Thursday, August 23, 2007

Connected by the Root

Thomomys talpoides
Northern Pocket Gopher

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

The day the Chinese pistachio went up
in flames of September foliage,
the first hole appeared. Gophers.

I probed and found more outlets,
a great underground gallery.
I turned the garden-hose full-force
to drown the tunnels. Water
cut gullies down the hillside.

Next morning there was fresh
turning of the earth: gophers low
at their dirty work.
I rigged tailpipe to under-
kingdom and gassed them
with exhaust.

This morning, no sign of life.
The pistachio has given up
its leaves.
I listen to subterranean

Is everything connected
by the root?


Thanks, TG! Taylor Graham's poems today were sent to us for our "Wild Things in Suburbia" give-away; send me poems/photos/etc. about man's tendency to plop his houses down in the middle of the wilds and then complain that there are critters around. Every contribution will receive a rattlechap; let me know which ones you don't have. Get it all to me by midnight this Friday, August 24 (that's tomorrow!): email, or snail to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

Tonight in NorCal poetry:

•••Thursday (8/23), 7-8:30 PM: “Telling Our Stories” First Anniversary Celebration at Enloe Cancer Center, Chico. Good food, good company, good stories, good time! We invite patients and their families, staff, volunteers and anyone interested in using writing to heal to join us for an evening of celebrating and sharing our stories. Cancer Center Conference Room, 251 Cohasset Road (In Fountain Plaza, across from Chico Sports Club). Info: Rebecca at 530-384-1341.

•••Also Thursday (8/23), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Featured Poets: Kelly Richardson and April Jenkins. Another Poetic Luna’s double feature of intensive interactions! Hosted by B.L. Kennedy.


—Taylor Graham

It's apples, always apples
with a tang of theft.
We stretched nets over the trees
to let the sweet sun through
and wave the birds back singing
into their sky. But see,
now the trees are ripening
with a robin caught by the feet
in a net, hanging breasted
red as apple; a jaybird webbed
by the beak and wing, blue
as if the tree bore plums.
No bird song, but the branches
bend. How could we bear
the taste of apples?

(First appeared in Art Word)


—Taylor Graham

Returning home tonight, my headlights
catch a streak of fox
through stockwire fence, slick
as an axe-slit into wood—

the fence of a man who speaks
in gauges: shotgun shells left scattered
like acorns under oaks, plugs
dug into bark. A towering madrone

is full of holes from Sunday target practice.
At dusk I hear Pop-pop-POP.
He keeps no chickens. But would he
take aim at a fox, just because?

At night the fox comes out from whorls
of moonlight shadow under leaves.
Does she find his dreams? Do her eyes
slip into his, to snap a connection?

Fox among trees, stillness
between wood
and metal, the quiet


Thanks again, TG. Two of today's poems, "By the Root" and "Something About a Fox", are from Taylor Graham's upcoming rattlechap from Rattlesnake Press about our wild neighbors. Watch for it in November!

Fox tracks in the snow
Photo by Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines


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

Also coming in mid-September: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (15), plus a littlesnake broadsides 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 is November 15.