Friday, December 11, 2009

I Kid You Not

—Tom Kryss

An old slightly unshaven man staggers into Radio Shack
near the beginning of December, stares at the latest toys,
with his hands in his well-creased aviator’s jacket; he is
removing his spectacles from inside the Argyle when
the clerk shows up at his side and asks whether he can
be of assistance. It turns out the old guy is in the market
for a global positioning device, and the clerk lights up
and assures him that he’s come to the suitable place.
They’re over at the glass counter now, where several
possibilities are spread out, and the client has taken one
in his fingers and, bewildered, seems to be searching for
the battery compartment; the clerk mentions that this
particular model operates on natural light, even so little
as might be encountered in darkness. Ideal, says the
old man, I’ll take it. Will that be charge, sir? The old
guy reaches into his inner coat pocket and produces
several clean crisp bills which the clerk looks at strangely
as if he’s never seen one prior to now. Of course, he
corrects himself, the cash register confirms the purchase
with a rather pleasant electronic ring, and would the
customer care for some wrapping? Uh, too late, he is
already out the door, walking away down the sidewalk
with the device held in front of him, a promise of snow
in the air. Sometimes I receive Jack Paar on old signals
beating back, I dunno, from eternity or the planet Xenon;
five minutes ago he had interrupted one of his guests to
tell a story of his own, somehow related, and now he is
wrapping it up, the audience, indeed the guest himself,
hanging on every nuance, and there is no punchline, no
fitting way to bring this to an end; he wipes his brow,
gently, paranoically, a tick, and from out of nowhere, in
that reassuring stutter he has kept under wraps until this
moment, I hear him say, for the one thousandth never
to be forgotten time, "I kid you not."


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (12/14), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents The Squaw Valley Review Reading with Joe Atkins, L.A. Jones, Lawrence Kaplun, Theresa McCourt and Wendy Trevino at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Joe Atkins, an alumna of CSUS & UCD, lives in Sacramento. Currently he is a freelance writer and homeowner. He enjoys Facebook, Twitter, blogs, hulu, netflix, movies, bookstores, MP3s, concerts, drinking, poker, his spouse, his cat, and google/excel spreadsheets.

Lisa Jones (L. A. Jones) co-edited The Squaw Valley Review 2008 and is the Interview Editor for Poetry Now. Her work has won local prizes, is forthcoming in Tule Review, and published in Tea Party, Convergence (on-line), Poetry Now, and Qarrtsiluni's Journaling the Apocaplypse (on-line and print anthology). She has a Ph.D. in sociology, but is most proud of her studies with Camille Norton, Kim Addonizio, Susan Kelly-Dewitt, and the great staff at Squaw Valley and the Napa Valley Writer's Conference.

Lawrence Kaplun co-edited The Squaw Valley Review 2008. He was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in San Francisco, where he works for the California Academy of Sciences. His poems have appeared online in Limp Wrist Magazine.

Theresa McCourt won an Albert and Elaine Borchard Fellowship in poetry in October 2008, and in November 2008, graduated from the Artist Residency Institute through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Her credits include a 1st place in the 2007 Maggi H. Meyer Memorial Contest, and publications include Peter Parasol,, Poetry Now, Rattlesnake Review, and Toyon.

Wendy Trevino lives and writes in San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in Makeout Creek and Faultline and is forthcoming in the super-fun journal, West Wind Review.

There will be NO SPC READINGS on December 21 or 28.

•••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:


—Margaret Ellis Hill, Fair Oaks

Another year
Comes to a close too soon. I know
Another year
Will begin slowly but I fear
The hours will quickly come and go.
Older indeed, but watch me glow
Another year.


The season’s here
For holiday bustling and more
The season’s here.
A time for family and good cheer
For gift giving, and hugs galore
And tales of Christmases of yore
The season’s here.


Happy New Year
most everyone makes with a toast
Happy New Year
And may all be true that you hear.
(I wonder what resolves will most
Likely be kept, which ones a boast.)
Happy New Year.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

A string of geese—
a sense of lonely deja vu;
a string of geese,
and I could feel the mind’s release
and nothing mattered but the view—
the phrase of light that filtered through
a string of geese.


—Joyce Odam

Teach me your song,
winds that have known the farthest seas,
teach me your song.
Out of the east you bring along
a nightingale’s tune that distance frees,
leaving me stirred and on my knees.
Teach me your song.


Rondelet of Frost
—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Winter hones love:
let the lustral chill signify
winter hems love’s
green inside her plush ice-lined glove.
May all sharpest sounds magnify,
soft pine-sheathing snow dignify:
winter sings love.


Today's LittleNip:

The butterflies are fluttering, but you feed off fear as if it's a high-energy candy bar. It keeps you alert and know you can be hammered by something unexpected, but you count on your experience, concentration, and instincts to pull you through. And luck.

—Charles Elwood Yeager

Come here! Hurry! There are little animals in this rain water...Look! See what I have discovered!

—Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek



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.
Contributor and subscription copies
will go into the mail this week and next.

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.