Thursday, June 30, 2005

Codswallop & Logorrhea

Spent yesterday trying to make Sense of Things; ended up mired knee-deep in a bayou of codswallop, up to my eyeballs in flummery and logorrhea. All is snake oil, Alice. So I decided that what is needed today is more whimsy; hence, Gertrude Stein. These are from Tender Buttons:


A bag which was left and not only taken but turned away was now found. The place was shown to be very like the last time. A piece was not exchanged, not a bit of it, a piece was left over. The rest was mismanaged.


A purse was not green, it was not straw color, it was hardly seen and it had a use a long use and the chain, the chain was never missing, it was not misplaced, it showed that it was open, that is all that it showed.


What was the use of not leaving it there where it would hang what was the use if there was no chance of ever seeing it come there and show that it was handsome and right in the way it showed it. The lesson is to learn that it does show it, that it shows it and that nothing, that there is nothing, that there is no more to do about it and just so much more is there plenty of reason for making an exchange.


Thanks, Gert, for putting my day in perspective. (What was the use of not leaving it there?...)

And, to cap things off, Stephen Crane:

XXI (from War is Kind)

A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."


Don't forget the contest: send poems about fireworks before Monday, get a free copy of The Battered Bride Overture by Mary Zeppa.

—Medusa (who can gas and flapdoodle with the best of 'em)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Never Enough Moonshine

Dale "Crawdad" Nelson reads at Luna's Cafe tomorrow night at 8pm; here's a tasty sample of his work:

—Dale Nelson, Sacramento

There are only so many stars
many of them owned already,
and just a little light
that can really be called yours
out of all that pours through heaven.

Let's call tonight's moon property.
That makes us thieves
who lie out aching
or hungry, sick of being clay
pieces with that angry illumination.

Can't be fed without driving a knife
into something and can't get home
without burning that last bucket
of fat cut from the land.

Always hard to be alive
I mean hard
and when the old folks
lean under the moon to take a drink
they can never get enough

of that moonshine passing
through carved hands.


Don't forget the fireworks contest: send in a poem about fireworks and receive a free copy of Mary Zeppa's book, The Battered Bride Overture. We already have one winner, but room for at least two more. (We'll save up the poems, let 'em all explode on the 4th.)

Also on the 4th is the picnic/Whitman reading at Crocker Park, hosted by Art and Christina Mantecon. Picnic starts at 3, reading from 4-6pm: many local poets of note will read Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself. Free; bring food, drink, blankets to sit on; no fireworks or booze.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Rock 'n Roll

Taylor Graham has written a poem about the earthquake that rattled the eastern part of our state this weekend. She reports no damage. I think that, from now on, all news should be reported in poetic form:

—Taylor Graham, Somerset, CA

Did you hear it? That rattle
of door against sill
as if cloud heaped on storm-cloud
upcountry too high/far off
for thunder, or fingers over the black
keys not quite touching
music. Silence. Did you feel
it? A giddiness between
steps, the earth not easy
in its glide underfoot.
Something sticks, an inter-
stice, as if you saw
the leaving of the fox, and not
the creature herself.


In other news, also reporting from up that way is Phil Weidman, who sends us this:

—Phil Weidman, Pollock Pines, CA

Around here abandoned cars
become senseless scapegoats.
How many days and nights
before a rock is bounced
off a window? If there’s no
intervention, this tired, two
tone Buick becomes a prime target.
More cracked and broken glass.
Tires vanish or get punctured.
Seats are torn loose and flung
aside. Hood’s sprung and twisted
into an odd configuration.
Dented doors and fenders
(one door hanging awkwardly
from a single hinge) are
riddled with bullet holes.
An undamaged headlight
dangles from its socket.


See what I mean? News could take on a whole different slant.

Interested in what poets in the Bay Area are up to? Sign up for Cynthia Bryant's free Literary List at Cynthia (bless her) has taken it upon herself to become the poetry publicity hub of the Bay Area, sending out regular (several a week!) e-mails to list members about readings, workshops—all kinds of poetry-related news and events. I personally am not able to get down there for most of what goes on; still, it's interesting to know about it all and to be able to make the occasional choice based on what I see. Keep an eye on 'em, so to speak.

July 4th is coming; let's have another contest. Write about fireworks. The first three poets to send in poems about fireworks will receive a free copy of Mary Zeppa's new rattlechap, The Battered Bride Overture. On your mark...


Monday, June 27, 2005

Sorry, Walt!

