Friday, August 11, 2006


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

He was a big, handsome, charismatic man
who worked with my mother
and she adored him, in a platonic way.
He was married, and besides, she sensed
that as one man had turned into a nightmare
so would they all. That day
she told the story coolly. The pathologist—
famous as an expert witness at murder trials—
stood at the top of a staircase in his home
outside an upstairs office and called down
to his wife and children below. Even then
he was cheerful, unlike my father
who drank himself into despair. "I’ve tasted
the cyanide sample on my desk," he said.
"I’ll be dead in two minutes." It was a fact
that couldn’t be reversed. "I’m sorry,
I never meant it." He was impulsive
which up until then we’d thought charming.
An impulsive person shouldn’t be
so intimately acquainted with poison. I knew
then and there, as a compulsive sampler myself—
of cookie batter or the lettuce I tore up
for salad—that I’d better choose a profession
requiring me to work only with words.

(Originally published in The Persistence of Vision by Jane Blue, Poet’s Corner Press, 2003)


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

The dead live under a riot of flowers, their gardens
tended better than my own: the roses and lilacs,
the coral and deep red geraniums,
Dusty Miller growing like weeds for the silver
in its leaves, white sweet alyssum and deep blue
lobelia overflowing brick ledges with old mortar
that can barely contain the dead. Such rash hues
above them, their plots fertilized and watered,
sometimes by rain, sometimes by the arcs
of automatic sprinklers—will corpses plump up,
century-old skeletons, crumbs, lying in this lush park
covering dark graves? Coursed through with new sap,
will they walk among the orange-vested work crew,
taking pictures of the stones to remember who they were?


Thanks, Jane, for the B&E poems! No, not breaking and entering—beginnings and endings.
Send me poems about beginnings/endings postmarked before midnight next Tuesday, August 15, and I'll send you a free copy of Irene Lipshin's new chapbook, Shadowlines, and Norma Kohout's littlesnake broadside, Out the Train Window. (Or something else, if you already have these...) Send 'em to or P.O. Box 1647, Orangevale, CA 95662.

After the Fair:

After you spend all day at the opening of the State Fair (!),
travel up to Chico where, at 6 PM, Bob Garner hosts “A Midsummer Night’s Read” with Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Marilyn Ringer, Audrey C. Small, Mark Clarke and Kathleen McPartland at Avenue 9 Gallery in Chico. The Gallery also presents Fibers 2006, an exhibit of talented fiber artists curated by Dr. Eva Henneberry, who grounds the show with her fine-art quilts. Attendees for the reading are encouraged to bring knitting, quilting, etc. and create as they listen. Directions: 180 East 9th Avenue, Suite 3, Chico (just off the Esplanade, ‘kitty-corner’ from Big Al’s on 9th Ave). Info: 530-879-1821. [See last Monday's post for a sample of Patricia Wellingham-Jones' poetry.]

War Anthology:

Kim Shuck writes: We are now in the process of collecting poems and short essays for a book, proceeds to benefit people displaced by the bombings in Lebanon. We want work addressing displacement, the experience of being a refugee and the hope that this will end soon. If you are interested in participating, please send your poem or essay of about a page in length plus a five-line bio to Deadline is September 15.


Another b&e poem, this one a ghazal from Taylor Graham:

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

Setting out after breakfast, we come to the first cross-
roads; some heaped flowers; and then another cross.

An hour past the outskirts, our route winds and climbs
to an overlook. And on a hairpin turn, another cross.

Below the summit, a roadside ramada. We stop
for lunch. Here on the shoulder rests another cross.

And then, we continue on our journey. At the edge
of an arroyo stands another, and yet another cross.

So far to go, but we aren’t in any hurry to arrive.
For every milepost, at every turn, another cross.

We never mention how each one seems to beckon
forward, back, down, but mostly up: another cross.

The angels of this road have outspread wooden wings
rooted in gravel. Someone ended here. Another cross.


Thanks, TG!


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. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)