Monday, September 21, 2009

The Deep Muscle Of The World

Striding along
as though he were tilling the fields—
the crow.



Opening his mouth to say
"This day is much too long"—
a crow.



Usually detestable,
the crow, this morning,
in the snow—



—Shinkichi Takahashi

The crow, spreading wide wings,
Flapped lazily off.
Soon her young will be doing the same,
Firm wings rustling.

It's hard to tell the male
Crow from the female,
But their love, their mating
Must be fresh as their flight.

Asleep in a night train,
I felt my hat fly off.
The crow was lost in mist,
The engine ploughed into the sea.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (9/21), 6 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Hot Poetry in the Park with Poetry and Music by Ruebi Freyja and Phillip T. Nails. Fremont Park, Downtown Sac between 15th and 16th and between P and Q Sts. Ruebi Freyja has been writing and reading poetry for twelve years. She is a full-time student of anthropology and a folksinger who once lived in Sacramento but now lives in San Francisco. Phillip T. Nails was born out of passion here in California. P.T. discovered poetry in Sacramento where he grew up studying theatre. Since '98 he has been living in San Francisco where his love of poetry, theatre and dance has continued to grow. Now, with his lover and partner Elisabeth, he will be touring America with a poetry and theatre trunk show. Look for them in a town near you!

•••Tuesdays, 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center Workshop at the Hart Center, 27th & J Sts., Sacramento. Free; bring 13 copies of your one-page poem to be read/critiqued. Info: Danyen Powell at 530-756-6228.

•••Weds. (9/23), 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.

•••Wednesdays, 9 PM: Mahogany Urban Poetry Series at Queen Sheba's Restaurant, 1704 Broadway (17th and Broadway), Sacramento. $5 cover, all ages.

•••Wednesdays, 5 PM: Dr. Andy’s Technology and Poetry Hour, KDVS radio station (90.3 FM) or http://www/

•••Thursdays, 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, with open mic before and after.

•••Thursdays, 7 PM: “Life Sentence” reading at The Coffee Garden, 2904 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento. Open mic.

•••Thursdays, 10-11 AM (replayed Sundays 10-11 AM): Mountain Mama’s Earth Music with Nancy Bodily on 95.7 FM. Music/poetry woven around a central theme deeply tied to mountains/earth.

•••Friday (9/25), 7:30 PM: Escritores del Nuevo Sol / Writers of the New Sun presents The Annual All-Spanish Program in the setting of an amazing exhibit of Mexican masks, starring bilingual poet Jim Michael. La Raza/Galería Posada, 1022 – 22nd St., Mid-Town Sacramento. Jim is a great model for those learning Spanish as a second language. His mastery of the language, his tremendous cultural understanding of the Spanish-speaking world, and his gift for using humor, has made Jim a perfect bilingual poet. A recent serious illness almost took Jim from us, and we were so worried. But now here he is, our beloved member of the Writers of the New Sun, as lively and mischievous as ever. Come enjoy our annual poetry recital. If you like, you may take part in the open mic, as you also admire the incredible exhibit of distinctive Mexican masks. Info: Graciela Ramirez, 916-456-5323.

•••Sat. (9/26), 12-4 PM: Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival at Civic Center Park (MLK JR. Way at Center St.) in Berkeley. A day of poetry, music and environmental activism with Robert Hass, Arthus Sze, Marilyn Chin, David Mas Masumoto, Kim Addonizio, Carol Moldaw, Joseph Stroud, Chris Olander, plus Student and Youth Poets from River of Words, Cal. Poets in the Schools and Poetry Inside Out; plus open mic. Start early (10AM) with the Strawberry Creek Walk; meet at Oxford & Center Sts.). Info:

•••Sat. (9/26 and every last Sat. of the month), 7-9 PM: TheShowPoetrySeries features Poet Taifa Jamari, Spoken wordgroup FoShang, and vocalists Derick and Andrea Moore and vocal group CARRiON. Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St. (Off 35th & Broadway), $5.00. Info: 916 208-POET or E-mail: By the way, 2 people for the price of 1 deal to the first 25 people to call and RSVP for the next event.


—Mary Oliver

From a single grain they have multiplied.
When you look in the eyes of one
you have seen them all.

At the edges of highways
they pick at limp things.
They are anything but refined.

Or they fly out over the corn
like pellets of black fire,
like overlords.

Crow is crow, you say.
What else is there to say?
Drive down any road,

take a train or an airplane
across the world, leave
your old life behind,

die and be born again—
wherever you arrive
they'll be there first,

glossy and rowdy
and indistinguishable.
The deep muscle of the world.


—Mary Oliver

The crows see me.
They stretch their glossy necks
In the tallest branches
Of green trees. I am
Possibly dangerous, I am
Entering the kingdom.

The dream of my life
Is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees—
To learn something by being nothing
A little while but the rich
Lens of attention.

But the crows puff their feathers and cry
Between me and the sun,
And I should go now.
They know me for what I am.
No dreamer,
No eater of leaves.


Today's LittleNip:

Two crows on the branch of a dead oak: so his resentment waits.

—Stephen Dobyns


—Medusa (Got any crow poems?)

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

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!


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 (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

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 (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.