Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year's Doors Open

—Elizabeth Bishop

The year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.

I opened my eyes late.
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for time’s uncertain return
through cracks in the horizon.

But no, the year had returned.
It filled all the room
and my look almost touched it.
Time, with no help from us,
had placed
in exactly the same order as yesterday
houses in the empty street,
snow on the houses,
silence on the snow.

You were beside me,
still asleep.
The day had invented you
but you hadn’t yet accepted
being invented by the day.
—Nor possibly my being invented, either.
You were in another day.

You were beside me
and I saw you, like the snow,
asleep among appearances.
Time, with no help from us,
invents houses, streets, trees
and sleeping women.

When you open your eyes
we’ll walk, once more,
among the hours and their inventions.
We’ll walk among appearances
and bear witness to time and its conjugations.
Perhaps we’ll open the day’s doors.
And then we shall enter the unknown.


The Kitchen will go dark for the next few days, with no postings until sometime into the new year. Meanwhile, open the doors to your own new year with next Tuesday’s Seed of the Week: Opening doors. Take this one loosely: the future, resolutions, opportunities, change, taking chances—anything that rings in the new year for you.

Lest you be bored while Medusa sleeps, I’ve taken the time to make a list of every SOW we’ve had since we started last February. Set Calliope upon a few of them, send ’em in. No deadlines on SOW’s. (And let me know if I've missed any.)


•••sketch of person in hammock by Steph Schaefer
•••“tired dog” photo sent in by Steve Williams
•••eggs in nest
•••keys on a ring
•••fire-watch station in the mountains
•••hat hanging on hatrack
•••sand castle
•••magic lantern


•••“found” poem


•••Condense a famous poem into an epigram/couplet
•••Poetic Left-overs (good ideas that didn’t quite fit into other poems)
•••Mary Oliver quote: “Here you are—alive. Would you like to make a comment?”
•••The Heart Once Broken
•••Beauty in Unexpected Places
•••The Letter You’ll Never Send
•••Let us know what the subject is without actually naming it
•••Birthplace Revisited
•••After Midnight
•••It all started…
•••The One That Got Away
•••Argument/debate/dueling poems: two poems w/contradictory ideas
•••Things We Keep, Things We Leave Behind
•••Things we’re afraid to write about
•••The Museum of My Life
•••Bus Ride to Hell
•••Poems in the form of questions
•••Beyond the Trappings
•••Secret Gardens & Other Enchanted Places
•••When the Fog Lifts
•••Oh, Those Appetites!


And, as if you need any more books, Ann Wehrman writes that she recently read a novel by Lisa See called Peony in Love. She says: It's about a Chinese female poet several centuries ago, and is very powerful and romantic—so if you need just one more thing to add to your reading list, it's a very enjoyable read.

About yesterday's lemons:

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Pastor Brad at Arcade Church gave away lemons
perhaps adding an after-Christmas extension of his lesson
to discussion of making the best one can do through bad times
which he knew of with his challenges with teaching troubled teens
and the soon-change of church leadership to possibly change his role
It was if he wanted to say
if life have given you lemons like me
even if it be the chilly mid-winter and not summertime
now go yonder forth to make lemonade


Coming up: Two workshops

(1) Between the Sheets: Love in All the Write Places

Monika Rose, Manzanita Editor and member of Writers Unlimited, writes: Looking for love in all the write places? Looking for a romantic weekend? Something different to fire up your love life? Or do you know friends who could use a jump start in their love life by writing sensual poetry and prose? Mark your calendars and sign up for "Between the Sheets", a Romantic Prose and Poetry Writing Workshop Sat., Feb. 14, Valentine's Day, at the Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hill, with workshop leaders Lucy Sanna, fiction, and Monika Rose with Ed Cline, poetry. Celebrate romance with your significant other, or come as a single, or with friends, looking for love in all the write places—in writing either romantic poetry or hot flash fiction on the spot. Workshop leaders will guide you through some poetry and flash fiction moves and will provide resources and techniques to bring out or hone your raw talent in the morning.

The Workshop, Luncheon and Public Reading begins at 9 AM, with lunch at noon, and culminating in the reading at 2 PM. The Leger Hotel is 45 miles east of Stockton in the Mother Lode foothills of Northern California. Last year's event was such a great success, we decided to add this new twist: a morning hands-on workshop, in which you can get in the mood for a romantic day and write either love poems or romantic prose on the spot. If you want to just come for the luncheon and public romantic reading in the afternoon, then you can do that, too. You can read your own or your favorite love poems and prose by writers. As an added treat, Antoinette May will be joining us for the luncheon and reading, teasing us with a reading of steamy passages from either her novel, Pilate's Wife, and/or her new novel, due out in March.

