Friday, August 07, 2009


Castle on Russian River
Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—Margaret Ellis Hill, Fair Oaks

I edge your skin and you mine.
We become one destiny.

You caress my fringes, my waves
invade the cycles of your life.

I fall into you; if you turn upside down
you are falling into me. A coexistence.

We move together, motion
like a caress. We breathe common gifts.

Your fingers touch me like no other.
A promise from creation.

We are wed to each other. Let me
enfold you deeper into myself, inseparable.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

He has propped his easel and feet
securely, though he could slip easily
from sharp rocks into rough surf
with one careless step. I watch
him work from behind steel rails
lining a higher pathway, marvel at how
calm he appears, how careful strokes of color
capture the mood of the sea, its frothy web
changing and rechanging to lure the unwary.
Fog seeps in to narrow, close his field of vision;
a turmoil of white and gray waves whose loud
sound beckons—tests—dares him to loose grip.
He keeps to his brushstrokes.

(First published in Rattlesnake Review, March 2008)


Thanks, Peggy and Bob, for the water thoughts, continuing our SOW for the week. Remember, SOWs ain't over 'til they're over. Send your poems about water (extra, lack of, or just right) and other art/photos to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

While you're sending water thoughts, how about some computer thoughts, too? Snake 23 will consider the ‘Net as it applies to poetry: pros/cons, handy sites, good/bad experiences. Like it or not, the Internet is part of our poetry lives now. Or should be. Or shouldn’t…..? Please send us your thoughts and favorite resources before the 8/15 deadline.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (8/7), 6-8:30 PM: Art Reception at the Lodi Public Library where some poetry will be read. It is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women.

•••Sat. (8/8), 7-9 PM: Ellaraine Lockie and Diane Frank will present their poetry accompanied by amazing cellist Erik Ievins at Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda’s Second Saturdays Poetry and Prose Reading. Visiting midwest poet Karla Huston will mini-feature. Open mic follows. 1601 Paru at Lincoln in Alameda. Donations gratefully accepted. Contact host Jeanne Lupton for more information or to sign up early:

•••Sat. (8/8), 2 PM: Open Mic at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Sunrise Boulevard, Citrus Heights.

•••Saturday (8/8), 7:30 PM: Nevada County Poetry Series is having a Rent Party featuring the poets Julie Valin, Shawn Aveningo and Marilyn Souza. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 general, seniors and students, and $1 for those under 18—bring whatever spare change you have to throw into the pot... Refreshments and open-mic included. The show will be in the Main Theater at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley, CA. Info: (530) 432-8196 or (530) 274-8384. [See last Monday’s post for bios.]

•••Sat. (8/8), 1:30 PM: Poetry reading: Summer 2009 Issue of Song of the San Joaquin. McHenry Museum, 1402 “I” St., Modesto, (209) 577-5366. Free. Open Mike to follow. Light refreshments. Info: Cleo Griffith, or (209) 543-1776.

•••Monday (8/10), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Mariana Castro de Ali and Terry a O’ Neal at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th Sts. (25th & R), Sacramento. Mariana Castro de Ali, whose art uses anything from receipts to tampons, was born in Cd. Obregón, Sonora México in 1975. She lives and works in California. She attended Cosumnes River College, Chabot College, is now pursuing Film Studies at UC Davis. Mariana’s art has appeared in selected exhibitions in the U.S. and Mexico.

Best-selling author Terry a O’Neal has published poetry in numerous magazines, journals and newspapers. Her previous publications include three volumes of poetry (Motion Sickness, The Poet Speaks in Black and Good Mornin’ Glory), two children’s books (Ev’ry Little Soul and My Jazz Shoes) and the award-winning family fiction novel, Sweet Lavender. In recent times, Terry has ventured into the world of screenwriting, focusing on inspirational feature films for family audiences. Recently, she has completed a screenplay of her novel, Sweet Lavender, which is currently resting in the hands of Hollywood producers. In addition to her writing accomplishments, Terry is the editor of the annual youth poetry anthology, Make Some Noise!, an anthology by inspired youth from all around the United States, Canada, Australia and Africa. In addition to her writing accomplishments, she is the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Lend Your Hand, Inc.—Educating the World’s Children.


B.L.'s Drive-bys: Two Micro-Reviews by Sacramento's B.L. Kennedy:

Poetry Papers 1-10
Jimmy Ray West Jr.
10 pp, $2

Jimmy Ray West Jr. exploded on the scene at Luna’s Café some three years ago and has since that time been a regular voice to be reckoned with at Sacramento’s most popular open Mic. Poetry Papers 1-10 is the poet’s first chapbook. He explained to me that it was put out because somebody told him that he needed to have a chapbook. The trouble herein is that Jimmy Ray West is a poet of the oral tradition and, as such, tends to be very performance-oriented. To read the poems included in this chapbook and to experience the art of Jimmy Ray West Jr. live at Luna’s are two totally different things, and to be honest (and this is no slide to the poet), your words work better coming from the stage than they do rested on a page.

Poetry Papers 11-20
Jimmy Ray West Jr.
10 pp, $2

As I said in the previous review, the poems in Poetry Papers 11-20 scream to be read and performed aloud; they feel kind of funny on the page. I say this having experienced the poet live on several occasions and can attest to the fact that he is his poetry and his poetry is him, and sometimes good poetry does not need to be confined to the printed page. I urge everybody to come down to Luna’s and experience the poetry of Jimmy Ray West Jr., and for those who do, I suggest that they buy a copy of this book for archival purposes—for no matter how you read the poems in the book, you will not be able to separate the unique tones of the poet’s voice from the words on the printed page.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

I get to ask Anne Stevenson
about her poetry,
or perhaps about mine.

One remark to spring even one
glint of wry sympathy
in her eyes would be fine.

The room is cool and blue.
The wallpaper, airmail
blue onionskin.

I wrote her once on Sylvia Plath.
Her onionskin reply had a gentle glide,
an uninsistent soft pride
in her biography,
a courteous return path.

All this is between us as we sit,
this and some paper: is it a Frost/Nixon
cheat sheet, a gantry from which I rocket
prepared questions? A manuscript of mine?
A manuscript of hers?

But I’m the one eager for approval,
and start to blurt,
forgetting in dream as I do in life
that listening impresses women,
overglazed talk unhinges anyone.

Yet with her courtesy she is listening
and speaking in return.
We are sitting in what might be
Buckingham Palace,
Castle Poesy. I intuit that Anne
Stevenson is brilliant, a Versailles
hall of Helen Mirrens
in as many mirrors,

but the words of her working lips I cannot hear.
We move from room to room as aides,
poetic equerries, gesturingly beseech us,
we jostling or sloshing fine teacups in silent saucers.

And with each drift past one more door jamb,
through a fresh set of hinges,

the mute onslaught, her words and mine.
Cannot hear poetry. Cannot say it.

So this is what it is,

moving from dream-room to dream-room
with a famous poet,
all your iambs dropping silent.

Deafness like a foghorn lost to itself.
I feel the tops of my ears redden, straining
to catch in sheer vacuum. Never

the time and the poet and the sound card together
in these Elysiums of musical speech.


Today's LittleNip:

If you could talk to any poet in history, who would it be?

Photo by Bob Dreizler



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


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.
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 (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 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 (include snail address) 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 (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.