Saturday, August 25, 2007

After Excitement

Horned God
Photo by Katy Brown


lingers on the outskirts of suburbia.
He moves with shadows on the edges
—appears when you least expect.

He eats peaches from your trees,
unsettles the neighborhood dogs,
and takes your most tender rosebuds for himself.

His hooves leave no marks
on the well-watered lawns, no marks
in the manicured flowerbeds under windows.

Good religious men have tried
for two thousand years to drive him
back into the earth, out of existence, out of sight

but the Horned God has sheltered
under the trimmed juniper and boxwood—
and now steps boldly into the light of an evening party.

—Katy Brown, Davis


We end our recent giveaway the way we began it, with poetry and photos from Katy Brown. Thanks, Katy! Watch for Katy's column, re-titled "Snake Eyes", in Rattlesnake Review 15, due out in mid-September.

More critter poems, this time in prose poems by Mary Oliver, the CritterMeister of the World:

—Mary Oliver

What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope to see everything in this world before I die. I knelt on the road and stared. Its head was wedge-shaped and fell back to the unexpected slimness of a neck. The body itself was thick, tense, electric. Clearly this wasn't black snake looking down from the limbs of a tree, or green snake, or the garter, whizzing over the rocks. Where these had, oh, such shyness, this one had none. When I moved a little, it turned and clamped its eyes on mine; then it jerked toward me. I jumped back and watched as it flowed on across the road and down into the dark. My heart was pounding. I stood a while, listening to the small sounds of the woods and looking at the stars. After excitement we are so restful. When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive.


—Mary Oliver

You stand inside the lime-green house of the salt marsh and you hear a faint, gritty music. It does not rise then fall like the wind rounding a distant corner; it does not explode suddenly, like the heron you rustled up from the glossy storerooms of water. It simply remains, dull and constant. It is everywhere.

And then you see them. Snails.

Snails gliding on the sticky thumbs of their bodies up and down the stems and blades of the marsh grass, and across the damp sand, everywhere, sucking and scraping whatever it is they eat—algae, things too small to have a name that you know. Above the hurried murmur of the draining water, the snails, flowing and eating, are making the sound you hear. You do not find

the tufts of their bodies attractive. When you look at them, nothing happens, not like the startle of your heart when the heron rises, or when the wind shutters shut then opens and falls over the hill. Still, you know this

moment is important, like a page from an ancient document, found in a dusty jar, in a dry cave. Who are we? What are our chances? Where have we made the terrible mistake we must turn from, or perish? The snails

are everywhere, nibbling, sucking, climbing the billows of sand, shuffling up into the marshes, by the millions, all doing something incredible. Not pretty, but incredible. You lift

your own delicate hands, you touch your lips.


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 (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.) 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 (

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

ZZZZZZZ: Shh! The Snake is still sleeping! There will be no readings/releases in 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 And read more about Susan at her nifty new website, Click on "Chapbooks" for a sneak preview of Cassiopeia's cover.

Also coming in mid-September: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (15), plus a littlesnake broadside from dawn dibartolo (Blush), and a continuation of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series—including #4 (frank andrick) and an anthology of interviews to be released for Sacramento Poetry Month (October). Next deadline for Rattlesnake Review (16) is November 15.