Monday, January 04, 2010

Ghosts & Corpses

New Helvetia Chapter of Cal. Fed. of Chaparral Poets, Inc.
Christmas Party in Sacramento, December, 2009

Back row: Betsy & Danyen Powell, Elsie Feliz, Laverne Frith, Don Feliz

Front: Allegra Silberstein, Joyce Odam, Katy Brown, Carol Frith, Norma Kohout

—Laverne Frith, Katy Brown, Elsie Feliz, Don Feliz, Norma Kohout, Joyce Odam, Allegra Silberstein, Betsy Powell, Danyen Powell, Carol Frith

The ghosts are dancing.

Winter closes on the darkening windows.

Light from the fire warms the stone stairs

to the bishop's chambers

where the unexpected lays in wait,

preferring the ghosts to the shadows

that hovered in dark menace above the silent house.
Don't move that picture—
the wall is empty without it.

Shadows eating shadows in the silence.


Thanks to the New Helvetia CFCP, Inc. chapter for sending us their exquisite corpse! Katy Brown included this description: The Exquisite Corpse form of poetry was developed in the early 1900s with its roots in the French Surrealist movement. Basically, an exquisite corpse is a poem composed by a number of people: someone starts with a line, then passes it to the second person who adds a line. The second person then folds over the first line, revealing only the line they have composed, then passes it to the third person, who composes a line based on the second line, then folds over the second line and passes the paper. The paper is passed from person to person with only the line from the poet before showing. Only after the paper has gone around the room is it unfolded and the entire poem read.

At the year-end meeting of the New Helvetia chapter meeting, Laverne Frith produced a blank envelope and wrote a line. He passed it to the next person in line, and the following poem took shape. [The authors are listed after the title in the order of which line they composed.]

Medusa is proud to note, by the way, that this is Betsy Powell's first published piece of poetry—Line #8! Thanks also to Pat Hickerson for her poem about her own particular ghosts, and to the rest of today's poets for their liras and other musings to start off the new year.

New lines online:

Gail Entrekin writes: Our dear friend and creative genius Ross Drago has begun a new online magazine, Paint Rag, which I think is pretty fascinating. I was particularly moved by the article on sidewalks and the accompanying art showing them in "deep rest." That’s

Paul Fericano writes: The Broadsider is now online. It can be accessed by either going to or Once there, click on "Broadsider" in the menu bar. Also, if you have a website or blog, please consider creating a link to The Broadsider. Volume 1 features Paul Fericano, Angelica Jochim, Cielle Tewksbury, Klipschutz, Dan Gerber, Ann Menebroker, Barry Spacks, Ellen Bass, A.D. Winans, Joyce Odam, Edward Field, Robert Bly, Joyce La Mers, B.L. Kennedy, Wanda Coleman, Hugh Fox, leah angstman, Irene McKinney, Carol DeCanio, Roger Langton, Gerald Locklin, Laurel Speer, Ron Koertge, Lyn Lifshin, Penelope Rosemont, Perie Longo, Ligi.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (1/4), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents the winners of the Sacramento Bee’s poetry contest, which was held to celebrate Sac. Poetry Day on Oct. 26, 2009. The seven winners (out of hundreds of submissions) who were published in the Bee will read tonight at HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento, including William Gainer, JoAnn Anglin, Jim DenBoer, Arthur Butler, Roberta Alexander, Judy Brim and Katrina Hays. Hosted by Bee Staff Writer Carlos Alcala.

Next Monday, January 11: SPC will feature James DenBoer and Cynthia Broshi.

•••Tues (1/5 and every 2nd Tues.), 7:30 PM: 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.

•••Wed. (1/6 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

•••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.

•••Friday (1/8), 6-7:30 PM: Join poet Alexa Mergen for Eco-Poetry—A Reading and Discussion on Water, sharing poems that describe water, celebrate water and offer a call to action, at the Nature Center in Coloma (348, Hwy 49). Bring and read your original poems about water as well as poems by your favorite authors. Alexa serves as Sacramento Area Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools. All ages welcome. FREE (donations encouraged).

"Everything ripens at once/by the river as if life is racing..." —Alexa Mergen

About the Conservancy, Julie Andert writes: Our Mission: The American River Conservancy (P.O. Box 562, 348 Hwy 49, Coloma, CA 95613) serves our community by protecting and enhancing natural habitats where wildlife can flourish. Through education and recreation we promote a broad ethic of stewardship, ensuring healthy ecosystems now and for the future.

•••Sat. (1/9 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. (1/9), 2 PM: Citrus Heights Area Poets (CHAP) presents Chap Lines: A series of programs brought to you by CHAP in cooperation with Barnes & Noble Bookstores. Start the new year with a look back at some poems our parents and grandparents loved; then open mic by local poets. Barnes & Noble across from Sunrise Mall on Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights.

