Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Manzanita Rose

Manzanita Rose
(Monika Rose, San Andreas)

—Monika Rose

He steals blueberries from cornflakes
When you’re not looking, at three

Pulls wings off flies at four,
Blue bodies writhing

He lights cats on fire at five
Singed fur stinking

The next thing you know, at six
He’s cashed his dad’s new paycheck

At seven, the pup’s in the microwave
And no, it’s not dinner

At eight the teacher drinks
Ant poison in her cup

At nine, his mother’s toes are
Trimmed by the lawn mower

At ten, the barber’s scissors
Double back to their source

At eleven a neighbor’s girl
Disappears in a whirl

At twelve, his father’s gone
For good in the new cement drive

He’s not all that bad
Says his mother

Just harbors a strange way
Of showing affection

His mother is found
With a rope around her neck

Seems as if it all
Comes to a bad end.


Thanks, Monika! Monika Rose lives in Calaveras County and enjoys the quietude of rural life, where she and her husband operate a small cattle ranch. She teaches composition as an adjunct instructor at San Joaquin Delta College, teaches high school English full time, edits Manzanita: Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra, and is founding director of Writers Unlimited, a writers group and affiliate of the Calaveras County Arts Council. She has been involved with the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, having attended several Art of the Wild conferences, Poetry Workshops, and Fiction Writing Conferences. She is Director of the new Manzanita Writers Retreat at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in June 2007 and has organized poetry venues to benefit the literary arts in a tri-county region.

Monika's work has been published in various venues including Tule Review, Poetry Now, Squaw Review, The Journal, Mindprint Review, and other literary magazines. Her poetry is included in Shadows of Light, an anthology of poetry and photography of the Sierra, and is forthcoming in a collection of Yosemite area poetry. Currently, she is fine-tuning a book-length collection of poetry and prose, readying the manuscript for publication in the Fall, working on a literary psychic detective novel, and preparing a collection of her parents’ war stories. She can be reached at the Manzanita Web site: www.manzanitacalifornia.org or by e-mail: mrosemanza@jps.net/ [In case you're wondering what Manzanita is (other than the bush), it's a fine journal of poetry that comes out once every year (or so), publishing poets in the area and from the rest of the world, as well.]

Monika would like to call your attention to two up-coming Manzanita events:

•••Friday (6/1), 6-9 PM: Cool Cat Gallery Poetry Reading features Manzanita writers and friends in Sacramento, plus Open Mic. Refreshments and some cool music. Info: mrosemanza@jps.net or www.manzanitacalifornia.org

•••Manzanita Writers Retreat at Calaveras Big Trees State Park: A week of camping, journaling, writing, reflecting, learning, poetry, firelight tales, and lots of writing with a group and teacher/leader. Monday, June 25-Sunday, July 1, 2007. Lots of reflective time. Workshop fresh writing daily. Hike the trails and record reflections and journal entries. Or bring works-in-progress to finalize and receive feedback on. Attend craft workshops on Friday and Saturday, listen to free environmental lectures about the state of the Sierra region, plus participate in a public reading at Ironstone Vineyards Sunday with a special VIP wine tasting tour of the Ironstone Vineyards. Get back to the simple life for a week in the forest under the giant Sequoia as your muses. Reserve your spot as soon as possible. Limited to 40 max. participants. $180 for the week includes campsite space and writing workshops, readings, VIP tour, etc. $50 for Friday or Saturday workshops all day, include readings. Entry to the park is an additional $6 per carload. Contact Monika Rose at mrosemanza@jps.net or www.manzanitacalifornia.org or (209) 754-0577. Sponsors: Calaveras County Arts Council, Writers Unlimited, Poets & Writers, and Sierra Seasons Magazine.

Monika is also helping Rattlesnake Press organize a feature article about poets in her area, and I've been getting lots of great poetry from poets in Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. Watch for it in Snake 14, due out in June.

Fat Tuesday:

•••Tuesday (5/8), 8:30 PM: The Bistro 33 Literature Night Series presents Alan Williamson and open mic. 226 F Street (3rd and F Streets), Davis. Host Andy Jones writes: One of the most important poet-critics of his generation, Alan Williamson has received a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship and a Guggenheim fellowship. Williamson has taught for the UC Davis English Department since 1983. He previously taught at the University of Virginia, Harvard University, and at Brandeis University. Alan Williamson studied poetry with Robert Lowell at Harvard University, earning a Ph.D. in 1969. While Williamson published numerous works, including both literary criticism and his own poetry, Williamson’s Pity the Monsters: The Political Vision of Robert Lowell (1974) helped distinguish him as an esteemed poet-critic. The University of Chicago Press stated that Williamson was “the unequalled detective of the mythic reverberations behind the psyche’s complex inner weather.” The new millennium brought new works by Williamson. The Pattern More Complicated: New and Selected Poems (2004) inspired this praise from the University of Chicago Press: “Williamson’s verse is a refreshing example of how delicately the personal can intersect with the public in a love for the considered life . . . and the recurrence of themes across the span of four previous collections [presents] a survey of a major American poet in a single volume.” As always, an open mic will follow the featured reader. Also, please mark your calendars now for Francisco Alarcón on May 22 and Joshua Clover on June 12.

