Thursday, January 07, 2010

Plain Heart to Plain Heart

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Attributed to Li Ch'ing-chao

After kicking on the swing,
Lasciviously, I get up and rouge my palms.
Thick dew on a frail flower,
Perspiration soaks my thin dress.
A new guest enters.
My stockings come down
And my hairpins fall out.
Embarrassed, I run away,
And lean flirtatiously against the door,
Tasting a green plum.

(Translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung)


—Mitz Sackman

My life flows
A river of meaning
From easy days
No complications
To challenges of understanding

My life burns
With the desire
To somehow
Get it right
This puzzle life

My life fires up
In my hands
Anytime I am arrogant enough
To think I grasp
The right of it

My life wonders
What if might be
Without this constant
Questing throb
Burning through
My life energy

(Based on our Seed of the Week: I Burn My Life)


Tonight (Thurs., 1/7), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, presents poet, singer, songwriter & guitarist Audrey Edley, plus open mic poetry before and after the feature. Free.

B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:

Sketch Book
by Tom Kryss
Kamini Press
ISBN: 978-91-977437-3-0

Lemme put this straight; I am a big fan of Tom Kryss and have been for many years. His new title, Sketch Book, is no different than any other title by Tom Kryss, for here is a poet who is truly insightful and filters his pages with meaning. From the very first page, where he quotes Ohio poet Kenneth Patchen, to the very last line, you cannot put this little book down. Although at times I have found myself wondering why the poet did this and why he took this sentence in this or that direction, I kept on returning to the fact that here is a master, whether he is composing sonnets or prose poems. Sketch Book is being released in a limited edition of 50 signed copies and 100 regular copies. If you have a chance to order this book, I will urge you to do so as soon as possible.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Yang Wan-li (1124-1206)

Our boat going upstream barely moves by the inch;
The dark cliffs on both sides deepen into the dusk's gloom
With a clap of thunder the heavens threaten rain;
A wind rushing in from the South Seas beyond the horizon
Angrily blasts the gorges asunder—
A hundred men shout and beat the big drums,
While a single swain flies up the towering mast.
When the sails are rigged, all hold their hands in their sleeves
And sit down to watch their boat—
a goose feather skimming over the waters.

(Translated from the Chinese by Kuangchi C. Chang)


—Kuan Tao-sheng (1262-1319)

You and I
Have so much love,
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one coffin.

(Translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung)


Today's LittleNip:

—Sun Pu-erh (b. 1124)

Late Indian summer's
Soft breezes fanning out,
The sun shines
On the hidden cottage
South of the river.
December, and the apricots'
First flowers open.
A person looks
The blossoms look back:
Plain heart seeing into plain heart.

(translated from the Chinese by Jane Hirshfield)



SnakeWatch: A New Year with Rattlesnake Press:


Issue #24 is now available (free) at The Book Collector or may be ordered through—or send me 4 bux and I'll mail you one. Contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail this week. Let me know if you don't get yours by the end of the week.

After this issue, Rattlesnake Review and most of our other print projects will be taking a few months off for remodeling—but not Medusa's Kitchen, WTF (see below)
or our 2nd Weds. reading series (except for no reading in January). Watch Medusa's Kitchen for further developments, and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, Snakebytes, by writing to me at


The fourth issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick, is now available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.
WTF is the only Rattlesnake print publication that will keep going during our break; next deadline (for Issue #5) is Jan. 15. Send 3 poems, 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 (clearly marked for WTF). No simultaneous submissions, previously published work, bios or cover letters. And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at


During our hiatus from most print publications (except WTF), Medusa will keep cooking in the Kitchen every day. (Check out our updated format! Did you know that, if you click on the pictures we post, they'll enlarge for you?) Only a few of our poets have picked up on the fact, though, that Medusa's Kitchen is a great way to get your work out there on a very frequent basis; the snakes of Medusa are always hungry, especially for NorCal poetry. Plus, we accept previously-published work—such a deal!—(please cite publication and be sure you own the rights)
and, like our other journals, no bios or cover letters are required; just mark it for Medusa. Send it all to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. (No simultaneous submissions, though, please.)

I'm convinced that the 'Net is the future of poetry; print may continue, and of course has its benefits, but where else can your work be seen by an almost unlimited number of people (including your relatives) with this kind of speed and frequency?? Where else can you connect with Duluth or Greece or Zimbabwe for free, day by day, liberated from the vicissitudes of the postal service???

So keep sending poetry, photos, art, cartoons, events, mini-reviews of poetry and books about poetry (100 words or less), and other handy resources such as books, websites and submissions opportunities—whatever poetry goings-on that can be posted. Watch line lengths on poetry, though; they are limited on the blog. Blogspot does refuse to indent, too; work must be justified left.

Need to find a poet who posted in the past, including yourself? Go to the search bar at the upper left of the blog and type in the name. Voila! Or, if you know the date, go to the archives column at the right, click on the year and scroll down to the month, then the day.
Plus, be sure to check out the links in the right-hand column for more poetry and poetry news, local and otherwise. You can also become a "follower", or click on the pix of the followers to see what's going on with them (D.R. Wagner and Donald Anderson, e.g.) or send Medusa to somebody else.

So watch for an expansion of offerings and opportunities as the Kitchen gets remodeled along with everything else ophidian— 2010 is going to be a
Big Year for the Snake!

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 in print and otherwise. Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or write to me (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free! See for a complete listing of all our other publications, free and otherwise.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as REVIEWS, RESOURCES and 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.