Friday, September 25, 2009

More Songs of Autumn

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento

Heads move mechanically, four bleats
to a measure, sweet notes, it must be Sunday.

Pink flannel mouths, full sets of teeth
munch tender shoots, drink in cool ponds
of rose clover, it must be spring.

Along the river parkway, under the oaks—
depressions, fragrant fern, green tendrils form

spiral baskets, new fawns nestle close,
woven tight into mother’s flanks.

By fall, others appear to be sleeping, heads
tucked in, but not breathing. I think, we did this
somehow, detergents foaming down riverbanks

perhaps, but—no, only the course of nature,
lung flukes as they’ve always been.

In late October, a young buck, dangerously tame,
clips red leaves of wild grape, walks in cougar tracks,

drinks cautiously at the edge of this riparian forest,
grazes the drying grasses of his unknown autumn.

(Inspired by J. S. Bach’s Birthday Cantata)


—Jeanine Stevens

The river has pulled in
all the light
stars leach remaining sulfur
from banks etched thin.
An early frost lays
patterns on russet leaves.
To the north, wind, early wind,
lifts from borderlands
threads its way, tightening
veins, caressing each leaf
coaxing the life force
from summer’s riotous behavior
down into wintering roots.


—Jeanine Stevens

Early frost,
bird bath
glistening slick
pearl glazed
cold verdigris,
metal dragonfly
wears a white coat.
I dream again,
steel blue bird
sits on stiff ice,
fluffs, head low—
breeze lifts
exposes black skin,
dies—a frozen
overstuffed silence.


—Jeanine Stevens

Autumn haze bleeds
purple against distant

mountains. From the air
orange vine maples

appear as a forest
of glowing pumpkins.

(First published in The Aurorean)


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••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.

•••Monday (9/28), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents D. A. Powell and Joshua McKinney at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. D. A. Powell (not to be confused with Sacramento’s Danyen Powell) is the author of four books of poetry: Tea (1998); Lunch (2000); and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is Chronic (Graywolf, 2009). Powell’s work often returns to AIDS, and his three collections have been called a trilogy about the disease. He has received a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Center, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, among other awards. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of Iowa, Sonoma State University, San Francisco State University, and served as the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University. He currently teaches at the University of San Francisco, and edits the online magazine, Electronic Poetry Review. He is also the driving force behind the fictitious poet João Pudim from the volume, The Imaginary Poets, edited by Alan Michael Parker (Tupelo, 2007).

Joshua McKinney is the author of two books of poems: Saunter (Univ. Of Georgia, 2002) and The Novice Mourner (Bear Star Press, 2005). He teaches at California State University, Sacramento. He is quite handy with a Katana sword and, presumably, other blades.

Special event next week:

•••Thurs. (10/1), 6:30 PM: The Sacramento Poetry Center & The Crocker Art Museum invite you to enjoy an evening with Mario Uribe and former Sacramento Poet Laureate Viola Weinberg at the Crocker Art Museum, in conversation about their beautiful, hand-sewn book, ENSO: 24 Paintings and One Poem. Admission $6 (free with membership). You must e-mail Christian Adame at to reserve a seat. Book signing to follow.


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

My grandfather insisted
That you could
Train a crow
To ride
On your shoulder
Like a parrot.
And if you
Found one
Young enough,
And slit his tongue
He could be taught
To talk
Like one as well.

“Think of it,”
He suggested,
“You could look
Like a pirate.”

“No water around here
But sleepy Spoon River,”
I responded.

“Spoon River Pirate, then!”

We never had
The conversation again.


Today's LittleNip:

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.

—Adeline Knapp



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.