Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crowing About Crows

Crows—and Ravens

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Crow, you are so eloquent. I love your sweet voice.
I admire the sheen of your feathers—the way
your deliberate gold eye fixes me with
cold appraisal.

I fling bits of food to you from my generous hand,
note how delicately you peck at the sidewalk.
I admire your courage among sparrows.

I love the way you steal light from the harsh wings
of the sun, how fences hold you in wide arms of
patience and how you tolerate my lingering
admiration from a distance.

(first appeared in Nanny Fanny,
Final Memorial Issue #21, Spring 2005)


Thanks, Joyce! Joyce Odam and I are going to hog this post with our crow poems. As I've said before, Joyce has had a tremendous amount of input into my poetic life. One of my poems below, "Kneedeep in Rainwater", was written very early in my "career", and she is the "Joyce" referred to in there.

And it's the first day of autumn, so for our Seed of the Week, let's go with the obvious: Autumn. That doesn't mean you have to go for the obvious, though; think of all the associations autumn has: school starting, apples, gathering darkness, things that happened to you in autumns past. Send your autumn poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadlines on SOWs.

Upcoming Manzanita:

Monika Rose, Editor of Manzanita, writes: Volume 6 of Manzanita is inviting your original, unpublished work for inclusion in the new publication slated for Spring 2010 release. Deadline is Dec. 15, 2009 by electronic submission only—see the web site for submission guidelines at www.manzanitacalifornia.org/. We would love to see your work.


Last Saturday, Medusa posted an invitation to the Inauguration of our new Poet Laureate, Bob Stanley, not realizing that it's not an open invitation. Apparently you have to receive an email yourself directly in order to be invited. I'm assuming this is due to space/money considerations, but what a shame. Anyway, my apologies to Bob and to the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Council.


—Joyce Odam

She found it long after he had died,
didn’t know it was there,
how it got there—

or if he put it there,
what perversity of intent
trapped it in the rusty rabbit cage

in the overgrown jumble
under the huge tree
that shaded that part of the yard.

She never ventured out there,
had no reason to explore.
She lived in the house. Closed in.

Didn’t want the outdoors then—
all that space that seemed to be his alone.
And when she finally found the crow,

dried out, lying on its back,
she grieved for it to a degree
she never grieved for him.


—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

Fighting over the rainhat, Sam and I dissolve
out of the warm house into one dark grey day, resolved
to trudge our way to health, one trek at a time (hang
the weather): so into the drizzle we march, resoluting

ourselves past the puddles and drippy birch: past
conservative oaks now dandified in flashy
rhinestones: past vernal pools bubbling up from
under, reaching out to sisters just now splashing
down: past the park popping out
in infinite greens of kelly, lime, viridian: past
the seductive roof of the dug-out where
a plastic bag plasters itself on the wire fence, wanting
a warm place to wait for sunlight: past ten crows
in black satin browsing the soggy soccer field, knee-deep
in worms and rainwater. And all the while, us counting
every drop that hits us, sissies that we are. . . Floods

are easy: you just hike up your skirt and dive in.
It’s the daily dance with the creep of the rising tide
that wears you down: sloshing out hairy tubs, shutting
off runny toilets, wading out into the frosty January
pond to empty the skimmer basket. Sometimes it’s

accidental, like the time my friend Joyce stepped off
the curb, smack into slush (her feet were cold all day
after that one), or when the pipes break, or the roof
leaks, or even when the garden hose just needs a new
washer. Seems like we’re always having to push back,
shore up, get out the mop. . . The intrepid crows

stay in the park, but Sam and I high-tail it home,
shaking our wet fur like puppies at the door. And frankly,
my rainhat’s off to those birds, staying out all day
like that, knee-deep in rainwater. . .



trees overhead: soft shushing
of dry seed pods in a March

breeze: murmur of old news
—but still a susurrant stage

for new crow conversations
that ripple along bare branches

like spun silk: purly whispers
sharing smooth secrets in their

shiny black gowns: diamond eyes
sparkling with their latest

seductions: crow-secrets muttered
between bobbing heads as

these divas preen and rustle
those seed pods of Chinese silk.

—Kathy Kieth



where the crows roost in
the twilight: where boughs
hang heavy with ebony

silhouettes that mumble
and mutter their way into sleep as
a salmon sun drifts down into

the sea… I know for sure that
swallows will arc and soar and
arc again, feeding before bed-

time, crossing figure 8’s with
scissor-tailed mates. And
hummingbirds will click and

flutter up to red plastic
flowers; seagulls will squawk
and strut; blue jays will splutter

at cats; and neighborhood hounds
will drown out the wind chimes as
a salmon sun drifts into the sea…

—Kathy Kieth


Today's LittleNip:

Even a stone believes it can dance.

—Stephen Dobyns



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Rattlesnake Press is proud to announce 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 Idea),
and a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest). All are now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.


RR23 is now available at The Book Collector, and contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail in the next two weeks.
You may also order a copy through rattlesnakepress.com/.

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!


On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Rattlesnake Press will release
a new chapbook from Brad Buchanan (The War Groom)
and a new Rattlesnake LittleBook from
William S. Gainer: Joining the Demented.
That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector.

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/.)

Then gear up the flivver for a ROAD TRIP on Monday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 PM
as we all travel over to HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento
for Rattlesnake Press's release of the new SPC anthology,
Keepers of the Flame: The First 30 Years of the Sacramento Poetry Center.
Editor-in-Chief Mary Zeppa and her helpers have put together
many, many documents and photos
from SPC's history, and the resulting anthology (and SPC's 30th anniversary!)
will be celebrated that night. Be there!


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.