Monday, September 14, 2009

Giving Insanity The Slip

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Phil Weidman, Pollock Pines

Yesterday a driver began
tailgating Ernie
on a narrow country road
which ignited Ernie’s anger.

He slowed his car to a crawl,
the other car right on his bumper,
and flagged the driver
to back off.

The man gave Ernie
the familiar one finger salute.
Then something remarkable happened.
Ernie pulled over
to let the car pass.

Hell, maybe the guy
had to get to the hospital,
Ernie mused as his heart
began to resume
it’s natural rhythm.

Later, relaxing at home,
Ernie wondered when the seeds
of insanity were planted in us.
Certainly, not before birth.


Thanks, Phil and D.R.! Rattlechappers Phil Weidman and D.R. Wagner will be reading at Time Tested Books this Sunday night at 7 PM: that's 1114 21st St., Sacramento. $5.00 donation requested.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Mon. (9/14) thru Thurs. (9/17): SPC's 2009 Confluence of Poets Tour: Sacramento Poetry Center, in conjunction with Sacramento City College, American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College, Solano City College, and CSU, Sacramento, presents the 2009 Confluence of Poets Tour, in which five acclaimed California poets read at six colleges Sept 14-17. All events are free to the public. Featured poets include James BlueWolf, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Maya Khosla, Indigo Moor and Dennis Hock. Readings hosted by Bob Stanley and Tim Kahl. This series of readings, workshops, and class visits grew out of a meeting of Sacramento-area poets and poetry teachers in the fall of 2008. Thanks to a grant that SPC received late that year, this event has become a reality.

Schedule of Confluence Events:

•••Monday (9/14), 12 noon: Reading at Folsom Lake College (Room FL1-008): Maya Khosla and Susan Kelly-DeWitt; 7:30 PM: Reading at Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th St., Sacramento: James BlueWolf, Maya Khosla, Dennis Hock, Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Indigo Moor

•••Tuesday (9/15), 12:15 PM: Reading at American River College: Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Maya Khosla, Indigo Moor; 12 noon: Reading at Sacramento City College: James BlueWolf and Dennis Hock

•••Wednesday (9/16), 12 noon: Reading at California State University, Sacramento: Maya Khosla, Indigo Moor; 11 AM: Reading at Solano College, Fairfield: James BlueWolf, Dennis Hock

•••Thursday (9/17), 12 Noon: Reading at Cosumnes River College: Maya Khosla, Indigo Moor

Coming Up AT SPC:

•••Next Monday (9/21), 6 PM: 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.

Also this week:

•••Song of the San Joaquin is accepting poetry through Tues., September 15 for the Fall Issue. Info: Cleo Griffith, (209) 543-1776 or

•••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.

•••Tues. (9/15), 6:30: Third Tuesday Poetry Series at the Barkin’ Dog Grill (940 11st St., Modesto) features Marin County poet Catharine Clark-Sayles and Modesto’s Gordon Preston. Open Mic will follow the features, so please come with a poem or two of your own to read as well. Catharine Clark-Sayles is a poet and a physician specializing in geriatric care. Many of the poems in her first book, One Breath (Tebot Bach, 2008), deal with her work in the medical profession. Gordon Preston teaches reading and writing to the very young in Modesto. His first book is Violins (Finishing Line Press, 2004).

•••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/

•••Wed. (every 1st and 3rd Weds.), 9 PM: Featured reader plus open mic at 10 PM at Bistro 33, 3rd and F Sts. in Davis. Free. Hosted by Andy Jones and Brad Henderson. Info: or 530-756-4556 or; schedule at

•••Wed. (9/16 and every 3rd Weds.), 7:30 PM: Our House Art Gallery Poetry Night. Sign up for open mic by 7 PM. Located at 1004 White Rock Rd., Suite 400 (corner of Latrobe & White Rock Rds. in the Montano El Dorado Shopping Center), El Dorado Hills. Free. Info: or 916-933-4278.

•••The third annual Surprise Valley Writers' Conference is a four-day event held in remote and beautiful Modoc County in September, the most beautiful season in the high desert. This year's event, scheduled for Sept 17-20 will include two poets: Copper Canyon Press co-founder and well-known Neruda translator William O'Daly and Julia Connor, Past Poet-Laureate of Sacramento. Each will conduct a four-day workshop, and each poet will present a lecture. For details and to register, please visit or call 530/ 279-2099.

