
Frank Graham's photo today is a form of repetition, too, yes?) Note that Allegra Silberstein's "In Borrowed Time" is an octo: 8 lines, 8 syllables each. The first line doesn't have to be repeated at the end like Allegra did, though that's one cool (sneaky!) way to get yourself a free line. Snake alert: "Extra credit" today for making your Definition Poem an Octo, but not required. And there's no deadline on SOWs.

For a very comprehensive list of poetry forms, go to Bob's Byway at www.poeticbyway.com/glossary.html/, either directly or through "Snake Faves" on rattlesnakepress.com/. He doesn't list the octo, though, just the octosyllable.

And thanks to Claire J. Baker for her response to Mike McQuay's poem in the latest Rattlesnake Review. All the contributor and subscription copies of RR have gone into the mail, I think, but let me know if you didn't get yours. Copies are also available at The Book Collector in Sacramento (free), or from rattlesnakepress.com ($4). Next deadline (for issue #23) is August 15.


CFCP, Inc. Monthly Contest has new chairman:

Norberta Fullen has taken over from Cleo Griffith as Monthly Contest Chair for California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc., which offers prizes of $25, $15, $10. All forms accepted for all categories, within line limits. One prize per poet per contest. Send TWO copies of each poem with author's name and address front upper right corner on ONE copy only. Put no identification on the second copy. Poems must not have previously been awarded a money prize. If previously published, please state where. Judges are poets who are not in CFCP, Inc. Except where otherwise indicated, poems are limited to 28 lines of text, not including the title or space following the title. Fee: $2/poem OR 3 poems/$5. (Make checks out to CFCP, Inc.) There is no limit to the number of poems submitted each month with the appropriate fees. Poems for the monthly contests must be postmarked by the last day of the month for that category. For those entrants who use a post-office that does not date-stamp mail, a written date beneath the return address will suffice. Print contest month on outside of mailing envelope, at the front right top corner of both copies of each poem. If you wish to receive a winners’ list, please send SASE with proper postage and note the contest month on the envelope. Send to Norberta Fullen, 489 Hanby Ave. #A, Bishop, CA 93514 or norberta@usamedia.tv/.

AUGUST: Theme is “Any Subject, Any Style”; judge is M. Scott Douglas
SEPTEMBER: Theme is “Harvest”; judge is Fredrick Zydek
OCTOBER: Theme is “Portraits”; judge is Louise Larkins
NOVEMBER: Theme is “Holidays”; judge is Caron Andregg
DECEMBER: No Contest


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

Comfort comes near with the setting sun
as meadowlarks trill above pasture:
lullabies sung when the day is done.

Swallows return to the raftered barn
to feed their open mouthed nestlings there;
comforting comes with the setting sun.

In the house a mother feeds her baby
as she sings of red sails in the sunset:
a lullaby sung when the day is done.

After feeding and bedding his cows
the father walks slowly from barn to house.
His comfort comes with the setting sun,

with music attending him on his way
as crickets ring out their evening chorus:
lullabies sung when the day is done.

After the work of the ripened hours,
fulfilling the charge to reap and to sow,
comfort draws near with the setting sun
and lullabies sung when the day is done.


—Allegra Silberstein

So suddenly the light is gone
in the year’s fast slide to closure.
Night flight that goes from West to East
subtracts three hours in the climb

suspending me in borrowed time.
My flight that goes from west to east
in the year’s fast slide to closure.
So suddenly the light is gone.


—Allegra Silberstein

Carry a stone in your pocket.
There’s a picture hidden inside;
it holds a sad song.
Cry, Baby, cry.

When you’re feeling sad
touch the stone,
touch it gently.
Cry, Baby, cry.

If you’re really feeling bad
grab that stone,
grab it hard and
cry, Baby cry.

Don’t let the blues
pull you down,
pull you down.
Cry, Baby, cry—

and then let up,
get up.


—Donald R. Anderson, Stockton

My heartbeat I carry with me,
wherever I go.
It is the music that has been with me always.
What type of music?
It paces me as I go.
It tells me, reassures me, it is in control.
Even when I sleep it keeps watch,
making my heart go.
A river through my veins,
an ocean in my core.
Warm and secure;
how it should be.
Nothing else can compare,
it is the gift.


—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

I watch the passing signs more closely now
and keep a sharper eye on rules and speed.
In earlier years, I didn’t see the need
to bother with such trivia, kowtow

to any dull patrolman’s frowning brow.
I didn’t care; considered myself freed.
I watch those lurking signs more closely now
and keep a wary eye on rules and speed.

Old age has finally brought this queen to bow
to easier courses: give in to the creed
that says rule are invincible; best heed
the universe’s fabric, or else—pow!
I watch those blasted signs more closely now
and keep a chastened eye on rules and speed…


—Margaret Elllis Hill, Fair Oaks

For foothills that color a late summer day,
for persistent crow’s beak and Indian paintbrush
for the small springs winding around and down
for scrub oak and manzanita that shelter fawns.

For mountains that stand as strong shoulders,
for clavicle ledges fox and coyotes traverse
for pine and cedar arms that reach towards light
for peaks whose slopes quilt shadows

For fertile valleys covered in green grass quilts
for the abundance of oats, clover, and trefoil
for deep-down sounds of bees and birds
for the curving vistas of peace

For dewy meadows that mimic night-sky jewels
for mists that come to clothe bare trees
for providing stillness to cloak footfall
for embellishing the chartreuse of newness

For wind that frees and binds the air
for currents that hammock eagles and hawks
for its music that haunts or lulls or challenges
for bringing blankets to let earth sleep.

For clear waters of lakes and streams
for filling cups and mouths to quench thirst,
for the reed hideouts of trout, bass and perch,
for surfaces that feature grandeur and grace.

Praise be for brown hills, mountains, fertile valleys,
for dewy grass, wind, and clear water
for all of us to consider real rather than historical features
forever—more than photographs found in old books.


Today's LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

I sit, rehearsing

future personal events

which have not been born

I need a better word for events.

(Inspired by Mike McQuay's

"Blue Moon of August,"
Rattlesnake Review #22)



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 rattlesnakepress.com, 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 fandrickfabpub@hotmail.com (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 rattlesnakepress.com/.)

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 rattlesnakepress.com/. 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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 rattlesnakepress.com/.)

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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 kathykieth@hotmail.com (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 (rattlesnakepress.com). And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.