Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Perfection

Norma Kohout

—Norma Kohout, Sacramento

Walking a long river bottom
I follow a smooth path
which curves in a “U”
between green-gray willows and thick underbrush.

Where the path turns
a grey wolf stands alert and unafraid
with her half-grown pup,
smooth fur flecked with orange;
their unwavering silver eyes look straight ahead.

To avoid alarming them,
I quiet my thoughts, tread past
and make the turn carefully, wondering—
is that a mewling
in the underbrush. . .


Thanks, Norma! Norma Kohout played tennis in her San Francisco years, was counselor for The San Francisco Boys Chorus, a secretary, and a student at San Francisco State College. In Modesto, she taught junior high school English and participated in three teacher organizatioins. In Sacramento, it's been poetry, poetry, poetry. She says highlights include receiving the Chaparral Golden Pegasus Award in 2001, being published in Senior Magazine, Tiger's Eye, Rattlesnake Review, and Song of the San Joaquin, plus Chaparral and Ina Coolbrith wins and publications. Also, Norma co-facilitates a weekly senior poetry group with Joyce Odam, and she has a littlesnake broadside, Out the Train Window, from Rattlesnake Press.

—Norma Kohout

Larry brought me grapefruit from his tree-filled
place in the country.
I've begun cutting the peels
with a knife,
rather than removing them with my fingers;
which leaves
a sticky crowded feeling under my nails.

The yellow covering cuts away nicely
with a few curving motions; so does the white layer
that I rather like, and
purposely keep a bit of,
remembering my neighbor in Los Angeles
said it had lots of Vitamin K.

The bitter-mellow smell comes up; and
my mouth begins salivating when the serrated blade
cuts through the naked fruit, making cubes
of the natural sections
where little cells of juice glisten.
I put the grapefruit in a glass dish,
licking the citric sweetness from my fingers.

But I miss the comedy routines about grapefruit
from my distant girlhood:
grapefruit juice squirting from the spoon
into people's eyes,
and movie incidents like James Cagney
famously squashing
one in his blonde gangster moll's face.


—Norma Kohout

Tonight, after a day of hauling freight,
he sautéed frog legs—
standing solid, still neat in the army-style
twill pants and shirt.

Hot butter perfumed the kitchen; the white meat
sizzled, and Mother
drained string beans at the zinc counter,
stepping around
our German shepherd, Frieda.

Even to a daughter's eyes, he was handsome:
ash-blond hair and clipped mustache—
turning frog legs
the way he learned in France in the war.
No other kids in the neighborhood
had frog legs for dinner.

We watched from the dining room table,
past Mother's cooking cabinet,
past the scar on the stove's white enamel,
where he'd hurled the spinach
in Grandma Lindholm's heirloom dish.

(Originally appeared in Rattlesnake Review #14)


—Norma Kohout

Turning off the bed lamp
filled my room with soft dark.

The night sky came into view.
An oval pearl shone fiercely
on its cushion of indigo velvet.

I was glad the moon
was not yet round;
this perfection was all I could bear.



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.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. 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:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue of Rattlesnake Review (#15) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Issue #16 will be out in mid-December; its deadline of Nov. 15 has passed. Next deadline (for Issue #17, due out in mid-March) is February 15. (Sooner than you think!)

New in November: On November 14, Rattlesnake Press released Among Neighbors, a rattlechap from Taylor Graham; Home is Where You Hang Your Wings, a free littlesnake broadside from frank andrick; and A Poet's Book of Days, a perpetual calendar featuring the poetry and photography of Katy Brown. These are now available at The Book Collector, from, or on, as is October's Conversations, Vol. One of B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series.

Coming December 12: The Snake is proud to announce the release of Metamorphic Intervals From The Insanity Of Time, a SnakeRings SpiralChap from Patricia D'Alessandro; Notes From An Ivory Tower, a littlesnake broadside from Ann Wehrman; and a brand new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#16). Come celebrate all of these on Wednesday, December 12, 7:30 PM at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else's.