Monday, December 28, 2009

Flooded in Language

Electronic Artwork by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

(For N.E. Gotthart, after Yeats’ "The Lake Isle at Innisfree")

Aye, down and further down
I went to where the air
Was fearful loud upon my ear
And still my eye would not give way
To move the night from her starry
Climb. In vain I searched the
Edge of the sea, till late I too
Could hear the water lapping
At my thighs and hiss upon my knees.
And still I did not see him
Though made of clay be he.
“He must have gone,” I thought,
But knew that couldn’t be,
For deep I was beyond the glade
And though far from noon, be sure
I still could hear a tone
Deaf voice that shook me to the core.
“There is no way beyond here,” I told myself
And pulled hard to the bank to free
Myself from this dark lake and then
And only then I saw him move between
The trees as thin as linnet’s wings.


Thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poetry and art. I'm not going to post any readings for this week; I know Sacramento Poetry Center won't be having one tonight, and I'm guessing most others are closed down. Still, you should check... And let me know if you hear differently.

Meanwhile, time to start thinking about the new year. Rae Gouirand writes with news of Cache Creek. She says:

As you know, I’ve served as Writer-in-Residence for the Cache Creek Conservancy for the last five years, and owing to grant funding from the Teichert Foundation, have been afforded the opportunity to design and teach an annual series of poetry workshops offered free of charge to the public in an outstanding outdoor classroom at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve site in rural northwest Woodland. This program has been absolutely one-of-a-kind among community arts programs, and has solidified an incredible community of Sacramento-area writers. I’m sad to announce that the WIR program has lost its grant funding for the 2010 season. The executive committee of Cache Creek Nature Preserve has decided that they would like to continue supporting the WIR program, however, and will be presenting a proposal to the CCC board in January that would allocate funding for the program this year. This would make the WIR program the only public arts program in the country funded by a nature conservancy. I am personally humbled that the Preserve sees the work of its artists as so fundamental to their mission of promoting environmental stewardship. Barring any complications in getting that proposal approved, the WIR program should resume this January as planned. I am therefore opening registration for this year’s first workshop:

FLUID WORLDS: Poetry and the Water Cycle (Thursdays, January 14 – March 18, 2010, 9-11 AM)

It is said that water seeks its level. So does the poem. How can we better open our poems to swim with the messages they want to deliver? What can the tensions and cycles of water–its individual drops as well as its greater bodies and forces–teach us about our the instincts of poetry and its version of truth? As a group, we’ll study poems that dissolve, float, and behave in other ways that inspire fluidity in our work, as well as new reverence for our most vital, fundamental resource.

This ten-week workshop will be offered by sliding-scale donation to the public thanks to the support of Cache Creek Nature Preserve. Donations will be accepted by the Executive Director beginning at the first workshop meeting on January 14: Participants are asked to donate according to their own ability in honor of what the time they spend at this natural oasis offers them. Please register only if you can make a personal commitment to attending regularly and using this time to support your own creative development. Writers of all levels of experience are welcome. Meets in Woodland, on site at Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

To register: Email with your name, contact email, and contact phone number. Practical details will be sent to registrants in the week preceding the beginning the first meeting.


Sweet roads to afternoon.
—D.R. Wagner

I sat on the edge of the stair
And watched you come down
The fields. Long lines of you
Caught in the edges of trees.

A small hand was walking across
The top of the roses, sorting
And fumbling, like spiders when
The rain has ripped into their webs
And all the world’s gone wrong
With invisible falling.

I could feel my hands moving out from my body
And go around you. I was holding you very tight.
I raised my eyes to see what to say and a star
Had somehow found its way through a space in the trees
And was sitting there watching. Sometimes it
Works like that. Sometimes I think I think it’s real
And I have to stop and quiet myself, rub my eyes
To believe. It is like praying to the flowers,
Or sitting alone in the sweet roads of the afternoon
Touching your wings, gone glitter around me, listening
To the signals from the rose bushes, waiting for
Pictures to tell me how to end, quietly.


—D.R. Wagner

Mantra has no concrete meaning, it cannot be made to subserve utilitarian ends. It calls forth and unveils something real…it concentrates already existing forces like a magnifying glass. —Lama Govinda

Oh baby, I love you.
Mother, I love you.
Father, I love you.
Oh family, I love you.
Oh world, I love you.
Alphabet of sounds, I love you.
Seed syllables of breath about to
Catch fire, I love you.
Oh, calling forth into a state
Of immediate reality, I love you.
Oh word at the hour of its birth,
Center of force and reality, I love you.
Oh language balanced in us,
In its pure essence, I love you.
Oh image that is power of
That which is, I love you.
Oh truth of being, beyond right
And wrong, beyond thinking and
Reflecting, I love you.
Oh focus of energies that is the
Creation of consciousness in
This entire life, I love you.
Oh only and last remnant of
That which makes us poets,
Makes us seekers of the word
As it gathers power, I love you.

We are still an ancient civilization
Flooded in language. It is I love you
Here, talking to you, baby. It is bigger than
Both of us. It is I love you saying there are
Things bigger than man, bigger than theory
And argument, bigger than Marxists and
It is I love you trembling
On the brink, a sound
Described by the sublime only.
Oh baby I love you.
Come here. Fearless.
Mystery of Body, Speech and Mind.
We traveling, darling.
We spinning in our deepest seat.
We still trying on clothes when we flying through
Each other like so many bells.
Oh baby, I love you.


Today's LittleNip:

Thought itself is a wave phenomenon. Wave motion dominates the world of sub-atomic particles, so why not our human lives? Or our human histories through time? Could this, I wonder, could this be the source of all our hauntings?

—William Boyd, Fascination



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

The Thread of Dreams,
a new chapbook from Sacramento's
Carol Frith, is now available at The Book Collector,
1008 24th St., Sacramento.


Issue #24 is now available (free) at The Book Collector
or may be ordered through—
or send me 4 bux and I'll mail you one as soon as I'm able
(computer troubles).
Contributor and subscription copies
will most likely be mailed by January 1.

After this issue, Rattlesnake Review and most of our
other print projects will be taking
a few months off for remodeling—but not Medusa's Kitchen,
WTF (see below) or the 2nd Weds. reading series (except for January).
Watch this spot for further developments!—I suspect that the break
will be short-lived and will engender lots of activity,
including calls for submissions
to some exciting new projects.
Don't miss 'em!

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!


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.

Send 3 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).
No simultaneous submissions, previously published work,
bios or cover letters.
And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at


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.