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Friday, April 21, 2017

Elizabeth Herron Workshop, May 6th at the Laguna de Santa Rosa

Friends,
Elizabeth Carothers Herron will be leading a special writing workshop, Saturday, May 6th, 10 am to 4:30 at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa. Entitled "Writing the Watershed: Poetry and Prose," it is for especially for writers seeking a deeper connection to our beloved Sonoma County landscape. For more information, please go to
http://www.lagunadesantarosa.org/laguna_walks_classes.shtml#WritingWatershed

Also see below for an incredible poem by Elizabeth, first published in the Free State Review.

Dead Snake
by Elizabeth Carothers Herron

Ovoviporous snakes hatch their eggs inside
and bear their young live. But she was hit
torn open by the tire, and here they are
half out her, some dragged and blurred
over the pavement. Close to term, perfect

tiny replicas of her – gray-brown, the long
stripe down her side pale green or yellow gold.
It’s hard to tell with the dust, and the way
the color fades when life goes.  What if
they were inside me, so if you slit me open

they would spill out in a slithering lump?
Think of my own eggs in their thin sacks
like the granular roe of shad pressed
to the roof of my mouth with my tongue,
or translucent, glistening like flying fish roe

which I eat on sticky white rice. My eggs
a delicacy wasted, one by one
in their lonely descent, their brief lodging
their final exit beautifully wrapped
in their bloody bedding. I wish you could see

how deep and red it is, how it flowers
open on white cotton, or blossoms
on water, widens, fades into a pale pink
tinge. Sometimes so thick even clotted,
the drops hold their shape the way fudge

after you’ve beaten it a long time
holds together when you drop it into cold
water off the end of a spoon -- this
rich blood, this necessary nourishment my body
give up, belongs to the Mother’s garden

as this snake, medusa bellied, unarticulated
eye still clear and shining, this sad and
beautiful snake, swinging grotesque
and miraculous in her holy multiplicity
when I lift and carry her on a stick

to the grass beside of the road -- already
she is everywhere, her eggs the still green
beaded buds amid the small sharp leaves
of coyote bush will open creamy white
flowers staining the hills with the smell of honey.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Jonah Raskin and Steve Shain present April/May readings with music from AURAS at local Sonoma County Libraries




Turquoise
(from "Auras")
By Jonah Raskin

In the grotto of grief,
a slip of a girl
greedy for her own
bony self to call
out to her and

for her pumping turquoise heart
to remember the streets
she has walked,
the cigarettes she has begged
from bankers in bowlers
bent by the wind,
along the carrion canal,
winding toward the palace,
in place of
love betrayed,
that delivered her to
the grotto of grief
beneath the
plaza,

among the skeletons
wrapped in linens against
all the dust of the ages,
the candlelight leading
her blind turquoise heart
to the kind knife
of healing and
the healing of
the kindest knife.

Steve Shain on bass

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jonah Raskin and Gary Brandt at So Co Coffee Saturday March 11, 2017 4 pm




Saturday, March 11, 2017. JONAH RASKIN and GARY BRANDT. Book Launches for Raskin's "No Walls Now" and Brandt's "The Vault Apocalyptia." MC: David Madgalene. FREE and open to the public. SOCO COFFEE, 1015 4th St.,Santa Rosa, CA. 4:00 to 5:30 pm.

Jonah Raskin is the author of seven poetry chapbooks, including More Poems Better Poems, Public Spaces Private Places, Bone Love, Auras, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Women. He performs his poetry with live music.


Jonah writes: “I wrote these seventeen poems between 21 November 2016 and 12 January 2017. The date of composition is at the end of each one. In some ways they’re responses to the presidential election and to the news of the day. They also track my own inner landscape and move back and forth from past to present and back to past. Readers might see here reflections of my childhood and my adult selves.”


In the Dark Lake
By Jonah Raskin
From No Walls Now

Night fear, oven fear
childhood darkness fear,
father memories lodged deep inside,
resurfacing now,
Hansel and Gretel forced into the forest,
the nightmares along the dark lake
where I turned three-and-a-half,
too young to hear Nazi Jew stories
at bedtime from my own mean father,
not knowing his anger at his own father,
my longing for mother comfort,
my pillow, my blanket
covering me in the cabin that summer
where I want to go now,
crawl into that space,
hide from neo-Nazi headlines,
history unleashed from its grave,
the prayers I never said as a boy,
the prayers I want to say now,
our Father who art in Heaven,
who never forgot me, forgave me,
reaching back for something
that took me to pillow sleep,
woke the next morning and
swam in the dark lake.

(21 November 2016)





Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Gary Brandt and Jonah Raskin at So Co Coffee Saturday March 11th 4 pm





Saturday, March 11, 2017. JONAH RASKIN and GARY BRANDT. Book Launches for Raskin's "No Walls Now" and Brandt's "The Vault Apocalyptia." MC: David Madgalene. FREE and open to the public. SOCO COFFEE, 1015 4th St.,Santa Rosa, CA. 4:00 to 5:30 pm.


Gary Brandt lives and works in Santa Rosa. “The Vault Apocalyptia,” which he spent far too long writing, is his first novel.

Excerpted from THE VAULT APOCALYPTIA by Gary Brandt:

High school held little challenge for the young Rube (he was then two years junior his freshman classmates), and to bide the odd hours he hatched reckless and elaborate pranks. He laced fruits with fun drugs, like the ergots, and stealthily set them on teachers’ desks during recess, stuck with cards forged in bullies’ script. One afternoon, to the principal’s dismay, he linked the school’s master clock to its phone system then privately chuckled as every incoming call projected the hands two minutes closer the final bell. His antics won him by turns the applause of fellow students, who thought him heroic and clever, and the reproach of exasperated faculty, who found him archly aloof. His spirits might ascend on wings of sublimest glory or as quickly plummet under weight of direst melancholy dispelled finally by his quandary over whether suicide, homicide, or omnicide would best abate his gripping teenage angst.