•••Thursdays, 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured reader Tim Kahl and others, 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 (9/18), 7:30 PM: After a summer hiatus, The Other Voice, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis (church library on Patwin Rd.) features two local poets: Rae Gouirand and Mandy Dawn Kuntz. Refreshments and open-mike follow the featured poets so bring along a poem or two to share. Rae Gouirand received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 2002 and has spent the last six years teaching writing in Davis, Woodland, and Sacramento. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming this fall in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia, Bellingham Review and many others. She is also included in the anthology, Best New Poets 2009. In 2008 she was nominated for a Pushcart prize and in 2009 received an award for outstanding work by emerging poets from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. In the coming year she will be launching One By One, a micro-poetry journal inspired by her reverence for real mail, vintage rock posters, and stolen moments.

Mandy Dawn Kuntz received a Masters in Creative Writing at UC Davis. She is a public radio member, vegetarian, and owns a decoy duck. Her first work of note was a puppet show co-written with her bother about a girl named Gretchen who shrank and because her clothes didn't fit, she had to wear a censorship dot. It received rave reviews when performed for their parents. Her current project, "The Resurrection of Burke and Hare," is a series of poems centered around the 19th century Scottish serial killers William Burke and William Hare. It deals with issues of body-snatching for the purposes of medical training, Scottish mythology, wax museums, Emily Dickinson, and citrus fruit.

•••Fri. (9/18 and every 3rd Friday), 6-9 PM: The Vox Poetry Reading Series, 1931 H St., Sacramento. Featured poets. Info: Cynthia Linville at

•••Sat. (9/19), 4-6 PM: Autumn celebration of the Women's Writing Salon, a reading of poetry and prose penned by six local women writers including Eunice Banks, Kirsten Casey, Joanne Clark, Kim Culbertson, Anne Da Vigo and Gail Entrekin, original co-founder of the Salon. (Men are enthusiastically welcome to attend!) It’s a great time to hear the literary voices from our own Foothills community of women. We're a semi-nomadic event and like to bring our word-loving patrons to local restaurants and coffee houses. Please note a new location for this autumn event: Valentina's Bistro and Bakery, 1041 Sutton Way, Grass Valley (530-272-4470). Free. Info: Patricia Miller, 530-265-5165, email or Betsy Fasbinder, 530-613-9947, email

•••Sat. (9/19 and every 3rd Sat.), 10 AM: Writers of the New Sun/Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol potluck meetings at La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd St., Sacramento. Members of all levels support each other via readings, exercises, critiques and info, plus open mic; writing in Spanish, English or both. Call ahead to confirm: 916-456-5323.

•••Sat. (9/19 and every 3rd Sat.), 7 PM: Celebration of Word, Sound and Paint at Carol’s Books, 1913 Del Paso, Sacramento.

•••Sat. (9/19 and every third Sat.), 7-9 PM: Underground Books Poetry Series (814 35th St. off Broadway, Sacramento). Poets Anna Sandidge and Claudia Epperson, Singers Marquita and Cheryn Yancy, plus open mic. $3.00. Info: 916-208-POET.

•••Sun. (9/20 and every 3rd Sun.): 3rd Sunday Poetry Workshop. Info: Rebecca Morrison or Nancy W. at

•••Sun. (9/20 and every 3rd Sun.), 7 PM: Poetry Reading at Time Tested Books features Phil Weidman and D.R. Wagner. 1114 21st St., $5 donation requested. Info:


—Phil Weidman

Wild mustangs that roam
the High Rock Desert of Nevada
are understandably elusive
and refuse to be coaxed
to a human hand.

Ignoring carrots and sugar,
they slip away down
arroyos, over distant ridges
like a fleeting life
affirming revelation

held captive only by
the sweetest of memories.


The Crafty Cat

—Prose Poem and Drawing by Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

I stood on a dark street in front of an old Victoria house. Light from a street lamp cast the shadow of a cat on the front wall. The cat appeared, crouching on the porch—a small mouse was in his mouth. He watched me closely as he ate the mouse—his nose twitching as he swallowed it.

He turned to the screen door behind him, pawing it open. I followed him inside, going down an empty hallway and into a closet. There were some clothes on the floor which he setted into. Lying down, he then pulled open a newspaper and began to read it.

I felt compelled to glance over his shoulder to see what he was reading—but I didn't want to disturb him—so I left...


Today's LittleNip:

Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. —Sophia Loren

You gotta lose 'em sometime. When you do, lose 'em right. —Casey Stengel



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.


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

The release of Rattlesnake Review #23 was, as you know,
delayed, and will be available at The Book Collector
and other venues as of Thursday, Sept. 17.

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 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.