Friday, July 10, 2009

Rattling The Snake Lady

Medusa expresses shock and awe

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

Hey, Wrangler-in-Kieth,
Rattlesnake Review #____
Medusa’s Kitchen, ‘Bytes

since reading up close
(sizing up that coil/
that reverberating rattle),

now I sketch on my arrows
fangs/flicking tongues
to mark

my paper way:
shift words, lines, stanzas—
"Carpe Viperidae!"


Thanks to Claire Baker for the poems and Today's LittleNip; flattering Medusa will get you everywhere. And thanks to Pat Pashby for her companion poems about her resurrected lemon tree.

JoAnn Anglin sends us two online journals to check out: West Marin Review ( and Cerise Press, an international literary review based in France and the States: Heads up: The Snake is going to be more and more interested in online literary efforts from now on. There are lots of exciting credits to be had out there, friends to be made, opportunities to be seized. More about this later…

Meanwhile, check out two new additions to Medusa’s links at the right of this: the blog/reading schedule for Time Tested Books, and Shawn Pittard’s new blog, “These Rivers”. Click on ‘em and behold! Shawn writes a column—sometimes about fishing in relation to poetry—for Rattlesnake Review. He and Laverne Frith will be reading at Sacramento Poetry Center on July 27.

Normally I don't post a lot of Bay Area activities, but today we have several opportunities for poets, including some Open Mic readings down thataway and the venerable Ina Coolbrith contest deadline. Check 'em out!


Open for entries until August 15, 2009 (postmark deadline). All ICC members and non-member California residents are eligible. Cash prizes. Info: ICC website: [I don’t see this year’s rules on there, but you can get the gist of things. Or send for a pdf of this year’s rules from John Rowe, BAPC President, P.O. Box 11435, Berkeley, CA 94712-2435, (510) 527-9905.,]

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (7/11), 1-10 PM: Dairl Helmer, the editor of Sacramento’s Broccoli, Cheese & Crackers, will be at the Sacto Zine Symposium at Brick House Gallery, 2837 36th St. Sacramento. He'll be bringing some back issues, and you are invited to come see how BC&C changed since it was started in May 2005. If you're in town and out & about for Second Saturday, stop by and check out 'zines that people are creating here in Sacramento. Should be interesting... And it’s free! Info:

•••Sat. (7/11), 2 PM: Citrus Heights Area Poets (Barnes & Noble, Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights) will host open mic for poets and feature some who work with musicians. Tom Bakey will talk about his poetry students in Hawaii and bring a CD featuring some songs they have written. A songwriter from Sacramento has promised to come read some wonderful lyrics (poems) he has written. If he doesn't have a paying gig, Tony Kaye may lend his professional talents to accompany Margaret Bell’s reading of a poem, and Kathy Cook has promised to come share information about the Citrus Heights Street Marching Band. All poets are encouraged to come listen to the program and read their own poems.

•••Sat. (7/11), 6-9 PM: Second Saturday Reception at the 20th Street Art Gallery for Snake Pal/artist Alex Escalante, who will have artwork on exhibit there through July.

•••Sat. (7/11), 3-5 PM: Bay Area Poets Coalition (BPAC, presents an Open Poetry Reading at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St., Berkeley (Addison is one block south of and parallel to University Ave. between Acton & Bonar Street. Parking on the street—NOT in the S.C.L. parking lot). Open reading held in the Lodge's Backyard Garden. Upon arrival, please sign in at the front desk and you will be directed to the meeting location. All ages welcome to come and enjoy a friendly and informal read-around— 3-5 minutes per poet/reader, or "just listening" is fine, too. After the reading, join us for dinner if you'd like at a nearby restaurant.

•••Sat. (7/11), 7-9 PM: Just a couple of hours after the conclusion of BAPC comes another great reading opportunity: San Francisco poets and BAPC members Al Averbach (8-time winner in the BAPC contest) and Buford Buntin (longtime BAPC open reading attendee) feature at Frank Bette Center For The Arts Second Saturday Poetry and Prose Reading, followed by an open mic. That's at 1601 Paru (at Lincoln) in Alameda. Donations appreciated. Hosted by Jeanne Lupton—contact her at for more info or to sign up.

•••Monday (7/13), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Danny Romero and Neal Whitman at HQ for the Arts at 1719 25th St., Sacramento.

Coming up at SPC:

July 20: Hot Poetry in the Park with Poetry and Music by Litany — Miles Miniaci, Bob Wilson, and Chene Watson plus special guests. Fremont Park, Downtown Sac, between 15th and 16th and between P and Q, 7:30 PM
July 27: Shawn Pittard and LaVerne Frith


—Patricia Pashby, Sacramento

You were healthy with new growth,
when I dug you up—moved you
to a sunny warmer place—
tucked you into moist rich soil.
I looked forward to lemons.
You dropped your fragrant leaves,
curled up and died—and I cried.


—Patricia Pashby

My mournful song of lament
about the premature death
of my Meyer lemon tree—
greatly exaggerated!
You now sprout buds all over,
growing stronger every day.
Touch, soft talk, and love—magic.


(a poem of the 60s)
—Clair J. Baker

They plucked my ovaries
ripe cherries
Yanked out my uterus
juicy pear
Ripped out my tubes
bean sprouts

But I still have
pregnant thoughts &
beautiful babies!

(from author's collection,
Touchings, 1976)


Break the wine glass, flow
toward the glass-blower's breath.

(for John Rowe)
—Claire J. Baker

John will bring
his poems
two salads
and enchiladas
from Temescal
the Italian village
near his job.

John comes young.
And I get younger
near John and his dog.
John has no dog.
But I see a groomed collie
floating toward me
over a green Sierra meadow.


Today's LittleNip:

What's so "private" anymore about a private citizen?
—Claire J. Baker, 1983



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.
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.