For workshop reservations:; for hotel reservations: Cost for the workshop is $50 per person, which includes morning workshop, luncheon and reading, as well as specialty prizes awarded for best works created in the workshops. (The prizes include items from the Clements Chocolate Factory!) You will come away with an amazing poem or two, or a flash fiction work, at the end of the session. Sign up today for either the romantic poetry or flash fiction workshop, and reserve your spot. Mail $50 to Writers Unlimited, PO Box 632, San Andreas, CA 95242. If you just want to come for the luncheon and reading open to the public, from 12-4, then it's $25. Reservations required!

There will be a Leger Hotel Discount (15%) for workshop participants for overnight stays at the Leger Hotel. This is a wonderful Romantic getaway weekend in the Mother Lode for writers and their significant others, or for singles looking for literary adventure and connections in the wild, sexy West. Reserve your room directly with the hotel and mention this workshop for the discount.

Sponsor: Writers Unlimited, an affiliate of the Calaveras County Arts Council, (209) 754-1774 or 754-0577. E-mail: Contact: Monika.

(2) Meaning and Its Meanings:

A workshop for writers interesting in exploring new depths in the work of poetry at Cache Creek Nature Preserve, Thursdays, 10 AM-noon, from January 11-March 15 (10 weeks). Free to the general public, by advance registration only. Join Writer-in-Residence Rae Gouirand for a workshop about centers of meaning in our lives as writers and the meaning that poetry offers, in an new era of responsibility, to our communities and our culture. Rae writes: In this workshop, we'll examine what meaning means to us—where it comes from, what it inspires —and stretch our activities as poets beyond the page with individual, self-directed projects that explore the life of poetry in our communities. Participants in this workshop will be developing new work each week from writing assignments, and will be building a portfolio of both new poems as well as reflective writings from their individual projects. This workshop would be an ideal commitment for those who wish not only to find support for new writing, but who would also like to practice new poetry off the page. The ultimate goal, as with all CCNP workshops, is to stimulate new growth, new thinking, and new direction for creative practice. We proceed not as a critique-oriented workshop but as a generative community. All interested community members are welcome, regardless of whether or not they already think of themselves as 'writers’. We are extraordinarily lucky, in this economy, to continue to have the support of the Teichert Foundation and of Cache Creek Nature Preserve to fund and host this workshop series again this year. In the spirit of honoring these resources we are so lucky to have, participants are expected to attend sessions regularly, to arrive on time for each meeting, and to support one another by remaining on site to pursue independent creative work during the second half of each meeting. Please consider this before registering. Carpools from Davis and Sacramento can be arranged at the first meeting.

The Writer-in-Residence program at Cache Creek Nature Preserve provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the local landscape and to experience the connection between the natural world and creative practice. The outdoor classroom and gathering spirit make this workshop series a unique opportunity for those who would like to grow their creative lives from the support of both human and natural community. Following group discussion, the second half of each class session is devoted to independent work (via hikes, birdwatching, sense work, on-site writing, etc) at the Preserve site, though (since we are getting an earlier start than usual this year) we will hold the first hour of class indoors, in the Education Office, until the weather is warm enough to resume our work outdoors.

The Preserve is located in rural Yolo County, five miles northwest of Woodland, California. The 130-acres of outdoor classroom are augmented by indoor offices and an antique barn. The surrounding habitats include riparian forest, wetlands, willow thickets, open water, heritage oak woodlands, and grasslands bordered on one side by Cache Creek. Participants should dress for the weather and wear shoes comfortable for walking outdoors. To register, email Rae at with your name, email address, and phone number. Space is limited, and participants will be enrolled in the order in which registrations are received. Confirmed participants will receive driving directions to the Preserve by email in the week preceding the start of class.


Today’s BigNip:

—Jean Passerat (1534-1602)

Thulène is dead, my lord, I saw his funeral.
But it is in your power to bring him back again.
Appoint some poet to inherit his domain.
Poets and fools are of the same material.
One scorns advancement. One has nowhere to advance.
In both accounts, the gain is greater than the loss.
Both kinds are quick to anger, difficult to cross.
One speaks on impulse, one leaves everything to chance.
One is light-headed, but the other one is seen
wearing a pretty cap and bells, yellow and green.
One sings his rhymes, the other capers to his chimes.
Yet we are different in one important way.
Fortune has always favored fools, or so they say.
She’s seldom favored poets in the best of times.

(translated from the French by Richmond Lattimore)


—Medusa (May the new year open many wonderful doors for you!)

SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue (#20) is currently available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one. The last of contributors' copies has gone into the mail. 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!

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 (free) quarterly 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.

Also available now (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 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.