Friday, November 06, 2009

Black River Of Loss

Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

Nine crows tumble against an inky sky,
tossed by a wind carrying thunder.
Icy rain sweeps in from the north.

The world does not pause to watch the birds:
economies crash, children suffer and
nine crows tumble against an inky sky.

Near an upper window of a government building
calls come in from elders asking for help.
Icy rain sweeps from the north.

Services will have to be cut:
the safety-net is in jeopardy.
Nine crows struggle against an inky sky.

There are many more struggling today:
crows and elders, families and the forgotten.
Icy rain advances from the north.

The phone rings all day in the small office
with requests for help, reports of abuse.
Outside, nine crows tumble against an inky sky
And rain like ice sweeps from Washington.


Thanks, Katy, for a more unsettling take on money (or lack of it), our Seed of the Week. "Nine Crows" is from Katy's new 2010 calendar.

Katy Brown
is a Social Work Supervisor with Adult Protective Services in Sacramento. She is a columnist for Rattlesnake Review and a very frequent contributor of poetry and photos to Medusa’s Kitchen. Her poems have appeared in the Song of the San Joaquin, Harp Strings Review, and Brevities. She has won awards in the International Dancing Poetry Contest and the Ina Coolbrith, Berkeley Poets’ Dinner and Chaparral Poets contests. Her workbook for children, Poetry Potions, is being reissued in digital format.

Katy has published several books of poetry and photography for Rattlesnake Press, including seven calendars and journals for our Rattlesnake HandyStuff series. Join us on Wednesday, November 11 for the release of her 2010 calendar, Wind in the Yarrow! That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector. Be there!

Recognizing Mary Zeppa:

The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission established the Resolution Initiative Program in an effort to honor artists for lifetime achievements and to honor arts advocates and arts organizations for outstanding achievements in their field. Through the Resolution program, SMAC wishes to honor Sacramento poet Mary Zeppa on Tuesday, November 10, 2009. Mary's achievements are many and SMAC wishes to honor her for a lifetime of valuable contributions and accomplishments in the field of poetry, including her outstanding work to bring poetry to the Sacramento community. A resolution will be presented to Mary in a brief ceremony by the City Council at 6 PM in their chambers at 915 I St., Sacramento. Please join us promptly at 6 PM on November 10 at the Council chambers to witness this honor bestowed on Mary Zeppa.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (11/7 and every 1st Sat.): Rhythm and Rhyme readings at Butch N’ Nellies near 19th & I Sts., Sacramento. Televised music, open mic. Info:

•••Sunday (11/8), 4 PM: The Book Collector presents Donald Sidney-Fryer, Do Gentry and Kathryn Hohlwein in a reading to celebrate the publication of The Outer Gate: The Collected Poems of Nora May French, from Hippocampus Press. Free. The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Nora May French published only a dozen or so poems before her death in Carmel in 1907, but she was widely admired by California Romantic poets such as George Sterling, Clark Ashton Smith and Mary Austin. This volume includes substantial biographical information as well as her work. [See also Tom Goff's bio of French in Rattlesnake Review #21.]

Donald Sidney-Fryer is particularly suited to the task of editing this collection of Nora May French’s poems: he is not only an accomplished poet himself, but has edited and performed works by various of the California Romantics, including Smith and Sterling. His friendship with Nora May French’s sister, Helen French Hunt, has given him additional insight into the poet’s life and work.

•••Sunday (11/8), 1 PM: In a rare West Coast appearance, poet, playwright, essayist and political activist Amiri Baraka delivers a historic speech on our first African-American President, Barack Obama at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch (Koret Auditorium), 100 Larkin St., SF. Free and open to the public. One of the true giants of international poetry, Amiri Baraka is a towering presence in the history of the United States and throughout the Americas. A transitional figure in both the Beat Generation and Civil Rights Era, Baraka is also known as the father of the Black Arts Movement. In 2008, during the primary and general election cycles, Baraka continued to surprise, delight and provoke his friends and enemies with a series of rigorous, inventive, and powerfully deciphering essays on then candidate Barack Obama. With this unique, once in a lifetime, event Amiri Baraka will revisit those essays, and bring his keen, always original, interpretation of the Obama Presidency in its first year. The talk will be immediately followed by a discussion with Justin Desmangles, and continue with a question and answer period with the audience.

•••Monday (11/9), 7:30 PM: The Farallon Review will host a creative prose reading at the Sacramento Poetry Center. Monday, November 9, gathering at 7:00, reading 7:30 to 8:30. Sacramento Poetry Center, HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th Street (at R Street) in midtown Sacramento. Featuring Jodi Angel, Valerie Fioravanti, Joey Garcia, Paul Mann, Lynka Adams. Free admission, with copies of the new issue of The Farallon Review for sale! Info:


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

You need it
You love it
You hate it
But you still need it
You hate the groveling
The need inspires in you
Job is security, right?
But what about your soul?
Sold for those thirty pieces
That keep the wolf from the door
Money is just an illusion
They say
But one necessary to getting by
In this hard cold world


—Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


Today's LittleNip:

When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.

—Desiderius Erasmus


Katy Brown reading at The Book Collector
Photo by Alan Satow


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 likelihoodof 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.

Now available from SPC or at The Book Collector:
Our new 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 30-year history.

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


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo
(Secrets of a Violet Sky)
Rattlesnake Reprint #2 from frank andrick
(PariScope: A Triptyche)
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.