Friday, December 12, 2008

Let Us Be Mist

Photo by Brian Goodman


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Ah, Sacramento winter: Mediterranean,
they say of it. Mild, they say of it. But who
answers for the November pities, the glums,
the sulks? Who accounts for the lost,
the shy, the shut-ins, the December
bitters adrift, partitioned from all touch
while the tule isinglass rises in silent sheets
as unto a new law of heat, yet utterly without
boiling, from the river foundry? Lost
to each other as we are to that bright
sun one peep above, a sky-canopy foothill
to surmount even after the highest dirt foothill’s
transcended…Oh honey, if the day’s
been called on account of fog, let’s you
and me grope each other out, whorled
as we are nigh-shapeless into the dust atop
the milk glass that hoods grandmother’s lamp.
Let us not speak of the real Mediterranean,
terra-cotta Greeks in flesh colored salmon,
radiating under a sky so blue it goes black
on the amphora. Rather let us be completely
mist: let’s you and me make innuendo. Time
enough for us to emerge late-of-day, eyes
bruised as boxers’, into the sun, fruit
of the misty parturition laboring
apart the drifts. Let the gleam hammer
as does the contact of the snow, the ice
asteam under the naked feet of the Finnish boy
shot out and alive from the sauna in a poached red skin.


—Marie J. Ross, Stockton

She needed the road to awaken
chase the boredom that laid heavy
on her eyes.
Fog drifted in dire crusade across
the broken line and soft shoulder,
her mind focusing only on that fatal
night, the scrunch of rock sounding
in channels of her ears, her brother’s
face lit in the headlights.
The fog lifts;
on her warm pillow no tears, flicker of
bedside lamp dances on photo of brother
Kenny’s face, their dog Pasha and herself
at Lake Newman.
Sun infiltrated cloud.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

The hills of home
From colorless land
To brown greening hillsides
Golden leaves hang on maples
Late this year near Christmas time
Hills sparkling with color after gray
Riding in the valley from home today


Thanks, poets, for more responses to the Seed of the Week: When The Fog Lifts. Keep 'em coming!

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (12/12/), 7-9 PM: Second Friday Poetry Reading (normally at The Vox) will be held at the Sacramento Poetry Center, 1719 25th St. at HQ for the Arts. Free & Family-Friendly. Featuring William O'Daly, Quinton Duval, & Katy Brown. Hosted by Cynthia Linville. [See for more about Katy and Quinton Duval.]

•••Also tonight (Friday, 12/12), 7 PM: Jane Crown’s program, LIVE! features B.L. Kennedy's After Hours with guest Charlene Ann Ungstad. Tune in live or catch the session in Jane Crown’s archives at

•••Sat. (12/13), 4-6 PM: Women’s Writing Salon (men welcome, too!) features Diane Covington, Maxima Kahn, Ariel McInerney, Patricia Dove Miller, Susan Solinsky, and Jean Varda celebrating the Winter Solstice at Coffee Town, 134 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley. Free.

•••Sat. (12/13), 8 PM (door open at 7): The ILL List 5: A Poetry Slam Invitational returns to the City of Modesto. This is the most prestigious and highly anticipated spoken-word event in the state, featuring performances by nationally renowned spoken-word artists and HBO Def Poets battling through three rounds of original poetry on their quest for $1,500 in cash prizes! Randomly-selected judges from the audience, using Olympic-style scorecards, will judge. Audience members are strongly encouraged to root for their favorite poets. Cheering, yelling, booing, hissing, whistling, and good-natured heckling are welcome and expected. This is a free-speech event. For more information go to Tickets: $15.00 General Reserved, $22.50 Middle Reserved, $30.00 Premium Reserved.

•••Sunday (12/14), 4 PM: Second Sunday Poetry in Crockett features Katy Brown and Stewart Florsheim at Valona Deli, 1323 Pomona St., Crockett (510-787-2022). Open mic to follow, then the jazz of the Terry Henry Trio begins at 6. Info: David Alpaugh, 925-682-0457. See last Monday's post for bios.

•••Monday (12/15), 7:30 PM: Special winter solstice all open mike read-around. Please bring your holiday/winter/solstice poems to share. Christmas goodies and drinks will be served (food items will be Buche de Noel, Stollen, Gingerbread, bonbons, cheese and crackers and wine and hot cider). Weather permitting, we will have a fire on the back patio. The reading will be held next door in the 25th and R complex at the Alliance Francaise (where it's nice and warm). This is a FREE event. Host: Rebecca Morrison.

Coming up at SPC:
December 22: No Reading
December 29: Indigo Moor and Jeanne Wagner

Whatdaya mean by "one"?

The Sacramento Bee ran an article from the Washington Post this week about one Dave Bruno, who is spending a whole year living with just 100 possessions (see for his plan)—the point being to cut down on materialism/consumerism. One could argue a bit, though, with how he defines “one”. I especially got a kick out of how he measured his books: he kept “one” library! Not one book; one library! (A man after me own heart…)

Broccoli, Cheese & Crackers

Pick up a free copy of Issue #11 of BC&C at TBC (The Book Collector) or other hot spots around town. Editor/Writer Dairl Helmer does a hella job with this well-written, tidy local publication that used to be $2 but now, for some mysterious reasons, has gone “free”. (Where’ve I been? I missed the first ten issues!) Anyway, Dairl does most of the work alone, and his mission is to show us the better side of Sacatomato. He does this with articles, photos, a cartoon and an insightful collection of musings and comments and happenings-around-town, including *cough cough* some real nice words about the Sac poetry scene and the Snake, as well as a dandy pic of TBC. Website is; contact him there.