We neglected to note Walt Whitman's birthday (May 31, 1819), coming, as it did, on Medusa's second day of publishing, when we were still wet behind the ears. In addition to the poetry he wrote, Whitman was a publishing and marketing inspiration to all us micro-pressers. Celebrate with me his Spider:


A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


Taylor Graham writes: What a surprise to find Song Kowbell in Medusa's Kitchen! A fellow SAR (Search and Rescue) dog handler; I've known her for years, but didn't know she wrote poetry. Should've suspected, I guess. How about it, Taylor (and our other friends in the hills)? Any damage from the 'quake up there yesterday?

Some of the members of the Sac. Poetry Center Tues. night workshop will be reading tonight: 7:30 pm at HQ, 25th and R Streets in Sacramento. Also this week: Crawdad Nelson will read at Luna's, 8pm. Crawdad, who lives in Sacramento now, has been a poetry and publishing force on the Northern California coastal scene for many years, and we're grateful to be able to spend some time with him down here in the hot Valley.

Feel free to send poems! Medusa's Kitchen is always cookin'... Thanks to you!


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Just Poetry Two

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

She schools the flighty pupils of her eyes,
With levell'd lashes stilling their disquiet;
And puts in leash her pair'd lips lest surprise
Bare the condition of a realm at riot.
If he suspect that she has ought to sigh at
His injury she'll avenge with raging shame.
She kept her love-thoughts on most lenten diet,
And learnt her not to startle at his name.


Wild nights—Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile—the Winds—
To a Heart in port—
Done with the Compass—
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden—
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor—Tonight—
In Thee!

—Emily Dickinson


Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
After you know my poems are not poems,
Then we can begin to discuss poetry!


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Just Poetry One

The great sea
Has sent me adrift.
It moves me
As the weed in a great river.
Earth and the great weather
Move me.
Have carried me away
And move my inward parts with joy.
—Uvavnuk (Inuit poem)

—Anonymous Native American

The fire darkens, the wood turns black.
The flame extinguishes, misfortune upon us.
God set out in search of the sun.
The rainbow sparkles in his hand,
The bow of the divine hunter.
He has heard the lamentation of his children.
He walks along the milky way, he collects the stars.
With quick arms he piles them into a basket
Piles them up with quick arms
Like a woman who collects lizards
And piles them into her pot, piles them
Until the pot overflows with lizards
Until the basket overflows with light.

—Song Kowbell, Penn Valley, CA

Clouds to the west
were burning up
the sky above.
Licking the electricity
from the air,
his mouth
a storm
I longed
to be in.



Friday, June 24, 2005

Itty Bitty Books

Alternative publishers continue to look for ways to get books into the hands of readers inexpensively, and the 3-1/2" by 4-1/4" size is a popular alternative. Ben Hiatt's ShirtPocket Series comes to mind. The Book Collector has an appealing display of Richard Hansen's 24th Street Irregular Press and Lummox books in that size. I toy with the idea myself, sometimes, for poets whose format is small.

A few poetry journals have taken to that format, as well, choosing the small poem to fit. One of these is Lilliput Review; another is Silt Reader, co-edited by our local Robert Roden. Another, Brevities, is by local poet/editor Joyce Odam. Brevities (also at The Book Collector) is a monthly journal that is already in its 28th issue. Send Joyce 3-5 poems, SASE: 2432 48th Av., Sacramento, CA 95822. Good things can, indeed, come in small packages; the small size allows Joyce to be able to afford fancy papers for inserts, for example. Here is a sample Joyce-poem from the latest issue. (Hey—it's another frog poem!)

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

In a small green sink-jar
filled with water and
gray river stones
I keep
an old glass frog
with one foot missing—
happy there,
I think.


Pick these up at The Book Collector.

Next Monday, the weekly Sac. Poetry Center series will feature members of the SPC Tuesday night workshop at HQ, 25th and R, Sac., 7:30pm. And if you missed Robbie's reading last night at Luna's, well, darn. It was awesome!


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Into the Abyss?

More from Robbie Grossklaus, who reads tonight at Luna's, 8-ish. Get there early and have a brew and a bite. This community owes a great deal to Art Luna for providing this on-going Sacramento poetry hang-out, and to Frank Andrick, the current host—as well as to all the ghosts of hosts past who've made this reading a fixture in Sacramento.

Years past marched over the night

in gin and tonic footsteps
breaching the walls since erected.
Drunken kisses between intoxicated butterflies
landed tenuously on numb lips
betwixt forlorn memories.
Caught, between naked caresses and the wheel.
The night slipped into the abyss
of unrequited love
now sanctified by
forbidden lovers.

