Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Sacramento Poetry Day!


As the storm brews
The pond rests
Reflecting the anger
Of the storm
With calm

—Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

Walking in withered woods, we wonder
how bare limbs can comfort us
or what we can offer dripping trees

in a gray-on-gray terrain.
Our roots quake. We tremble.
Fog obscures the way,

mistletoe chokes branches,
mushrooms glare, toads gloat,
no birds sing, yet ferns

filagree over our boots.
The foggy wall crumbles, reveals
a path into a clearing.....We have

journeys to plan and complete,
lyrics near our hands and
beside our feet; music to extract

out of storm and stone—
a winter landscape to translate
into a language of our own.


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight, Monday (10/26), 7:30-10 PM: Rattlesnake Press's release of the new SPC anthology, Keepers of the Flame: The First 30 Years of the Sacramento Poetry Center, HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento (in the California Stage complex at 25th and R). By a delightful piece of serendipity, the celebration will take place on (by then Mayor Anne Rudin’s proclamation) Sacramento Poetry Day. Editor-in-Chief Mary Zeppa and her helpers (Emmanuel Sigauke, Kate Asche, Charlie McComish and Richard Hansen) have put together many, many documents and photos from SPC's history, and the resulting anthology (and SPC's 30th anniversary!) will be celebrated tonight. Libations and light refreshments will be provided. And, in the spirit of the occasion, the walls of SPC will display a sampling of photos, posters and “artifacts” from the Center’s first 30 years.

•••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. (10/28), 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/

•••Thurs. (10/29), 8 PM: d.a. levy reading at Poetry Unplugged, Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Ten poetic voices (frank andrick, Robert Grossklaus, Genelle Chaconas, Michael Grosse, Sage, Miles Maniachi, Lawrence Dinkins, Gene Bloom, Charlene Ungstad) taking liberties, as per d.a.’s own directions, with the works of poet d.a. levy on his birthday. More than a tribute, beyond a birthday celebration, and no mere enactment, but something else—something that you’ll have to come to experience. Plus, the Poetry Unplugged Open Mic is in full swing this evening, also, so please come to listen, come to read. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy. $2 cost or one-drink minimum.

•••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.


—Claire J. Baker

I wonder what field guide
the owl reads, turning his
head full circle
as if to ponder meaning
behind meaning...

maybe death is the
primary thrust
an owl in wait
on a frozen branch.

I could end here, but
Mary Oliver's mice
freeze in the field and
rabbits shiver under
angora-like fur.

Saying it slowly
in the snowy silence
feeling the warm fur
I want to live all the more
not be a juicy tidbit
in anyone's mouth.


—Claire J. Baker

Thanksgiving keeps most people
inside warm walls,
No one hikes the lake trail.
We fasted, now we
celebrate wildness.

Our bootsteps
echo from the hills
cozy sounds around the lake.
Waterfowl feather the sky
fanning our cheeks—
cheeks cold as bay leaves,
feet warm as underwings
of birds; bones stiffen,
eyes water, chilled noses drip,
winter breath comes shorter.
But blood beats happily.

Water-sparks resemble wings.


Be sure to check out Sacramento Bee's Books and Media section today for a beautiful collection of poems from local people. Thanks to Carlos Alcala for helping us celebrate Sacramento Poetry Day!


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is a statement of a series of equations, with numbers and symbols changing like the changes of mirrors, pools, skies, the only never-changing sign being the sign of infinity.

—Carl Sandburg



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


RR23 is now available free at The Book Collector,
and contributor and subscription copies
have gone into the mail—you should've received yours;
let me know if you haven't.
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!


Now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento:
A new chapbook from Brad Buchanan (The War Groom)
and a new Rattlesnake LittleBook from
William S. Gainer: Joining the Demented.

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 was Oct. 15;
it'll be released at Luna's on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Next deadline (for Issue #5) is Jan. 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!


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo (Secrets of a Violet Sky);
Rattlesnake Reprint #2, this one from frank andrick (Triptych);
plus our 2010 calendar from Katy Brown (Wind in the Yarrow)!
That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector. 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.