Monday, October 19, 2009

Nights Of Cloud Dancing

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Sacramento

—Chrys Mollett, Angels Camp

Ransacking history for clues
About which foot to stand on—
But the platform's made of recycled moral fiber.

What makes an honorable, effective leader
in these times?
What historical leader still looks good to us today?
Who died first?
Who won before dying?

There are so many dragons out there.
So many things need mending, deserve reform—
And every cause needs money Right Now.

Disarm! (The cost is too high.)
Go in there and get them! (Cost what it may.)
Those evil bastards beyond our borders
Are teeming, restless, relentless,
And more organized than we gave them credit for.

One side wins on compassion.
The other stands on caution.
But the pot itself is melting.
And nothing stays in fashion for long...
Except a kernel of wisdom
That may somehow elude deception and disaster.


—Dewell H. Byrd, Eureka

When you reach
to shake my hand
why do you:
Look over my shoulder,
Pull me forward,
Shake my hand,
Push me away.
Then reach for another hand?

Are you afraid
I'll ask why,
give an opinion,
or have shallow pockets?

I find your political pull
to be disdainful, disrespectful.
So, I'll just vote
for ME ME ME!


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (10/19), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Brian Teare and Kate Greenstreet at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [See last Friday's post for bios.]

Coming next Monday (Oct. 26), 7:30 PM: SPC's 30th birthday party, with Rattlesnake Press's release of the new SPC anthology, Keepers of the Flame: The First 30 Years of the Sacramento Poetry Center, Mary Zeppa, Editor-in-Chief.

•••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.

•••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. (10/21 and 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. (8/19, 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.

•••Thurs. (10/22), 4-5 PM: CSUS creative writing students read their work in "The Collective Reading Series" in the Library Gallery. Info: Host Joe Montalbo at Save the following dates for other readings by these students:
Thurs. (11/5), 4-5pm: Library Gallery
Tues. (11/17), 4-5pm: Multicultural Center (across from the Library entrance)
Tues. (12/1), 4-5pm: Multicultural Center (across from the Library entrance)

•••Thursdays, 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured readers, 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.

•••Sat. (9/12 and every 2nd and 4th Sat.), 10-11:30 AM: Sacramento Poetry Center 2nd and 4th Sat. workshop with Emmanuel Sigauke and Frank Dixon Graham. South Natomas Community Center (next door to S. Natomas Library), 2921 Truxel Rd., Sacramento. Bring ten copies of your one-page poem to read/critique. Info:


—Huang O (1498-1569)

The day will come when I will
Share once more the quilts
And pillows I am storing
Away. Once more I will shyly
Let you undress me and gently
Unlock my sealed jewel.
I can never describe the
Ten thousand beautiful sensual
Ways we will make love.

(translated from the Chinese by
Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung)


—Huang O

Every morning I get up
Beautiful as the Goddess
Of Love in Enchanted Mountain.
Every night I go to bed
Seductive as Yang Kuei-fei,
The imperial concubine.
My slender waist and thighs
Are exhausted and weak
From a night of cloud dancing.
But my eyes are still lewd,
And my cheeks are flushed.
My old wet nurse combs
My cloud-like hair.
My lover, fragrant as incense,
Adjusts my jade hairpins, and
Draws on my silk stockings
Over my feet and legs
Perfumed with orchids;
And once again we fall over
Overwhelmed with passion.

(translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung)


—Yi Talch'ung (c. 1385)

One moon of joy I knew,
And in the waning radiance of that moon
I gave you a folding fan.

Your love was lighter than the fragrant wind
Stirred by these sticks of carven sandalwood.

The moon sank down behind the city wall.
How bitter was the wine we drank at dawn!

Soon came the whisper of a silken skirt.
Soon came the perfume of a jasmine flower.
Swiftly for you there rose another moon.

You new wife's face is like a jasmine petal
And like a fallen petal it will fade
After the moon goes down.

I think you do not know how cruel you are.
But why was your parting gift to me
Another folding fan?

(translated by Jean S. Grigsby)


Today's LittleNip:

The charcoal kiln—
A deer watches
The evening smoke

—Hayano Hajin



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


RR23 is now available free 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!


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 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!


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from dawn di bartolo (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.