Friday, January 08, 2010

The Memory of Trees

Enhanced Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

They are standing on the edge
Of the stair, gazing at the jewel
That is the dawn unfolding, neither
Afraid nor apprehensive. The day
Will cascade upon them, then through
them, wiping its silly smile across
All that lies before it. A blessing
Of a kind, but without the quiet
Voice that calls the powers to itself,
Dispersing again in a million
Amens. They drift before
The wave crashes, before the fire
In the fireplace really takes hold,
Declaring the memory of trees
To the damp air, before the clanging
Bells that threaten to topple
Childhood, clear water and singing
Into a collective murmuring of illusions.

Still they stand before it, eager to be
Enveloped. This is the world, for heaven's
Sake. What choice is left at this point?
We kiss it full upon the mouth,
The surface of the eye floating
Scars and image alike, a gray morning
Suddenly relieving itself of the clouds
And exclaiming at the green presents.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••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), 6-9 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents The Writer’s Brush, a Second Sat. Reception featuring an art show of writers who are visual artists as well, including Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, Sue Owens Wright, JoAnn Anglin, Jeanine Stevens, Joseph Finkleman, William Laws, Susan Finkleman and Susan Orr, plus musical guest Mike Pickering. That’s at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. (A reading will be held Jan. 23 from 7-9 PM).

•••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.

•••Monday (1/11), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents James DenBoer and Cynthia Broshi at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. James DenBoer has a new book of translations out by the sixth century Latin poet Venantius Fortunatus: Small Gifts, Great Grace: The Personal Poems of Venantius Fortunatus (Bald Trickster Press, 2009). He is also the author of Learning The Way and Trying to Come Apart (University of Pittsburgh Press), Nine Poems; Olson/DenBoer: A Letter; Lost in Blue Canyon (Christopher's Books); Dreaming of the Chinese Army (Blue Thunder Press); A Bibliography of the Published Work of Douglas Blazek 1961 – 2001 (Glass Eye Books); Back Until Then (PalOMine Press); two chapbooks from Rattlesnake Press (Black Dog: An Unfinished Segue Between Two Seasons and Day Moon) and Stonework: Selected Poems (Swan Scythe Press, 2007). He has had grants and awards from the International Poetry Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council on the Arts, and PEN Center-New York, among others. He is presently translating the Romance kharjas of Hebrew and Arabic muwashshahat.

Cynthia Broshi is a registered practitioner of Jin Shin Jyutsu, the ancient art of harmonizing body, mind and spirit with gentle touch. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area but she gives seminars and demonstrations all over the world on the practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu. She also teaches self-help classes in the Bay Area from the Mary Burmeister self-help books. She has recently published work in The Portland Review.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Where ignorance is bliss,
'tis folly to be wise.
—Thomas Gray

Sammy Sparrow asked Willie the Owl
how you become wise. Willie turned his
head around twice and replied,

"First comes speech, then thought, which
is the measure of knowledge—but sadly,
a misused word can lead to false thoughts."

Then Willie blinked and said, "Before I
became wise, I lived in a state of blissful
ignorance. Every plant, animal and flower

seemed the work of a higher power—but
when I went to college, I became too wise
to be a believer, and now, being ungodly,

I've had to turn the world upside-down
in order to satisfy my disbelief."


—D.R. Wagner

The light beginning to crackle and glow
Around the buildings on the horizon.
In traveling through this place
We have no idea why such a phenomenon
Should occur. It’s rather like a
Small child being born and immediately
Becoming recognized as a great king.
What are the chances of such a thing?

The evening scoots down the low hills
As if it were another child, on a slide,
Being called to dinner just as he
Finally gains his spot at the top.
What to do? Come home now?

Sit down, press one’s legs into the
Sides of the slide and take as much
Time as possible to descend to the ground.
Everyone will understand somehow.

When we reach the bottom of the hill,
The entire landscape looks embossed,
A storybook cover one could run one's
Hand over and still feel the real worth
The story has to hold. No one has
Visited this place below the hill
For so long we have forgotten the songs
That used to be sung about it.
We believe we are making up a new song.

by D.R. Wagner


Today's LittleNip:

—Pablo Neruda

If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

(Translated from the Spanish by Wm. O'Daly)



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. Voila! 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.


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.