Monday, July 13, 2009

What We Know About Secrets

Jesse Collins

—Jesse Collins, Elk Grove

She holds out hope her design plan
with no flaws,

will work to make this September
last longer,

mimic the way children don't think
about time,

aim to chunk break each decade,
make goals,

stash them away as secrets somewhere:
tenable, lofty,

goals one can only do in ten-year
spans of life.

Invent a heavily considered distraction.
In dreams,

will come to understand what she knows
about secrets,

aware that the skillful goings on are
achieved or abandoned.

Her life will unfold. Good things that happen,
are archived.

Remember, this is what works
for children.

She just can’t want to share things.
When asked,

she’ll say: Yes, that was the goal
of mine.

That’s how she’ll slow down time.


Born in 1973, Jesse Collins grew up in the town of Antioch, California. After a four-year commitment in the Marine Corps, through which he traveled the United States, as well as Panama and Okinawa, Jesse attended and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, where he received a BA in Communications/Journalism. He now lives in Elk Grove, California, with his wife and two young sons. His poems have appeared and/or are forthcoming in Rattlesnake Review and Poetry Now.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••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

•••Weds. (7/15): Deadline for the third issue of WTF, the quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, edited by frank andrick. 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

•••Weds. (7/15), 7-8:30 PM: Our House Gallery Poetry Series (open mic) meets at 1004 White Rock Road #400, El Dorado Hills (Montano de El Dorado Center, south of Hwy 50 on Latrobe Rd at White Rock Rd.). Come and speak your word ... and/or listen the that of others in a lovely Art Gallery. This is a free community event intended for all ages. If you would like to share your stuff, please sign in by 7 PM. Info: 916-933-4278.

•••Thurs. (7/16), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mic before and after.

•••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:

Deadline this Wednesday for UCD Tomales Bay Workshop Discounts

To better serve students and the community, UC Davis Extension is working to form strong collaborative relationships with local writers' organizations. Sacramento Poetry Center members are now eligible to save $100 on UC Davis Extension's Tomales Bay Workshop. Apply now to take advantage of this one-time special offer. Or bring at least two friends and each group member will save 10 percent!

Join nationally known poets and writers, as well as respected editors and agents, in an intensive conversation about craft during the Tomales Bay Workshops Oct. 21-25. Work closely with an established author, receive constructive feedback from a group of peers and generate new material. Workshops are held at the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, California, on the eastern shore of the pristine Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco. The Center sits on a wooded hillside overlooking serene water and the mountains beyond and offers comfortable rooms, excellent food and inviting hiking trails. Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate, will be the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation Keynote Speaker.

Applications are reviewed as they are received and this popular program is expected to fill. Apply by July 15 to take advantage of these special discounts. Final filing date is August 1. Applications received after this deadline will be accepted on a space-available basis. Please indicate on your application that you are claiming the Sacramento Poetry Center discount. If you are applying as a group, please indicate the names of the three or more group members on your application materials.


Visit the UC Davis Extension:

Download a brochure:


Or call UC Davis Extension Student Services at (800) 752-0881 or email


—Jesse Collins

In a darkened room,
the smile is apportioned
in degrees of progression,
viewed with little known
of our human experience,
literally, viewed as though
by a child, perception
not translated to merely
someone’s thoughts, but
an evenly distributed
array of possibilities,
numbered one to eighty,
a countable function of
universal discourse,
measured by the eyes
in a left-to-right fashion,
focusing the elements:
conviction, belief, though
no one can know its future
state, as one can only know
its lower order, determined
by its behavior subsequent,
therefore, the smile itself
presents a surprise, a gift,
that gives not more by the
weight its given, but rather
more in that it redirect darkness.


—Jesse Collins

Just wait and let me do this, please.
You’ve never tried it quite like this.

It’s important you stand very still—what?
Yes, I will hold the book if it helps.

Now concentrate. Step on the stool—what?
Yes, that's you in the mirror, okay,

now point in the middle and let it go.
No not... no-no-no, stop, no, stop.

Don't point with your finger, aim!
Aim straight, no-no-no, down. Yes.


—Jesse Collins

At this hand, the inner sleeve,
rolled up twice, back,

covered that of soak, red;
a wrist uncovered, black.

Flow kept, not all by clot,
beneath his watch a tack.

Thumb at post to poke, seethe;
a prick for pain, the hack.


—Jesse Collins

The same animal,

always on the verge
of reverting back,

like finding your dog
at the throat of road kill,

only to realize
she seems well-suited

for life in the wild,
without your love,

she’s managed to avoid
the spinning wheels,

though, rolling stones
do lodge in her throat,

but you’re not quite sure
that it’s her, only

that the color of her hair
and her gait are the same.


Today's LittleNip:

If you had to name your single worst fear, what would it be?



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.