—Robert Grossklaus, Rancho Cordova


The last of Snake 6 went out last Saturday; if you don't get it in the next day or two, give us a holler. Maybe it slipped (slithered?) into the abyss...


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Frogs & Turtles & Medusa's Kinky Place...!

Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a marketing whiz: see Peggy Hill's interview of her in Snake 3. PWJ is an expert at finding niches for her poetry. Today she writes:

I'm sending you a poem which will be in my Palo Cedro East Valley Times poetry column in July, but you can have it first—and I hope you do put it in Medusa's kinky place. The Frog Exhibit it refers to at Redding's Turtle Bay Museum
(where I also sent the poem) is utterly fantastic! And it's open through October—not to mention the Butterfly House into the Fall, and a good art exhibit and much much more, including that gorgeous Sundial Bridge across the Sacramento River (and the new botanic garden). It would pay you southern-valley folks to come up here and visit.

Here’s the Turtle Bay Website:

(At the Turtle Bay Museum,
Redding, California, 2005)

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama, California

We’re fooled
by the chunk of slick porcelain
dipped in a blue-green glaze
that hunches on a limb
in the Chinese Gliding Frog display.

The head rolls around,
huge eyes blink, stare at ours.
A live frog stretches
behind the glass
to the branch near our faces.

He spreads toes tipped
with impossible blue-painted nails,
places sticky footpads with care,
swings his whole body
over to crouch before
our wide eyes.


Thanks, Patricia! Her press, PWJ Publishing, is an active enterprise, and she herself has many publications out, including Rattlechap #3 (Voices on the Land) and littlesnake broadside #10 (Mill Race Cafe), both from Rattlesnake Press. PWJ was very supportive of the Snake Way Back When, sending many contributors our way—some of whom have had poetry in every single Rattlesnake Review. Patricia and another Snake-buddy, Ellaraine Lockie, will be reading in Walnut Creek in July; more about that later.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Longest Day

A Winnah! Taylor Graham correctly identified yesterday's poet as George Herbert; the lines that I posted are part of his larger work, The Flower. I mailed off a copy of Karen Baker's book to TG.

Reading for today includes Midsummer Night's Dream, of course. Many a June 21 I've stayed outdoors, dodging mosquitos and swilling, well, whatever, while a few pixilated revelers plow through (for better or for worse) Will's five acts of fairy dust. Will's work can take it:

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:—
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,—
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

(Theseus, Act. V, Scene I)

Hyppolyta goes on to say, of course, that apparently it takes all three to manifest the truth...

But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

So tomorrow we turn, and our year will begin to diminish her days, while we poets (eyes in a "fine frenzy rolling") will continue to join with madmen and lovers (and the madmen and lovers inside us!) to try to capture things "strange and admirable".

Make the most of this: the longest day of the year.


Monday, June 20, 2005

After So Many Deaths

Who would have thought my shrivelled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground, as flowers depart
To feed their mother-root when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.


And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only Light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.


My favorite poem about aging. Tell me who wrote this fragment of a larger piece and I'll send you a copy of Karen Baker's Vocal Exercises in Stone. (One of the lines is a give-away...)

Don't forget the Phil Goldvarg memorial at SPC tonight (25th & Q); send poems to PDQ (see previous entry); and get out your tights and your tu-tus—tomorrow we celebrate Midsummer's Night!

—Medusa (I'll bring the mead...)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

He'd Instruct You in the Stars...

(Judy) Taylor Graham has done Kitchen duties today, sending not only a nifty Father's Day poem, but also a notice about the Hidden Passage reading this Weds. in Placerville. Those folks up there are lively poets, with at least two workshops that I know of, plus their monthly read-around series.

TG says:

In case you don’t have a Father’s Day poem for Medusa, here’s one.

—Taylor Graham, Somerset, CA

Your father’s landscapes:
desert smoke-tree under a cerulean sky;
distant mountains hazed
with ultramarine; a savannah
seamed with moving water.

Remember those weekend expeditions:
your dad mixing pigments
at the easel set up beside his ‘38
station wagon.

When it finally got too dark to paint,
he’d instruct you in the stars.

You keep three cobalt globes of glass
on the mantle, as if to hold
his colors, now he’s gone.

When morning sun opens
the east window, everything
blazes blue.


Also, could Medusa please give a plug for Hidden Passage? Here it is:

Hidden Passage Poetry Reading, Wednesday, June 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Hidden Passage Books, 352 Main St. in Placerville. It's an open-mike read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen.

Happy almost summer,



Thanks, TG! Always nice to have help in the Kitchen...


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Rockin' Robbie the Robbinator Reads!

