Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Dog in the Sky

See what a little sun can do?

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

You suggest lovers be white wool
or a rose garden:

as white wool we may pull
the fabric over our own eyes
yet still make out vague outlines
of what lies ahead:
this cloth can shield against storm,
warm the bones—
It's the cloth you wore well, having
looked outside in, inside out.

Yes, Rumi, white wool.

Lovers as a rose garden:
Yes, we accept thorns, blood-drops,
learn how to pick a rose tenderly.
We practice kissing petals,
then kiss our lover's wounds
hoping to heal them.
And there are other kisses.
But that is a private matter.

And we must watch as blooms
wither, fall, even as we hold them
against the pull of earth.

Yes, Rumi, also a rose garden.


Thanks to Claire Baker, for her letter to Rumi. And thanks to Ann Menebroker and Richard Zimmer for sun-talk (Richard took up the interlocking rubaiyat suggestion from Tuesday), and to D.R. Wagner for his Le Mal du Pays.

I wrote to Dewell Byrd, a long-time contributor who lives in Eureka, to ask him about their recent earthquake. He wrote back: Doing fine. Minor damage. Most of the damage was right along the bay... $50,000,000. 37 injuries, one broken hip. But our side of town is just a bit nervous. [Medusa hasn't heard from any poets in Haiti yet...]

Youth poetry in our area:

•••California’s oldest newspaper, The Mountain Democrat (;
click on the link and scroll down to read the article), featured two of our SnakePals yesterday: Chris Olander and Moira Magneson. Moira, a Rattlechapper from Placerville's Red Fox Underground, is El Dorado County's Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the El Dorado Arts Council. Grass Valley resident Chris Olander [see an interview of him in Conversations Vol. 2] is coaching high school students to prepare them for the upcoming El Dorado County section of the state-wide Poetry Out Loud competition, which will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Imagination Theater on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Dr. in Placerville. Info: Moira at or the El Dorado Arts Council at To learn more about Poetry Out Loud, go to

•••Friday (1/15), 6:30-9 PM: Through a generous grant and funding from the City of Sacramento, New Dimension Learning Academy, the Sacramento Poetry Center and Terry Moore have come together to present a night of Spoken Word, Poetry, Dance, Live Music and Art at the Guild Theater (2828 35th Street) in Oak Park Sacramento. New Dimension Learning Academy is a school with grades 8-12, servicing the needs of students with ED and LD learning needs. The students have worked hard and are excited to present their work with other professional poets, artists and dance crews around Northern California. Artists Drummer Jason Hunt, Video and Poet-Jesse Brown and Muralist-Cristina Miguel Mullen have also worked hard with the students to embed art into the core curriculum, making learning fun and visual focusing on empowering inner-city arts, identity and culture over the past couple of months to prepare for
the second year of this event.

Tickets only $5 dollars. Student Group Discounts please inquire. Advance ticket sales please call 916-739-0511 or email—Seats will sell out!

Brandon Jackson

Leah Albright-Byrd
Laura Cook
Lawrence Dinkins
Anna Smith
Bob Stanley
Terry Moore
New Dimension youth poets

Seeking Sponsorship for future Poetry Presentations and youth art workshops. Please inquire, fully tax-deductible.


—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

The landlord swept leaves
off my wet porch, leaves I let pile up
and the rain came the day after he did
this, so I was grateful. It's easier
thinking about order and neatness
than doing it. Today the sun is
out, an old dog in the sky; he won't
come when he's called, won't
sit or do tricks. He does his
thing by being. Now the truth
is, he's always up there "being"
but the weather takes over, covers
him, lets us get grim and small-
minded with lacking. I get ex-
cited knowing he's really there
the whole time as we slip
in and out of our personas
and demands. As we apply
sunscreen in the fog.


Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

A season of fog-darkened days,
with no sun to clear up the haze,
makes people sad and feeling blue,
they need the sun’s hot warming rays.

Let sunlight beam upon my view,
bring back those sunny days I knew,
the inner warmth it brought to me,
turned darkness to a lighter hue.

I pass days discontentedly,
waiting for sunshine patiently,
for the lost sun that’s gone astray,
I’ll open my blinds, hopefully.

When the sun doesn’t come my way,
my life becomes a world of gray.
If sunshine clears the fog today,
winter’s gloom will be brushed away.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

We find evening wandering among
The trees of the park: taking
His name slowly from the late
Afternoon as she slips into
Shadow, stretching a bit, easing
Her language of birds and insect sounds
Toward evening, offering them as gifts.

Lights begin to blink on
Across the valley. From here
They could be angels who, having
Heard the vespers bell, hurry
So not to be late for the last hour.

We can want no more than
To be here together, a witness.
Perhaps it is only that we have
Chanced to find ourselves surrounded
By the hour that moves this feeling
Through us and into the landscape.

Perhaps it is a knowledge of something
We had not anticipated understanding
Quite yet and so are still unable to
Name it properly that does this.

We stand together here a long
Time. Finally it becomes so dark
I can no longer see you clearly.
Stars begin to blow across the sky.


Today's LittleNip:

Look: the sun has spread its wings
over the earth to dispel the darkness.

Like a great tree, with its roots in heaven,
and its branches reaching down to the earth.

—Judah Al-Harizi, c. 1170-1235



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 have gone out; let me know if you didn't get yours.

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.