Monday, December 07, 2009

Greetings From Under The Snow

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

So hard and long is the implement pressed to the ear
the while the gent is seated in the stall,
he’ll surely develop cancer of the brain
before, like matter requiring to be flushed and fall,
the business is done (the battery drained):

Did you get that suit ready? When can we meet?
or, I thought she was being a bitch!
It’s hard as hell to hear in here:
can you repeat?

Such stentor tones, befitting Tristan’s Kurvenal,
ring porcelainly as piss in graceful urinals.

Ah, for such wafting aromas as evoke
the perfume of women’s gentler essences,
the savor of tomatoey baked zitti:
the pantsless jar of bellowed confidences
seems less like whispering scent than Stooge eye-poke,
yet not at the eyeball, more like ear-graffiti.

How many heroes of men’s-room phone calls taken
enter and gabble and exit, shame-unshaken?

Like innocent doughboys in the pungent trench
do they leave the vivid air signed with their stench…?


Thanks, Tom and Michelle, for today's poetry. Be sure to join us this coming Wednesday, December 9 at 7:30 PM at The Book Collector for the release of two new offerings: The Thread of Dreams, a new chapbook from Carol Frith, and Issue #24 of Rattlesnake Review. Tom Goff has written us two splendid articles for this issue: his usual California poets/Historian-in-Residence column (featuring Californian Robinson Jeffers), as well as a review of The Outer Gate, the new collection of Nora May French poems edited by Donald Sidney-Fryer and Alan Gullette. In fact, the whole enterprise inspired Tom to write a poem of his own on the subject (or two or three); see below, and there will be more of such in RR24.

The latest issue of poetsespresso newsletter is out, edited by Stocktonians Donald R. Anderson and Marie J. Ross. Check it out for poetry and art; there is a link at the right of this column. They’ve gone "subscription only"; but at $2 a copy, it’s still a deal. Incidently, Donald and Marie are part of the Poets on the Roof group that meets and workshops together regularly in Stockton; RR24 will have a feature on them—as well as on a similar group in Oregon: Dragons. Lots goin' on in the new issue—be sure to pick up your free copy Wednesday!

Medusa's Kitchen readers are being invited to bring a poem (your own or somebody else's) about the season to Wednesday's reading; let me know if you'd like to do this. We're interpreting "season" loosely—anything from Thanksgiving to New Year's, including all the holidays (and weather!) in between.

Thanks to Michelle Kunert for a timely reminder about where our heads should be these days... (See also below).

And no, today's picture is NOT the Kieth house, though it may as well be. We have just about that much snow up here today.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (12/7), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center and Roan Press present Zeo Keithley’s new book, Crow Song, at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Zoe Keithley's stories have appeared in the North American Review, American Fiction, F3, Emergence, Pigeon, Dogwood and other journals. Her fiction has won a fellowship in Prose from the Illinois Arts Council and finalist awards from Zoetrope, American Fiction, Dogwood, Emergence and Hyphen. A novel and short story collection are circulating. She lives in Sacramento and is at work on a second novel, teaches private writing students locally and at a distance, and is learning to play and compose music on the banjo.

Coming Up at SPC: Next Monday (12/14): Squaw Valley Community of Writers (including Joe Atkins, Lisa Jones, Lawrence Kaplun, Theresa McCourt and Wendy Trevino)

•••Tues (12/8 and every 2nd Tues.), 7:30 PM (note time change from 6:30): Open mic at the Empresso Coffeehouse off the Miracle Mile, 1826 Pacific Ave. Stockton. Hosts Chinetana 'Nana' Phounsavath and Donald Anderson would like to welcome everyone to enjoy an evening of poetry, essays, music and more.

•••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.

•••Wednesday (12/9 and every second Weds.), 7:30 PM: Rattlesnake Press presents The Thread of Dreams, a new chapbook from Carol Frith, and a new issue of Rattlesnake Review. That's at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

•••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/

•••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.

•••Citrus Heights Area Poets will not hold an open mic event at Barnes & Noble on Sunrise in December; host Margaret Bell will be attending the 17th annual cowboy poetry festival in Monterey that weekend. The Citrus Heights program for poets and poetry lovers will resume in January, so please mark your calendars now and plan to be there on January 9 at 2 PM.

•••Fri.-Sunday (12/11-13): 11th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at the Monterey Conference Center. Info:

•••Sat. (12/12 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:

•••Sat. (12/12 and every 2nd Sat.), 3 PM: “Poetic License” meets at Books ‘n’ Bears, 6211-A Pleasant Valley Rd., El Dorado. This month you are invited to write a poem on the subject of “succulent”. Poems may be long or short, rhymed or prose, amateur or pro, or anything in between. Listeners welcome! Info: Mari Dunn, 530-621-1766 or

•••Sat. (12/12 and every 2nd Sat.), 1 PM: Writer’s Bloc, a creative writing group, meets in the El Dorado County Main Library, 345 Fair Lane, Placerville. Bring your favorite writing paraphernalia and get your creative juices flowing with a writing session to share, critique and support each other. Creative writing professor Debora Larry-Kearney facilitates. Free, sponsored by Friends of the Library. Teens and adults only. Info: Main Library, 530-621-5540.


—Tom Goff

I only learned my bodily chemistry
when fused, blue eye to brown eye, kiss to kiss.
Then, touched by lips whose bruise was their caress,
I stood dissolved; you were the sophist free

to dissemble flame in postures of self-command,
as if he were Abelard, and Heloïse
the maiden shoulder to shoulder with him in ease:
lust drugging the bland duenna reprimand.

So elective affinity intermingled both,
bonding the teacher and the taught together,
the older absorbing that firelight substance, youth.

From this, what matter, inert and afloat in ether?
Our consummation yielded us this son:
he is lightness released in heat, pure phlogiston.


—Tom Goff

O my belle harbor, my San Salvador!
the poet writes of his inamorata,
comparing her to—coves of quiet water?
With lapping shivers and slaps more like inertia
flapping at seaweed, driftwood scraps or scrimshaw?
And what of the down-at-heel hulls drydocked for
barnacle-scraping or paint? How few will float a
nautical inch toward isles of morgana fata?

But you stand into the wind, all pure white sail,
prow mincing the big sunbeam to collops of foam.
Your rapturous-anxious-horizon dream yearns forward,
impressing me far to reverie from home:
you’re keel, drawn slipways under the chill gray veil,
me headlong after: adventure! never shoreward!


I just can't forget the Sunrise mall toy collection of '08
It was a weekend evening with the tree still covered with paper angels
many representing a child who might be homeless or in foster care
meaning the person who picks their angel off the tree
might give them the only present they'd receive this year
But the donated gifts for them in this "recession" were scant—
perhaps so many children in our community are easy to "forget"—
I thought oh what a dream to someday see a "naked" tree here
with all the presents they need stacked around its base
But those in need in the community often come last on people's lists
A woman and her husband approached the table
loaded down with apparently several hundred dollars' worth of toys they'd bought
I smiled and said to the woman with premature elation
"Oh my, thank you for helping these children so much"
but instead the woman said "Oh yeah, I just remembered..."
while laying down one of her huge bags
she pulled out of her purse just a twenty-dollar bill
(obviously she had spent more than that on her manicure!)
and then picked up her bag of toys again to take home
without apparently feeling any kind of guilt,
being proud of herself that she did for the community what she could…
I faked a smile at her as I scribbled out a donation receipt
because even though I'm supposedly a peaceful vegetarian
I wanted to first pretend like I was going to give a hug
but instead painfully wring her neck…

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Today's LittleNip:

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."



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.