Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stitching The Pieces Together

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

May night
opaque sky
body sunk
rumbling waters

from a redwood hot tub
high in the San Gabriel hills
the Angels’ city spreads out below
money’s black satin quilt
pinned down by diamonds
far-flung lights
sharp points on the map

once when May night
came to the Kentucky highlands
white butterfly blossoms
sat on the dogwood branches
women with gnarled fingers, furrowed faces
circular quilting bee in the kitchen
where sugared apples steamed
women whose hot tubs
were for washing clothes

my life pieced together
New York to San Francisco
with frantic stops here to there

like the crazy quilt of scraps
left over from silk dresses
my grandmother once began
she died before it was finished
I carry it with me
now tattered and mottled
by climate change and age


It's SOW Day—for our Seed of the Week, talk to me about quilts—literal ones or figurative. Family heirlooms, quilting bees, torn ones covering tools out in the shed, the AIDS quilt... What's a "crazy quilt"? Did someone make you a quilt for your dowry? Send quilty thoughts to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. And thanks, Pat Hickerson, for the inspiration! And thanks, Peggy Hill, for more poems (see below).

Song of the San Joaquin deadline:

Song of the San Joaquin is accepting poetry through September 15 for the Fall Issue. Info: Cleo Griffith, (209) 543-1776 or cleor36@yahoo.com/.


—Margaret Ellis Hill, Fair Oaks

The brain waves curve
around the body’s roadways
giving notice that paths of sleep
are not asphalt-paved smoothness,
but wind around about hills and valleys
with spurts of thought jutting out
from the sides and forward,
illusions of darkness or sudden jolts
from stop signs and warning lights.
Reluctantly muscles rouse, prepare
the body to move and stretch before
resettling under the bridge of blanket
for deeper dreams that lead towards day.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

Great Aunt Helen hid the box amid rafters
This vivacious but prim lady claims
My sister and I found tissued leather gloves inside
Certain decorum and courtesy for young ladies
Besides old dresses and family stories to be forgotten
Mandatory: One never speaks loudly for any reason
The soft silk that rests above a silvery stocking
Pitch should be soft and pleasing
Suggested days at a cabaret not afternoon teas
Bristle at anything except a hairbrush
The pink beaded bag held a lavender sachet
Never ask about or snoop in forbidden places
And a picture of a tall handsome man
Keep your skirt well below your knees
With a broad smile and behind him
Laugh with your mouth covered, say little
A sign that read: Rooms, 25 cents a night.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

Above me spreads the hot, blue mid-day sky,
and I watch birds swing solos in the heat.
Their wings, unfurled, appear to wave hello
as they sail on inland ocean’s plains.

But I cannot escape earth’s snare. My feet
adhere to asphalt roads and certain paths.
Only a steel body soaring high above
gives me glimpses of how freedom feels.

Yet, my boat can ride with sea and sky
the waves will play duets of water and air.
It’s then I loose the shackles of earth’s draw,
to touch the day like birds I see—and fly.


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

—Carl Sandburg



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 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 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/. 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 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.