Robert Grossklaus, Managing Editor of Poetry Now and Asst. Wrangler of Rattlesnake Press, will read at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sac. this THURSDAY at 8 p.m. Robbie is a transplant from Santa Cruz who writes in a distinctive voice that you must come and hear. Here's a wee taste (he generally eschews titles...):

Paint my reflection
A frightened stroke
Of crimson across an
Empty canvass of water.
Pluck my eyes and
Affix them to the ocean;
Wash them clean with the tidals.
Mists blown over mo(u)rnings,
Tears resting on white sands
Footsteps across distances
Of romanticism and sunsets
Moon shining over waters
Reflecting what my eyes see
Painted as impermanent
Lasting only long enough to live
The life of rain
Crashing against
Your shore.


Be there! RG is a tremendous help to our community in the way he serves the Sacramento Poetry Center, and in the way he helps the Snake. Currently he is almost done refurbishing the website; he has made massive changes (some of which you'll see, some of which you won't). Then he will edit VYPER, the new journalzine for teens; then, later in July, he will put together Fangs I, the huge collection of your poems about snakes. Plus being a full-time accounting student and a part-timer at H & R Block! (And married to the lovely Sabrina...) Ah, youth! It's all I can do to crawl up on the couch to watch LawnOrder re-runs...

In other news, Victoria Dalkey tells me she broke her foot yesterday and is hobbling around on crutches. Oh no! Victoria has Rattlechap #14 coming from Rattlesnake Press (In the Absence of Silver), which will premiere in August.

The last of Snake 6 went into the mail today; saw the end of his tail slither away into the bowels of the post office. He should appear in mailboxes sometime next week.

Medusa (Write to me! Send me poems! I know you're out there; every now and then someone confesses that, well, yes, they do sneak into Medusa's Kitchen for a snack, despite what their friends may think...)

Friday, June 17, 2005

High-Heeled Sneaker Week

Rattlechap #9 by Karen Baker of Modesto, Vocal Exercises in Stone, has been chosen by Small Press Review as one of its "May-June Picks"! Small Press Review is published bi-monthly by Dustbooks, which also publishes The International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses. ( The Directory is another place you should be looking for places to send your poems.

Way to go, Karen! Here's the title poem from her collection:


androgynous stone head
pedestaled in winter garden
above the level, pruned brush
neatly weeded
your eyes are free to follow me
from room to windowed room
your lips, granite cold
ready to open, to speak
to sing the mudras of unformed hands
the arabesques of missing feet


Tomorrow night (Saturday) Rebecca Morrison and Bill Carr will read at The Book Collector, 8pm. Monday night there will be a Phil Goldvarg Memorial Reading Celebration and fundraiser at SPC/HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sac., 7:30.

Tuesday will be Melody Bishop Sievers and Gilberto Rodriguez reading at the Third Tuesday Series (HQ again). And Thursday will be our own Asst. Wrangler

Robbie Grossklaus

reading at Luna's, 8 pm. (More about that later.)

Put on your high-heeled sneakers; it's a busy week!


Thursday, June 16, 2005

PDQ Needs a Transfusion—Pretty Darn Quick!

Poetry Depth Quarterly is a fine poetry publication that has been in print for some years, now. D.K. Warrick has taken over as publisher since her husband passed away recently; Joyce Odam continues to be Editor. Here's a sample from the latest issue (Jeanine Stevens has a rattlechap coming this fall from Rattlesnake Press):

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento

The day I became
invisible, I walked
into a small photo
shop, rang a bell
for service, no one
came. I stopped
to visit a colleague
on campus, students
swarmed around him,
I slipped out unnoticed.
Through glass, I saw
a friend engrossed
in a meeting. I left
with a cup of water
from the cooler,
then wandered
to a park, watched
ducks, an older
woman also sat,
bent, a spot of blood,
the size of a nickel,
seeped from her arm.
"I'm not hurt, just
old, my skin breaks
easily." I felt I tiptoed
at the edge of things,
anonymous, it was
somehow peaceful.


The publication schedule has fallen behind a bit, though, so D.K. and Joyce are planning to put out another issue in July, even though their last issue just came out. Send 3-5 poems by snail to Joyce Odam, 2432 48th Av., Sacramento, CA 95822 by JUNE 30. No simul-subs or pre-pubs; cover and bio yes. Check 'em out at

Joyce also edits Brevities, but that's a story for another day...

Enjoy the rain! I still have glorious sweet peas—in mid-June!

