Saturday, March 20, 2010

When Spring Begins

Tulip Bed
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Donald R. Anderson & Marie J. Ross, Stockton

What kind of things can one do
after the sun sets and the night lights glow?
The bars, the coffee shops, the movies, the shows?
What can a group of poets agree on?
As diverse as they were, the ladies of the group
decided on the movies, while the men outnumbered the women.
Sure enough they ended up in a bar to indulge in a game of pool.
They stealthily avoided the gambling pool sharks
and kept trying in vain to make the pool balls in,
when a old strange man in a Greek fisherman’s cap
taught them trick shots from the glory days.
As the click of beer glasses resonated through the room
and the football game was on the TV, the clamor outlasted
their desire to play pool, so they exited the door quickly,
in dismay of what to do next.
They rode together in the caravan minivan,
street lights drawing them on,
until they were so fascinated by the moon aflame with its
amber glow of harvest air, that they simply must write about it.
Then and there.


Happy beginning of Spring!

Medusa seems to have somewhat slipped off some of our friends’ radar lately, calendar-wise; some of our Snake pals have had/will have readings that they haven’t sent me announcements for. [Insert sad face here.] When I said I was cutting back on calendar postings, I just meant the perpetual kind that no one was sending me announcements for, anyway. For a while I was trying to list everything that was happening, which was (1) making me crazy; (2) causing mistakes, since people sometimes cancel such readings/workshops without notice, making me look ‘way silly; and (3) why re-invent the wheel, since Rebecca Morrison’s Eskimo Pie Girl is so thorough? Still, it makes me sad to find out after the fact about readings that I could’ve done some publicity for. April will be a busy month, I’m guessing (Nat’l Poetry Month), so don’t neglect your poor lonely Medusa… Just lemme know a bit in advance.

Good luck to those intrepid NorCal poets who are headed down to the venerable Berkeley Poets’ Dinner today; may you do us proud! Berkeley Poets’ Dinner is a long-running institution to which hundreds of poets from all over the country send poems in January to be judged; the winners are announced at the lunch (which used to be a fancy dinner) in the spring. You must attend the luncheon and pick up your prize (actual cash!—and yes, people do come from out of state) when it’s announced; otherwise the prize goes to the next poet on the list. About a dozen or so Sacramento/environs poets go down to Berkeley each spring, and they usually bring home a disproportionate number of prizes—which used to mightily discomfit the Bay Area poets (the term “carpetbagger” was used, I believe)—but now they see us as “the ones to beat”. (Of course, and we are.) Anyway, good luck to all of our Snake pals today. Bring home the Berkeley bacon!

Katy Brown is one of the poets who will be going down to Berkeley today. She sent me one of those funny headline lists; my favorites are “Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over”; “Kids Make Nutritious Snacks”; and “Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead”.

John Fox and Poetry Therapy:

•••Thurs. (3/25), 7-9pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making Discussion with John Fox at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. This talk will invite participants to consider the healing power of poetry. $25. [See the Ticket section of yesterday’s Sacramento Bee for an article about Fox’s work, or go to]

•••Friday (3/26), 7-9pm: Introduction to Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making with John Fox. Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists, 190 Finley St., Auburn. $25; open to all.

•••Sat. (3/27), 9am-4pm: Poetry, Community & The Flourishing Heart: workshop with John Fox. Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists, 190 Finley St., Auburn. $75, limited to 18 participants. Reg. with John Bowman at 916-751-9189 or


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Ice spreads
its paperweight shadows
by the undertow shore
after a muffled winter
white sugar drifts nod
near the bicycle rider
who parks by the beach gazebo
through mountains of sand,
the one-eyed sunshine

unlocks trees
of tasseled snow,
Poseidon waves to his lovers
asking us to break dance
on a frozen morning.


—B.Z. Niditch

It must be March
always absurdist
and sleepless
before daybreak
you've stretched your frame
in the chill forsaken air
opening your swollen eyes
to a column of clouds
in the evergreen heights.

An orphan snowstorm
leaves you blinded
on a wooden bridge
scattered snowflakes flicker
in the daylight wind
across nameless borders
soaking your woolen scarf
with a last shuttering breath.


—B.Z. Niditch

Sitting around the table
sunlight slips away
its crystal inconvenience
same old dusk
by the effaced portrait
at the open window
its passing strip of sky
daubed with pink,
expecting guests
at a moment's arrival
with Proustian phrases
tortured confessions
or catching idle gossip
by unveiled fruit
looking like a Cezanne
among the dead of season
suddenly a returning memory,
the dark spotted gesture
a wounded after word
follows me home
and muffled wisdom
boxed in blindness
of a striking voice
from the past
of Grandpa Mendes
saying to a child of ten
"Life is not poetry,
but prose."


Today's LittleNip:

God, mom, and one's wife, are always, always right.

—Donald R. Anderson, Stockton



Dianthus (Pinks)
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove