Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ear Candy

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

Beside the evening river the emus speak
in guttural grunts and throbbing drums.
We listen from this distant peak
where Westwind through the passes hums,
bringing even more distant news –
from 200 years ago, when this bird’s call
issued from such varied throats and flues:
the song of Tasmanian Emu (all
of those extinct now), Kangaroo Island
Emu, and King Island’s.... What can those
dead birds matter now? Doesn’t humankind
forever look down on a land
of disappearing species? Who chose
what stays? What’s left behind?


As you can see, Taylor Graham was the first to take the emu bite—with a sonnet, no less. (What? No sestina?) She writes that she actually wrote four sonnets about emus, altogether! Now all she needs is to find an emu journal somewhere... In case you've just tuned in, send in a poem about emus to before AUGUST 5 and receive a free copy of Colette Jonopulos' rattlechap, The Burden of Wings. Make it a limerick and get a free copy of Rattlechap 13.1, Why We Have Sternums by Kathy Kieth, in addition. Make it a sonnet and get a free year's subscription, as well as both books: 4 Snakes, 3 Snakelets, 2 Vypers, and assorted littlesnake broadsides—all sent to your home!

Actually, I like the sestina idea. Send in a sestina about emus (12 lines or more) before August 5 and I'll send all of the above, plus a copy of Joyce Odam and Charlotte Vincent's SpiralChap, Caught Against the Years. Such a deal, all for one tiny little sestina!

In other news, Poetry Now arrived from the Sacramento Poetry Center yesterday, eye candy to promote Sacramento's poetic ear candy for the month of August. Lots of Snake people in there, including debee loyd, Joyce Odam, Allegra Silberstein, Taylor Graham, Patricia Wellingham-Jones—and two beautiful layouts of upcoming rattlechappers Susan Kelly-DeWitt and Victoria Dalkey, both of w
hom will release their new chapbooks on August 10 at The Book Collector. More about that, later.

Tomorrow night, August 1, the Sacramento Poetry Center presents Sandra McPherson, Chip Spann, Susan Kelly-DeWitt and others celebrating Charlie MacDonald's new book from Swan Scythe Press: El Sobrante: Selected Poems, 1975-2005. HQ, 25th & R, Sac; 7:30, free. Info: 441-7395.

I'm working on Snakebytes right now; it'll be in your e-boxes within the next few days, and will outline what's coming up with the Snake (don't forget the 8/15 deadline for Snake 7). What I'm NOT outlining yet is all the new features which will debut in the next couple of issues—lots of exciting new columnists and other surprises which will appear this fall. Hang on to your hats—the Snake is shedding and is about to come out with a whole new skin!

—Medusa (let's see: what rhymes with "ee-myoo"?)

Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Put Wings to Your Words

Medusa got a letter!

HI, Kathy -- I'm really enjoying your Medusa's Kitchen blogs.
Maybe you have already run this. If not, people might be interested in the project of current US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. If you go to his website on American Life in Poetry, at: you can register to get a poem emailed to you every week. This week's poem by Dan Gerber is extremely potent. (Or poetent.) The site says the column is free to newspapers, but I don't know
of any newspaper taking advantage of this.

Hope you are well.

JoAnn Anglin


Thanks, JoAnn! Send poems!!! (JoAnn has been a Snake-pal since the very beginning, contributing wonderful articles and poetry and consenting to do Rattlechap #2, Words Like Knives, Like Feathers, which is available at The Book Collector.)

Yesterday I mentioned that the latest issue of Poetry Depth Quarterly is out; here is a reprint of Taylor Graham's poem from that issue. Order a PDQ from

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

Such a thin book of poems, and yet
it's full of bugs. Insects.
Every poem buzzes, flits, refuses
to sit still.

Iridescence. A dragonfly, a
swallowtail. Waspish stingers,
moths at the tip of pistil.
All these pages flutter, itch
and tingle.

Shut them fast
between the covers.
Listen. Outside

nothing but the dead drone
of traffic. Leaden sky, sleep-
walkers between their concrete

Truth is not this absence
of wings.


Right now Medusa is also thinking about writing, so get to work and put wings to your words. Send in a poem about emus ( before AUGUST 5 and receive a free copy of Colette Jonopulos' rattlechap, The Burden of Wings. Make it a limerick and get a free copy of Rattlechap 13.1, Why We Have Sternums by Kathy Kieth, in addition. Make it a sonnet and get a free year's subscription, as well as both books: 4 Snakes, 3 Snakelets, 2 Vypers, and assorted littlesnake broadsides—all sent to your home! Shazam!


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Extolling (or Defaming) the Emu

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage 'Triumph Spitfire'." This was the winning submission in San Jose State University's annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, submitted by Dan McKay of Fargo, N.D. This contest is intended to celebrate the "worst writing in the English language—people with a little talent but no taste." McKay also compared his heroine's anatomy to the "small knurled caps of the oil dampeners."

We can do better. Extolling women is so "played"; let us extol the emu. On my trip to Coos Bay, we stopped at Wildlife Safari, where a fine little set of emus had recently hatched, scattering themselves across the road and holding up large herds of SUV's with cameras while tourists desperately tried to avoid running over these fluffs on toothpicks. Then, when I got to our relatives' house, they had a large black emu egg which had been sent by somebody in the family who actually raised emus for a while. (They finally got rid of them, though—apparently emus "eat too much", plus something about them being hard to "part out"...)

Anyway, send in a poem about emus ( before AUGUST 5 and receive a free copy of Colette Jonopulos' rattlechap, The Burden of Wings. Make it a limerick and get a free copy of Rattlechap 13.1, Why We Have Sternums by Kathy Kieth, in addition. Make it a sonnet and get a free year's subscription, as well as both books: 4 Snakes, 3 Snakelets, 2 Vypers, and assorted littlesnake broadsides—all sent to your home!

Here are three poems by Emily Dickinson about writing and the poet. Being a publisher of sorts, I won't include the one where she tells us what she thought about publishing—though I definitely agree with her about the dangers of careerism:

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.


