Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Planter Stand?

Ballarat, California
(or what's left of it...)

—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks


We take it
Out of the yellowing
On special occasions,
Carefully unwrapping
The brittle tissue.

In the oiled
Box (could those
Be ivory
Inlays?), my
Old aunt’s most
Prized possession.

Over a century
Old, still
Glowing darkly,
The masterwork
Of some 19th century

We don’t know
What it is but
We’re pretty
Sure it’s broken.


On Thursdays
I’d stay with
My grandparents.
As a ploy,
Perhaps, to get me
Into the tub,
My grandfather
Would take it out—
From gum wrappers,
Cigarette packs,
Over the years,
A ball of foil
So large, it
Would plug
The bathtub
Drain. Getting it
Out, of course,
Was another

Bathtub drains
Must be a little
Larger these days:
Not a complete
But extracting
The orb is still
An issue.


Went to my cousins’
(Yes, those cousins)
Yard sale. They had
A table of rosaries,
Holy cards, missals,
Sick call sets, enough
For a medium sized
Store. Or
A small exorcism.
“You can’t sell these.
They’re blessed. It’s
A sin. Simony.”

Fear of God
Was not strong
In them. In the
Center of the table
Was an eight-by-
Ten glossy of
Uncle Eddie, in his
Best George Raft
Suit and face,
Venetian blind
Shadows behind him,
A B-movie
“You can’t sell
Uncle Eddie, you
Just can’t.”

Actually they could.

Gave me a good price
Though. It’s been
What, seventy
Years, Eddie?
Still lookin’


When my father
Died, we made
The arrangements,
Accepted the
Bag of his
Things, that plastic
Bag that has
No label, but
Shouts Dead patient’s
Stuff inside, and
To the parking lot.
Halfway across,
An orderly running,
“You forgot this.”
My father’s
Wooden leg.
Though he had
No further
Use for it,
Hospital just
Couldn’t keep it.
Later a call from
The crematorium:
“Got this wooden leg.”
Um. Finally convinced
A Goodwill to take it.
And now it’s
Years later and
I’m thinking—
Planter stand.


Thanks, Kevin! Kevin Jones sends us his (as usual) whimsical take on life—this time on his father's wooden leg and other family heirlooms—giving us the seed for our Seed of the Week: What Remains. (I suppose we could've done it on wooden legs; maybe another time...) Send your What Remains poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadlines on SOWs. (Or, as they said in the crematorium, What remains...?)

Specials coming up next week in Sac:

•••Sacramento’s recent Poet Laureate, Julia Connor, will lead a free poetry workshop for ten weeks beginning Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Hart Senior Workshop, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Info: Hart Center, 916-808-5462.

•••Wednesday (9/2), 5:30-7:30 PM: The Sacramento Poetry Center and the Sacramento Room of the Central Library present Sacramento’s Favorite Poem Reading, 2009. SPC Board Member Mary Zeppa writes: In 1999, all across the country, poets and lovers of poetry organized FPP events and invited “ordinary Americans” to come and read their favorite poems. On October 22, 1999, as a part of our 20th anniversary celebration, SPC held its first Favorite Poem Reading. On September 2, 2009, as a part of our 30th anniversary celebration, SPC will hold its second. This FPP event, which will take place in the Sacramento Room of the Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento, will be the first of a series of SPC First Wednesday readings in the Sacramento Room. Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, believes that poetry is a vocal art, an art meant to be read aloud. We at the Sacramento Poetry Center (SPC) couldn’t agree more. This July will mark our 30th anniversary, 30 years of commitment “to reveal(ing) the rich and vigorous presence of poetry in contemporary life.”

The Favorite Poem Reading will be free and open to the public. The only restriction is that these poems must be written by someone other than the reader. Poems written in another language, along with an English translation, are welcome. In addition to reading a poem, readers are encouraged to say a few words about why they chose it. Each presentation will be limited to 5 minutes.

Because we want this reading, like the FPP archive and SPC’s first such reading, “to reflect the civic presence of poetry,” we invited eminent people in the Sacramento community to be readers. Ten of them (Carlos Alcala, Sacramento Bee; Jeffrey Callison, KXJZ; Marcus Crowder, Sacramento Bee; Clare Ellis, The Sacramento Room; Richard Hansen, The Book Collector; Muriel Johnson, California Arts Council; Sheree Meyer, Chair, CSUS English Dep’t; Don Nottoli, County Board of Supervisors; Suzette Riddle, California Lectures and Ray Tatar, California Stage) agreed.

And we want you (our own: the poets, the writers, the steady savorers of The Word) to come, to listen as only you know how to listen and, if you’re so moved, to read. We encourage advance sign-ups. Time permitting, we will also take open sign-ups at the event. Our plan is to alternate between our Featured Readers and our other advance sign-ups. Readers who sign-up on 9/2 will follow. If you’d like to be on our advance sign-up list, please let Mary Zeppa know by August 27.


—William Bronk

You might say, right from the start, the sadness is what
we are after,—the flowers fading and withering soon.
At any rate, those kinds that last too long
hold freshness for themselves but not our eyes.

How many kinds of pleasure though there are
in just these yellow roses, open pink
single asters, michaelmas daisies, calendulas,
verbenas: it is sad that they go.

Across the room from these, on another wall,
the picture of city buildings on a dark street
is not untouched by change, although it lifts
continually in the same and solider shapes.

Lovely and frail the flowers are; it is not sadness
we are after, but rather the prodigal's
ravenous spending, the cruel throwing away,
as though toward a lasting form,—as this picture, say.


—William Bronk

Here, where disaster overtook a plan,
the apples' cider goes every year to the ground.
The patient enterprise that someone began,
the house that rose from the hollow cellar-mound,
are done with now and gone beyond repair
except as the mind can reconstruct the intent
and, bringing the ruins together for a moment there,
discover on what the other mind was bent.
We see the things disaster failed to see
and know that a weaker force would have let them be.


Today's LittleNip:

—William Bronk

The abstractions are what is left, after we die
of course, but before that, too. In a while,
if not now, it is all dismissed, dismissed.
Not to say it didn't happen, it did

in a sense, it happened, as one sets a stage
and something happens, can be said to. On stage,
we watch the abstractions, how they look, what
they seem to be, their presence. They are there.



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 fandrickfabpub@hotmail.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/.
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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 (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 kathykieth@hotmail.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.