Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
My sister does not write poems
and it's unlikely she'll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who did not write poems,
and after her father, who also did not write poems.
Under my sister's roof I feel safe:
nothing would move my sister's husband to write poems.
And though it sounds like a poem by Adam Macedonski,
none of my relatives is engaged in the writing of poems.
In my sister's desk there are no old poems
nor any new ones in her handbag.
And when my sister invites me to dinner,
I know she has no intention of reading me poems.
She makes superb soups without half trying,
and her coffee does not spill on manuscripts.
In many families no one writes poems,
but when they do, it's seldom just one person.
Sometimes poetry flows in cascades of generations,
which sets up fearsome eddies in family relations.
My sister cultivates a decent spoken prose,
her entire literary output is on vacation postcards
that promise the same thing every year:
that when she returns,
she'll tell us, everything,
IN PRAISE OF SELF-DEPRECATION
The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.
The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.
The killer-whale's heart weights one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.
There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.
FOUR IN THE MORNING
The hour from night to day.
The hour from side to side.
The hour for those past thirty.
The hour swept clean to the crowing of cocks.
The hour when earth betrays us.
The hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.
The hollow hour.
The very pit of all other hours.
No one feels good at four in the morning.
If ants feel good at four in the morning
—three cheers for the ants. And let five o'clock come
if we're to go on living.
SEEN FROM ABOVE
On a dirt road lies a dead beetle.
Three little pairs of legs carefully folded on his belly.
Instead of death's chaos—neatness and order.
The horror of this sight is mitigated,
the range strictly local, from witchgrass to spearmint.
Sadness is not contagious.
The sky is blue.
For our peace of mind, their death seemingly shallower,
animals do not pass away, but simply die,
losing—we wish to believe—less of awareness and the world,
leaving—it seems to us—a stage less tragic.
Their humble little souls do not haunt our dreams,
they keep their distance,
know their place.
So here lies the dead beetle on the road,
glistens unlamented when the sun hits.
A glance at him is as good as a thought:
he looks as though nothing important had befallen him.
What's important is valid supposedly for us.
For just our life, for just our death,
a death that enjoys an extorted primacy.
(Today's poetry was translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire.)
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 email@example.com (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.)
SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:
Journals (free publications): Rattlesnake Review14 is now available at The Book Collector; contributors and subscribers will receive theirs in the next couple of weeks. If you're none of those, and can't get down to The Book Collector, send two bux to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 and I'll mail you a copy. Next deadline, for RR15, is August 15. VYPER6 (for youth 13-19) is in The Book Collector; next deadline is Nov. 1. Snakelets10 (for kids 0-12) is also at The Book Collector; next deadline is Oct. 1.
Books/broadsides: June's releases include Tom Miner's chapbook, North of Everything; David Humphreys' littlesnake broadside, Cominciare Adagio; and #3 in B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series, this one featuring Jane Blue.
ZZZZZZZ: Shh! The Snake is sleeping! There will be no Snake readings/releases in July or August. Then we return with a bang on September 12, presenting Susan Kelly-DeWitt's new chapbook, Cassiopeia Above the Banyan Tree. See the online journal, Mudlark, for a hefty sample of poems from her book; that’s http://www.unf.edu/mudlark/. Also coming in the Fall: new issues of the Review, Snakelets and VYPER [see the above deadlines], plus more littlesnake broadsides from NorCal poets near and far, and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including an anthology of interviews to be released for Sacramento Poetry Month (October).