Tell the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—


The Poets light but Lamps—
Themselves—go out—
The Wicks they stimulate—
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns—
Each age a Lens
Disseminating their


By the way, I am well aware that you probably don't have a poem about emus in your repetoire. So I guess you'll just have to write one....!

Also in the Bee today: an article and picture in the Metro section of Eugene Redmond, poet and former CSUS professor who created Drumvoices Revue. Redmond, one of the leading voices in the black arts movement, is hosting a series of readings around the country, including 1-4pm this Saturday at Studio 33 (709 J St., Sac.) and from 3-5pm August 6 at Carol's Books, 300 Florin Rd., Sac.

The latest issue of Poetry Depth Quarterly is out, and this one is packed with local poets—too many to list! Also beautiful art by Charlotte Vincent, who collaborated with poet Joyce Odam on SnakeRings SpiralChap #5, Caught Against the Years. Purchase the new PDQ from Joyce, or order it from—some of the current PDQ poems are posted on there, in fact.

Or, heck—forget all about words and head out to the 17th Annual Strauss Festival of Elk Grove, tonight through Sunday at 7:30, Strauss Island in Elk Grove Regional Park. Tickets are free; parking is $10. Get there early.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Just Poetry, Four

—Rainer Maria Wilke

They all have tired mouths
and bright seamless souls.
And a longing (as for sin)
sometimes haunts their dream.

They are almost all alike;
in God's gardens they keep still,
like many, many intervals
in his might and melody.

Only when they spread their wings
are they wakers of a wind:
as if God with his broad sculptor-
hands leafed through the pages
in the dark book of the beginning.


—Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (Spanish, 1364-1404)

That tree with trembling leaves
is longing for something.

That tree, so lovely to look at,
seems to want to give away flowers:
it is longing for something.

That tree, so lovely to see,
seems to want to flower:
it is longing for something.

It seems to want to give away flowers:
they are already showing; come and see them:
it is longing for something.

They are already showing: come and look at them.
Let the women come to pick the fruit:
it is longing for something.


Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.

—Anonymous Chippewa


Don't be shy about sending poems to for posting in Medusa's Kitchen; like most pets, the Snake needs daily feeding. Send in notice of your events, too: readings, bar mitzvahs—whatever.

And tune in tomorrow for the launch of another rattlechap give-away!


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grapefruits & Brush-backs

Ron Tranquilla of Grass Valley sends us a baseball poem:

—Ron Tranquilla

We’re leading off see? the infield’s deserted,
the dirt raked smooth, the bases bright and empty,
the guy’s wild, couldn’t hit the side of a barn—
from the inside—the count’s 3-0, the first one
high and wide or down in the dirt, we’re taking it.
He throws the pitch and we take it.

Bottom of the fifth see? the bases are loaded,
the guy’s throwing grapefruits, big fat ones
right down the middle and the next one
we’re gonna take for a ride, take it to the upper deck,
take it over the centerfield wall, take it downtown.
He throws the pitch and we take it.

Holy hell! we can’t see, somebody turn on the lights,
we’re standing in shadow, tired to the bone,
the guy’s throwing brush-backs, the last one
aimed right at the old bean; what the hell’s he think
we’re going to just stand here and take it?
He throws the pitch and we take it.


Thanks, Ron! Coinky-dentally, JoAnn Anglin of Sacramento sends us the following. It's not strictly poetry, but maybe you'd like to give it a shot:

One of the recent popular literary genres, adding to the traditions of poetry and novels, is Creative NonFiction. Usually this means a personal essay/story with a literary approach. Some reminiscences or even travel articles fall into this genre, but they strongly resist the sentimental. You will see CNF sometimes in the New Yorker and Harpers Magazine. And you hear it a lot on NPR.

For more info on Creative Nonfiction magazine, you can see their website at: .


We’re happy to announce that, in collaboration with Southern Methodist University Press’s new “Sport in American Life” series, Creative Nonfiction will publish a special issue of the journal called ANATOMY OF BASEBALL.

Submissions for this issue (scheduled for publication in Spring 2007) should focus on a specific aspect of the sport. Potential topics might include:

Positions--for example, playing shortstop or catcher
Equipment--the mitt, the bat, the ball, etc.
Rules--for example, the changing strike zone or the designated hitter


Spring of 2007? Oy. We should live so long...


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Back from the Sea, Blind-sided

A few days at Coos Bay has left me speechless. Listen to Carl, instead, to the rhythm of the waves in these words:

—Carl Sandburg

A lone gray bird,
Dim-dipping, far-flying,
Alone in the shadows and grandeurs and tumults
Of night and the sea
And the stars and storms.
Out over the darkness it wavers and hovers,
Out into the gloom it swings and batters,
Out into the wind and the rain and the vast,
Out into the pit of a great black world,
Where fogs are at battle, sky-driven, sea-blown,
Love of mist and rapture of flight,
Glories of chance and hazards of death
On its eager and palpitant wings.
Out into the deep of the great dark world,
Beyond the long borders where foam and drift
Of the sundering waves are lost and gone
On the tides that plunge and rear and crumble.


Blind-sided, I was, by all that magnificence. It's gonna take me a while to recover from this one...

Taylor Graham sends a note for Medusa's stew: Come to the monthly read-around this Wednesday (tomorrow) at Hidden Passage Books, 352 Main St., Placerville, 6-7 pm. Bring your own poetry or somebody else's.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Getting Un-jostled

Susan Hennies will be reading Monday night at HQ, 25th & R Streets, Sacramento, 7:30pm. She sends us this poem which she wrote with Joe Finkleman; it's intended for alternating voices. I find the whole concept of multiple readers fascinating, and have several books of this genre. I suspect there is a huge Snake Event of such things in the future. Anyway, for now, enjoy this poem, and also look forward to Susan and Joe reading together in August—more about that, later:

—Susan Hennies and Joe Finkleman

The center of the house was on the edge
As if the universe (universal constant) had shifted
And we lived on the other side of the Mobius strip.
I would look to the west through French doors
That never opened.

Always I wanted windows:
a way out of the dove greys and wines
into the scarlets and umbers of the fall leaves
or the sparrow-winged spring
slicing skies of Michigan blue.

