Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Sprouting of Seeds

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Taylor Graham

We still have pictures in the photo album,
evergreens climbing the lower ridges
up toward timberline; granite’s muscle
and the slick glacial folds below the summit.
Alpenglow dimming to hushed white peaks
before a rising moon. Views to inspire
a writer’s parchment,

not newsprint with its blazing
headlines, the whole front page engulfed
in flame. Global Warming Fuels
Western Wildfires. Before and after
shots. What shall we do
with these photos in the album,
withered as pressed blossoms?


Thanks, TG! Taylor Graham sent us that poem in response to yesterday's Seed of the Week, a photo of a look-out station. I posted it in honor of the one-year anniversary of the Angora fire.

Marie Ross sends a poem in response to last week's Seed, "Where do you hang your hat?" She apologizes for being "late" with it; I say there's no such thing when it comes to SOWs. Send 'em the next day or the next year. The important thing is to plant them and let them sprout.


—Marie J. Ross, Stockton

I hang my woven hat on a hall tree,
waiting for an arrangement of grey
clouds to roam the sky,
and when drizzle turns to playful
rain drops, I reach for my hat and
dance into the rain like Gene Kelly.
I often wonder why rain intrigues me
so; then I think of how rain is the Water
Of Earth's Continuous Fuel, the magic
wand that lifts green splendors and plants
that supply our lifeline.
And every time I wander her fruitful prairies
after a rain,
I garner the fresh aroma that the grass lends,
of pine needles soaked in the moist sod, aroma
like a smoldering fire in the fireplace
as I conjure thought of restful evenings listening
to classical music, or just the reflection of tiny rain
drops on my windowpane.
So, when I'm aware that rain is in the air, I reach
for my woven hat, and dance like a nymph under
a fading sun.


This just in:

I didn't know The Sacramento Bee even had a "resident poet", but apparently it's Carlos Alcalá, who has started a poem on the new law, which takes effect July 1, restricting cell phone use while driving. The Bee challenges you to add a stanza and send it to by noon this Friday. The "best" stanzas will be published on Monday's Scene cover. Here's what Alcalá wrote:

Whether chatting on Verizon,
Nextel, Sprint or AT&T,
Remember it's the talking,
Not the driving, that's hands-free.

Good luck!


HandyStuff Quickie:

This is great weather to STAY INDOORS (*hack* *cough*) with a good book, and during my vacation I've been going through what's on my shelf, re-acquainting and new-acquainting. I spent yesterday with How Does a Poem Mean? in honor of John Ciardi's birthday this week. This is a warhorse of a "Learn About Poetry in College English 1A" text that was written in the late '50's. It's thorough and surprisingly lively, if you don't mind the analyses of almost-exclusively Dead White Guy Poets. Which I don't; apparently that's what I was in the mood for yesterday. I especially enjoyed the first chapter, which talks about the title and uses Frost's "Stopping by Woods" as an illustration. Frankly, I never get tired of watching good minds analyze poems; it seems to trigger my muse. So check it out, if you never have before. (I don't know if this book is even in print anymore; I got mine used on Amazon. But there are plenty of them around. Or maybe you went through it in college....?)

More Stephen Dunn, in honor of his birthday this week:

—Stephen Dunn

John & Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds
who also had never met.

—from a freshman's short story

They were like gazelles who occupied different
grassy plains, running in opposite directions
from different lions. They were like postal clerks
in different zip codes, with different vacation time,
their bosses adamant and clock-driven.
How could they get together?
They were like two people who couldn't get together.
John was a Sufi with a love of the dervish,
Mary of course a Christian with a curfew.
They were like two dolphins in the immensity
of the Atlantic, one playful,
the other stuck in a tuna net—
two absolutely different childhoods!
There was simply no hope for them.
They would never speak in person.
When they ran across that windswept field
toward each other, they were like two freight trains,
one having left Seattle at 6:36 P.M.
at an unknown speed, the other delayed
in Topeka for repairs.
The math indicated that they'd embrace
in another world, if at all, like parallel lines.
Or merely appear kindred and close, like stars.


