Photo by Alan Satow, Stockton
—D.R. Wagner and Tom Kryss
We’ve had some of them stored for years in that wooden pantry just below the cellar stair, where mom kept the plums and tomatoes and pickles. They were the words. The special ones we didn’t use everyday. When guests came we would open some and they would spark conversation. After dinner with a slice of pie and slice of cheese those deeper ones that stuck to the sides of the jars would be scrapped carefully and served up. The ones that mattered, like blood and its engines, famine and tumult. They are gone now. So much time has passed since childhood that even the pantry is difficult to remember, let alone those words. Still they pulse through our bodies. Unlike cells they are not replaced every seven years by a new one. We hold them in our hearts and mouths and call to one another across time
as if it were a fence between yards.
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
Come taste the wines in my cellar:
old wines, as tempting as desire—
dark wines in old dark casks, long-saved,
growing as bitter as my kiss—
love never more bitter than this:
dark wines in old dark casks, long-saved,
old wines, as tempting as desire.
Come taste the wines in my cellar.
Poets are still bringing up poems from Down in the Cellar, last week's Seed of the Week. I'll let Michelle Kunert have the last word. By the way, if you saw the "early edition" of yesterday's Medusa (before 9am), you caught me giving Michelle credit for Mitz Sackman's poem! Wow—I really AM on vacation—first the wrong date in Poetry Now for Carol Frith's reading, then mis-labeling poems... *sigh*
Anyway, it's a new week, time for a new SOW. Alan Satow is a loyal photographer at some of the readings around town; one of the photos he sent me recently was the one of his cupboard with the intriguing skull—which is there, I suppose, to remind him to stay away from the chips and dip. Let's write about Food! Glorious food! Send your food poems to email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.
•••Upstairs Poetry reading tomorrow, Wednesday, Mar. 24 from 6-7pm at The Upstairs Art Gallery, 420 Main St (2nd floor), Placerville. It's a poetry open-mike read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen. No charge.
•••Be sure to drop in at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St., Sacramento) at 8pm this Thursday night for Martha Ann Blackman, Sandy Thomas, and Kimberly White at Poetry Unplugged.
•••The new issue of Canary has arrived at www.hippocketpress.com/canary.cfm/.
•••Phantom Seed Lit-Mag, a creative publication embodying the essence of the California (and other) deserts, is seeking submissions for issue #4. Prose, poetry, essays, memoir, novel excerpts, strange and experimental writing all welcome, focusing on any idea, concept, truth or fabrications embracing the spirit of the desert. Pieces depicting the fringes of California's deserts are also welcome. Phantom Seed is not a nature magazine, and it is a print-publication published twice/year. They especially like edgy pieces that contain unexpected humor and embodiment of all or nothing that might be described as "desert noir." Deadline is June 15, 2010 for a publication date of September 1, 2010. For submissions guidelines and info, go to ruthnolan.blogspot.com/2008/07/phantom-seed-literary-magazine.html/.
•••Monika Rose of Manzanita writes: Only a few short days are left to enroll in the Fifth Annual Gold Rush Writers Conference! On March 30, the current introductory price of $145 rockets to $175. (Of course, $175 is cheap at twice the price, but why pay extra?) The event will be held once again at the Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hill, CA. Dates are April 30, May 1 and 2. A choice of 16 workshops run the gamet from mystery to memoir writing. A writer whose first novel sold for $100,000 will tell you step by step how she did it. Or, if you don't wish to go that route, every aspect of self publishing will be demonstrated by a successful indie who went on to establish her own publishing company. You'll find workshops tailored to craft enhancement—dialogue, POV, plot and character development—as well as poetry, screen writing andcurrent marketing trends. Tom Johnson, Gold Rush's computer genius, will be back this year to demonstrate just how effective social media marketing can be. Best-selling author Mary Mackey will lead her much-talked-about memoir class and discuss historical fiction. But those are only a few of many workshops that can change your writing life. Remember, too, that the current price of $145 includes a picnic supper, lunch, dinner and brunch—besides the extra panels and talks. It hardly pays to stay home! For additional information or to register, go to www.goldrushwriters.com/.
SPC Writing Conference Announced!
Sacramento Poetry Center has announced its FREE 2010 SPC Annual Writing Conference, to be held Friday, April 16 (7:30pm) and Saturday, April 17 (10am-6:30pm) at R25, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Joseph Lease, Toni Mirosevich, Donna de la Perrière, Flatman Crooked, Tim Kahl, Indigo Moor, Peter Grandbois and Foshang (with Lawrence Dinkins and Mario Ellis Hill) will be the presenters; watch the SPC website for further information. Registration: Tim Kahl at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
DOWN IN THE CELLAR
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
I've heard fond memories and stories of cellars
that served as makeshift WWII bomb shelters
and places to go during tornadoes and hurricanes
Supposed to help in case your house was swept away
For disasters they were stocked with supplies
But of course that wouldn't help during a flood
as of course would an attic
But many houses in Northern Cal suburbia don't have either
especially if they were new ones built in 1950's and after
But those that do likely are just stuffed with junk
from all the things people bought and later couldn't use
Or discoveries of "illegal" plants growing or possible meth labs
or else just plain too creepy to go down the stairs
for which they could be where ghosts or creatures live
And maybe as a kid you were dared to go down there
having a door always giving an eery creak opening
that some WD-40 just couldn't fix…
Nope—so many houses just have crawl space
under my parents' it’s just like two feet high
One time recently my Dad opened up his home's venting hole
"Please, pull some wires through to my new stereo speakers
it would just be very difficult for me to do it now,
and I don't want all these sticking out on the living room floor."
Sarcastically I sang at him the Indiana Jones' theme song
when I arrived with old clothes and a hard hat
to see my fears of it being filled with webs of black widows
Along with claustrophobic fears
of also arousing rats and possibly snakes
Crawling around upon dirty cement on my belly
navigating around in utter darkness using only a flash light
Meanwhile during the journey,
I recovered a pack of Camels left years ago
as well as a beer bottle from previous workers
I pulled out, ended up aborting the mission
An epicure, dining at Crewe,
Found quite a large mouse in his stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout,
And wave it about,
Or the rest will be wanting one, too!"