•••Also tonight (Tuesday, 5/8), 7 PM: Writers in the Garden presents poet Eve West Bessier. Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road, UC-Davis Arboretum, Davis.

•••Also Tuesday (5/8), 8 PM: Join California Film Arts Alliance in welcoming Mary Mackey, screenwriter, novelist and poet, at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Mary will give a talk on adapting fiction into screenplays, and will also celebrate the release of her new novel, The Notorious Mrs. Winston, now available from Putnam/Berkeley books. $5 donation requested to help support CFAA. [Watch for an interview of Mary Mackey by Interviewer-in-Residence B.L. Kennedy, coming up in Snake 14, due out in June.]

Did we mention that

(Weds., May 9), Rattlesnake Press will present Grass Valley Poet Ron Tranquilla at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, on from 7:30-9 PM to celebrate the release of his new chapbook, Playing Favorites: Selected Poems, 1971-2006? Also released that night will be a littlesnake broadside from Julie Valin, Still Life With Sun, and #2 in the new Rattlesnake Interview Series by B.L. Kennedy, this one featuring Sacramento Poetry Promoter Malik. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's. More info: kathykieth@hotmail.com


—Monika Rose

It’s not like having your wheels aligned
Or your back cracked into place again.
It’s not like teeth, those white pillars that
Lean and overlap in our youth
Linked by civilized metal that frames
An acceptable straight smile.

Alignment is not your father coming up
Behind you and pushing that knocked knee
Loose again
Giving to the world another slant
avoiding unladylike bowed legs
so unattractive later.

Your mother’s words reverberate:
Stand up straight as a lady,
Walk with your feet facing
Forward, not out like a duck
Not pigeon-toed like your friend
Who pulls into herself in with shy restraint

Alignment is not marching lockstep to beliefs
Of a group or the clicking together
Of heels of the past, to some possible
Genetic warlike penchant of warrior memory

It is your own new map
Your personal skeletal makeup
A frame for generations to come
That glues your parts into what
Looks to be you.

What sharp bones move us to collection?
I sometimes hear my femurs clacking
In protest, when I think I know what
They want but ignore them.
They are loud.
They rattle into the future.

I try to hold them together with
The glue of pure pluck.
But they are slipping off
Somewhere else
Putting one foot in front of the other
Walking some walk in uncomfortable shoes
That wear weary from a world of rocky roads

Alignment comes after ordering your calves
To go one more mile without burning
Or else you will just stop in the middle
Of the path and simply curl up into a fetal
Ball and refuse to move at all

Veer up and go straight and narrow
On that balance beam, on the fine trapeze line
Straight into eternity with an arrow of light
Dancing on the crooked horizon


—Monika Rose

William Stafford, keep the car ticking…

In a hurry
the dirt and gravel road
bumped me around as usual
when a doe flashed through the brush

stopped, ears raised, and
point blank stared at me

I braked and stopped dead
only a few feet away
engine now off and
silence between the doe
and me—a cord

gently through the open window
called her by name but
addressing that verdant desire
to speak to green tongues
that meld into lush overgrowth,
listen intently, then bolt

Her ears flicked
eyes listened
nostrils flared
then unconcerned
nibbled the scrub oak shoots
for what must have been
my benefit and
to put me at ease as if
to say, “I forgive you for
coming to lunch uninvited.”

I started the car and she
nimbly showed off her back side
automatically blended
into the brush without a backward
glance at the place accident
and nature joined itself



Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events to kathykieth@hotmail.com (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

Journals (free publications): Rattlesnake Review #13 is available at The Book Collector; next deadline is May 15. The new VYPER #6 (for youth 13-19) is in The Book Collector; next deadline is Nov. 1. Snakelets 9 (for kids 0-12) is available; Snakelets #10 will be out this month.

Books/broadsides: April’s releases are SnakeRings SpiralChap #7 from D.R. Wagner: Where The Stars Are Kept, and littlesnake broadside #33: Swallowed By This Whale Of Time by Ann Menebroker. Both are now available at The Book Collector. SpiralChaps are $8; broadsides are free. Or contact kathykieth@hotmail.com for ordering information. Rattlesnake Interview Series #1 with Ann Menebroker and B.L. Kennedy is also available (free) at The Book Collector (or contact Kathy Kieth).

Next rattle-read: May's releases will be Ron Tranquilla’s Playing Favorites: Selected Poems, 1971-2006, plus a littlesnake broadside by Julie Valin (Still Life With Sun) and a Rattlesnake Interview Broadside (#2) featuring Khiry Malik Moore and B.L. Kennedy. Come check all these out on May 9 at 7:30 PM at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else’s.