Friday, January 29, 2010

Yoo-Hoo, Popeye!

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

I taste your lips of salt and sea
your tongue of sea and salt
caress your tattooed arms
silky as salmon skin

Chorus: YO HO HO!

Now Sailor,
swab your senses
sweat your sextants
stall your stanchions
soothe your seagulls
swing your swivels

Chorus: YO HO HO!

Sailor, it’s the saline solution

Chorus: YO HO HO!

sing your song
7 times 7
and I’ll sail your seas



Patricia Hickerson opined that her Olive Oyl poem may be too silly for Medusa; I said, No such thing! We can all use a little whimsy, so we're beginning with whimsy and ending with whimsy (à la Theodore Roethke). In between, thanks to our other poets for mask poems. Our Seed of the Week: Masks is a give-away. Send a poem about masks to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726, and I'll send you any rattlechap of your choosing! (Go to the "rattlechaps" page on for a complete listing.) Give-away SOWs have deadlines; this one is midnight this Sunday, January 31. Yoo-hoo—Popeye....!

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing of events, go to

•••Tonight (Friday, 1/29): Debut of Sacramento's newest monthly reading series, Stories on Stage, focusing upon short fiction by writers from Sacramento and surrounding areas. Each event will feature two short stories, introduced by their authors and read by actors, beginning with the work of Jodi Angel, author of The History of Vegas, and UC Davis alumni Naomi Williams, featuring readers/actors Bill Kay and Cynthia Speakman. The series will run on the last Friday of every month, beginning January 29 at HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento.

•••Fri. (1/29), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries inside The Upper Level VIP Lounge, 26 Massic Ct., Sacramento (located inside of Fitness Systems Healthclub, by Cal State Skating Rink; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie, right past Motel 6) features poets Malik Saunders, Chara Charis and Leah Albright-Byrd plus singers Michelle Williams, Willie Whitlock and KoRae'jus and open mic. $5.00. Info: 916-208-POET or

•••Sat. (1/30), 4-6 PM: Women's Writing Salon at Valentina’s Bistro and Bakery, 1041 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, featuring poetry and prose penned by the foothills community of women writers, including Elizabeth Appell, Shirley Dickard, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, Dianna Henning and Julie Valin. The event is free, and while we feature women readers, men are enthusiastically welcomed. Gather at 3:30 for food and drink (available at the café); reading begins at 4:00. Info: Patricia Miller, 530-265-5165 ( or Betsy Fasbinder, 530-613-9947 ( Our special thanks to Valentina Masterz for hosting this event.

•••Sat. (1/30), 7-9 PM: TheShowPoetrySeries features poets Emmanuel Sigauke, Lori Jean R. Hatten, Khiry Malik Moore, Jane Guiremand, Rob Anthony, Claudia Epperson, Angie Eleazer, Yoke Breaker and dance group G.L.O.W featuring P.U.R.E.. Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St. (Off 35th & Broadway), Sacramento. $5.00. Info: 916-208-POET or E-mail:

•••Jan. 28-31: 11th Annual Snow Goose Festival in Chico, including field trips, workshops, nature activities for children, and “The Loon’s Necklace”, a film that tells the story of how the loon got the distinctive band around its neck. Various locations; fees from $2-$42. For a complete schedule, go to

•••Monday (2/1), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Lori Ostlund and Robin Ekiss, two Bay Area writers with new books from the University of Georgia Press who are joining forces for a fiction and poetry reading. Red velvet cake for all! Lori Ostlund's first collection of stories, The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and was published by the University of Georgia Press in fall 2009. Her stories have appeared in the New England Review, Bellingham Review, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner, among other journals. She is a 2009 Rona Jaffe Award winner ( Former Stegner Fellow and Rona Jaffe Award winner Robin Ekiss’s poems and prose have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, American Poetry Review, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Black Warrior Review, VQR, and elsewhere. Her first book of poems, The Mansion of Happiness, was recently published by the University of Georgia Press VQR Poetry Series (


—Dawn DiBartolo, Citrus Heights

i was born,
but am not me,
without the masks.

they are
my story…
all of it in

the smiling one,
real or fake,
hides well the scars
or triumphs the pain;
and sometimes, even
happiness prevails.

the broken one
is whole because
it was once,
and is today
the face in the mirror,
cracked but fully reflective.

the brown—
skinned one is
strong yet malleable
to any given weakness,
when such moments arise.

one, worn in secret
for its frailty,
her tongue, pink
as the delicate rose.

to remove
any one
is a revelation
of dry bone,
unfinished ugliness
in its potential for beauty.


—Dawn DiBartolo

some find it hard
to see the face
beneath the eyes
of motherhood ~
a first focus
of the babe,

or say “this
must be done
right away!”
and the face fades
behind a flurry
of hands, doing,
always doing;

good and bad skins
are relative
to the day ~
neither moon nor sun
overwhelms the sky.

but find me
in the spring time
glowing with newness
and dew;

find me
in summer, glistening
sheen of sweat.

find me
in the mire
of discontent, singing
while busy being.

or find me
in a child’s
sweet breath,
content enough
to sigh in peaceful rest.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Wake up in the morning
Only plain face all day
Assume the game face
Place on the warpaint
Head into the foray

Who are you really
Beneath this mask

After work
Off with friends
Glitter paint
A good time mask
Wears me

Who are you really
Beneath this mask

Home at last
Off with the masks
Is this really your
True face


—Theodore Roethke

Most mammals like caresses, in the sense
in which we usually take the word,
whereas other creatures, even tame snakes,
prefer giving to receiving them.

(from a natural history book)

The pensive gnu, the staid aardvark,
Accept caresses in the dark;
The bear, equipped with paw and snout;
Would rather take than dish it out.
But snakes, both poisonous and garter,
In love are never known to barter;
The worm, though dank, is sensitive:
His noble nature bids him give.

But you, my dearest, have a soul
Encompassing fish, flesh, and fowl.
When amorous arts we would pursue,
You can, with pleasure, bill or coo.
You are, in truth, one in a million
At once mammalian and reptilian.


Today's LittleNip:


—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

Someone once said:
poetry is the opposite of hypocrisy.

Do poets toss their dark masks
and flood their ideas with daylight
or do they continue to walk through
the many myths of each other?