Dairl writes: Other issues of BCC have had a somewhat wider variety of articles, with reviews of local restaurants, movies, music, comic books and other things. This issue was kind of a special one, and the guide to Sacramento took up most of it. Also, the sports commentaries are done by an old college friend of mine, Ray Anselmo, who lives in Stockton. Incidentally, [heads up, folks!] I will be looking for writers, artists and others for the next issue (hopefully coming out next spring); so if you hear of anyone in your circles who might be interested in writing for a 'zine like mine, if you would be kind enough to put me in touch with them, I would be very appreciative. I think Dairl was intrigued (or was that repulsed?) that Sam and I are Sacramento natives; frankly, there just aren’t that many of us around. (And no, it doesn't count that we moved up into the hills; PP is just a suburb of Sac...)

Speaking of the hills and denizens thereof, the bear was back last night, checking out the deck which is now devoid of bird feeders and other forms of caviar. S/he'll be in and out 'til s/he gets the point, but—so far—a minimum of mayhem. We do have the number of a "bear relocator" if s/he doesn't move on. And yes, bears do make big potty... It just shows how much they love us.

Taylor Graham
writes to say that, coincidentally, they found some fence damage that looked like bear evidence
on their old property in Somerset yesterday. She sent us this, fresh off the pencil:

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Between T-posts, the stockwire fence
was bent down badly, a clump of coarse black hair
caught where wire warp meets weft.
It must take something rather massive
to mash stockwire down like that.

Neither of us said “bear.”
But once I found
strange black scat below our ridge.
It made me wonder, made me walk quicker,
softer, breath caught in wondering.


And thanks to Mitz Sackman, who continues to mull over the holidays. You'll note that she's still intrigued by the etheree:

—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Thanksgiving I was good
Ate moderately
A little of each
Well maybe a little more of the turkey
Maybe a couple of times
Bet hey it is lowfat? Right?
Alas this morning
Those jeans I wore last week
Are more than a little snug
Top button won’t quite reach
Thank the goddess for
The handy pair of comfort waist pants
I am thankful for the inventor
Of elastic that gives the ease
To post-Thanksgiving dress


—Mitz Sackman

Carcass sits
Strips covering
Bare bones, empty bowls
As we groan do we feel
Gratitude for our blessings
Simply the glut of our plenty
Grateful for the help with dirty dishes
Happy for the family visiting


—Mitz Sackman

Christmas is coming
Arriving at
An increasingly faster pace
The time from
Thanksgiving to Christmas
Seems to shrink
Each year
Just mailed the last package
Other presents
Wrapped with tissue and
Stuffed into bags
Have given up on cards
I now have a tiny Christmas tree
That I plug in
Optic fiber joy
No hassles
Reminding me to celebrate
Joys of joining
Beyond the holiday
Traps and trappings


Today's LittleNip:

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it "to the editor who can appreciate my work" and it has simply come back stamped "not at this address." Just keep looking for the right address.

—Barbara Kingsolver



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue (#20) is currently rattling around in the SnakePit; more copies will be available at The Book Collector on Saturday, December 13. Contributors' and subscribers' copies are going into the mail this week and next. Deadline for RR21 is February 15: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to include all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

NEW for December: A second chapbook from Danyen Powell (Blue Sky Flies Out); a littlesnake broadside from Kevin Jones (Low-Rent Dojo), and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#20)! Stop by The Book Collector and pick up Christmas gifts such as Katy Brown's calendars and blank journals and all our other books—give the gift of poetry! We even have two books that are appropriate for kids: Poems in a Seashell by Kathy Kieth (a children's approach to writing poetry), and SpiralChap #1: The Heart of a Poet, poetry and art by Ashley Redfield and her brother when they were wee ones. While you're there, of course, you'll want to pick up a book or two for your own Christmas tree. And hey—TBC is even open on Sundays!

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at TBC or write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

Coming in January: Other than the ever-restless Medusa, the Snake will be snoozing during January; no releases or readings. But our October road trips inspired a new Rattlesnake publication, WTF, to be edited by frank andrick. This 30-page, chapbook-style quarterly journal will primarily showcase the talents of readers at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, but anyone over 18 is welcome to submit. Deadline is Jan. 15 for a Feb. 19 premiere at Luna’s. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but please send three poems (each one page or less in length), photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. And be forewarned: this publication will be for adults only! so you must be over 18 years of age to submit.

Coming February 11: A new rattlechap from Sacramento's Poet Laureate, Julia Connor (Oar); a littlesnake broadside from Josh Fernandez (In The End, It’s A Worthless Machine); and the premiere of our new Rattlesnake Reprints, featuring The Dimensions of the Morning by D.R. Wagner which was first published by Black Rabbit Press in 1969. That’s February 11 at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else’s.

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 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 (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.