Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Darkest Evening

—Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


—Mary Oliver

On winter's margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe's broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By time snow's down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;
And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink the wind;—

They are what saves the world: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.


Good news/bad news:

First, the good news: Rae Gourirand writes: I'm stunned to announce that the funding for the writing workshop series at Cache Creek Nature Preserve has been not just renewed but increased substantially over last year's grant—which means that we can look forward to a season of new workshops that will continue to bring area writers into contact with one another—as well as with one of the most special land sites in the greater Sacramento area. Hoorah! I'm already planning our first workshop (which I believe will be called Poetry & The Big Questions), and thinking about directions in which we might continue to stretch the program this year. Look forward to receiving more details after the new year.

Then the bad: Cynthia Bryant writes: I will be shutting down Poet’s Lane and the Literary List the beginning of January 2008. My husband and I are relocating to Kansas in the early spring for his job and a place to finally own a home. He has been offered a General Manager position at his company and I the position of Poet Laureate. How could we refuse? I want to take this moment to thank all of the writers and poets who made Poet’s Lane such an interesting place to visit. I have enjoyed your feedback and poetry, your bios and pictures and yes, your friendship.

As for the Gift of Words—Poems for the Iraqi People project, it is officially defunct. And perhaps the most important part of it did come to pass; we the poets got to express our cares and frustrations for people who have been on the receiving end of a super-power that wants what they possess. I hope and believe the process helped us be more thoughtful and aware.

Fortunate as it is for Cynthia and her husband, this is an unfortunate turn of events for NorCal poetry. For several years, Cynthia has provided a much-needed forum for people of all poetry persuasions to advertise their events and their poetry to the world of cyberspace. Medusa, for example, regularly re-posts events that were found out about through Cynthia's Poet's Lane list. Darn. This will be quite a loss.

On a completely different note, Taylor Graham writes: OK, enough of this cat-&-Xmas-tree business on Medusa (wonderful poems tho they are)—it's time to give the dog her due. (This was published in Brevities a couple of years back:)

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

The dog has caught tinsel
in her tail, jubilant silver-wag
flinging reflected light
to every corner of the room.


Thanks, TG! We cat-people will concede that cats do NOT have the corner on mayhem... Now back to musing about the shortest day(s) of the year:

—Kate Gleason

I love his scent of must,
so all-encompassing:
smoke in flannel, cloves
in mulled wine, love how
his breath on the night window
makes a shivery pattern
like a salt-fed, unlockable sea,
love how he dances me
in the crook of his arm.

I love how he is what
was missing from the light
and grateful dance
in the combed summer fields,
love the power he unleashes in me,
how I feel it, like a woman,
in my lower center
of gravity, the compressed deep
of an imploded star
that pulls into itself now.

I love how the pomegranate spills
its dark Milky Way
until I lose all train of thought
and am past any point
of return. I love his loneliness,
his ache for words, love
how he needs my mouth,
how he is everything
my mother warned me about.
Only more.



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 (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.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. For more info about the Snake Empire, including guidelines for submitting to or obtaining our publications, click on the link to the right of this column: Rattlesnake Press (

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

Rattlesnake Review: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (Sweet 16) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 and I'll mail you one. The last of contributors' and subscribers' copies went into the mail this week. Next deadline (for Issue #17, due out in mid-March) is February 15. (Sooner than you think!)

New in December! Rattlesnake Press is proud to announce the release of Metamorphic Intervals From The Insanity Of Time, a SnakeRings SpiralChap from Patricia D'Alessandro, and Notes From The Ivory Tower, a littlesnake broadside from Sacramento's Ann Wehrman. And while you're down at The Book Collector, pick up a few poetic Christmas presents, including any of a number of wonderful books and chapbooks, Rattlesnake and otherwise—not to mention A Poet's Book of Days, our first perpetual calendar, featuring the poetry and photography of Katy Brown.

Coming in February: The Snake has crawled into winter hibernation for the rest of December and for all of January: no readings, no books, no broadsides. (Medusa is always awake, however, and will keep posting through most of that time. Send stuff.) Then, on February 13, Rattlesnake Press will roar to life again with a new SnakeRings SpiralChap from Don and Elsie Feliz (To Berlin With Love), plus a new littlesnake broadside from Carlena Wike (Going the Distance), as well as Volume Two of Conversations, B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series.