Buffeted by pubescence, Rube acquired the gawky features redolent of classic scientific “queerness.” He had a cropped rust do, freckles the size of lentils, a planktoothed girlshy rictus, and ears that stuck out like two ivory cabinet handles. He had a beetling brow with a stately tall forehead which inclined above it sheer as the Galveston seawall. His lips were thin, the width of a good thick one bisected, and he had a beakish nose, a hawk’s nose, that earned him the envy of his peers when he later found his calling. His eyes might seem claygray then silversteel or even oilbrown, with a gaze that looked piercing and sharp when imperturbable yet perturbed and dull when nothing in sight worth piercing appeared. From a long frame lithe limbs hung like halfwilling accomplices unsure of their role in a crime plot. His feet tripped over each other like newly paired dance partners, and his nimble fanlike hands, ambidextrous, which pantomimed tortuously when he spoke, as if explicating to a tribe of foreign laloplegics, seemed uncertain what the other was doing, so often did things twice. His neck was too spindly, like a lollipop stick, his shoulders too narrow, his complexion too fair, his chest too caved, his fingers too fine, his back too bowed, his grip too limp and his touch too clammy, and his arches were flat, with toes too splayed when they weren’t, in weather too cold, curling under. 

For diversion Rube preferred fraternal outings but did attend, begrudgingly, his junior prom with one Tulia Hognose, a bookish and tubby sort (beauty frightened as much as it fascinated chary Rube), and it was during the course of the evening that he beheld his first breast. Something in its curve repelled him though and he sought in future to forswear its ilk, but his condition polyorchitis eventually exerted its influence and landed him a doomed marriage in later years. When, in his mid teens, his father’s bomb shelter was razed by a small brush fire Rube, then scouting universities, resolved to devote himself fully to the study of applied physics. He was sixteen when he entered MIT—the freshest yet to pledge Phi Beta Epsilon. He topped the curriculum with ease and swiftly, and among numerous honors won Rube earned that rare prize, an interview with the Hertz Foundation. High marks on their Industry Acronym Recognition Exam (the IARE) secured him a graduate fellowship at California’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, which led soon after to fulltime hire. Upon submitting his dissertation at the age of twentytwo Rube cultivated a magnificent mustache to mark the occasion, with bristly bars of sideburn to match.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Persephone by J. R. Brady




The pomegranate juice has stained my fingers...
its sweetness lingers deep inside my mouth...
in darkness I crave the taste of sweet fruit...
as once...I only craved the sun...and
my hunger keeps me safe from rescue...
deep in this place of unmentionable dreams.

My mother claims I was carried here screaming
but that is her lie...a lie needed to mourn a ‘child’
of assumed virtue....and to justify what followed.

The truth is...it began with wildflowers...
the iris...the lily...the narcissus...
all pulled from their damp earth
and clung to in fragrant armfuls...
often...I had been cautioned against taking
so many...but...back then they were uncountable.

When first I saw him...
he was riding a black horse...
heavy with sweat that dripped from
a bit pulled tight against its mouth...
I remember how he sat...quietly
watching...as I told him I could see
the animal had been driven too hard.

I never asked...but when he offered his hand
to pull me up in front of him...I took it
willingly...for the stirrup was high and I
knew...I never could have reached it alone.

The rest I remember as a dream...
my hands grasping the saddle...
eyes shut tight against the wind...until...
with a slower pace...the air turned thick and hot...
and I could see we had entered a maze of tunnels...
that wound downward in a dark tangle of directions...
where...easily...we might have lost ourselves...
had it not been for the glowing Anubis...
that ran ahead...as we traveled past
silhouetted figures with narrow...
luminous eyes...their expression strange...but
not unkind....in their curiosity


2


The chamber he took me to was warmly lit
by candles set in rock...carved with a multitude of
faces...all more animal than man...and
gently he guided me into its softest part and
offered me wine...black purple in its glass...

And I refused its taste...but not his hands as he
touched me in places where...before...only
I had given myself pleasure...until...at last...
I felt the ripping wetness of my own flesh...and
moans became screams...unstoppable...and
I knew...I was a thing taken...in a world
changed forever...alone with this stranger who
stroked my shoulder...so carefully...as
I told him there was pain in it...and I knew...
this was the beginning of my loving him.

My mother...my lover...
they fought over me...the way
people who posses things fight....
each claiming all I feel to be their own...
while I waited....lost...indecipherable.

I have seen how fruit...when placed too close to fire...
splits open...with insides changed to sugar running out...
except for the pomegranate...brittle in heat...yet
break away its skin with my fingernails...and I find
inside...a moist...swollen interior...to be dug out bit by bit...
till my hands fill with flesh and seeds and dripping  juice...
first to be licked away...then spread across my face
around my eyes...a cool wet crimson mask
turned sticky in the heat of knowing...the sun
still holds for me...the full completion of my being.

And finding me thus transformed...they realized...
I would not be kept by one...so I became divided...
ascending...descending...warming the earth with my
presence...until...inevitability...a black horse and
glowing Anubis appear...to guide me back to my
less earthly home...leaving winter in my wake
to mark my mother’s grief.


3


I am called many names...Kore...Proserpina...
Persephone...the destroyer...the bringer of birth
and death...and I wish it was not so...and often
I have wondered...would I ever have chosen
to leave...if I had seen into possibility?

But back then...I counted myself a small thing...who
hardly mattered...and then I did....and now I know...

I have stepped too far beyond the rim of consciousness to ever
deny what I am for others’ kindnesses...and that is the way of it.




J.R. Brady

updated 9/27/16...1/1/17