Monday, March 01, 2010


—Myrna Scott

While the kettle sang forever
on the back of the stove,
I crouched with Our-Sally-Cat, half sleeping;
stroking her throat, I purred quite as loudly as she,
until Mama came in from hanging
the first long line of clothes.
Red-cheeked from the chill North Wind
she recited a poem to me,
stirring with rhythm the great pot of starch
that thickened my thoughts of poetry.
And the kettle sings forever—
On cold Monday mornings in March.


Lion or Lamb?—Watch Your Language!

Looks to me like March has come in like a lamb, but there are always storms on the horizon. Michelle Kunert writes: I hope that during the week of March 2-7, Medusa's Kitchen should defy the state Assembly and be dedicated instead to freedom of speech for students in our schools as well as this states' citizens. Michelle is referring, of course, to the "put money in a jar for cussing" thing that's going on over there right now. Well, of course, Michelle—I would think that MK is always dedicated to Getting the Word Out There, whatever the word is (naughty or nice), without censorship. I am always conscious of the pioneer work of Lennie Bruce, and George Carlin's subsequent trip to the Supreme Court, and grateful to them. If you've ever said the f-word on stage or in print, you need to thank these men (1) that you're not being arrested yourself, and (2) that Art Luna or Richard Hansen or whoever is running the reading or displaying your book is not being shut down and possibly prosecuted, as well. If you're ignorant of what Bruce and Carlin did for you, then get un-ignorant and be thankful.

But just because a word has a buzz to it doesn't mean you should abuse it or get stuck using it over and over and over, and unfortunately that happens to some of our poets (and, apparently, legislators). Audience approval does not necessarily a wonderful poem make, and if I use the word "brown" twenty times in one poem, well... Maybe we should all pick words we overuse (cool? awesome? like?) and put money in a jar every time we use them.

The other thing is how easily any word can be worn out. I never heard the f-word spoken out loud until I was nearly 20, and it had tremendous power for years in my mind—a power that, through overexposure, it has lost. And that's a darn shame, because now we're all gonna have to find some new ones with some shock value. (My mother could get more mileage out of a well-spoken CRAP! than many of the "fuck-poets" who go on and on and on.)

Somehow, though, having to put a quarter in a jar doesn't strike me as being at the same level of persecution as some of our contemporaries in other countries go through. Remember the "carving poetry in soap" LittleNip that D.R. Wagner sent us a few weeks ago? (I know, I know... slippery slope...)

This week in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing of events, go to

•••Mon. (3/1), 7:30pm: They're scattered around town—on buses, trains, cabs, in restrooms, bars, left along with the tip; stuffed into a stranger's back pocket. Whatever. Wherever. Small poems in small booklets half the size of a business card. A project of the 24th-Street Irregular Press, which cranks them out to be taken by the handful and scattered like seeds by those who want to see poetry grow in a barren cultural landscape. On March 1, Sacramento Poetry Center presents Poems-For-All Celebrates Nine! Poets will read short poems from their miniature books published as part part of the Poems-For-All Project's ninth anniversary, as well as poems from others who are in the series, including William Blake, Kenneth Patchen, d.a. levy, William Wantling, Emily Dickinson, Roque Dalton, Jack Spicer, Jack Micheline, Ted Joans, Dr. Seuss and others. [For a complete list of tonight's readers, go to last Friday's post.]

•••Weds. (3/3), 8-10pm: Storyteller John Boe performs at Poetry Night at Bistro 33, 3rd and F Sts. in Davis. Free. Hosted by Andy Jones and Brad Henderson. Info: or 530-756-4556 or

•••Thurs. (3/4), 8pm: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café (1414 16th St., Sacramento) features B.L. Kennedy, hosted by Mario Ellis Hill. Open mic before and after.


—Louise Bogan

We have struck the regions wherein we are keel or reef.
The wind breaks over us,
And against high sharp angles almost splits into words,
And these are of fear or grief.

Like a ship, we have struck expected latitudes
Of the universe, in March.
Through one short segment's arch
Of the zodiac's round
We pass,
Thinking: Now we hear
What we heard last year,
And bear the wind's rude touch
And its ugly sound
Equally with so much
We have learned how to bear.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

You have said: the blue room
of my soul. I love that line . . .

Where is that? Am I there?
Do you want to enter? Oh—

it’s cold—and fathomless—I am
afraid to be here. Why would you

want to be here, too? There is no
exit—only an entrance—which is

where I am, which you have named,
the blue room of my soul.

—Joyce Odam

(first appeared in What Is It About Blue, Mini-chap, 2002)


—Joyce Odam

Here comes
the beast.

One foot down
in the dust.

One hand
upon the door.


Slow enough
for dread.

A figment

or born.


—Joyce Odam

My fear talks to me in a different mirror,
haunting my image with his,
if indeed there is a gender.

His under-voice is a hum in my head
as though thinking to himself
but knowing I hear.

is behind me in the glass
is behind him in the opposite glass.

Why two mirrors
for this? I think. And his eyes
respond. Must I console him? I wonder.



shimmer and probe
what darkness hides

a face gone old
a blur of music

a rumor of




time that enlarges
with reason to be sad

—Joyce Odam

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

Today's LittleNip:

In the forest, Spring flowers blooming
Spring birds singing, life is blest
Strong spring breeze is swiftly zooming
Through the trees and up my dress.




Thanks to Joyce for the "devils that chase her", and to Katy for a beautiful spring photo.