Medusa (who still runs back and forth to the p.o, mailing Snakes)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lucky Thirteen

Somebody noticed that Susan Kelly-DeWitt will have Rattlechap #12 and Victoria Dalkey will have Rattlechap #14; where, they asked, is #13? #13 is me, self-publishing. I decided to deal with the


question by putting out a book or two and seeing how I like it. I do like the total control and the immediacy; we'll see if I can live down the stigma of vanity publishing.

Anyway, Why We Have Sternums is Rattlechap #13.1, which means that future kkieth books would be 13.2, etc.—and no rattlechapper has to have the dreaded #13! Here's a sample; this poem won the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. Executive Board Award: Jumping Ship, for 2005:

—Kathy Kieth, Shameless Hussy, Fair Oaks, CA

One day it purrs along with the program: lump-
thumps cool acquisescence: mutters a mantra of

yes-yes: signs on all the dotted lines: never once
tugs at its arterial leash. Then suddenly one day—

maybe a Saturday, after the leaves are raked, or
a Tuesday, say, just before lunch—the brash

little truant just takes off: jumps ship: violates
all its contracts and makes a brollyhop onto

foreign soil: vacates the premises and defects for
some dancehall trollop or a bait shop in Tahiti

or maybe a motorcycle: decamps and vanishes
into a whole ‘nother life, taking all its bloody

lump-thumps and broken promises and trailing
arteries along for one helluva bumpy ride…


The book is at The Book Collector, or write to me and I'll send you one. (And may your heart jump ship in some pleasant port-of-call...)

I hope you're reading poor Medusa now and then; I like getting up in the morning and sending poetry out onto the airwaves. Let me know if you're picking it up. And the "endless march of days" is, well, endless, so send me poems and other poet-phenalia. Guaranteed publication—hell, ya can't beat that!


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

VYPER and Wiley Coyote

VYPER, the new teenzine of poetry and art from Rattlesnake Press, is looking for poems and art from kids 13-19. Send us something by this Thursday, June 16. Kaitlyn Sinclair from Oregon sent us this gem:

—Kaitlyn Sinclair, Eagle Point, OR

The Wiley coyote
around the canyon
his motorized legs
hot on the sound of

But what’s wrong this time?
He cycles the air for a few seconds,
looks around dramatically
and splats on the rock
just inches from the river.

Stars orbit his head,
but sure enough the nest scene
he’s back at it with a bucket of black paint
and some railroad tracks.
Too late---

We already know what happens yet still we watch in anticipation
at each falling anvil, each stick of TNT.

We watch his hopeless tiptoe and pathetic grin
with the question in the back of our minds:

What if Wiley coyote caught the roadrunner?
What if he lit the right end of the fuse?


The new Rattlesnake Reviews are out; contributors' copies and subscriptions will be out by the end of the week. If you just can't wait :-) go down to The Book Collector, or meet me at the Urban Voices Poetry Series tomorrow (South Natomas Library), 7pm, Donald Sydney-Fryer.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Chaos is Only Theory (except in my office...)

Happy Birthday, Colette! Colette Jonopulos, co-editor of Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry, has a Big Birthday today. Here—have one of her poems, on me:

—for JoAn, who still doubts

Parked at the base of the butte, I empty my pockets
into the car’s plastic console—a receipt from Baja
Fresh, dimes and pennies, a business card from
Wheel Works bicycle shop, a paper clip. Up the

slope of the butte, past ferns and Douglas-firs, the
trail spatters mud onto my pant legs, the climb a kind
of penance for too many hours seated at my desk, the
whir of imagination stilled by television. Massive

boulders, the color of winter, lead upward, their white
and black veins—a child’s directionless crayon pressed
deep into rock. Sky widens at the summit—the god
of effort satisfied with gasps for breath. I’m offered

a 360 degree view of farmlands—flat sheet of blue
to the west, football stadium due north, the campus
a blur of brown where learning comes while seated
in plastic chairs under florescent lights. From here

it is easy to assume order, that humans are loyal like
dogs, chaos is only theory, what we write will last
beyond our promised disintegration, the sweet
emptiness of our becoming. There is comfort in rock’s

warmth, the coupled sway of wildflowers, this
persistent nothingness I’ve stumbled over. Far below,
the copper coin has stopped spinning in its plastic
tray, Lincoln facing right, flat on his side, and silent.


The Tiger has been inspired by the Snake to set up its own blog: Check it out.

Don't forget the VYPER deadline June 16 (Thursday)—the teenzine of poetry from kids 13-19. Send 3-5 poems to or, name, address and age. Artwork, too.

And keep writing. What we write will last beyond our promised disintegration...


