Monday, August 24, 2009

The Gorgon Returns!

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Electric blue neon snakes
Out of her mouth.
One step and everything twists
Out of its axis. Middle gray.

Summer used to be like this
Cool mornings. Fog rolls up
From the gorge and fills
The streets. Middle gray.

A blinking yellow light
Indicates what used to be
An intersection. Totally
Deserted now. Middle gray.

High above the streets a telephone
Insists that it is important.
Just as quickly it is silenced. Middle gray.

Previously we defended
Our right to communicate
Freely. All was lost
In the floods. Middle gray.

From the edge of town
Rockets arc into the air.
Deep trails of smoke
Stretch out behind them. Middle gray.

We change clothing. Middle gray.
Our identities are erased. Middle gray.
All transmission ceases. Middle gray.
Middle gray.


We ended with D.R.; we begin again (one day earlier than expected!) with D.R. May your middle-grays, if there are any, be changed to primary reds, blues, and yellows immediately!

Katy Brown exhorts us to check out this website for Britain's article in The Guardian on quilts and quilting, as per our last Seed of the Week: Don't forget to watch for Katy's new blank journal coming out in September, with all its picture-prompts from the City of Sacramento: A Capital Idea.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (8/24), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Mari L’Esperance and Rebecca Foust at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St. (at R), Sacramento. [See last Friday’s post for bios.]

•••Weds. (8/26), 6-7 PM: Upstairs Poetry reading at The Upstairs Art Gallery, 420 Main St. (2nd floor), Placerville. It's a poetry open-mike read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen. No charge.

•••Wed. (8/26), 8-11 PM: Mahogany Urban Poetry Series at Queen Sheba's Restaurant, 1704 Broadway (17th and Broadway), Sacramento. DJ Rock Bottom spins at 8, with open mic poetry at 9. $5 cover, all ages.

•••Thurs. (8/27), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers include Pat Grizzell, Bob Stanley, and Carol Louise Moon, with open mic before and after.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

We walk tame dogs
down suburb asphalt.

Soft uproar: frogs,
grass-addled culvert.

Water standing in shallow pools,
the runoff of a dozen hoses.

Slight, high-pitched racket ricochets, then cools;
as Marco (Polo!) chirps or creaks

glimmer then shiver into silence,
chips of blue-willow china broken,

these antiphons in frogspeak pose
a question: when are spaces islands,

where is mainland in the suburbs?

Swift will-o’-the-wisps of sewage bog,
saboteurs disguised as frogs

in flicks of bentgrass, undercoring, undermining

sidewalks’ archly blended love-curves,
constants we’ve left off refining.

Hear if you can the noises in spikes,
in crowns of listless green, through cracks.


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

I must "search"
for what comma
was put in / left out
of which message
received or sent by
President Roosevelt or
Emperor Hirohito that
may have prevented the
Pearl Harbor attack!


(the old-fashioned way)
—Claire J. Baker

We led Jason round & round,
then let him go. He groped,
came upon a rocky wall;
bent down, fingered flowers;
lingered on a bird bath,
turned & touched a maple tree.

Arms held straight out
far from the donkey target,
the birthday boy weaved
to left & right, found objects
more exciting than if he
could see. And so did we.


(for Betsy)
—Claire J. Baker

A hummingbird flits
along the nursing home
sliding-door glass
as if a new kind of air
can be penetrated
with patience.

The whizz-kid whirrs
up-down, side-to-side
plying the unyielding door.

Not knowing what to say
to a friend too young
to be here, I describe
the explorer who wants to
zoom rainbows all through
these sterile rooms.


Today's LittleNip:

There are three things, after all, that a poem must reach: the eye, the ear, and what we may call the heart or the mind. It is most important of all to reach the heart of the reader.

—Robert Frost



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Now available: two new chapbooks from Joyce Odam:
Peripherals: Prose Poems
(illustrated by Charlotte Vincent)
and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love).

That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

WTF!!: The third 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 send me two bux and I'll mail you one.

Deadline for Issue #4 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
Issue #23 will be available at The Book Collector the night of Sept. 9.
Deadline is November 15 for RR24: 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!


Join us at The Book Collector Wednesday, September 9 at 7:30 PM
for the release of a new chapbook by
Susan Finkleman
(Mirror, Mirror: Poems Of The Mother-Daughter Relationship, illustrated by Joseph Finkleman);
plus a new HandyStuff blank journal from Katy Brown (A Capital Affair);
a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest);
and a brand new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#23)!


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.