We looked across the table to the west,
as if we were behind time,
as if today had left us behind.

You gave me a crimson umbrella once
like one you had wept to own when you were a child,
never understanding why I was not ecstatic
to have realized your dream.

Every sunset rimmed the sainted mount.
It was where I learned to read in the morning,
my back to the yesterday of uplifted sea floor
proclaiming that once it had been something else
and someday it would be something else again.

Instead, hiding in the shadows of the sculpted carpet,
I longed to ride the wind-spattered rain
drumming its secrets against the window.
Nose pressed to glass, I
traced the gnarled black branchings of our family tree
generations of hollow women
bent with fruiting emptiness.

And in the evening I faced the backside of today
With tomorrow at my back
In the wonder of back-lit clouds
And sharp edged granitic smudges

Still you peddle guilt like the umbrella vendor
and I barter six rain soaked panes
against the unbroken wall of your bitterness.

Making pictures of what wasn’t
And what wouldn’t be the center of my home
On the western edge held by
French doors that would never open for me.


And last night's Natomas Library reading was fine, indeed, with the lively Gene Avery and Birthday Boy (25!) Todd Cirillo. A wonderful time was had by all.

In other news, I'm headed off to the sea (the Bay of Coos in Oregon) for a few days, so Medusa, lazy as she is, won't be posting while I'm gone. But as William Blake says,

Great things are done when Men and Mountains meet
This is not Done by Jostling in the Street

I'll be glad to get away from street-jostling for a few days, filling my lungs with salt air and my eyes with the craggy cliffs of the north coast. Look for more from Medusa's Kitchen starting next Tuesday, Sept. 26—I'll bring you back a thousand yarns about the sea! But don't forget about us; spend the time getting poems sent over to both the Kitchen (anything, published or not) and the Review—next deadline for that is August 15.

—Medusa (now lemming it up the Coast)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Vanity, Thy Name is Medusa

Medusa loves to think about herself, of course, and loves poems about herself even more. Joy Harold Helsing sends this from Magalia:

—Joy Harold Helsing

A stranger is coming.
I must prepare.

Maybe this one
will find me fair.

But I have no mirror.
Wouldn't dare.

And I can't do a thing
with my hair!


Thanks, Joy! Joy has a recent book out from PWJ Publishing, a collection of poems entitled Confessions of the Hare and other old tales, Joy's sometimes wacky and mostly irreverent take on history and myth. Here is a sample:

—Joy Harold Helsing

So he's got a castle
and knows how to dance—
it's all a con.

He still fumbles at you
with dirty paws,
dribbles and drools
on your favorite dress,
whispers sweet words in your ear
with breath that could knock you cold.

Prince be damned, he's a beast,
a lustful, lying beast,
sly enough to steal your love
and tear your heart to shreds.


To order a copy, e-mail


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Crossing the Double Yellow

Todd Cirillo sends us a sample of his poetry to whet our appetites for his reading tomorrow night at the South Natomas Library, Truxel Road in Sacramento, 7-8pm.

(for Julie and Dan on their wedding day)
—Todd Cirillo, Grass Valley

I often think of myself
as fearless
an enormous
cosmic dynamo
shooting stars
and making lovers dream
of that perfect dark night
which will never end
a huge force of pure clean energy
that stomps the terra
and never
thinks twice
strong, free
and full of love
a daredevil on the run
but I have never leapt
as far
as the two of you.

—Todd Cirillo

If we don't cross the double yellow
and punch the pedal
we may not get
to where we
are going
then again
if we stay home
we may remain
right where
we belong.

—Todd Cirillo

Did you sleep with her?
she demanded
"no" I said
walking away thinking
sleep is what I do with you.


Thanks, Todd! Look for a littlesnake broadside from him in August.

Speaking of which, Bill Gainer's new littlesnake, Invitations from the Jukebox, will be available (free) at the Natomas reading tomorrow night. Be there!


Monday, July 18, 2005

Six Nights of Poetry

Local poet and poetry entrepeneur Frank Andrick has put together a poetry road show: This Thursday night (7/21), he will host Poetry Unplugged Day 1 at Luna's (1414 16th St., Sac., 8 pm), featuring Jennifer Blowdryer (from NYC), Alvin Orloff (SF), Alan Satow and Reubi Freyja. Poetry Unplugged Day 2 will take place Friday (7/22) at the J St. Cafe in Modesto (1030 J St., 7 pm) and will feature Jennifer Blowdryer, Frank Andrick, Joe Montoya, Chad Williams and Gilberto Rodriguez. Poetry Unplugged Day 3 will take place Saturday (7/23) at Hidden Passage Books in Placerville (352 Main St., 6pm) and will feature Jennifer Blowdryer, Frank Andrick, Joe Montoya, Gilberto Rodriguez, Reubi Freyja and Star Vaughn. Star, who writes under the name of s. v. taylor, is also publisher of Blue Fur haiku zine. Here is a taste of her work, which she calls "post-modernist haiku":

green-gold foxtails sway
in rhythm beside the tracks
a freight train passes


streetlight branches dance
spooky kabuki window
windblown leaves tap glass


daylight savings time:
now the days stretch out bright like
a railroad penny


crash the divider
helicopter rhythms
levitate your name


Thanks, Star!

Monday (tonight!), Shallene Peat McGrath will read at HQ (25th & R St., Sac.) at 7:30, sponsored by Sacramento Poetry Center.

Tuesday (7/19), Felicia Martinez and Tim McKee will read at HQ for the Third Tuesday Poetry Series, hosted by Art & Christina Montecon, 7pm.

Wednesday, July 20 will feature Todd Cirillo and Gene Avery at the South Natomas Public Library, 6pm, hosted by B.L. Kennedy.

Put those three readings in a row with the three Poetry Unplugged ones listed above, and you're set for the week! Six nights of poetry—shazam! (Stay home Sunday night and write...)


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Just Poetry Three—And Silly, at that!

The Time to Tickle a Lizard,
Is Before, or Right After, a Blizzard.
Now the place to begin
Is just under his Chin—
And here's more Advice:
Don't Poke more than Twice
At an Intimate Place like his Gizzard.
—Theodore Roethke

—Ogden Nash

I don't mind eels
Except at meals,
And the way they feels.

—Harry Graham

Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.


These are from The New Oxford Book of Children's Verse, edited by Neil Philip. Are you interested in mentoring teen writers? Elisabeth Wilhelm, the 18-year-old editor for Absynthe Muse, is looking for adults to mentor teen and young adult writers in poetry and other writing forms. Go to for more information.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

New from Taylor Graham!

Snake-pal Taylor Graham (Rattlechap #5) has a new chapbook out from Dancing Girl Press, called Under the Shuttle, Awake. Here's the skinny:

Under the Shuttle, Awake
poems by Taylor Graham
Dancing Girl Press, 2005
$5.00 (includes S&H):

“This latest collection of Graham’s work leads us through the eerie moonlit world and the shadows that linger at the edges in broad daylight. These are poems that turn an image on a dime and haunt you long after you’ve set the book aside.” - Kristy Bowen

Here are two poems from Under the Shuttle, Awake:

—Taylor Graham

How many light-years till a star’s shine
reaches us in our earthly darkness?
All the men-in-black have made their living
by our blindness.

And yet, catch a falling
if you can. They say God pledges
constancy in stars

above mountains, stars beyond the murk
of city lights.

You came here with constellations
on your mind. But in the thick night sky
you only see how mortals
have stepped in mud
to watch it harden around the print
of each flat sole.

Somebody points higher. Heavenly
bodies. In the northeast
Marilyn dazzles down: a trinity of stars
suggests her smile; seven others,
her mythic fly-away skirt.
The next constellation over,
isn’t that DiMaggio?

Every little star we see
is dead, but in our hearts
we don’t believe it.

(first appeared in Chautauqua Literary Journal)

—Taylor Graham

you map the backside of the moon
using blips just broken off from dreams,
and hints and winks from the sly tipped face
at its palest quarter.

You knew a lady once who moon-mapped
for a living; who played with lunar-probes
and manned space-flight photos, rocket-science
far beyond the means of a shift-insomniac;

and when that lady finished with the moon,
she bought herself a Harley
and whizzed around the Beltway with a black
pet buzzard unfurled on her shoulders,
wings wide to the wind.

What can an hourly mortal do
with just the mind’s imagination?
When you finish with the moon’s backside,
you’ll slip out a window

in search of the huge white bird who tips
and glides by night, wings extended
wide as dreams.

(first appeared in Some Words)


Way to go, TG!

Don't forget tonight's reading at HQ (15th & R, Sacramento): REACHING DOWN BENEATH LANGUAGE: An Evening of Poetry with Art Beck and B.L. Kennedy. Doors open at 7:30; $5 donation.

And then go back for Sac. Poetry Center's Monday night reading, which will feature Shallene Peat McGrath, 7:30.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Spare the Air

This heat siege calls for an economy of words and of images. Make yourself some iced tea from these lean nuggets, all from Japanese women—and don't forget the fresh mint.

In a summer meadow
blossoming in a thicket
the red starlily:
this unrevealed love
such a painful thing!
—Lady Otomo of Sakanoe

I hug a stone
burnt in a fire—
a dream of autumn.
—Kanajo Hasegawa

in the summer field
that person with deep feelings
and a sober face

the moon and I
alone are left here
cooling on the bridge

In spirit and in truth
silent prayer...just
the moon on the road


Be cool.

—Medusa (who swelters)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

How to Eat a Persimmon

Just a reminder that Patricia Wellingham-Jones and Ellaraine Lockie will be reading at Primopoets in Walnut Creek this Sunday, July 17, from 3-5pm. Their reading is at 100 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek (corner of Ygnacio Valley Rd. and Wiget). Info: 925-212-9447. See July 11 for a sample of Ellaraine's work. Here is Patricia:

—Patricia Wellingham-Jones

until it’s as squooshy
as the breast of a well-padded woman.
Pinch its bottom—
firm is good, soft is better.
Cup the fruit in your left hand
(lefties do the reverse),
pick up your spoon in the other.
A sterling silver teaspoon
deeply engraved or with elegant pattern
yields the most pleasure.
Touch the tip of the spoon
just below the nipple of the orange globe.
Push with intent. Break the skin.
Spoon the almost liquid flesh
into a small bowl. Using fingers,
rotate the fruit. Peel fragile petals,
scrape the custard from the skin.
Sever the stiff ribs, lay them
with the flesh. Dig the tip
of that silver spoon deep
into the base, twist out
the final scoops. Lay the emptied body
gently to rest. Wash your hands.
Carry the bowl as if it were made of gold
to your favorite chair. Lean back,
wave your spoon in a circle, sigh.
Lift the shimmering succulence to your lips,
roll it in your mouth, swallow
slowly. Do it again. Again.


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones

My friend in desperate make-up,
go-to-town clothes,
joins me for coffee
under the sycamore.

A neighbor drops by.
I fetch another mug.
We watch spring unfold,
catch up on our lives.

Across the road over a bare lot
a robin weaves grasses into a nest.
She hops inside, checks for fit,
turns a few circles, steps out,
tucks in another strand.

On barbed wire, a red-throated
finch teeters with goldfinch and bluebird.
On the lawn a blue jay feeds his mate in courtship ritual.
In blackberries, mockingbirds
run through their repertoire.

The murmur of our voices blends with the songs
of birds. My friend drones about lost love,
broken marriage, too much weight. Neighbor worries
about teenage kids, total fatigue. The breeze
wafts words and warbles into the blue.

I ponder bugs in the grass who will be the starlings’
dinner, the cowbird stealing another’s nest,
the garter snake’s elastic curl below the tree,
the tiny screams under the birdsong.

(appeared in Voices on the Land, Rattlechap #3 from Rattlesnake Press)


Thanks, Patricia. And yes, I will be there.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Be at The Book Collector tonight at 7:30pm to hear Joyce Odam read from her new book, Caught Against the Years, illustrated by her daughter, Charlotte Vincent.

I've decided Joyce is the reincarnation of Adelaide Crapsey. Check out these cinquains:

—Adelaide Crapsey

The old
Old winds that blew
When chaos was, what do
They tell the clattered trees that I
Should weep?

—Adelaide Crapsey

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing hosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

—Adelaide Crapsey

Just now,
Out of the strange
Still dusk... as strange, as still...
A white moth flew... Why am I grown
So cold?


Come on down tonight to 1008 24th Street in Sacramento and hear Adelaide, I mean Joyce, read from her terrific new book.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Happy Birthday, Hank!

Today is Henry David Thoreau's birthday—Happy Birthday, Hank! I'll leave it to you to figure out how old he is...

—Henry David Thoreau

In vain I see the morning rise,
In vain observe the western blaze,
Who idly look to other skies,
Expecting life by other ways.

Amidst such boundless wealth without,
I only still am poor within,
The birds have sung their summer out,
But still my spring does not begin.

Shall I then wait the autumn wind,
Compelled to seek a milder say,
And leave no curious nest behind,
No woods still echoing to my lay?


—Henry David Thoreau

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.


Reaching Down Beneath Language: An Evening of Poetry with Art Beck and B.L. Kennedy will take place this Saturday night, July 16, at HQ (25th and R); doors open at 7:30pm. Art Beck, from San Francisco, is the author of collections of verse as well as books of translations. B.L. Kennedy is a Performance Poet who has studied with Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman and has published extensively, including Been Born Bronx from Rattlesnake Press. Donation for the evening: $5.

Put on your dancin' shoes for Joyce Odam's reading tomorrow night at The Book Collector, 7:30. We will be celebrating the release of her SpiralChap, Caught Against the Years, which was illustrated by her daughter, Charlotte Vincent.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Free-Wheeling, as Usual

Free-Wheeling, the book of poems from the Towe Auto Museum 2004 poetry contest about personal transportation, is out: order a copy from the museum (916-442-6802). And charge up your pencils and get started on next year's contest: deadline 11/10. Call the museum for contest guidelines. This contest was the brainchild of two of our active Sacramento poets who also volunteer at the museum, Elsie Whitlow Feliz and Don Feliz; what a creative way to bring poetry into the lives of a large, diverse group of "civilians"! Don has a recent littlesnake broadside out (Switchback Path), and Elsie's rattlechap, Tea With Bunya, will be released in September. Contest judges were also friends of the Snake, Ruth and Fred Harrison.

Patricia Wellingham-Jones and Ellaraine Lockie will be reading at Primopoets in Walnut Creek this Sunday, July 17, from 3-5pm. Both of these ladies have appeared in various Snake-venues, and both of them have too many credits to list, including a multitude of chaps, Pushcart nominations, workshop leading... the list is endless. Their reading is at 100 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek (corner of Ygnacio Valley Rd. and Wiget). Info: 925-212-9447. Here is a sample from Ellaraine (see various issues of the Snake for more poems, and for her wonderful article on paper-making):


Black with blue swollen veins
He sits in stained denim
on the train station bench

Elbows on spread-eagled knees
Sparrow hands on head hung low
A plastic produce bag for a hat

pulled over his ears
Preserving the rising heat
The fragile lobes from frostbite

As winter eats its way
into the San Francisco Bay
with butcher knife teeth

(Previously published in Taproot Literary Review)



The woman I hire to daughter my mother
makes bi-weekly visits to the dementia ward
Lies down beside the near-still waters

Accepts the mouth kisses wet with drool
From where gravelly words
dribble down washed-out gullies

Like a whipping boy she bears the brunt
of each face-to-face flagellation
that my rawhide flesh refuses

And for twenty dollars an hour I purchase
like the contraposition of a professional mourner
Substitution for services I can't supply


And don't forget: Sac. Poetry Center sponsors a reading tonight by Mildred Hunt; 7:30 at HQ, 25th and R Streets. Go early for the Board meeting at 6, Hamburger Mary's (17th & J).


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Of Splendour in the Grass

Watched Spendor in the Grass last night on AMC; out came my Wordsworth so I could spend some time with the wonderful quote William Inge used when he wrote the movie:

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

—William Wordsworth, from Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood


This coming Wednesday will be a celebration/reading of Joyce Odam's new SnakeRings SpiralChap, Caught Against the Years, with poetry by Joyce and illustrations by her daughter, Charlotte Vincent. Join us at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30-9pm. Refreshments and a read-around will follow Joyce's reading; bring your own poetry or somebody else's.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Kimberly Two

Another reminder that Kimberly White will be reading at the Poems-For-All reading tonight at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 8pm. Here is another of her poems:

desert suite #3: Arizona
—Kimberly White, Sacramento

Coyote crouches low by the road
waits for the semis whizzing by
before shooting across
Be careful, Coyote,
I yell out the window
of my speeding car
as he disappears into the desert
on urgent coyote business

Why did Coyote cross the road?
To get the chicken on the other side.

Pass an offramp for
Sore Finger Road.
I could't make up a name like that.
Wonder about the story that inspired it.
There has to be one.
Try to make one up myself
but it eludes me
wonder what that says about someone
who claims to be a writer
Blame it on the stress of the road.

Jesus is Lord in Superior
screams a colorful billboard
looming over the road
into town
Every year I drive by
and flip it off
Once, I saw it in a movie.
Turn off the road into town
cruise convoluted, one-lane streets
behind boarded-up downtown
spy on dry little houses
with their desert bones
nailed to faded walls
and collected in brown-dirt yards

just like in the movie

but no movie can match any desert

One year I rode this road at night
coming back the other way
someone else was at the wheel
so my mind was free to roam
with the shooting stars
streaking across
a sky blacker than black
no other light but the stars
even the headlights
sucked into the black

there are no roads
to the places Coyote runs
on these nights

There is a river
hidden away off a rocky road
wild willow banks
roamed by mixed-blood wolves
from stray ranch dogs
Cottonwoods spread their foam
in languid desert air
floating just above the waterskin

you can cross
all of Arizona
without turning left or right

Coyote does it in his sleep.



