Friday, December 18, 2009

Leaving That Door Ajar

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

He has grown too menacing for friendship.
He watches men in the woods
and women in their pantries.
He has no way to speak to them
but he wants something.
He lumbers into their houses. He tries
out a church, breaking the handle from
the church hall door. He goes to a table
and eats 22 jars of peanut butter
to be packed off to the poor. He is the poor.
The lids fall apart in his claws. He has
no idea how strong he is. He sniffs
and slurps. No one is there to see
his bad manners. He walks to the kitchen
and opens the refrigerator the usual way,
pushing the handle, releasing the sweet
odor of oranges. He punctures
a dozen cans of concentrate, licking
the cardboard, as easy for him
as raiding a hive of honey. He swipes
a few sweet rolls, then leaves,
damaging little except his own wild
heart. The pastor asks his flock to pray
for the bear. Pray for him to stop ravishing
their homes, be caught and returned
to a paradise that doesn’t exist.
The wilderness has abandoned the bear.
He is alone and hungry.
He no longer knows what he is hungry for.


Thanks to Jane Blue for her bear poem! And Medusa apologizes for a calendar error last Monday: The Time Tested Books reading took place on Dec. 13, not this coming Sunday. That was the last in the poetry reading series for Time Tested, by the way. They have future events scheduled, though—check their website at

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Friday, 12/18), 7:30 PM: The Other Voice will meet at the UU Church of Davis at 27074 Patwin Rd., Davis, for a special holiday gathering. There will be no featured reader, but instead, a read-around where we can share poems (our own or other poets), enjoy some holiday cookies and hot cider or wine, and the joy of poetry. Host Allegra Silberstein writes: This time it would be helpful if you send me an e-mail letting me know if you will be attending. Also, please let me know if you no longer wish to be on my mailing list. And in the midst of all our rushing about, may you find moments of quiet joy...

•••Sat. (and every 3rd Sat.), 10 AM: Writers of the New Sun/Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol potluck meetings at La Raza Galeria Posada, 1024 22nd St., Sacramento. Members of all levels support each other via readings, exercises, critiques and info, plus open mic; writing in Spanish, English or both. Call ahead to confirm: 916-456-5323.

•••Sat. (and every 3rd Sat.), 7 PM: Celebration of Word, Sound and Paint at Carol’s Books, 1913 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento.

•••Sun. (and every 3rd Sun.): 3rd Sunday Poetry Workshop. Info: Rebecca Morrison or Nancy W. at

•••Monday (12/21): There will be NO reading at Sacramento Poetry Center.


—Ammuvanar (translated from The Classical Tamil Anthologies, c. A.D. 50-300, by George L. Hart III)

They shout out the price of salt harvested from salt flats;
they travel to far distances on dusty roads
as they go in their caravans over long trails
carrying thick staffs.
The life of these salt merchants seems a good one to me.
Her curly hair tossing,
the dress of shoots she wears to ornament her wide, soft loins
swaying with each step,
she cries in every street,
"People of the town! Salt is as cheap as paddy!
Will you buy some?"
"Listen, you with your belly curved and arms supple as bamboo,
you did not tell us the price of the salt of your body,"
I said, standing a little away.
He anger showing in her large, red-lined eyes blackened with collyrium,
she said, "You, over there, who are you?"
And innocent,
very lovely,
she moved off a little,
her few rows of white bangles flashing,
taking my heart with her.


From The Tathasaptasati: Poems from ancient Prakrit,
collected by King Hala, first century A.D.:


Even he was abashed
and I laughed
and held him close
when he went for the knot
of my underclothes
and I'd already untied it.



Those women
who can see their lovers
in dreams
are lucky

but without him,
sleep won't come
so who can dream?



Lone buck
in the clearing
nearby doe
eyes him with such
that there
in the trees the hunter
seeing his own girl
lets the bow drop



The newly wed girl, pregnant already,
asked what she liked about the honeymoon,
cast a glance at her husband,
but not at his face.



You love her, while I love you,
and yet she hates you, and says so.
Love ties us in knots,
keeps us in hell.



These women plunder my husband
as if he were plums
in the bowl of a blind man.
But I can see them, clear as a cobra.


Today's LittleNip:

If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

—Richard P. Feynman



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 go into the mail as soon as the troubles go away.

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.