•••Sat. (1/9 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. (1/9 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.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Your ghost enters my room
your face big and round a pale moon
you come in slowly still wobbly no land legs
shaking fingers thread my hair
corpse arm still warm and soft
forgive me my sins
you laugh at the drama, fade away—
Come back!
but all you do is die
speak nothing but German
as my father spoke to Grandma
when they didn’t want us to understand
the word Tod keeps coming up
as well as Todd B who also died
Uncle Bill lies beside me in the bed
he reaches for me
for nothing but comfort I hope
he once reached for you
perhaps he had no bad intent
there’s talk about it as you lay silent
I’m frightened without your voice—
out on the sidewalk a dog barks
a woman leans against a storefront
I stop/friends walk on
her car is broken down
she needs help but turns down mine
waits for the mechanic
who is she anyway? she looks familiar
small cramped face, reddish hair
dog keeps barking
I lure him down the street
open her car door
a typewriter sits on the passenger seat
dog bounds into the car
scrambles around the big old Royal
I slam the door after him
he’s in the car not barking
nothing else works
I catch up with my friends


—Allegra Silberstein, Davis

On the eve of this new year
a blue moon shines through the gathering of clouds:
tells me to be of good cheer,
let the old woes disappear:
a blue moon shines through the gathering of clouds.


—Don Feliz, Sacramento

Each shape in its custom case;
fourteen dark chocolates, a red satin box.
Pick one now, create new space.
Choosing is hard when you face
fourteen dark chocolates, a red satin box.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

Dozing to classical strains
then, Pop, Pop, Pop! sounds, just like that, Tat, Tat, Tat!
Sphincters constrict; beyond panes,
a gun, or am I insane?
Pop, Pop, Pop! the sounds are just like, Tat, Tat, Tat!

Christmas, New Year’s home alone,
I lock the door, read, and the world disappears.
My job, my life, my home,
each day’s beauty all its own.
Yet peace is just another fantasy, it appears.


—Elsie Whitlow Feliz, Sacramento

Dark, dense fog keeps me in town.
While sun sits high and shining in the foothills,
I still wear my flannel gown.
Winter weather presses down
while sun sits high and shining in the foothills.


Today's LittleNip:

—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

The small gesture, as you see,
is extraordinary in its quick keeping
of care, of heart, and truly
hides a vast kindness in the
fullness of respect, in the quiet weeping.



SnakeWatch: A New Year with Rattlesnake Press:


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.
Let me know if you don't get yours
by the end of the week.

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 our 2nd Weds. reading series (except for no reading in January).
Watch Medusa's Kitchen for further developments,
and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, Snakebytes,
by writing to me at


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.

WTF is the only Rattlesnake print publication
that will keep going during our break;
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


During our hiatus from most print publications (except WTF),
Medusa will keep cooking in the Kitchen every day.
(Check out our updated format!
Did you know that,
if you click on the pictures we post, they'll enlarge for you?
Only a few of our poets have picked up on the fact, though,
that Medusa's Kitchen is a great way to get your work out there
on a very frequent basis; the snakes of Medusa are always hungry,
especially for NorCal poetry.
Plus, we accept previously-published work—such a deal!—
(please cite publication and be sure you own the rights)
and, like our other journals,
no bios or cover letters are required; just mark it for Medusa.
Send it all to or
P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
(No simultaneous submissions, though, please.)

I'm convinced that the 'Net
is the future of poetry; print may continue,
and of course has its benefits,
but where else can your work be seen by
an almost unlimited number of people (including your relatives)
with this kind of speed and frequency??
Where else can you connect with Duluth or Greece or Zimbabwe
for free, day by day, liberated from
the vicissitudes of the postal service???

So keep sending poetry, photos, art, cartoons, events,
mini-reviews of poetry and books about poetry
(100 words or less), and
other handy resources such as books, websites
and submissions opportunities—
whatever poetry goings-on that can be posted.
Watch line lengths on poetry, though; they are limited on the blog.
Blogspot does refuse to indent, too; work must be justified left.

Need to find a poet who posted in the past, including yourself?
Go to the search bar at the upper left of the blog and
type in the name.
Or, if you know the date, go to the archives column at the right,
click on the year and scroll down to the month, then the day.

Plus, be sure to check out the links in the right-hand column
for more poetry and poetry news, local and otherwise.

You can also become a "follower", or click on the pix
of the followers to see what's going on with them
(D.R. Wagner and Donald Anderson, e.g.)
or send Medusa to somebody else.

So watch for an expansion of offerings and opportunities
as the Kitchen gets remodeled along with everything else ophidian—
2010 is going to be a
Big Year for the Snake!

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
in print and otherwise.
Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or
write to me (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free!
See for a complete listing of all our other
publications, free and otherwise. There's a link to the right.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as REVIEWS, RESOURCES and 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.