Friday, December 14, 2007

A Mind of Winter

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

As winter comes, “old Adam’s penalty”
being to shiver-shake as spears of chill
thrust rude tips between ribs
thinly skinned over, thoughts of the great
spear-shaker work like antifreeze
in the engine: is not all winter the “candied
brook?” Isn’t the American River
somewhat of the “ice-brook’s temper,”
as the fog breathes like the horse that
stamps the fresh drift? William Shakespeare,
or Edward, Earl of Oxford, whoever you are,
speak liftingly, take this boy back
to when Arden Way was a Forest of Arden,
and every puddle surrendered its “candied”
window to our numb fingers come January.
It’s a late world for that now, but the geese glide,
the fog graduates into cloud, and the sky
is blueberry swirl, candied up with vanilla.
O Shakespeare, does your concordance
with all its wonderful plant-names
encompass the sharp pang of spearmint?
Well, we have what we have, saved from the ice,
held up glitteringly, the skimmed sheet of ice.
To remember the sweetness is to drape
the mundane in dramatic habiliments,
the “mind of winter” taking character
from its house playwright, as the ink
off the tip of the quill drabbles the snow…


Thanks, Tom and Steph!

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Friday, 12/14), 8-10 PM: Lori Jean Robinson, Random Abiladeze and LaRue. Isis Bazaar, 122 I St., Sacramento. $5. Info: 916-208-7638.

•••Saturday (12/15), 7-9 PM: Poets Candy and Bret Freeman at Underground Books, 2814 35th Street (35th and Broadway), Sacramento, 916-737-3333. $3 includes a spoken word workshop and open mic. Learn more about:
—CD recording and book writing
—The difference between performance and slam poetry
—Self publishing
—Poem memorization
—Mic posture and stage presence
—Having a good bio
—How to read your poem effectively
—How to market yourself and your work
—Performing at your own level
And much more! The workshop will discuss other arts as well.

•••Saturday (12/15), 2-6 PM: Poetry Fest featuring poets from the poetry anthology, Sun Shadow Mountain, at Cesar Chavez Central Library, downtown Stockton, 605 N. El Dorado St. There will be refreshments, artwork, musical accompaniment, and more! For information call Donald R. Anderson (209) 405-4041, or visit the website

•••Sunday (12/16), 2-4 PM: A Winter Solstice Salon, presented by The Woman's Writing Salon of Grass Valley, including Gail Entrekin, Meredith Ely, Molly Fisk, Maxima Kahn, Terry Lowe and Robin Wallace. Rhythm's Music Cafe (formerly The Beat Cafe), 114 W. Main St., Grass Valley. They say: this will be the last Salon after two years of great readings. We are ending the series and hope you can come and help us close it out. Info:

•••Monday (12/17), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Celtic Women Brigit Truex, Charlene Ungstad and others at HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Open mic before and after. Host Rebecca Morrison writes:

Please join us for poetry, food and drink, broadsides, music and images celebrating all things Celtic—Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, English, etc. Please join in the open mic with your own Celtic poems. We will be reading poetry from a wide selection of Celtic women poets. We are also putting together a gift basket for Jeanine Stevens (one of our Celtic group) who recently lost her son, so if you have anything for Jeanine, please bring it to the reading.

Brigit Shea Truex is a Native American/Irish poet who was born in Washington DC,
then lived in Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Maryland and finally moved to Northern
CA. She is a member of the Red Fox Poetry Underground Group and has published in
journals such as Poetry Now, Rattlesnake Review, Manzanita, Folio, PDQ, Drumvoices
Review and the following anthologies: Sacramento 100 Poems, Nantucket, Washing
The Color of Water Golden, Small Town USA. She is writing a novel set in Ireland.
Her latest chapbook is from Rattlesnake Press, called A Counterpane Without.

Charlene Ungstad has been a member of the Sacramento poetry community for many years
and was instrumental in the October in the Railroad Earth reading series and
the Java City Poetry Marathon. She has published in many local anthologies and
is one of our resident Celtic experts with a penchant for the "history of Celts
in America."

—Ezra Pound

I stood still and was a tree amid the wood,
Knowing the truth of things unseen before;
Of Daphne and the laurel bough
And that god-feasting couple old
That grew elm-oak amid the wold.
'Twas not until the gods had been
Kindly entreated, and been brought within
Unto the hearth of their heart's home
That they might do this wonder thing;
Nathless I have been a tree amid the wood
And many a new thing understood
That was rank folly to my head before.


—Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.



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. Contributors' and subscribers' copies go into the mail this week and next. 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.