Friday, August 14, 2009

Some Of My Best Friends Are Leos

As a present as a child, I got some mermaid dolls
The See Wees all floated on sponge lily pads
which they would share with "father-less" babies
Unlike Barbie, alas, blond "Sandy Seaweed" had no Ken
and neither of the other mermaids with babies were paired
(kind of disturbing—the black one, "Stormy", wasn't either)
which made one wonder—where were the "mer-men"?
Were they hanging out in some bar lagoon?
Had the dad of Sandy's baby moved on to picking up others
(who, unlike Sandy, were slutty, not sweet)
and seduced them like the Chicken of the Sea witch?
Not long afterward I got bored of playing in baths with them
and sent them to the Salvation Army…

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

This one, for instance, Thessalonike,
started out human enough, sister
of Alexander the Great. Then she died
and became a mermaid and, in legend,
haunts the seas with her one question:
Is Alexander the king alive?
Think back on your history. How many
King Alexanders have there been?
How many still alive? Surely not the ones
assassinated in Belgrade and Marseilles,
nor the one who died of sepsis from
monkey bites. Better assume she means
her brother. Don’t worry how senile,
after 2000 years, the old conqueror
might be. You’d better say: He lives
and still rules. No other way to make
her happy. Wrong answer? This mermaid
becomes a Gorgon. And we all know
what mischief a Gorgon can wreak.


Well, this Gorgon, Medusa, certainly does her best to wreak mischief and more, poetry-wise at least. Thanks, TG and Michelle for the mermaid poems! This week we're talking about mermaids and quintillas, or maybe mermaid-quintillas. But don't let that mischief distract you from the Rattlesnake Review deadline that is this coming Saturday! See below for details.

And some of my best friends are Leos, including, among others, Joyce Odam, Katy Brown, Elsie Whitlow Feliz, and today, frank andrick! frank has just put together the third issue of WTF!!, the journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe. Join us next Thursday, August 20, at 8 PM for its unveiling at Luna's, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. frank has all sorts of mischief lined up for that night; get there early to get a good seat. And be sure to catch frank's radio program this Sunday at 6 PM
on KUSF in San Francisco (90.3 FM or See below for details.

B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:

Last Call
by SLiC
14 pp, $2

Last Call is a fine collection of poems; small, but unique in their own way. The author, SLiC, has more or less just recently exploded on the Sacramento poetry scene and he seems to have become an overnight sensation, with broadsides at The Book Collector, poetry appearing in the Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, Medusa’s Kitchen, Brevities, and WTF. The poet likes to think that his style is unique in its blend of influences such as Walt Whitman, Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, and Tom Waits. Deeply human, lyrical, and moving, SLiC plays his poetry as close to the heart as a good poker player plays his hand. But I have to ask this: beneath all this influence, beneath all these “American styles”, where exactly is the poet called SLiC? Anybody can imitate the long lines of Walt Whitman or Allen Ginsberg or the faucet-dripping images of Charles Bukowski, or even the lyrical melodies of Tom Waits, but that is all just "influential". What I am looking for is the truth behind the poet’s voice. So yeah, I recommend this chapbook, but understand that it's not the be-all end-all that its author thinks it is. It is just the beginning of a journey in search of the road’s end.

—B.L. Kennedy, Interviewer-in-Residence


—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

Why do I get suckered
into reading these things???

You can't talk that much
about the difference
water and air.

It's not that complicated,
even a kid
can figure it out—

water is wet
the time...


—William S. Gainer

For most of us
in this racket,
there are a few
who would prefer
to see us
die early.

For their sake,
I hope I never hear
the diagnosis,
"You only have
six months
to live."

There are scores
to settle,
grudges to be made right,
favors to return,
lessons to teach.

When the end has its date,
consequence begins to mean
The penalty has already
been levied.

I have a list,
you may be
on it...


—William S. Gainer

I've been forgetting
to wear
my watch.
Not by intent,
just forgetting.
So, lately
when I'm home
in the evenings
laying around
in my pajamas,
I guess they call them
lounging pants
now days,
I put the watch on,
polish it's crystal,
stretch my arm out,
adjust it on my wrist,
and watch the second hand
it makes me feel
like I'm making up
for lost time...


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (8/15): Postmark deadline for Issue 23 of Rattlesnake Review.
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. Also: 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…..? Send us your thoughts and favorite resources before the 8/15 deadline.

•••Sat. (8/15): Postmark deadline for Ina Coolbrith Circle’s 90th annual poetry contest. All ICC members and non-member California residents are eligible. Cash prizes! For a pdf of this year’s rules, ask John Rowe, BAPC President, P.O. Box 11435, Berkeley, CA 94712-2435, (510) 527-9905.,

•••Sat.-Sun. (8/15-16): 13th annual Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival at Parsons Memorial Lodge, Yosemite National Park, features Poets Jane Hirshfield, Kay Ryan, and Joseph Stroud, plus Musician Shira Kammen, violin and vielle. Schedule:

10-11:30 AM: Meadow, River, Stone: Poetry workshop with Carol Blaney
2–3:30 PM: Featured poets and music
7:30 –10 PM: Open reading and music

10-11:30 AM: Writing by the River: Poetry workshop with Margaret Eissler
2-3:30 PM: Featured poets and music

Allow half an hour for an easy walk to Parsons Memorial Lodge. All events are free. Supported by the National Park Service, Yosemite Association, Loralee Tucker Hiramoto Memorial Fund, Friends of Parsons Lodge, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation. To view a complete schedule of the Parsons Memorial Lodge Summer Series visit

•••Sat. (8/15): Deadline to sign up for Workshop (9/26-27) on Self-Publishing in Mokelumne Hill with Tom Johnson, journalist and journalism educator for more than 30 years and Gold Rush Writer faculty member. You will come away from this workshop empowered to publish, market and distribute your own books. Leger Motel, Mokelumne Hill. Limited to 20; cost of $200 includes 2-day publishing workshop, continental breakfasts (Saturday & Sunday), Saturday night dinner. Antoinette May, hosting the workshop, will need a $50 deposit by Aug. 15.

•••Sun. (8/16), 6-8 PM: Pomo Literati radio program with frank andrick on KUSF in San Francisco (90.3 FM or Begins with James Joyce from a recording in 1929 and segues into a track from Text Of Light (sonic youth's lee ranaldo project ) interpolating their brand of unique noise/music & a choir mouthing Joyce cantos. Also Tom Wilson, Bill Gainer, David Houston and Strings presenting tone poems live in the studio, and many other recorded poetic luminaries. This is frank’s 10th year doing the Pomo Lit. at KUSF, and this is also his B-day program so he will celebrate all things "LEO" with works by, about, and for Lee Ranaldo, Audrey Bitoni, Cindi Loftus, and others of Leo~nic persuasion.

•••Monday (8/17), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Molly Fisk, Lawrence Dinkins Jr., and Joshua Neely at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St. (25th and R), Sacramento. Open mic follows.

Happy Birthday, Frank!


Today's LittleNip:

—A.R. Ammons

Some ideas hit
brush too thick
to mingle through
or clearings
too wide to bound



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 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!


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.