Friday, July 08, 2005

Is It My Imagination?

...Or is the Sacramento Bee publishing more about local poets, these days? Not too long ago, there was a feature about Gene Avery; today the "In the Hot Seat" column of Metro section features local poet/musician Ruebi Freyja. This is, of course, all to the good. Check out the lovely Reubi's interview today; her philosophies about art are right in line with mine: don't let careerism take you over, and she and I both write (and in my case, publish others) to serve a higher purpose.

My peach tree has suffered a fatal accident: three of its four main branches have fallen off recently, so its days are seriously numbered. This is a sad passing for me, so I am memorializing the tree by including a poem I wrote years ago. Please excuse Medusa for publishing something of her own:

—Kathy Kieth, Fair Oaks

I send him up into the forest
of peaches: my tree is gnarled
and knobby, but this year, she has
covered her crooked branches
with golden globes of sugar. He

is dubious: raised on fast food
and antsy pleasures, he assumes
there will be nothing for him
here. But he indulges me: climbs
for the small suns just out of reach,

crawls into and around and over,
bucketing each planet . . . And then
he holds one up, considers its color,
finally bites into it. And I join him
in another and another and another,

and the nectar rolls off our fingers
and down our arms, and our eyes
meet over the dark fruit, and it's all
me and him and the ladder and
the bucket and that sweet, sumptuous

taste, and we cannot get enough: so ripe
and full of color and light and sugar
that we are nearly drunk on it—almost
lost in the juice and all that sweetness—
almost drunk on the dark, rich musk

of summer peaches . . .


May your day be an especially peachy one!

—Medusa (who cannot get enough...)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Danyen, Kimberly, and the Cleos

Sacramento poet Danyen Powell and International Poet Bei Dao were involved in a serious traffic accident on the Causeway Tuesday night, but fortunately they're both okay. They were on their way to the weekly Sacramento Poetry Center Tuesday night workshop, where Danyen serves as Facilitator. Danyen is the author of Rattlechap #1—a courageous poet, he is, who had the nerve to sign on with the then-totally-unknown Rattlesnake Press. Well, okay, everybody who signs on with the Snake has to be courageous...

In cheerier news, Robbie Grossklaus encourages everyone to check out his blog:

And Sacramento Poet Kimberly White will be reading at The Book Collector, 1008 24th Street, Sac., this Saturday at 8pm. Kimberly has several chapbooks out; see Snake 5 for Kimi Julian's review of Kimberly's Penelope. Here is a sample of her poetry:

In her house, without her
—Kimberly White, Sacramento

The house itself stands uncertain
inadequate and somehow naked
without her to wear it
with all her other accessories
The house itself, so skillfully arranged
it takes a long time to notice
almost everything is red

inside, her grip is everywhere
the red of her obsessions
and the echoes of her fights
hang in tandem
from early american hooks
on split-beam rafters
in antique baskets
red rugs red linens
red dishes red spoons
I even found a red colander
in the kitchen
and a red gazing ball
in her garden
Without her, the red overflows

I found other things too
searching her house for the things
obsessive grandmothers hide away
wanting to be the first
to find my old letters
filled with gossip that was
just between us
She kept every birthday card,
Christmas card, Mother's Day card
in the same boxes
with her divorce papers
her second marriage license
her high school yearbook,
class of 1935,
and the telegram announcing my birth
The only things she didn't keep
were letters

In her hands, the house
was obsessively ruled
In my hands, it already goes to pot
Here, where no speck of dust
dared settle in her day,
I leave dirty dishes in the sink
my insomniac bed is unmade
blues and reggae fill the house
with noise it's never heard
to drown out the lack of her voice
while I sift through her overdue bills
and hand out telephone updates
with my feet in a chair
no one's ever been allowed to sit on

Late at night in her kitchen
I count the ghosts
Ruby-red in their robes
of kitchen night-light,
they are all her
Clutching at the red candles
she has hoarded
to light her way
out of this life
but she can't leave
from so many opposing directions,
shattered bits of herself
still awake
clawing bits of herself
still fighting
cringing bits fearing Jesus
and wandering bits forever lost
Here is the woman
who asked my grandpa to dance
refusing to hear that he couldn't
Here is the woman
terrified of the devil
whose voice toys with her at night
Here is the woman
who bowed to her migraines
like a slave
Here is the girl
who would have been a poet
had she not married before she grew up
Here is the woman who never sleeps
stalking God for promises
still unfulfilled
Here is the one
with the crush on Little Joe
from Bonanza
the woman so contentious
some scars never healed
the woman more beloved
than she knows
the one who only aged
on the inside

alone in her house
I trip on the stairs
watch fireflies blink
from her porch
eventually get around
to washing the dishes
pretend I don't hear the phone
stroll the hallways of her museum
pretend she'll be coming home to it
Already, the house has let go
without the force of her will
to contain it
and I start to do the same
boxing her up with her things
collating garage sale piles
of ruffled curtains and red silk flowers
the awful dismantling of a life
that is not quite dead.


Thanks, Kimberly!

It's not too late to sign up for the "A Summer Showcase" to be held August 6 at Sun City in Roseville, sponsored by the "Society of Cleo Poets", Cleo Griffith (of Salida) and Cleo Kocol (of Sacramento). The program will feature Gail Rudd Entrekin (Professor/poet Sierra College, Editor of Hip Pocket Press), Sam Pierstorff (Poet Laureate of Modesto and Editor of Quercus Review) and Cynthia L. Bryant (Poet Laureate of Pleasanton and Editor of Poet's Lane—remember the e-mail service she provides, announcing Nor-Cal readings?). Also reading will be a variety of other poets, including Taylor Graham, Pearl Stein Selinsky, Karen Baker (all rattlechappers), JoAn Osborne (see yesterday's posting), Elizabeth Bernstein, the two Cleos, Kathy Kieth, Lynn Hansen, Marnelle White, nancee maya, Gordon Durham. Registration for those not on the program is $5. Poets may also sign up at the door for about ten open-mic slots, and soft drinks and snacks will be provided. Info: We're looking forward to meeting some new people in a new venue in a part of town that rarely holds such events—thanks, Cleos!


