Saturday, October 18, 2008

Like An Aspirin

Photo by Stephanie Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Stephanie Schaefer, Los Molinos

That old railroad car full of fine ladies
you hear comin' round the mountain

don't need to toot, not with all them voices
hollerin' together in a rollicking bawdy song.

They're gonna take this town over, boys,
and we won't have a cent left by morning.

When it's all over
we'll be cussin' and kickin' the cat.


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

That's what you get
for parking under the mulberry
windows open
soft seats exposed
First the neighborhood stray
sniffs every crevice
for sign of dog
Then the tortoiseshell
climbs over the left mirror
balances on the door ledge
tumbles in
The black cat
slides down the windshield
peers inside
When you're ready to leave
you beckon me over
Point at three lumps of fur
curled on the seats
Wonder if you can sidle away
with your cargo intact


Thanks to Steph Schaefer and Patricia Wellingham-Jones for winding up our Halloween giveaway about cat poems, and thanks to Steph for the photos! These two poets up-valley get together and "freewrite"; apparently "Cat House on Wheels" was their theme. (I was wondering when somebody would get around to the cat house idea...)


—James Galvin

The little wind I saw curving and lifting
The black mare's mane
Never came this way,
Though I waited, face tilted:
To wind as heliotropic is to sun.

We have to keep our disappointment alive.
We have to sustain our appal, act surprised
That humanity has (again today!)
Failed to evolve away from meanness.
That we ourselves have failed in this.

Invisible earth,
I still can't feel any wind,
Can't feel though I hear cottonwood leaves that hung still
Turn sudden, turn all-at-once,
Like small birds in a flight of small birds, turning,

Like one thing instead of many,
Turn silver side to the wind when it comes,
Shiver and moan when it comes.
O wind, immaculate, that lifts the mane,
Immaculate, that turns the silver leaves,
That bears away the smoke of sacrifice.

The wind, when it finds me, bears no trace
Of sage-sweet horsesmell, no color black,
No softness of muzzle of the
Mare, her mane curving and lifting,
Where she grazes the horizon down to nothing.


—James Galvin

All around me to-ing and fro-ing
In a strapping south wind
Pine boughs lisp their approval
Of moving without moving around, saying,
Shh! This way! Shh! This way!
They contradict each other
By all saying the same thing.

Better to impersonate than to
Personify, when it comes to nature.
Shh! I tell them, This way!
And start walking.


—James Galvin

Where the ditch vaults the river,
Where the wooden flume weeps over,
Paying the way,
Where its veil makes a thin distance
And has no critics but wind-in-willowshade,
My love and I lay down
In seventeen kinds of native grasses.
We took our time.
Some wasps were building
A Japanese lantern in the branches,
The flume kept weeping into the river.
Chilly ditchwater.
Don't worry, little wasps, wooden flume,
I'll be alright gone.


—James Galvin

And then it happened.
Amidst cosmic busting and booming
Gravity snapped,
That galactic rack and pinion.

Trees took off like rockets.
Cemeteries exploded.
The living and the dead
Flew straight up together.

Only up was gone. Up was away.
Earth still spun
As it stalled and drifted darkward,

An aspirin in a glass of water.


Photo by Stephanie Schaefer, Los Molinos


Today's LittleNip:

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.

—Gustave Flaubert



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

October is Sacramento Poetry Month! October’s releases from Rattlesnake Press include a new rattlechap from Moira Magneson (He Drank Because) and a free littlesnake broadside from Hatch Graham (Circling of the Pack). Both are available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or from me (, or from Rattlechaps are $6 by mail, $5 at The Book Collector.

Be sure to join us on Thursday, Oct. 30, 8 PM, when Rattlesnake Press will release not one, but two SpiralChaps to honor and celebrate Luna’s Café, including a new collection of art and poetry from B.L. Kennedy (Luna’s House of Words) and an anthology of Luna’s poets, artists and photographs (La Luna: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café) edited by Frank Andrick. Come travel with our Away Team as we leave the Home of the Snake for a brief road trip/time travel to Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento to celebrate Art Luna and the 13 years of Luna's long-running poetry series. Who knows what auspicious adventures await us there??

And check out B.L. Kennedy’s interview with Art Luna in the latest Rattlesnake Review (#19)! Free copies are available at The Book Collector, or send me two bux and I’ll mail you one (address below). Next deadline, by the way, is November 15.

Coming in November: November will feature a new rattlechap from Red Fox Underground Poet Wendy Patrice Williams (Some New Forgetting); a littlesnake broadside from South Lake Tahoe Poet Ray Hadley; our 2009 calendar from Katy Brown (Beyond the Hill: A Poet’s Calendar) as well as Conversations, Vol. 4 of B.L. Kennedy’s Rattlesnake Interview Series. That’s Weds., November 12, 7:30 PM at The Book Collector.

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 or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOWs; 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 (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 ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.