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Like Mountain Snow

Take some time today with Ryokan:

In the distance
frogs croak in the mountain rice fields,
The evening's single song.


Unable to sleep,
I hear the voice of a young deer
Rising from a mountain ridge.


The branches that will be used for this
autumn's firewood are still blooming.
Please gather some summer grasses, wet with dew,
and come visit me.


Not much to offer you—
just a lotus flower floating
In a small jar of water.


In the pond near my hut
the lotus flowers, covered with dew,
Bloom in a row.


The willows are in full bloom!
I want to pile up the blossoms
Like mountain snow.



Saturday, June 11, 2005

RR's R-in-R: BLK

Rattlesnake Review's Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. (Bari) Kennedy, has been part of the Sacramento poetry scene since his arrival from the Bronx 'way back when. His SpiralChap, Been Born Bronx, celebrates some of that in poetry and picture-poems.

Bari currently hosts a reading series at the South Natomas Library at 2901 Truxel Road in Sacramento; that series will continue this Wednesday (6/15) at 7pm with Donald Sydney-Fryer reading, among other things, Clark Ashton Smith.

Here is a poem from Bari:


Out maps of mouth
Words pour

Down evening sidewalk
Cracks to create sameness

I chant to change rules
Of empty space

Bitch language
Of heart
Crippled by my silence

Bari also wants us to know that, as Reviewer for the Snake, he needs books, CDs, etc. to review, so send them to him at 2619 Q St., #9, Sacramento 95816.

One other quick thing: the reading at The Book Collector that was scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday 6/12) afternoon (Arthur Winfield and Kit Knight) has been rescheduled for sometime in the future. Tonight's reading (James Lee Jobe) is still happening; tomorrow's is not.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Your Feet Show It

When I was a youngster, the only poets I knew were Poe (force-fed by schoolbooks) and Longfellow. My mother would launch into 'the forest primevil' (the only line she knew) every time she saw a redwood. And there was always that old saw, "You're a poet and everyone knows it; your feet show it—You wear LONGFELLOWS!"

It's only in the last couple of years that I've come to appreciate Longfellow for the wonderful poet he was, not only for his narrative ability (and subsequent HUGE income), but for the way he could buckle down and play with sounds. Below is "The Sound of the Sea". (Well, okay, of course I'm a sucker for anything that has to do with the sea, selkie that I am...)


The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
A sound mysteriously multiplied
As of a cataract from the mountain's side,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control.

Is that cool, or what???

Have a good weekend, mateys. I'm still digging out from the typhoon of Snake 6.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Hansens: They Don't Make 'Em Any Better

Mary Zeppa's reading last night was excellent! Mary is such a fine reader and poet; the packed house at The Book Collector was totally charmed! Of course, that was due in part to Richard Hansen.

Richard is a very solid contributor to the poetry scene in Sacramento, not only providing a venue for readings (and lately it seems like there is a reading at TBC every week!) but by serving on the Board of the Sacramento Poetry Center. Unfortunately, Richard has had to resign from the Board due to his plate spilling over with other activities. It's obvious, though, that Richard has a great love for our poetry community, and will continue to serve in many capacities—not the least of which is providing a Home for the Snake. Thanks, Richard and Rachel, for putting a roof over the head for the Rattlesnake Reading Series and books. (Go on down there and say hey to R & R and little Ru—and while you're at it, pick up a copy of Snake 6 and of Mary's The Battered Bride Overture, now available.)

Here's a poem from Tiger's Eye co-editor Colette Jonopulos. Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry is always looking for submissions, both for the journal and for its bi-annual contests. Visit them at or contact them at for more information.

Into the Woods

The wood nymphs, decked with

daisies trim. John Milton

He studies her toughened

heels, small feet that

brought her to these woods,

this tent of old-growth

trees weary from months of

rain and lack of light. “So

rough,” she says to tree’s

flared trunk, the tips

of her fingers raw from

touching. He wants to lay

an altar in front of her, a silken

scarf or striped prayer

shawl, pine needles gathered

at its center, blue fire

ringing its edges. He watches

her eyes (the color of bark),

her tensed legs prepared to

flee his cage of furtive need.

He does not know her

boundaries, the words that

might unravel her hair, so

he captures resin droplets,

smears the balm along the

smooth blade of her

shoulder, curve of her hip,

course edges of her heels.


Thanks, Colette.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It Must Be Something That Brings Me Joy...

Athena II
—Patricia L. Nichol, Sacramento

The snake slithers through the summer heat
until it finds a stone under which to hide.
It sheds its skin, that thin membrane;
the snake is renewed, reborn.