—Stephen Dunn

"Vissi d'arte," sang Callas on my boombox
and, alone in early evening, swept up annd stilled,
I saw myself as husband, poet, slackard,
undriven drifter through house and world.
I knew I could be distracted by weather,
lured by box scores and décolletage.
Puccini, though, must have lived for art,
as Callas certainly did, which is no doubt why
a small tear formed in the corner
of my left eye, a kind of applause.
At which the mood-insensitive clock gestured
my wife's plane would soon touch down.
I didn't want to move. Was Puccini
ever taken from such a fine moment?
Was Callas? They must have been, of course.
And couldn't bear it. Or ranted anyway
because they were brilliantly selfish,
or what involved them just then
was magical, in a sense their lives,
a virtuosity that shouldn't be disturbed.
Outside, the wind chime began to chime.
I was sure the promised storm would flirt,
then veer north. I had to stop
for gas. I had to make the bed I hadn't made
since she left. Was the indoor cat in?
Were the windows down? All the way
to the airport I tried to time amber,
beat red. I parked in short term. I ran.
Man of urgency. Man of what later,
with feeling, might be sung.

(Stephen Dunn's poems are from his Different Hours, W.W. Norton & Company.)


Today's LittleNip:

I always wanted to write a book that ended with the word, "mayonnaise".

—Richard Brautigan


Our thoughts are with Sacramento Poet Luke Breit, who is in UCD Medical Center recovering from a serious illness.


SnakeWatch: What's Up With Rattlesnake Press

New in June:
Day Moon, a new chapbook by James DenBoer, and Mindfully Moon, a littlesnake broadside by Carol Louise Moon, as well as Volume Three of Conversations, our third book of interviews by B.L. Kennedy, featuring Art Beck, Olivia Costellano, Quinton Duval, William S. Gainer, Mario Ellis Hill, Kathryn Hohlwein, James Jee Jobe, Andy Jones, Rebecca Morrison, Viola Weinberg and Phillip T. Nails. All this PLUS a brand-new edition (#18) of Rattlesnake Review! Now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or (soon) from (Snake contributors and subscribers will be receiving their copies in the mail this week. If you're not among either of these, and can't get down to The Book Collector to get your free copy, send me two bux and I'll mail you one: P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.)

The Snake will be snoozing through July and August, leaving Medusa to carry on alone. Then on September 10, we shall burst back onto the scene with Ten Poems, a new chapbook from Patrick Grizzell, plus Issue #19 of Rattlesnake Review. (Deadline is August 15.) Meanwhile, look in on Medusa every day, and, for heaven's sake, keep sending stuff! The snakes of Medusa are always hungry...

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Seed of the Week: Tuesday is Medusa's day to post poetry triggers such as quotes, forms, photos, memories, jokes—whatever might tickle somebody's muse. Pick up the gauntlet and send in your poetic results; and don't be shy about sending in your own triggers, too! All poems will be posted and a few of them will go into Medusa's Corner of each Rattlesnake Review. Send your work to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOW; respond today, tomorrow, or whenever the muse arrives. (Print 'em out, maybe, save 'em for a dry spell?) When you send us work, though, just let us know which "seed" it was that inspired you.

Wednesday: HandyStuff Quickies: Resources for the poet, including whatever helps ease the pain of writing and/or publishing: favorite journals to read and/or submit to; books, etc., about writing; organizational tools—you know—HandyStuff! Tell us about your favorite tools.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy.
Send books, CDs, DVDs, etc. to him for possible review (either as a Drive-By or in future issues of Rattlesnake Review) at P.O. Box 160664, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Friday: NorCal weekend poetry calendar

Daily (except Sunday): LittleNips: SnakeFood for the Poetic Soul: Daily munchables for poetic thought, including short paragraphs, quotes, wonky words, silliness, little-known poetry/poet facts, and other inspiration—yet another way to feed our ravenous poetic souls.

And poetry! Every day, poetry from writers near and far! The Snakes of Medusa are always hungry.......!


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 ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.