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Braided Lives

"Artists from Taos, New Mexico, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and writers from across the United States come together to celebrate visual art and the spoken word in which the artist calls and the poet responds." This is the description of Braided Lives, an art exhibition and poetry reading which opens in San Francisco this Thursday at the SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco. 16 visual artists and 15 poets will participate, and Sacramentan JoAn Osborne and ex-Sacramentan Colette Jonopulos (both of whom edit Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry) will have poems posted there, and will be reading this Friday and Saturday at 7pm. Here is a poem from JoAn:

—for Kenneth

The girth of the mare lays wet against my skin.
The sky unreels the caws of circling crows.
A rattling marks a snake’s intended sin.
Red dirt unfurls in dusty devil-blows.
At canyon’s edge on a sultry August day,
we climb on jagged rocks and slipping sand;
the intensity grows while horses balk and neigh.

We find the strays alive on the tableland.

Today, with horses caged beneath car hoods
and fainting shades of cattle wrangling chores,
we’d swap our boots for slippers—if we could,
and drop our weighted life in these outdoors.
As evening falls it forms a dusky dome.
The climb cannot compare to coming home.


The exhibit continues until July 28. Info:

Time to start thinking about Snake 7, already! Poems, poems, poems. ART! Photographs. Cartoons. Reviews. And articles. If you have ideas for articles, let me know. Next deadline is 8/15.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

If I Could Walk on Ice...

The little book about the project that started in New York in 1992, called the Poetry in Motion program (where poetry appeared on buses and subways), is currently remaindered for $3.98 in Barnes & Noble on Sunrise in Citrus Heights. It may also be on sale for cheaps at other B&N locations; I don't know. But I got a copy yesterday at Sunrise. You've probably seen it; it's called Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast, edited by Elise Paschen and Brett Fletcher Lauer, W.W. Norton & Co., Ltd., 2002. It contains 120 poems from as many poets, ranging from Blake to Neruda to Tu Fu. Samples:

—Amy Lowell

When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me.
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?


—Tu Fu (712-770)

It's the Fourteenth of August, and I'm too hot
To endure food, or bed. Steam and the fear of scorpions
Keep me awake. I'm told the heat won't fade with Autumn.

Swarms of flies arrive. I'm roped into my clothes.
In another moment I'll scream down the office
As the paper mountains rise higher on my desk.

Oh those real mountains to the south of here!
I gaze at the ravines kept cool by pines.
If I could walk on ice, with my feet bare!


You got that right, big guy!

B&N Sunrise has also started a poetry open mic on first Fridays at 7pm, free, hosted by Donene Schuyler. Info: B&N Arden was, of course, the seat of poetry readings for many years here in Sacramento.


Monday, July 04, 2005

May the Fourth Be With You

Here are all the terrific poems about fireworks, in roughly the order they arrived. What a wonderful variety of themes, styles—eight individual voices to wake us up this morning.

According to the original rules, the first three are technically the winners. But everybody gets a book, anyway. Thank you! And, yes, they don't all mention fireworks. Then again, one person's fireworks are another person's... you know what I mean.


—Taylor Graham, Somerset

Between fireworks
and all-night traffic
spinning toward the resorts,

we found this gravel sandbar
on a river whose contours
fade into hills.

So many miles of exhaust.
At dusk we simply waded out
into the shallows

and let the river do to us
what it does to travelers
and all their dust.


—Colette Jonopulos, Eugene, OR

Four days before the Fourth, our history-book day
spent along rivers, in stadiums, on driveways
radiant with heat, two massive flags fly at our corner
grocery store, parades prepare to stride down streets
named Main and Broadway, and shorts reveal the
white legs of winter’s extended breath.

Four days before the Fourth, I take two small boys
to the park to tunnel in sand, before their time is up
and everything must have a purpose, before the grace
of simply being is replaced with single-minded
striving, before sand-angels and holding my hand
are unendurable embarrassments.

Four days before the Fourth, one child continues to work
dry sand into a make-shift castle, his shirt sticks to the
neatly curved arc of his back. The second child lifts his
head at the too-early explosion, a firecracker from across
the low Willamette where the massive display will rain
over the water, the city, over us with our “oohs” and “ahhs.”

Four days before the Fourth, the younger boy eases
toward river’s stubborn flow, his only stop to examine
something brightly moving through the grass. When I see
he isn’t turning back, I follow his wily sandaled steps; he
can go only so far before the bank curves downward and
water makes the border all small boys long to cross.


with children grown
and have recently been
paroled from
my wife sentence,
I now embrace the slut
in myself and celebrate
the use of this body.
the otter inside
to slip, slide
over you
honoring ourselves,
giving grace
to the one
natural instinct left
I won't
give up easy.
—Song Kowbell, Penn Valley (My independence poem!)


—Margaret Ellis Hill, Wilton

Fireworks of purple, pink and crimson
bloom beside a country road above
fern-like leaves waving for attention.

Between fringe of lawn and dusty ditch,
these beauties flaunt their finery. I see
monarchs and white moths partner

simple elegance, sway with breeze-borne dances,
before autumn chill dims bright petals
and twilight rain showers signal time to go.


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

On New York Harbor
purple rain drums our ears
with the luck of the Irish.
TNT throws a mad dog fountain
down our shirts. Low
in American spirit, fresh out
of veterans' salutes,
we take the phantom
glittering gems, the steel rain
and delirium back to our tents,
wait for Apache firedance
to power the rustlers
into the sea. Sizzlers
and live wires
connect the night.

*names of fireworks and fireworks
makers listed in the newspaper


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

Multicolored wheels, Roman candles,
fountains, showers, fireflies, cascades.

If I were deaf, I might like it.
Canon sounds. Zings and whistles.

The odor of sulfur. Children
waving sparklers, rushing into the street.

Blue smoke like the thick of battle. A keg
of beer on the sidewalk. Someone's dog

wakes up in the pound. Someone's child
reaches for a dud. A house catches fire.

I don't like holidays. I like the whirl
of the earth when it's quiet enough to hear.


