Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Restless Heart Goes for a Consult

Consulting the Oracle
Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1884

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

The new governments in the Middle East
could take a lesson from Medusa’s Kitchen:

While on Sunday, the Kitchen seems to
reduce it self to almost nothing
…like a punctured balloon…
on Monday it is Phoenix rising,
with everything back in place
as if nothing had changed.

So it is with a democratic republic.
While on some occasions, certain
fine qualities may seem to lie dormant,
they are never truly dead or extinguished.

The constancy of peace and freedom
shudders, but is not shattered
by bumps in the road.


Thanks, Carl. I always see Sunday’s single poem as a special one; a gem for the day of contemplation. You’re right—sometimes you gotta knock off all the excess carbon… The rest of today's poetry comes from Michael Cluff, a SnakePal we haven't heard from for a while.

There are two deadlines coming up on Thursday, July 15: WTF (see the Big Blue Box at the Bottom of the Kitchen for guidelines) and Sac. Poetry Center's Poetry Contest. I'll be darned if I can find any guidelines for the contest, though, either on their blog or in the latest Poetry Now, so you're on your own for those. But I asked them if the deadline was still in effect, and they said yes, indeed.

Our Seed of the Week is Consulting the Oracle. On my way to and from Placerville, I pass the purple PSYCHIC sign (next to the Japanese restaurant and the huge wooden statue of Paul Bunyan). I’ve never stopped in, I confess; maybe I just don’t wanna know… Anyway, what if she sent out coupons in the Pennysaver? Would you consult an oracle? (Think Oedipus Rex, or the Matrix movie, or Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures.) How do you consult an oracle these days? Yellow pages? The Internet? Best friends with good advice? Prayer or meditation on the oracle within? What would you ask; what questions hang in the air for you? (Sometimes the answer lies in finding the right questions, yes?) And just as importantly, would you listen to what the oracle had to say—or cover your ears and run screaming? We know how well that worked out for Oedipus—are there "oracles" and omens in your past that you've ignored? Anyway, write about Consulting the Oracle and send the results to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.

Speaking of omens, in honor of Richard Hansen’s journeying in Scotland, here’s a story (from www.goodluckcreations.com) to go with D.R. Wagner’s jumping spider photo (below): One of the most enduring tales in the history of Scotland is about King Robert Bruce, who was proclaimed an outlaw in 1306 and forced to go into hiding. When everything looked hopeless, he noticed a spider swinging back and forth, patiently spinning a web. It was the king’s lucky day. Inspired by the lesson in patience, he decided that the only way to regain his throne was to persevere as the spider had. It took him seven years to regain his crown, but after he did, his country became independent of the British, who had controlled it for three centuries. It was all thanks to a patient spider.

And I do know one thing about the future: several Sac-area poets have readings and/or book releases in the Bay Area and Beyond. Mark these dates, which also appear in the “Other Events to Watch For” section of the b-board:

•••Weds. (7/21), 7-9pm: Shawn Aveningo will be reading with Giovanni Singleton and Luke WarmWater as part of the Poetry by the Bay Series at Studio 333, 333 Caledonia St., Sausalito. Info: www.studio333.info or poetnews@sonic.net or www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=134565793233968

•••Thurs. (7/22), 7:30pm: Poetry Flash and Moe’s Books present Tim Kahl and Marc Elihu Hofstadter at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Av., Berkeley, to celebrate two new books, including Tim’s first full-length book, Possessing Yourself. Info: www.moesbooks.com/cgi-bin/moe/readings-and-events.html?id=yyxJoJSe /. More about Tim at www.timkahl.com

•••Sat. (7/31), 7pm: Villa Aurora & Eso Won Bookstore (4331 Degnan Blvd., Los Angeles) present African Roar: An Eclectic Anthology of African Authors edited by Emmanuel Sigauke and Ivor W. Hartmann. Readers include Christopher Mlalazi and Emmanuel Sigauke. Info: www.villa-aurora.org/index.php?page=event-calendar

•••Thurs. (8/5), 7:30pm: SnakePal Ellaraine Lockie reads at Moe’s in Berkeley as part of a release party and contributors' reading for Love Over 60: an anthology of women’s poems ed. by Robin Chapman and Jeri McCormick from Mayapple Press. Other readers include Ellery Akers, Ellen Bass, Chana Bloch, Gail Entrekin, and Kathie Isaac-Luke. Info: www.moesbooks.com/cgi-bin/moe/readings-and-events.html?id=yyxJoJSe


—Michael Cluff, Highlands

In a desert
such a name doesn't
quite fit—
a dozen or so
miles west of Yuma
a church,
straight out of a Sergio Leone
Clint Eastwood
spaghetti Western
maybe even
a somber Bergman film
in a Lutheran early autumn,
stands about sixty feet
above the dessciated floor
on a hillock
no larger than a
footbal field
and a half.

Officially called
"The Center of the World"
it is
a spot in a stygian plain
for me.

And a few miles
the Border Patrol
on overpasses
to help prove
everyone else's


Born near the end of fifty-five
amazing that I am still alive
life just a complicated hive
depression only a cup of jive.

At the age of barely eight
went visiting to another state
ended up near the knoll of fate
what I didn't see still a debate.

One or two or three or four
no matter how many, sounds like war—
later lying on the motel floor
adults seemed frighten to the core.

Birds flew up at the sound
I was watching them going 'round
everybody else hitting the ground
what happened, who knows, theories abound.

—Michael Cluff


Split the skein in two
the world reels downward
innards are now outside
and the crows feast mightily.

I will ply your soul asunder
manipulate the brain
fresh from the pan
into spams of sputtering gore.

Tomorrow does not make the radar
yesterday is now a sick joke
my palette will taste of your bile
which has always made my own life easier.

—Michael Cluff


Extended education equals inflation
of all the usual sorts
in most compatriots
I know
superiority ....

beach balls
some soy burgers
finding it there
is fine.

In personalities
and economies.....

—Michael Cluff


Today's LittleNip:

Gallyn found God
at Denny's
it was not as special
as many of his contemporaries
but a limited offer

—Michael Cluff



Jumping Spider
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove