Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Surviving the Porcupine

—Michael Ondaatje

My last dog poem.
I leave behind all social animals
including my dog who takes
30 seconds dismounting from a chair.
Turn to the one
who appears again on roads
one eye torn out and chasing.

He is only a space filled
and blurred with passing,
transient as shit—will fade
to reappear somewhere else.

He survives the porcupine, cars, poison,
fences with their spasms of electricity.
Vomits up bones, bathes at night
in Holiday Inn swimming pools.

And magic in his act of loss.
The missing eye travels up
in a bird's mouth, and into the sky.
Departing family. It is loss only of flesh
no more than his hot spurt across a tree.

He is the one you see at Drive-Ins
tearing silent into garbage
while societies unfold in his sky.
The bird lopes into the rectangle nest of images

and parts of him move on.


Surviving the porcupine. Reappearing somewhere else. Write to me about canines: the ones on your couch or those wild howlings in the night. Man's best friend or the wolf right outside the door. Is it really a dog-eat-dog world? Does the tail really wag the dog? Send your Seed of the Week about dogs to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline; whenever the muse shows up for work...


—Michael Ondaatje

In the long open Vancouver Island room
sitting by the indoor avocados
where indoor spring light
falls on the half covered bulbs

and down the long room light falling
onto the dwarf orange tree
vines from south america
the agatha christie books by the window

Nameless morning
solution of grain and colour

There is this light,
colourless, which falls on the warm
stretching brain of the bulb
that is dreaming avocado


—Michael Ondaatje

Scrub lawn.
A chained
dog tense and smelling.
50 cents for a mattress. 50 cents
for doors that allowed privacy.

A rain
swollen copy of Jack London
a magazine drawing of a rabbit
bordered with finishing nails.
6 chickens, bird cage (empty),
sauerkraut cutting board

down to the rock

not bothering to look
into the old woman's eyes
as we go in, get a number
have the power to bid
on everything that is exposed.
After an hour in this sun
I expected her to unscrew
her left arm and donate it
to the auctioneer's excitement.
In certain rituals we desire
only what we cannot have.
While for her, Mrs Germain,
this is the needle's eye
where maniacs of earth select.
Look, I wanted to say,
$10 for the dog
with faded denim eyes


—Michael Ondaatje

The bathroom light burns over the mirror

In the blackness of the house
beds groan from the day's exhaustion
hold the tired shoulders bruised
and cut legs the unexpected
3 a.m. erections. Someone's dream
involves a saw someone's
dream involves a woman.
We have all dreamed of finding the lost dog.

The last light on upstairs
throws a circular pattern
through the decorated iron vent
to become a living room's moon.

The sofa calls the dog, the cat
in perfect blackness walks over the stove.
In the room of permanent light
cockroaches march on enamel.
The spider with jewel coloured thighs the brown moth
with corporal stripes
ascend pipes
and look into mirrors.

All night the truth happens.


Today's LittleNip:

—Ezra Pound

When I carefully consider the curious habits of dogs
I am compelled to conclude
That man is the superior animal.

When I consider the curious habits of man
I confess, my friend, I am puzzled.



SnakeWatch: What's Up With Rattlesnake Press

Join us tomorrow, September 10, for Thirteen Poems, a new chapbook from Patrick Grizzell; #2 in Katy Brown's series of blank journals (Musings2: Vices, Virtues and Obsessions); a littlesnake broadside (Wind Physics) from Jordan Reynolds; plus Issue #19 of Rattlesnake Review (next deadline, for Issue #20, is November 15). That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Seed of the Week: Tuesday is Medusa's day to post poetry triggers such as quotes, forms, photos, memories, jokes—whatever might tickle somebody's muse. Pick up the gauntlet and send in your poetic results; and don't be shy about sending in your own triggers, too! All poems will be posted and a few of them will go into Medusa's Corner of each Rattlesnake Review. Send your work to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOW; respond today, tomorrow, or whenever the muse arrives. (Print 'em out, maybe, save 'em for a dry spell?) When you send us work, though, just let us know which "seed" it was that inspired you.

Wednesday (sometimes): HandyStuff Quickies: Resources for the poet, including whatever helps ease the pain of writing and/or publishing: favorite journals to read and/or submit to; books, etc., about writing; organizational tools—you know—HandyStuff! Tell us about your favorite tools.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy.
Send books, CDs, DVDs, etc. to him for possible review (either as a Drive-By or in future issues of Rattlesnake Review) at P.O. Box 160664, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Friday: NorCal weekend poetry calendar

Daily (except Sunday): LittleNips: SnakeFood for the Poetic Soul: Daily munchables for poetic thought, including short paragraphs, quotes, wonky words, silliness, little-known poetry/poet facts, and other inspiration—yet another way to feed our ravenous poetic souls.

And poetry! Every day, poetry from writers near and far and in-between! The Snakes of Medusa are always hungry.......!


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 kathykieth@hotmail.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.) 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 (rattlesnakepress.com). And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.