Monday, December 08, 2008

Taking Off Our Clothes

Guardian of the Tower of London
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Katy Brown, Davis

you see
three men on
camels, moving
through your neighborhood:
give them directions to
the new baby down the street.


Thanks, Katy, for the Christmas etheree, and for the raven/rook? from England. Katy Brown traveled across the pond recently and brought us back many wonderful photos, some of which will appear in the new Snake, which is due out this coming Wednesday, some of which will appear in April in her new blank journal, Musings: An English Affair, and many of which will appear in future Kitchens. Katy will also be reading at two venues this weekend; check Medusa's calendar below:

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (12/8), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents
David Iribarne, Gabrielle White and Shevonna Blackshire at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Free & Family-Friendly. [Next Monday (12/15) will be a Winter Solstice Read-around.]

•••Tuesday (12/9), starting at 6 PM: Cesar Chevez Central Library in Stockton will host a poetry open mic from 6-7 PM, followed by a workshop hosted by Donald R. Anderson. Cesar Chavez Central Library is at 605 N. El Dorado St. in Stockton, between El Dorado, Center, Park and Oak Streets. The event will be upstairs in the Administration Meeting Room. Info: 209-405-4041 or

•••Weds. (12/10), 7:30 PM: Join us at The Book Collector for the release of a new 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)! 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.

•••Also Weds. (12/10), 7:30 PM: A Seasonally Surreal night of Poetry and Prose and mostly singer/songwriter open mic at The Old Ironsides with frank andrick, Gene Bloom, Barbara Noble, Rachel Leibrock, Josh Fernandez, Lare Crawley and an unamed collective of musicians. Open mic sign-ups. The Old Ironsides, 1901 10th St (10th & S), Sacramento. Free. Info: or 916-446-7322.

•••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 below for a bio of Katy Brown; see for more about Katy and Quinton Duval.]

•••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.

•••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.

Katy Brown has won awards from Ina Coolbrith Circle, Poets Dinner, and California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc., and her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. Other writing credits include a series of short mysteries for young readers and Poetry Potions, a workbook used in schools for twenty years that is now available on disc. She lives in Davis and currently writes a column for Rattlesnake Review in addition to her Rattlesnake Press collections of art and poetry which include her SpiralChap, The Quality of Light, her two calendars, and her two blank journals (Musings). Stewart Florsheim has been widely published in journals and anthologies. His awards include the Blue Light Book Award for his Short Fall from Grace (Blue Light, 2005). He is editor of Ghosts of the Holocaust, poetry by children of holocaust survivors. Stewart lives in Piedmont and is co-chair of Compassion and Choices, an organization that helps the terminally ill make end-of-life decisions.


Medusa was slow to rise this a.m.; here are some commensurate poems from Scott Cairns:

—Scott Cairns

In my shadow world, no one
ever quite wakes up, slow eyes,
forever red from rubbing, fall
vacantly from one vague form to the next.

Some days, a sun might shine, but its light
bumps against everything like a wash
of tepid water, and even then does nothing
to illuminate the place. Understand,

the problem doesn't rest
in a simple lack of light, but in an abundance
of light that does no good. In my world,
leaves are barely green, faces remain

confused with darkness. We have stories
full of unclear language, whole volumes
of wrong names. Each time we find the place
where we can stand our vague mistakes no longer,

we settle into what will pass as sleep.


—Scott Cairns

The thing to remember
is how tentative all of this
really is. You could wake up dead.

Or the woman you love
could decide you're ugly.
Maybe she'll finally give up
trying to ignore the way you
floss your teeth when
you watch television.
All I'm saying is that
there are no sure things here.

I mean, you'll probably wake up alive,
and she'll probably keep putting off
any actual decision about your looks.
Could be she'll be glad your teeth
are so clean. The morning could be
full of all the love and kindness
you need. Just don't go thinking
you deserve any of it.


—Scott Cairns

This night, one of those clouded
nights that glue the sheets
to your legs and drain the hope
of sleep from you, so that even the woman
tossing beside you becomes nothing more
than an irritation. So, the two of you
grow slowly stupid in the dark,
being for the most part awake, but numbed
by heat and darkness. At such a time,
you might believe you'll go on
like this forever; but the night above you
clears, your borrowed room
cools by slow degrees, and the moment
arrives when you startle to the fact
of having slept.
If, at this moment, you would lift
yourself to one elbow to witness
the moonlit room, you would know
that there is waking in this house
a word, simple as blood, whose sound spoken
clearly enough might make things right,
a word like water, or light, a word
clean and honest as dirt, or a woman
you wake to clear autumn nights, the odd light
of the moon on her, a quiet word that tells you
all that it is you're in the world to learn.


(after James Wright)
—Scott Cairns

Any morning, you could wake
to the quick dissolve of a sad dream.
Beside you could be sleeping a woman
or a man; we, all of us, need
not to rest alone. So, if you wake
you'll find that other face beside you,
which in sleep becomes more sad
than you had known. Everything we write
turns into elegy, and every elegy
slips into our own. I say this now
because we are all dying, and dying want
some words for setting down.


—Scott Cairns

Let's pretend for now that there is
no such thing as metaphor; you know,
waking up will just be waking up,
darkness will no longer have to be
anything but dark; this could all
be happening in Kansas. We could lie back
in a simple bed that is a mattress
on the corner of a floor. We'd have nice
blue sheets and a wool blanket for later.
I could be the man and you could be the woman.
We'd talk about real things; casually and
easily taking off our clothers. We would be
naked and would hold onto each other
a long time, talking, saying
things that would make us
grin. We'd laugh off and on,
all the time unconcerned with things
like breath, or salty skin, or the way
our gums show when we really smile big.
After a little while,
I'd get you a glass of water.


Today's LittleNip:

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.

—August Strindberg



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: Deadline for the current issue (#20) has passed (it was Nov. 15); that issue is currently rattling around in the SnakePit and will be released at The Book Collector reading on December 10, then mailed to contributors and subscribers in mid-December. Next deadline 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!

Coming in December: Join us at The Book Collector on Wednesday, December 10, for the release of a new 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)! That's at 7:30 PM,
1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.

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. Write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

Coming in January: 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 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 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.

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.