Thursday, December 13, 2007

When We Love, God Thinks In Us

Kenneth Patchen, 1911-1972

—Kenneth Patchen

We go out together into the staring town
And buy cheese and bread and little jugs with flowered labels

Everywhere is a tent for us to put on our whirling show

A great deal has been said of the handless serpents
Which war has set loose in the gay milk of our heads

But because you braid your hair and taste like honey of heaven
We go together into town and buy wine and yellow candles

O this is celebration enough for twenty worlds!


—Kenneth Patchen

The rescuing gate is wide
On villages that drift through the sun.
I do not listen to sleep anymore.
Cows pasture on stalks of green hours
And a haze of joyous deer drinks eternity.
Bells make blue robes for the wind to wear.
Summer whistles for her dogs of tree and flower.
The old faith plays jacks with idiots on church lawns.
I am so close to good. I have no need to see God.


Today Kenneth Patchen would've been 96 years old.

A Very Local Call for Submissions:

Are you a member of the Davis Food Co-op? Send them your poems...or your (very!) short fiction or non-fiction. In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, Natural Choices will be publishing creative writing by Davis Food Co-op members. Members of all ages are encouraged to participate. All submissions should be somehow on the subjects of food, community, or cooperation, and should be sent by e-mail (no paper submissions, please!) to NO LATER than January 15, 2008. Work may be sent either as an attached Word document or with the text in the body of the e-mail. Submissions should be clearly marked with your name, your contact information, and the name under which your Davis Food Co-op membership is listed, and they should be no more than 400 words. Submissions that don't comply with these requirements will be disregarded. Decisions about publication will be made by the Natural Choices staff before the end of February (unfortunately, we have limited space, so we can't publish everyone).

Snakes are in!

Yesterday, lots of copies of the new Rattlesnake Review (#16) went into The Book Collector. Also yesterday, lots of copies also went out—there were only six of them left in there by the end of the reading last night! I'll be back down with more on Saturday, though, and contributor/subscriber copies start going into the mail today.

Lots of goodies in this issue, including Shawn Pittard's new feature, "Joining the Conversation"; Patricia Wellingham-Jones' article on "Healing Poetry"; tons of reviews; our regular columnists; three interview "teasers"; and poetry, poetry, poetry—plus oodles of way-cool photos, too! 74 pages of NorCal's finest, and all for free!

And while you're there, pick up free broadsides, including the latest (Notes From The Ivory Tower by Ann Wehrman), and buy yourself (or your friends) a rattlechap or six, including our brand-new one from Patricia D'Alessandro (Metamorphic Intervals from the Insanity of Life).

Tonight in NorCal Poetry:

•••Thursday (12/13), 7 PM: Susan Kelly-DeWitt will be reading at Lyon Books in Chico, 121 W. 5th Street, Chico, (530) 891-3338 this coming Thursday. Susan Kelly-DeWitt has published both her eighth chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree (from Rattlesnake Press), and her first full-length collection of poems, The Fortunate Islands, this year. Her work has appeared widely in literary journals, and she’s been featured in both Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Carole Simmons Oles says of her poems, “Susan Kelly-DeWitt breaks our hearts and puts them together again with words.”

•••Also Thursday (12/13), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured reader plus open mic before and after.


—Kenneth Patchen

I scooped up the moon's footprints but
The ground climbed past with a sky
And a dove and a bent vapor.
The other half of cling together wove by
In the breath of the willows; fall in
Sand eagle ox ferret and emerald arch.
O we, too, must learn to live here;
To use what we are, O fall in now!
For only love is community! O various likenesses, none
Unless one love! In the lionleaf, the sonshade
Spreading over a father's road! When we love,
God thinks in us. And in that home-going time,
We see with the eyes of grass; and in the trees
Hear our own voices speak! So gently, gently, I say
That sleep is the secret-releasing key to this world.
our lives are watching us—but not from earth.


—Kenneth Patchen

Rest, heart of the tired world.
Hush... go to sleep.
Men and cities keep their cold terrible watches,
And the ocean frets at these naked lands of pain.
O hushabye... and go to sleep.

This red rain...
To breathe...
To weep...
To love where only murder has been lain...
To find youth, and faith, and all their quick kin,
Buried deep in talking halls of horror...
It is that we cannot see,
That we cannot hear,
That we cannot smell,
Or taste, or feel, or think;
For surely no will in heaven or earth
Could endure what we seem to possess;
We live in the shadow of a greater shadow—
But there is the sun!
And from him man shall have life,
And he shall have redress from the crimes
Of his most brutal habitation...

O rest, heart of the tired world.
Hush... and go to sleep.
There is a beautiful work for all men to do,
And we shall at last wake into the sun.



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 send 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, as well as Volume Two of Conversations, B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series.