Thursday, February 04, 2010

Not to See What is Not

Sunset, Pacific Beach
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Shawn Aveningo, Rescue

One lump or two?
Such an innocent question
uttered hundreds of times
at the tea room.
Today, those words
had the power
to bring her to tears.
No amount of chamomile
or honey capable
of soothing her pain.
She was drowning
in a sea of sorrow,
fearful of what
tomorrow would bring.

How could she face
this new reflection,
scarred, disfigured?
What would she see
reflecting in his eyes?
He said he would always
love her, no matter what.
He said she would always
be beautiful to him,
but this....this
isn’t what crosses your
mind, vowing in
sickness and health.

Each day she’ll carry on,
with a stiff upper lip
and pink ribbons in her hair,
stuffing the prosthetic
into her bra, no longer
adorned with sheer lace.
She’ll march with any
army of women.

She’s grateful to be
among the living,
a survivor as she’s
now known. But she misses
her curves, even if sometimes
they sagged. She misses
the tingling of her nipples
when her husband held
her in his arms. She
misses feeling like a woman.
She misses feeling


Thanks to Shawn Aveningo, Geoffrey Neill (welcome, first-timer on Medusa!) and Mitz Sackman for today's poetry, and to D.R. Wagner for the photos. About her frog poems, Shawn writes: After reading [yesterday’s] blog, I just had to send you my little scrapbook of “frog poems” in response to Richard Zimmer’s collection. If I remember correctly, all three of my frog poem were born of those fun “word in a can” exercises with Taylor Graham. [See previous Rattlesnake Reviews.]

Now that I've gotten my panties unbunched about other blogs and what goes on therein, I've decided we need a spot on the bulletin board to post Poets Who Blog, so watch for that—and don't be shy about sending me your blog/facebook/twitter/whatever address for such posting! I hope you're checking the bulletin board frequently, by the way; Elves in the Night do make changes on there almost daily. Today I've added a link for Modesto's Quercus Review. Check it out!

Be sure to catch the new Outta the Blue Poetry Series tonight from 7-9 PM with Molly Fisk and Bob Stanley at Roseville Arts Blue Line Gallery, 405 Vernon St., Ste. 100, Roseville. $5 members and students; $15 nonmembers, or sign up for Roseville Arts membership. Future readings will include Bill Gainer and Michelle Johnson (4/8); Kate Asche and Tim Kahl (8/26); Kathleen Lynch, Roger Groghan and Moira Magneson (10/21). Info: or 916-783-4117.

This week at MatrixArts:

All these activities take place at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento:

•••Thurs. (2/4), 4-6 PM: Emerging Artists and Writers: Take a field trip to Art Ellis to look at papers and book art supplies, plus create an artist journal. For teens and adults. $15/$10 MatrixArts members.

•••Thurs. (2/4), 7-9 PM: Chapbooks with Maryellen Burns/Lawrence Fox: A chapbook is a vehicle for poets and emerging authors and editors to gain entry into the literary marketplace. They grew out of a tradition of small books containing poems, political or religious tracts, folk stories, songs and all manner of short texts. We’ll offer a series of workshops to create a small, hand-stitched book-length manuscript of no more than 32 pages; Topics will include: How to begin, how to arrange poems to maximize thematic impact, illustrate an essay, design front and back covers and inside pages, paper selection, printing, hand-binding techniques, selecting a title, and how to submit your Chapbook for contests and publication, plus a little shameless self-promotion. $15/$10 for members. This first session you’ll walk out the door with all the steps it takes to create a small-published masterpiece and a hand-sewn pamphlet book to draw your ideas in. $15/$10 MatrixArts members.

•••Fri. (2/5), 11 AM-1 PM: The Writers Table with Maryellen Burns/Laura Martin: A drop-in workshop full of writing prompts, games, art, critique, publishing, marketing and public relations tips. Theme of the day: Word of Mouth—Treasured family food stories handed down and infused with ritual memory and love connects us to our past and reaches out to the future $15/$10 MatrixArts members.

•••Fri. (2/5), 1:30-4 PM: Random Writers and Artists, facilitated by Katie McCleary. Write a non-cheesy Valentine’s Day prose poem! Most of us want to explore all the facets of our creative self and have talents and interests beyond those of the written word. We love to research, write and market our work, but want time to create art too—ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, collage, assemblage, BookArts, illustrate a children's book, write a graphic novel or even dabble a little with music and theater. We called it Random Writers and Artists because the intent was to gather on an irregular basis and create—either through writing prompts, exercises, discussions, critiques, marketing and promotion—guidance and integrate art into the experience when we can, and even indulge in a field trip now or then. Facilitation will be rotated and eventually days of the weeks too. When we say random, we mean random! $5 suggested donation to cover snacks and materials.


—Shawn Aveningo

They say
if you kiss enough frogs
you’ll find true love.
As if swapping spit with amphibians
somehow opens the porthole
to a lover’s heart.
Yes. I am a bit.
For if you bulldozed
upon a stage
all the frogs I’ve kissed
thus far,
and watched as the curtains open,
and waited for his royal highness
to emerge from the wart-infested background,
you’d simply leap to your feet
in astonishment and shriek
“not one damn prince in the whole
dumb show”,
and then
demand a refund.


—Shawn Aveningo

I am a frog,
that frog,
the one with appendages
pinned to a tray,
little labels
defining purpose,
explaining existence,
for observers
to pick and choose
perhaps admire
pieces they like
discarding the rest,
never kissed
while whole.


—Shawn Aveningo

Swift and potent
with mortar and pestle,
crushing caplets
gathered at a drive-thru,
under neon suburban lights.

ID’s not checked
at 2:00 A.M.
while the frogs croak
under the moon.
Hideaway cloaked,
by machine gun yielding

Kids spend
their allowance on
PEZ dispensers full
of a different kind
of rock candy.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Mom’s Scrapbook
Turning the pages
Brown, cracking with age
Filled with glamorous images
Movie stars before World War II
Men in formal portraits
With obvious makeup
Black and white pictures
Touched up with color
Cut from magazines
By a farm girl far from Hollywood
A collection of fantasy life
Pasted in a scrapbook
Describes her childhood dreams

Dad’s Funeral
We gathered around the table
The morning before the rosary
Armed with scissors, fancy papers, old photos
Parents’ photos as kids and adults
Old family photos, including one of two great grandmothers
With scissors and glue, pages were assembled
Conversations rolled around the past

Tahoe Reunion
We assembled between meals
Putting together pages, themed with old photos
To create a memory book
For this Tahoe weekend
Celebrating Mom’s 80th birthday


—Geoffrey Neill, Sacramento

inspired by the book of 500 handmade books
he finally musters his art boxes—
full of springs shards and other shreds of trash—
from their sundry closets and crannies—
these scraps scraped from the shattered
things in life

that freed of their form and intention
now hold so much possibility
for anyone willing to imagine
beyond what they used to have—
and begins to stitch and sew
to gather together and glue

to make old and broken new
and to recreate with these snips and snailshells
something that might be worth
setting on a shelf and years later saying
see that there? i made that
it is mine

it is me

Photo enhancement by D.R. Wagner

Today's LittleNip:

Besides learning to see, there is another art to be learned—not to see what is not.

—Maria Mitchell, U.S. Astronomer