—Sal Buttaci, Lodi, New Jersey

We sit here on this patriotic night
and know the excitement we feel,
Anticipating booms of colored lights
Flashing across the sky of Century Field.

What must I do this one more July
we share our lives together to prove
my love? Can I say you can rely
on me always, we’re in the same groove,

and all my love songs sing your praises?
What words can I pluck from the summer air
to convince you? What romantic phrases
will say once and for all how much I care?

Look at the tricks performing way up high!
From one bright yellow ball strings of blue
Trail like tentacles in the late-night sky:
yellow meets blue, becomes one, like me and you

pledging ourselves to a lifetime as one,
meshing like those explosive points of light.
Words are weak; they fall away undone,
Wisps of smoke on a fireworks night.


ultimate: seeing
candles lit on
a president's blazing birthday
cake in night sky
over the Atlantic

—Be Davison Herrera, Corvallis, OR


Sal Buttaci points out that there is another Medusa's Kitchen on the Web; you'll stumble into it if you type medusakitchen without the "S" before the "kitchen".

Have a sane Fourth. And may you have a surplus, a plethora, a phantasmagoria of fireworks!


Sunday, July 03, 2005

A Sunday Dalliance

On the 4th is the picnic/Walt Whitman reading at Crocker Park, hosted by Art and Christina Mantecon to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the publication of Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Picnic starts at 3, reading from 4-6pm: many local poets of note will read from Whitman's works. Free; bring food, drink, blankets to sit on; no fireworks or booze. Here are three Whitman gems:


Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)
Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles,
The rushing amorous contact high in space together,
The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,
Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass right grappling,
In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling,
Till o'er the river pois'd, the twain yet one, a moment's lull,
A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing,
Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate diverse flight,
She hers, he his, pursuing.


Lo, the unbounded sea,
On its breast a ship starting, spreading all sails, carrying even her moonsails,
The pennant is flying aloft as she speeds she speeds so stately—
below emulous waves press forward.
They surround the ship with shining curving motions and foam.


Shot gold, maroon and violet, dazzling silver, emerald, fawn,
The earth's whole amplitude and Nature's multiform power
consigned for once to colors;
The light, the general air posses'd by them—colors till now unknown,
No limit, confine—not the Western sky alone—the high meridian—North,
South, all,
Pure luminous color fighting the silent shadows to the last.


Dude could write, yes?


Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Fallen Roses of Outlived Minutes...

—Amy Lowell

You are beautiful and faded,
Like an old opera tune
Played upon a harpsichord;
Or like the sun-flooded silks
Of an eighteenth-century boudoir.

In your eyes
Smoulder the fallen roses of outlived minutes,
And the perfume of your soul
Is vague and suffusing,
With the pungence of sealed spice-jars.
Your half-tones delight me,
And I grow mad with gazing
At your blent colors.

My vigor is a new-minted penny,
Which I cast at your feet.
Gather it up from the dust
That its sparkle may amuse you.


A little morning poetry clears the head, like good, strong coffee.

Blogs! Check out for the inside scoop on Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry. is James Lee Jobe's lively contribution—including a very graphic photo of a rattler that, for once, didn't come out of Medusa's head. And the elegant Ben Hiatt's site:, posting local friends such as Taylor Graham and Annie Menebroker. Bookmark all these for a daily/weekly/wheneverly browse of the local poetry scene.

Sacramento hosts the 8th Annual Battle of the Bay poetry slam tonight at Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St., Sac. Seven teams from seven No. Cal. cities will compete in a warm-up & fundraiser for regionals, then nationals in August. $10, 9pm. for info. Best of luck to the Sacramento team (which won this competition last year)!

And fireworks! Pyrotechnical fantasmagoria! So far I have 8 wonderful fireworks poems from readers. I whipped out my Roget's (Chapman edition, of COURSE—or the latest, ed. by Ann Kipfer) and found all these wonderful names of fireworks: ladyfinger, girandole, Vesuvius fountain, tourbillion, mandarin cracker, peeoy, petard, flowerpot, fizzer, Catherine wheel, Bengali-light, tantrum... Not to mention serpent, snake, and six-inch salute [insert joke here]. So, if those don't inspire your muse, I don't know what-the-heck will. (In case you've just joined us, there's a fireworks fest going on here: send in a poem about fireworks and it will be posted 7/4, plus you'll get a copy of Mary Zeppa's new chap, The Battered Bride Overture.)

Stay sane and out of the heat...

—Medusa (saluting with all six inches)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Pitfalls of Pride & Cranky Women

Colette Jonopulos has been inspired by the unfortunate Medusa, who dared to rival the cranky Athena:

—Colette Jonopulos, Eugene, OR

Then he aimed a stroke down at Medusa’s throat and
Athena guided his hand.
—Mythology, by Edith Hamilton

Our voices tire of the sound sorrow
makes; we face day’s resolute end,
listen for cicadas’ night cries, slow whine
of engines headed home, doors
closed, locks slid into place.

Into the lull, on her bareback mare, rides
loss, thin, recognizable by her
scent. On her fingers, garnets set
in silver. In her hair, slick ivory beads
woven through braids woven
by fingers covered in lemon oil.

Fresh press of citrus fills the air
as the lithe boy removes beads
one by one, twines her hair between
long fingers, pulling tight,
twisting oiled strands.

She anticipates the pungent
scent of human defeat, knows to
open the door part way, her knee
pressed into the opening, thick drops
of oil on her forehead; she recognizes
silence as something she once
felt, the fullness of a moment
drained, the dry afterward when
nothing can be saved.


Thanks, Colette! More about Medusa as we go along. Did you know she was Pegasus' mother?

The fireworks contest has started to get results, which we'll save for an explosion on the Fourth. Send in a poem about fireworks and receive a free copy of Mary Zeppa's The Battered Bride Overture.

Snakebytes, the monthly e-newsletter about current happenings at Rattlesnake Press, hits the airwaves today. I can't send them all out at once, though (the limitations of Hotmail), so they go out in waves. You should have yours by the end of the weekend. (If you're not on the list and would like to be, write to me at