Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Is All Energy Harnessed?

Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

maple turns
exhibitionist —
she layers-on rouge and rubies
and hangs out by the street light looking for a good time.


Thanks, Katy Brown, for the photo and fib (a recent Seed of the Week), and to Jesse Collins for the rest of today's poems. Both Katy and Jesse will have more work in Rattlesnake Review #24, due out next week—and be sure to pick up one or six copies of Katy's 2010 calendar, Wind in the Yarrow, either at The Book Collector or ordered from

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Mon. (11/30), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Lucy Lang Day, Tom Miner and Diana Henning at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Lucy Lang Day’s poetry collections are The Curvature of Blue (Cervena Barva Press, 2009), God of the Jellyfish (Cervena Barva Press, 2007), The Book of Answers (Finishing Line Press, 2006), Infinities (Cedar Hill Publications, 2002), Greatest Hits, 1975-2000 (Pudding House Publications, 2001), Wild One (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2000), Fire in the Garden (Mother's Hen, 1997) and Self-Portrait with Hand Microscope (Berkeley Poets' Workshop and Press, 1982), which was selected by Robert Pinsky, David Littlejohn, and Michael Rubin for the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature. She is a co-author of How to Encourage Girls in Math and Science: Strategies for Parents and Educators (Dale Seymour), and the author of the libretto for Eighteen Months to Earth, a science fiction opera with music by John Niec. Her first children's book, Chain Letter, was published by Heyday Books in 2005. She received her M.A. in English and M.F.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State University, and her M.A. in zoology and Ph.D. in science and mathematics education from the University of California at Berkeley. The founder and director of Scarlet Tanager Books, she is also director of the Hall of Health, a museum in Berkeley.

Tom Miner has two daughters, Sara and Mieke. He and his wife, Elisabeth, are avid hikers and travelers. Each summer he climbs a 14,000-foot peak and adds to the 70 countries he’s visited. In the 1980’s he published the poetry quarterly, Pinchpenny, and now teaches writing at Sacramento City College. In 2007, his chapbook, North of Everything, was published by Rattlesnake Press.

Dianna Henning’s poetry books include The Tenderness House, published by Poets Corner Press in Stockton, and a book from Black Buzzard Press entitled The Broken Bone Tongue. She shared a chapbook with poet Ioanna Veronika Warwick entitled Settling Accounts, published by the Contemporary Review. Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, The Lullwater Review, Poetry International, Fugue, The Asheville Poetry Review, South Dakota Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review and the Seattle Review. She taught for California Poets in the Schools, through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program and through several California Arts Council grants, as well as through a recent California Humanities grant.

Next Monday (12/7), SPC will present Zoe Keithley.

•••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/

•••Weds. (12/2), 6-8 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center annual fundraiser at the home of Mimi & Burnett Miller, 1224 40th St., Sacramento. Poetry by Theresa Vinciguerra and Danyen Powell, music by the American River College Vocal Jazz Quartet. Hors d’oeuvres and libations. Your $30 donation benefits SPC. RSVP 916-979-9706 or, or just pay at the door.

•••Wed. (12/2 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

•••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.

•••Thurs. & Fri. (12/3-4): Matrix Arts bookmaking workshops (and all this month), plus gift of art and $1 art supplies and kits at R25, the arts and cultural center in Midtown Sacramento at 1719 25th St. Workshops cost $15/session, $10 for MatrixArts and SPC members and students. To assure a spot, email or call 916-454-4988. Drop-ins are welcome. [See last Friday’s post for class schedules.] Info: or or

•••Sat. (12/5 and every 1st Sat.): Rhythm and Rhyme readings at Butch N’ Nellie's near 19th & I Sts., Sacramento. Televised music, open mic. Info:


—Jesse Collins, Pleasant Hill

On the drive,

I think machinery
takes care of anything,
including bodies.
Bodies are nothing.

As I turn,

turning windows
to cross-stitch traffic,
so, in the intersection,
I look fine,

I flinch,

for a black spot,
the sky seems thrown.
I throw up my hands,
and shrink.

As it falls,

the sky, it is
only a backlit butterfly,
and, after the flap,
it ascends.


—Jesse Collins

This dog of allergies
needs a special diet,
needs his food without grain,
needs expensive meat,

but prices are high,
and corn
taken from farms
for uses other than
for others to eat,

and that means less
corn, less feed
for the animals, less
animals to eat,

there will be shortages,
there will be riots, yet,
there is my dog,
and he is hungry.


—Jesse Collins

The lights went out so I eased away
from under the glow of the exit sign,
each step from the light more congested
than the last, through the crowd,
toward the darkest corner of the room.

Said, a silhouette, in a hush, stand still,
while yet another man even pulled his gun,
the red laser sight hopping on my left arm,
then to the left arm of the man beside me,
then beside him. Then back to me.

The gunman then ran out the exit doors,
and no one seemed to mind the disorder,
just that the exit sign continued to glow.
In time, the doors swung inward,
and a group of men entered cleanly.

In front was a man we all knew as Hemric:
“Hello fellas, this is my colleague, and this
is half the staff of the Library of Congress.
Don’t worry, it’s okay, my wife works there,
and she’s a damn good philosopher at that.”

Hemric and his colleague then walked ahead
to the one desk in the room, then grabbed
the remaining stack of business cards.
As they headed back, a voice declared:
"Hey Hemric, you’re the best damn…um—

…statistician on campus? I know.
And I’ll tell you all, we’ll know decades
in advance, the very day civilization will end,
and chance is, almost all will die, the rest,
theoretically, turn to something like birds.
Meanwhile, Barton’s stats are improving.”


—Jesse Collins

Wherever he needed to be in the world
was less than the world away by car;
he had no income slot to fill,
there was no hurry, besides

he had failed to leave the engine running,
the engine in that car with parts that
tended to swell in heat.
He jiggled his keys,

he gave to himself a quiet remark
of ridicule, got inside the door
at roadside, turned the key,
and nothing.

The problem was fitness, not fortitude;
a seething stew of metal and rubber
gasping for a drink please!
He waited.

He walked around. He thought
the potential of every thing was
thwarted by confinement;

why is all energy harnessed?

And he may have slept, he may have
ruled back in a walk on the sun,
just for a place to burn, but
unable to breathe

in his dreams, sleep was a burden.
He pushed at the key, again,
heard the tick, tick, tick, then
metal on metal.

The car roared to a start and he gunned it.


Today's LittleNip:

Times are hard for dreamers...

—from the movie "Amelie" by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurent



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Deadline was November 15 for RR24; join us
for its unveiling and get your free copy at
The Book Collector on
Wednesday, December 9.
After this issue, Rattlesnake Review will be taking
a few months off for remodeling—
watch this spot for further developments!

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!


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)!

Now available from SPC,
or at The Book Collector:
Our newest 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 fourth 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.

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


The Thread of Dreams,
a new chapbook from
Carol Frith,
will be premiered at
The Book Collector on
December 9, 7:30 PM,
along with the new issue of
Rattlesnake Review.
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.