Photo by Ann Privateer
—Ann Privateer, Davis
I tighten Orion’s belt,
stroke the hair on the head of sorcery
enlivening my breath felt
in every pore of discovery.
This is the moment to ally
with ghouls and ghosts, to remember
the dead who awaken us asking, why
can’t I be with you in November?
Do not fret as you set the cemetery
table with flowers and food sedentary,
la día de los muertos candles flame,
flicker, burn, blow out as smoke takes each name.
This weekend in NorCal poetry:
•••Friday (10/31), 7:30 PM: Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol / Writers of the New Sun present their annual Annual Día De Los Muertos Poetry Reading honoring Those Who Have Gone Before, a tribute to Los Antepasados with poems, stories and songs featuring Francisco X. Alarcón, who will read from an upcoming collection of poems. La Raza Galería Posada in midtown Sacramento (1022-1024 22nd Street, (916) 446-5133; www.larazagaleriaposada.org/. Come and read your own poems to los muertos!
La Raza Galería Posada, a historic institution of local civil rights movements, was established on the belief that art and culture uplift, enlighten and build communities, education, and awareness about people and society. For information about Los Escritores, call 916-456-5323.
•••Friday (10/31), 7 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center Halloween Poetry Bash, HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Wear a costume!
•••Saturday (11/1), 12-4 PM: The annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival celebrates writers, nature and community at Civic Center Park in Berkeley with Robert Hass, Jane Hirshfield, Brenda Hillman, Al Young w/bassist Dan Robbins, Joseph Lease, Camille Dungy Avotcia, Mike Tuggle, Chirs Olander, Grace Fae & Grace Tea. Open reading, environmental updates, art activities; River Village: literary & environmental exhibitors. Info: www.poetryflash.org or 510-526-9105. Watershed is a collaboration of Robert Hass (US Poet Laureate, 1995-97), Poetry Flash, Ecology Center/Berkeley Farmers’ Market and EcoCity Builders.
Also: a Pre-Festival Strawberry Creek Walk (poetry & creek restoration update) on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 10 AM (meet at Oxford & Center Sts. in Berkeley).
•••Monday (11/3), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Jan Beatty at HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. Open mic after. Jan Beatty directs the Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshop at Carlow University. Along with Ellen Wadey, she produces Prosody, a weekly radio program featuring the work of national writers. She is the author of three collections of poetry, including Mad River (Univ. Of Pittsburgh Press, 1995), winner of the Agnes Lynch Starret poetry Prize, Boneshaker (Univ. Of Pittsburgh, 2002), and Red Sugar (Univ. Of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). She has won fellowships from the Ucross foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Yaddo, the Heinz Foundation, and the Pablo Neruda Prize from the Tulsa Arts and Humanities. She currently resides in Pittsburgh with her husband, musician Don Holloway, and dons one of the funkiest pairs of glasses in all of the poetry world.
B.L.'s Drive-by: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:
Slaves of New York
By Tama Janowitz
Washington Square Press
278 pp, Trade-Paper, $6.95
Praise the local Used Bookstore for its hidden treasures of literature past! I was at Beer’s Books a few weeks ago when I just happened to stumble on some words from my past. Tama Janowitz’ Slaves of New York is, simply put, one of those rare short story collections that you cannot get enough of in this or any other life. This book was published way before Sex in the City, and is filled with laughs and sadness. So, if you happen to be in dire need of something to read that will lift you up with cool ease, go to your local Used Bookstore or your local library and get a copy of Slaves of New York. Then kick back some afternoon and just enjoy the trip.
—Mitz Sackman, Murphys
This room holds the casts off of my cravings
The question WHY?
Beginning as a toddler until I went to school
Suffering punishment for who I was
Next was wanting to be invisible
If I am invisible
I am impervious to harm
I then craved normalcy
Alas a vain hope
In high school, a Catholic girls' high
I found acceptance
Began to look at my oddities
In the form of an asset
A young adult I wished for security
Found instead the lessons of
A fragile existence
I wanted peace and quiet
Now that I am older
And have it all
I ask Why not!
—Donald R. Anderson and Marie J. Ross, Stockton
On pillars of off-white, gilded with serpentine floral pictographs,
stands the statue of Venus, reaching up with one palm to the sky.
Green netting drifts like veils in the breeze over the loggia’s roof.
On the staircase a thick-veined Iguana flicks its tongue watching
the furry-robed man make his way to the phone. It was a brisk
night, the howl of spooky Halloween ghosts from voodoo crypts
blew into his ears. The nutmeg tainted embers of a long-stemmed
cigarette smoldered in an unseen chamber. She’s watching!
She’s watching, always hating the cigarette smoke; from her headstone
she sent a bat flying in his direction, fang-toothed and drooling.
A quick prickle from the wind, and he starts to transform into a blurry skeleton.
She is laughing hysterically and is wishing this could have happened when she
was alive. Deep animal noises come from the surrounding jungle, and the man,
now a skeleton, begins to dance in seduction, around and around under the
howling moon he kneels at the altar of the voodoo queen. forgetting his wife
and her nagging ways.
AND THE TOURIST
—Donald R. Anderson and Marie J. Ross
Pine needles sometimes turn brown,
when ravaged by dry weather in this ghost town.
The roof rusts like fossilized blood,
as leaves ride off its dampened crud.
A glowing mist condenses and disappears,
in the room where he used to drink many beers.
A lofty shadow creeps slowly across his mind
in an image so hideous and undefined.
Stone cold eyes peer through glass yellowed with dust,
a poor unfortunate, unsuspecting tourist from the upper
She witnessed a head of wax detached
by a guillotine with a sharp blade unmatched.
She inhaled so fast she fell over back,
on the railing of old wood, and the railing cracked.
In fear she thought the ghost would catch,
and touch her shoulder in bony scratch.
She ran and ran to her luxury sedan,
while sounds of the wind would forever haunt her like that
RELIEVED BY HALLOWEEN
and its merchandising, retailers
pound stakes into the heart
of Labor Day: black cats and pumpkin-
grins at every checkstand: rows of candy
to sweeten the coming darkness. . .
Scraggly finches, relieved
by cool nights and the egress
of demanding chicks, leave cobwebby
tombs where noisy nests used to be,
take time to focus on fattening
themselves enough to slip past
the graveyard of winter. . .
—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines
SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:
Next deadline for Rattlesnake Review is November 15! Send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
Also coming in November: On November 12, Rattlesnake Press will release a new rattlechap from Red Fox Underground Poet Wendy Patrice Williams (Some New Forgetting); a littlesnake broadside from South Lake Tahoe Poet Ray Hadley (Children's Games); our 2009 calendar from Katy Brown (Beyond the Hill: A Poet’s Calendar) as well as Conversations, Vol. 4 of B.L. Kennedy’s Rattlesnake Interview Series. That’s Weds., November 12, 7:30 PM at The Book Collector.
Medusa's Weekly Menu:
(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)
Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar
Tuesday: 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 email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOWs; 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 (sometimes): 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 and in-between! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (rattlesnakepress.com). And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.