TO THE DESERT
—Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.
Ever feel like it'll never rain again? Let's do some poetic rain dances with our Seed of the Week: Water. Send poems about the mysteries of water—the absence of it (thirst? global warming?), the promise of it (mirages?), the quirks of it, what you know about it—to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.
And speaking of water poems, be sure to check out Sac Poet Laureate Bob Stanley's "City of Rivers" poem on the editorial page of the Sacramento Bee today!
—J.G. Mocoancoeng, South Africa
When the sun is hot, it is burning
The land is not ugly, it is terrifying.
People are sweating but they are not wet
The earth is parched,
Animals are not grazing, but pulling stalks
They are not lean, they are dying
O! The earth has no water
The land is dry, so dry.
The young man is exhausted
He holds his waist and says,
"We are dying."
He is looking at the herd of cattle.
He shakes his head and says,
"We see you."
In the churches prayers are rising
Lord we are going!
On the land vultrues are feeding
The fire has come.
The wind is dry, it petrifies
It's not wind, but clouds of sand
in the air.
The land is so dry.
But far in the east
there is a dark cloud
It is true God has heard us
Look, it moves!
(translated by Mongane Wally Serote and Philip Bryant)
Here is a ditch of hopelessly dead water.
A cool breeze would not raise the slightest ripple on it.
You might throw in some scraps of copper and rusty tins,
or dump in as well the remains of your meal.
Perhaps the green on copper will turn into emeralds,
or the rust on tin will sprout a few peach blossoms.
Let grease weave a layer of fine silk-gauze, and
mould steam out a few red-glowing clouds.
Let the dead water ferment into a ditch of green wine,
floating with pearls of white foam;
but the laughter of small pearls turning into large pearls
is broken by spotted mosquitoes stealing the wine.
Thus a ditch of hopelessly dead water
can yet claim a bit of something bright.
And if the frogs can't endure the utter solitude,
let the dead water burst into song.
Here is a ditch of hopelessly dead water.
Here beauty can never reside.
You might as well let ugliness come and cultivate it,
and see what kind of world comes out.
(translated from the Chinese by Arthur Sze)
ACROSS THE SWAMP
—Olaf H. Hauge
It is the roots from all the trees that have died
out here, that's how you can walk
safely over the soft places.
Roots like these keep their firmness, it's possible
they've lain here centuries.
And there is still some dark remains
of them under the moss.
They are still in the world and hold
you up so you can make it over.
And when you push out into the moutain lake, high
up, you feel how the memory
of that cold person
who drowned himself here once
helps hold up your frail boat.
He, really crazy, trusted his life
to water and eternity.
(translated from the Norwegian by Robert Bly)
—David Emrys James
Look, a mirage, like a round rim, a strange
Wizard's masterpiece about us:
An old line that's not there,
A boundary that never ends.
(translated from the Welsh by Tony Conran)
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.
Deadline for Issue #3 (which will be available at Luna's Cafe on
Thursday, August 20) 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 email@example.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/. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events, to email@example.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.