My goat skin shield is lined with snakes.
My owl eyes see through the darkness
to where my father sits on Olympus
holding court, lord of the world.

I have seen the fragile and the fair,
listened to bird song, felt honey on my tongue,
heard cinnamon notes in the hot air,
known war to be the game of fools.

I steal through the summer heat
until I find a temple inside of which to hide.
I shed my war skin, taste honey on my tongue,
know I am reborn, and stand up on two legs.

(appears in Rattlesnake Review #6)

Patricia Nichol is a Sacramento gal who is one of the featured poets in the latest issue of Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry. Tiger's Eye is unique in that it spotlights several poets each issue, interviewing them in addition to publishing several of their poems. It's always so interesting to listen to what people have to say about their work styles. Here's a sample from Patricia's interview:

About a year ago, I realized that sticking rigorously to the notion that I must write everyday was a form of self-punishment and my super-ego was going crazy and was punitive. The truth is, I am a writer, I love writing, and I write. As difficult as it is, it must be something that brings me joy. Once I let go of this "should," I didn't start writing less; in fact, I might even be writing more, and it certainly is a whole lot more enjoyable and life-enhancing.

Any thoughts for Medusa and your fellow readers about what Patricia has to say? E-mail me by checking on the little envelope at the bottom of this page.

More about Tiger's Eye tomorrow. And don't forget Mary Zeppa's reading tonight: The Book Collector, 7:30.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

All Coiled Up And Ready to Spring—

Today I'm sitting at the coiling machine, binding little backs onto Snake 6. The issue is ready to spring out into the world—maybe at Donna Kuhn's "Bird a Door". Donna is from Aptos-by-the-Sea, one of the more beautiful places in the world, and her poetry should wake you up this morning:

Donna Kuhn, Aptos

a feeling blue eye shadow gear
remember, plastic horses are hungry for snow

don't be skirts inside sleep
what i think, must make money

it is nite, very simple
dark bird as door

i feel very busy, a feeling u cant
not a violin going inside

camping the way u do
your rivers, coffee; i am a fence

u were the moon, moon splotch
im on my knees, break a bird

hissed in the dark, black dress
not a violin, what i think inside sleep


And don't forget Mary Zeppa's reading tomorrow night. Book Collector, 7:30.


Monday, June 06, 2005

James Lee Jobe: The Force is With Us

James Lee Jobe has been a force on the No. Cal. poetry scene for years and years as a poet, publisher, reader and all-around sparkplug. He’ll be doing a Rattlechap for Rattlesnake Press at the beginning of next year, but for those of you who can’t wait, here’s a sample:


Usually it is a field mouse, but once
it was a full grown rat, that I find dead
on my morning doormat, left there by Kitty.
My wife says, “Maybe she is trying to prove
that she is doing her job.” I smile and nod,
and go for the shovel, but really,
wouldn’t that imply that Kitty somehow knows
that humans expect cats to be diligent mousers?
Certainly I never asked that of her. I prefer
to think that she is seeking approval
for the justice that she has dispensed
upon the intruder. Or that perhaps
murderous Kitty has a compulsion to kill
that cannot be suppressed, and, not caring
for the taste of mouse, she comes to me
for aid in destroying the evidence of her crime,
aid that my shovel and I always provide.
Better still, it could be that Kitty, after being fed
by us for so long, is giving something back
to the family, bringing to the table something
of her own making. “Good Kitty,” I tell her
as I go for the shovel.

Jim will also be reading at The Book Collector (1008 24th St.) this coming Saturday at 8 p.m. And watch for a poem of his in Snake 6, too.

Susan Kelly-DeWitt hosts the 2005 Poet’s Corner Press Chapbook Contest Winner Svea Barrett at the Sacramento Poetry Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. That’s at 25th & R: HQ for the Arts. Info: 441-7395.

She purrs. Svea, I’m sure. But also my printer: Snake 6's are rolling out, even as we speak…


Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Fabulous Mary Z

Whistling girls and crowing hens
always come to some bad ends
—The Grandmother's Daybook of Proverbs and Platitudes

Of Whistling Girl and Crowing Hen
—Mary Zeppa, Sacramento

The little red hen's inspiration (eR eR eR
cock a doodle doo doo!) wakes the girl
in this dream, in this fat featherbed,
who is me: in whose sleep-
hugging arms, the little red hen

incandesces: lights the bedrooms,
the parlor, the yard, spotlights
my redheaded Grandpa
knocking back his last
cinnamon schnapps.

