Friday, September 18, 2009

Telescope Of Time

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—Shawn Aveningo, Rescue

Turn the record over.
The flipside,
“B” song,
true music to her ears.
Main hit becoming too familiar,
too clichéd,
too overplayed,
as it echoed in her mind.

Trying to sleep.
Top 40 tune,
its mainstream effects
interfering with her escape,
dreams, her secret
nightly escapades
her true debut,
the life she chose,
contrary to that
chosen for her.

Perhaps a song
less played
her second chance.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Rehearsals are candy; concerts are broccoli,
some, very tough pulp. Many a trumpeter
soars through the dress rehearsal of the Hummel
Concerto, with its tricky rapid-fire mordents,
or glides the bright waves of Tomasi—a Lippizaner
stallion leaping scythe-sharp Debussy rainbows—

then goes limp in the performance, where fully
engorged high notes turn flattened bleats of tincan
strained through cotton wool. Even the greats
fail, if trivially: Cleveland’s Bernard Adelstein
fluffing a grace note in Mexico City, Mahler’s
“Resurrection” Symphony: I spied him making
a wry slight moue at his impassive assistant.

Legends abound of trumpeters great and near-great
who touch disgrace: such little deaths hurt worse than
that of Misenus, whom with his arrogant brass coil
that jealous conch-honking Triton tossed
lungfirst to a liquid tomb. Worse than that
hoary myth, I’ve known an offstage trumpeter, in Respighi’s
“Pines of Rome,” to miscue—no small catastrophe—
an entire Roman legion as it huffs up the Capitoline,
royally displeasing none other than Leonard Bernstein.

Catastrophe? Was there no second chance, could he
never atone? Surely one, five, twenty more lifetime cracks
at “The Pines of Rome” beckon the determined player …


I have it straight from the trumpeter’s lips,
he drove straight home that night, and,
despite the darkness of that hour,
the shovel scraping and chuffing in black earth,
buried the horn—still gleaming with moon,
promising decades of splendid crescendo—
eight feet deep in the backyard garden:

he would never dig up that unlucky trumpet;

he would never again take up even a student horn,
never permit the silver-coated cup of a mouthpiece
so much as to graze the whiskery once-muscular lip.


—Tom Goff

Most of us live slow lives, just sliding through;
intuit small cause, and grasp far less effect.
Some suffer terrible bruises living true

to strange and offensive codes: no guilt or rue
can we spare the bumbling masses, the non-elect?
Don’t most live slow lives, most just slide on through?

What vista from which to judge those chosen few,
wielding bourgeois heads on skewers erect,
if even they suffer their bruises living their truth.

The grocery aisle we trudge down, age or youth,
bleached by the same bleach that sponges the affect
off faces of lives of those who, sliding through,

feel burdens and dreads are lovely to cling to;
dreams, ecstasies just come charged with a brighter threat.
Some terrible bruises suffered living true

we pounce for, hoping new chances may accrue:
leap wheels and chassis, headlong into wreck.
Most of us live slow lives, just sliding through;
those greenest blue-green bruises, we suffer just living true.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••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. [See last Monday's post for bios.]

•••Fri. (9/18 and every 3rd Friday), 6-9 PM: The Vox Poetry Reading Series, 1931 H St., Sacramento. Featured poets. Info: [Cynthia Linville tells me she is not hosting this event this month. A reading is listed on the Vox website, though; I'd advise you to call for details.]

•••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:

•••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.


—D.H. Lawrence

I can imagine, in some other world
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say, were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.

We look at hiim through the wrong end of the telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.


Today's LittleNip:

Stay alive; at least for the moment: it doesn't last long. Stay alive. Other worldly considerations though are out. The living has nothing to do with the life.

—William Bronk



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.