Friday, December 07, 2007

Dearer Every Day

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Anonymous, Han Dynasty, Sixth-Century China

The dead who have gone before us
Grow more shadowy
With the years;
The living
Become dearer
Every day.

I went out
Through the gates of the city,
And all about
I saw mounds
And heaped-up tombs.

The old graves were ploughed under,
And in their place
Were fertile fields;
And the old pines and cypresses
Had been felled
For firewood.


Thanks, Katy! Watch for more of Katy Brown's work, including her Snake Eyes column ("An Ekphrastic View of Poetry") in Rattlesnake Review Sweet #16, due out next week. Or stop by The Book Collector (1008 24th St., Sacramento) and pick up copies of her SnakeRings SpiralChap of poetry and photography, The Quality of Light, or her new perpetual calendar, A Poet's Book of Days.

OR—Katy Brown and Fellow Rattlechapper Danyen Powell will be reading at the Davis Unitarian Church, 27074 Patwin Road, Davis, TONIGHT at 7:30 PM. Open mic will follow.

Also this weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Saturday (12/8), 8 PM: A special reading at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento to commemorate the Birthday of Kenneth Patchen. Readers presenting Patchen's work will include D.R. Wagner, Kathy Kieth, Linda Thorell, Pat Grizzell, Lisa Rezza, Robert Grossklaus, Terryl Wheat and B.L. Kennedy. Luna's is located at 1414 16th St. in Sacramento, 916-441-3931.


It's snowing up here in Pollock Pines today. Just a wee drift; it won't "stick". Still, a snow poem by Ralph Emerson, a classy poet (unlike the snarky Medusa), followed by some good-byes to autumn by two more classy poets: two Wills...

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.


—William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self that seals up all the rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.


—William Butler Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The ninteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamourous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away.



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 latest issue of Rattlesnake Review (#15) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Issue #16 will be out in mid-December; its deadline of Nov. 15 has passed. Next deadline (for Issue #17, due out in mid-March) is February 15. (Sooner than you think!)

Coming December 12! The Snake is proud to announce the release of Metamorphic Intervals From The Insanity Of Time, a SnakeRings SpiralChap from Patricia D'Alessandro; Notes From An Ivory Tower, a littlesnake broadside from Sacramento's Ann Wehrman; and a brand new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#16). Come celebrate all of these on Wednesday, December 12, 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. And use the opportunity to pick up a few poetic Christmas presents there, including any of a number of wonderful books and chapbooks—not to mention A Poet's Book of Days, Rattlesnake Press's first perpetual calendar, featuring the poetry and photography of Katy Brown.