Tuesday, September 08, 2009

If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

Martha Ann Blackman

—Martha Ann Blackman, Sacramento

Briarfield School
had a wooded area
where we played,
made rooms
with pine straw edges
to practice making home.

Daddy worked in the
shipyard, pipefitter.

he would wake up
under the tall bed,
having become
the pipes in his dreams.

Imagination carried us
where we needed to go.


Thanks, Martha Ann! Martha Ann Blackman has read her poetry and performed songs in Sacramento and the Bay Area since 1973, including such diverse venues as Ben Hiatt’s Folsom readings, Whole Earth Festivals at UC Davis, the Java City marathons, and Earth Day festivals in Marin and Sacramento. Martha Ann was a Poet in the Schools through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. She has co-edited a book with Ann Menebroker (Watching From the Sky), was an associate editor on three hand-set letter press collections, plus published a book of her own work (The Bye Book). She has also had poetry published in The Sacramento Anthology: 100 Poems, Tule Review, Because People Matter, Hard Pressed, The Co-op Reporter, The Random Collective, West Conscious Review, Mid-Atlantic Region News, Mass Transit Poetry Project, Voices, Out of Sight 40/James Mechem, and The Denver Post. In addition to reading her poetry at numerous peace events, Martha Ann was a spokesperson for Sacramentans for SAFE Energy (SAFE), the local grass-roots group that qualified the initiative for a public vote on shutting down the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant—the only nuclear power plant in the world that's been shut down in this way. Martha says, “This is especially relevant because it was a poem I wrote that caused me to get involved in the ten years I spent trying to get the nuke shut down.”

In the Frustrating/Disappointing News Dept., I'm still out of ink for the laser printer, so, as I said yesterday, the new issue of Rattlesnake Review won't be appearing on Wednesday as advertised; it'll have to wait a week. I'll let you know when it'll be in The Book Collector, and contributors and subscribers will get theirs in the mail. But it'll be dandy when it does emerge, with poetry from Martha Ann and all sorts of other wonderful NorCal poets! Thanks for your patience, and I'm grateful that, at least, the three wonderful new books got done.

And it's Seed of the Week Day! This week, it's Wishes: write about the perils/promise/predicaments of wishing: wishbones, wishing wells, birthday candles, fairy godmothers, Fantasy Island, Dorothy's red slippers, magic wands and three wishes, magic lanterns and magic carpets, white horses, wishing upon a star, wishful thinking, watch what you wish for... Send your Wish poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.

I wish I had more ink........

—Jacob Nibenegenesabe

I try to make wishes right
but sometimes it doesn't work.
Once, I wished a tree upside down
and its branches
were where the roots should have been!
The squirrels had to ask the moles
"How do we get down there
to get home?"
One time it happened that way.
Then there was the time, I remember now,
I wished a man upside down
and his feet were where his hands
should have been!
In the morning his shoes
had to ask the birds
"How do we fly up there
to get home?"
One time it happened that way.


(For Mom)
—Martha Ann Blackman

In the nursing home
(convalescent, they call it now)
souls reach out for a heart/hand
while they wait in line
for breaths of oxygen and
wheelchairs for movement and
sips of thick liquids to
encourage the accomplishments
of a tomorrow driven
only as a “ride to town,
a stroll in the mall,
a walk to the door.”

Unassisted and smiling,
putting it all on the line,
one great gamble
that will either put things in gear
or leave vacant eyes searching for the
words still heard, still understood.

She thinks…
“How can you not know that all
the words come in and stop here,
swirling and spiraling,
can’t you see them
dancing in my head?”

Hand squeezes, flutter of eye,
purse of lips into kiss,
imagined always, sometimes conveyed,
more, then less, less,
as that foot crosses over, tired of waiting…
a step toward spirit, her God, Chase, Daddy,
sisters, aunts, uncles, her mom and dad.

A step over,
leaving more questions,
yet leaving lots of answers…
like, how to make
the best salmon cakes
anyone ever tasted.


—Martha Ann Blackman

At French Meadows we found snow
(it found us, captured us, kept us),
car on the edge of a precipice,
walking went we for miles,
holding snow for strength
like a dream,
‘til the rumble of engine,
welcomed engine, sparked light
where there was none,
with night falling fast.

No sound sweeter, breaking
the silent spring in the woods,
for that time, for that place, for us.
Off the road, way back,
we found cabin
and snowmobiles
roaring the key
to our passage,
the key to guide us.

Once back,
we marvel
how close
we can come
to the edge
and still
get home


Today's LittleNip:

—Martha Ann Blackman





SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


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 Idea),
and a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest).

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/.)

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/.
Issue #23 will be available at The Book Collector the night of Sept. 9.
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!


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.