Thursday, August 05, 2010

What Woods

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—William Bronk

The tree in the middle of the field stands round, stands tall
as though the sun hung just above forever,
and every wind were always favoring wind.

Elm branches fall with pure contemplative grace;
oak asserts without sound, a maple tree
holds a whole summer's green in one rich green.

This tree! This tree! Look, there are parts of the world
not ever wounded, within whose light, the world
is always changed with light. This tree, this tree.


Head over to Luna’s Café tonight at 1414 16th St. in Sacramento as Poetry Unplugged presents Justin Desmangles, a native of Sacramento and host of the weekly radio broadcast, New Day Jazz, at KDVS, 90.3 FM, in Davis. Dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of African-American history and culture, the program features jazz, poetry, political commentary and interviews. Regular guests on the program include Ishmael Reed and Amiri Baraka, as well as musicians Matthew Shipp and Roscoe Mitchell. An independent producer of literary programs at the Koret Auditorium, in San Francsico's Public Library, Desmangles is the creator of Does the Secret Mind Whisper?, an annual celebration of poet Bob Kaufman. Desmangles' poetry and journalism has appeared in Shuffle Boil, Konch, and Drumvoices, as well as Black Renaissance Noire. In 2007, Desmangles was elected to the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation, and is an administrator of the American Book Award. That’s at 8pm, with open mic before and after. Mario Ellis Hill hosts.

Medusa’s b-board continues to morph, with refurbs, additions and other tweaks to keep us all on our toes. Scroll down to the wolf and his goodies for our latest new feature!

I confess: I’m not submitting my poetry out into the world anymore, partly because I’ve let my record-keeping fall into disarray (NEVER a good thing for a poet), and partly because Medusa is where I channel my creative juices these days. (Publishers are people who use OTHER peoples’ poetry for their own creative ends, I think.) But my own change of paths, whether it’s temporary or not, doesn’t mean I don’t think other poets shouldn’t submit their poetry to the world at large. So I’ve messed with the bulletin board again, moving the armadillo (see Monday’s post) up a bit on the board, placing it underneath the Deadlines section (me in my bathrobe). This reflects a greater emphasis on publishing and the painful, annoying process of submitting, which is, to my mind, something you ought to try—even if, like me, your interest in it comes and goes (and maybe comes again) in your life. I think it’s easier with encouragement from outside, so the subject will keep coming up in the Kitchen.

Speaking of which, Ellen Bass sends around an e-newsletter from time to time with some publishing venues/deadlines; my thanks to her for the following:

Calls for Submissions:

•••PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowships
Deadline: August 31, 2010

Fellowships of $1,000 each are given annually to emerging poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers from underserved communities. Each winner participates in an eight-month mentorship in Los Angeles with a professional writer, two public readings, and other programming. Housing is not provided. Writers who do not have significant publication credits, are not enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate writing program, and do not hold a graduate writing degree are eligible. Submit up to 20 pages of poetry or prose and at least two letters of recommendation with a $10 entry fee. Visit the Web site for the required entry form and complete guidelines: or

Deadline: September thru October, 2010

One winner and up to three finalists will have their book-length collection published in 2012. Go to:

Deadline: August 31, 2010

Aesthetica Magazine is inviting all artists, writers and poets to submit their work. Now in its third year, the Competition is dedicated to celebrating and championing creative talent. The Competition has three categories, Artwork, Poetry and Fiction. Winners and finalists are published in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual. Winners of each category receive £500 prize money plus other prizes (about $795). Entry to the Creative Works Competition is £10 (about $15.90). The entry fee allows the submission of 2 images, 2 poems or 2 short stories. More guidelines:

Deadline: October 1, 2010

Three prizes of $5,000 each and publication in The Missouri Review are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Submit up to 10 pages of poetry, a story or essay up to 25 pages, with a $20 entry fee, which includes a one-year subscription. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Select winning entries in the past have been reprinted in the Best American series. See

•••Be sure to scroll down on the b-board to me in my bathrobe for these and other deadlines for poetry venues, contests, and workshops that want YOU! Yes, YOU!


—D.R. Wagner

When I last spoke to those
Luminous beings who seem to dwell
In the highest places of amusement
Parks where the thrills are,
They told me that they haven’t even heard
From you for so long they almost
Forgot you had anything important
To say. Please contact them now

Before this evening. They will be
Waiting. They know the prayers well.
They will bless you personally.
I will be waiting with them. You will
Recognize me by my smile and the fact
I know your name well enough to

Find your etymology in the trees
That once grew near the coast in
Northern California. I understand
You may be very endangered at
This time. Good luck.


—D.R. Wagner

(for E.R. Baxter)

The altitudes have gone past tension.
We are required to know just how
High we are, what names the dead
Animals by the side of the road
May be identified by, what has happened
To the amphibians that the Spring
Isn’t as full; the vernal pools
With their pale eyes reflecting
The cool morning, the wakening
Rustle of the season, all green and up.

So we stand and watch the buzzards
Ride the thermals, circling round
And round and we learn to listen
To our breathing as we do so.

We can meet here as often as we are able
But let us speak to one another
About these changes, remind one another
Just how temporary it all is.
Or, if I am unable to see you here again,
I’ll be sure to text you, maybe that
Will be our attempt at presence
As Spring replies with confounding necessities.


—D.R. Wagner

In the morning, very rarely, you hear them singing.
The ephemeral is considered luxurious,
Something they do not have to remember,
To reflect upon as one would fantasy,
Without perspective or much interior,
Shallow as mirrors are shallow
But seemingly deep simultaneously.

Misunderstandings are the coin of the realm.
They allow images for only a moment
When an ejaculation may demand its own
Punctuation to show propriety,
Their need of full citizenship
In a society unblessed by complete

We may wander up and down
The streets tempting them to knowledge
Of common things like music made
With the voice alone, or the shaping of glass
Using long, thin tools to play the fire.
There is little interest in these things.

Everything must be prepared well beforehand.
Nothing must be out of place.
Where love
Enters is difficult to determine,
A back door, left carelessly unlocked
So one might enter in the middle of the night
Undetected and find a bed with another,
Hoping for a morning that is full of rain
Or fog or other weather that confuses
The senses making everything harder to see.


Today's LittleNip:

There is no such thing as a stupid question. But indeed, it is perfectly fair to challenge the mental acuity of someone who brings you a riddle.

—Carl Bernard Schwartz (bouncing off Wednesday's LittleNip by Diane Ackerman)



This photo is from Emmanuel Siguake's Wealth of Ideas
along with this caption:
Bill Roper playing the horn (vuvuzela) at the beginning
of the event.
What a fascinating instrument;
I remember how it was used in the village

to summon people to an important meeting at the chief's.
Go to the blog for more pictures of the L.A. release party
of the new book, African Roar, edited by Emmanuel
Ivor Hartmann.