Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Canada Geese, Maine
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

This flight between leaving and arriving, flashed
with lights through blinded windows, strait-jacketed
in a seat among so many others traveling the same
black-river asphalt while the mind crosses its water,
crosses, re-crosses the fox hanging in her perfect fur,
teeth clamped to electric horse-fence, fox-lips frozen
in the eternal question-mark how did she get there
just beyond the shoulder? How did we all get here,
the girl across the aisle in tears since she boarded,
wiping grief with her sleeve, the swallow smashed
against stockwire highway R/W, at the back of the
bus the old man fingering coins from his pocket,
muttering, putting them back, the roadkill rabbit,
the woman in front checking her wrist, its digital
illumination like the answer to our destination,
a place I didn’t want to go. We’re an hour closer
and still on schedule.


Thanks, TG, for this response to our Seed of the Week: Bus Ride to Hell. We have other "bus" poems today, too, from Mitz Sackman and her "bus trip from heck" and from James Lee Jobe, whose poem yesterday suggested the SOW to me. JLJ says he has lots of bus poems, and I find that an intriguing idea. Thanks also to Chrissy D., for today's LittleNip, and to Katy Brown, who has gone to England for the month and hopefully will find many more wonderful photos and poems for us over there.
Be sure to save room on your wall for Katy's 2009 calendar of photos and poetry, Beyond the Hill, which will be released on November 12 at The Book Collector. Katy, are you listening? Are you cyber-cafe-ing us from across the pond?

But first, a poem about teeth. I went to the dentist yesterday, which is a different kind of Bus Ride to Hell.....

—Phyllis McGinley

How pure, how beautiful, how fine
Do teeth on television shine!
No flutist flutes, no dancer twirls,
But comes equipped with matching pearls.
Gleeful announcers all are born
With sets like rows of hybrid corn.
Clowns, critics, clergy, commentators,
Ventriloquists and roller skaters,
M.C.s who beat their palms together,
The girl who diagrams the weather,
The crooner crooning for his supper—
All flash white treasures, lower and upper.
With miles of smiles the airwaves teem,
And each an orthodontist's dream.

'Twould please my eye as gold a miser's—
One charmer with uncapped incisors.


—James Lee Jobe, Davis

An angry young woman boards the bus like Sherman taking Atlanta,
wearing a pained, bored expression and shoes that belong
in my generation. Her brutally chopped hair is dyed a shade of red
not found in nature—well, at least not in human hair. She plops down
hard on the worn, dirty seat with an audible sound of disgust, disdain.
This bus, and we passengers, are clearly beneath her. Vermin,
we are contemptible slaves who have not served the dinner properly.
We are the swine from the bank, here to repossess the farm.
The girl's contempt is a dark cloud that hangs over us
as the afternoon sun reflects off of her nose-ring. Her contempt
is an animal, a lioness maybe, taking out the weak gazelle,
the slow one. Like me. I will not tell her about this poem.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

It has been the bus trip from heck
This journey with my eyes
Still in progress and I am still in process
Went blind in one eye early in August
Had to sign up for surgery
The only plus was I could gross out
All three of my kids
With the gory details
There is just something about
Cutting open the eye
Surgery morning up at 4 am
Happily woke up in the recovery room
Vomiting cheerfully
Missing the bucket
Next morning at the post-op
Discovered my retina had detached
Back into surgery that night
Put a ball of silicon oil in the eye
After two hours of spot welding
With a laser beam
How cool is that!
Six weeks later removed the ball
Surgery three
Just found out
Have a cataract formed
Because of all the surgeries
The operation was a success
But the patient is still blind!


Today's LittleNip:

—Chrissy D., Sacramento

"Why do you write about such things?" he asked
"Because I want you to know what I look like without make-up." I replied.



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.