Little Trumpeting Fluff
of Red Feathers, Little Belt-it-Out
Megaphone-Beak. Little Star of
My Firmament blasting
sour Granny clean into next week.


The above poem is from the Fabulous Mary Zeppa, whose new Rattlechap (#11), The Battered Bride Overture, will be released this coming Wednesday, June 8, at a book party and reading at The Book Collector, 1008 24th Street, Sacramento, 7:30-9pm. Mary is a wonderful poet in addition to being a long-time Sacramento Poetry Center Board member and all-around supporter of poetry in Sacramento. This is her second chapbook.

In other news, Editor Joyce Odam is having a poetry crisis: she desperately needs poetry submissions for PDQ (Poetry Depth Quarterly), which has fallen behind in its schedule, so is doing a quick "catch-up" issue in July. Snail her (no e-mail) 3-5 poems, 3-10 line bio, SASE, no prev-pub or simul-subs. Joyce's address is 2432 48th St., Sac., 95822. Website: Deadline is June 30.

Coming down the home stretch with Snake 6; 50 pages of your poetry, and counting....!


Friday, June 03, 2005

That Vixen, Taylor Graham

Snake friend, Rattlechapper (#5) and Poetry Treasure of the Sierra Foothills Taylor Graham was so inspired by Carol Frith's triolet, Quetzal, that she sent Medusa one of her own. (Yes, Carol's poem on 5/31 was a triolet; Stephen Sadler and Taylor Graham both ID'd it.) Taylor also writes: "Anatole's double dactyl [yesterday] is quite something. I may send you one of those too, one of these days."

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

The vixen knows her way about this land
for ages. Engineered, a new bridge cuts
her roaming-ground in half, her river spanned.
The vixen knows her way about this land
but has to find new paths, and understand
geometry. A sturdy arch abuts
what vixen knows: her way about this land.
For ages engineered, the new bridge cuts.

In other happenings, the hinterlands of the North Area—especially when you get out as far as Citrus Heights—have historically had a dirth of poetry readings. But Barnes & Noble (on Sunrise in Citrus Heights, across from Sunrise Mall) has established a monthly series which is, at this point, just open mic. Still, if you feel like firing up the old buggy and heading out my way (where the wild turkeys roam), pop in there tonight at 7 and check it out. It's hosted by Donene Schuyler: for info.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

There comes a time in one's life when heretofore irrelevancies become quite, well, relevant. Here is another sample from Snake 6, this time from Sacramento poet Anatole Lubovich, who tells it like it is...


It's alimentary,
yes, my dear Watson. Please
lower your briefs and pre-
sent your behind.

hose with a flashlight will
analyze clues where the
sun doesn't shine.

Well, I warned you. We write what we know...

The question has come up as to submitting poetry to Medusa's Kitchen; the answer is YES. Do it! I think we can be more informal about it, though, than stuff for the press. Just e-mail me ditties from time to time. You retain the rights.

And I can also use notices about readings and other poetry events, as long as you send them to me with specific instructions to put them in the Kitchen.

Now it's back to typing. This Snake issue is gargantuan—but hopefully illuminational, and not alimentary.


Sticky Fingers from Grass Valley

Today I'm typing the Grass Valley/Nevada City feature of Snake 6, thanks to Bill Gainer's hard work in writing his article—plus hogtying some of the wonderful writers up in that area and getting them to send in their poetry. Here are a couple of sneak peaks from the Gainer-man himself. (I like the part about licking fingers...)

Bill Gainer

Drinks stirred
with keepsake-swizzle-sticks,
the joint's name pressed
into every stem:
The Horns of the Hunter,
the Pirate's Cove,
Crow's Nest,
the Top Hat,
the Silk Stocking,
the Paradise Lounge,
Pete's Hideout.
There's a ruby fingernail
bouncing an ice cube
in a bourbon-seven,
sweetened fingers
get licked.
The bartender holds a cocktail glass
to the neon,
looking for traces
of last night's lipstick.
Phone numbers
get scribbled
in forgotten matchbooks.
A note gets left
under a windshield wiper,
"Call me."
The phone, left to ring
in an empty room.
The message light flashes,
you sit in the dark,
press the play button,
a soft voice whispers,
"yeah, it's been awhile."
you push the button, two,
maybe three more times,
think to yourself,
"yeah it has."

—Bill Gainer

When I was a kid
you had to be
a contender –
the chances of becoming
a champ
were always slim –
but if you stayed in the fight
long enough
a few
would leave you
alone –
it was always a surprise
who they'd be.

Til tomorrow—and as Bill would say, Be Safe.

Medusa (still Wrangling)