Monday, July 06, 2009

The Concussions Of Her Life

Ellaraine Lockie and friend

—Ellaraine Lockie, Sunnyvale

As she slept he'd finger-walk
all the way up her underarm
Soft, like snow falling
over the shoulder, ear, lips
Sleep melted into a pool
that he found with postage-stamp licks
Delivered the slow-boat way
until she couldn't breathe right

That was before he made appointments
with her after x-rated movies
Laid back on an island of entitlement
and measured her worth by the inches he grew
He bought handcuffs, tongue vibrator, Ben Wah balls
Told her to exercise with those metal marbles
until they played croquet down there

It's understood she'll use the $100 bill he leaves
on the bedside stand afterwards for groceries
She'll serve rice and beans twice this week though
So she can buy Revlon's Raisin Rage nail polish
Turn the numbness into a red-purple blur
bruising the keyboard late at night
Hard, like hail hitting bedrock

Then she waits for the recoil
It comes from fingers on the other end
of the airwaves
The concussions of her life absorbed
by the longing in distance
and the science of chemistry
The latent heat that liquefies his words
so they wash over her in a warm river rush
Reason to keep her from filling
her pockets with rocks

(First published in Main Street Rag)


Thanks, Ellaraine! SnakePal Ellaraine Lockie has appeared in many Rattlesnake Reviews, including an article about papermaking a few years back. She writes poetry, nonfiction books and essays and has received in the last year or so a writing residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, an eleventh Pushcart Prize nomination, the Lois Beebe Hayna Award from The Eleventh Muse, the One Page Poem Prize from the Missouri Writers' Guild, the Writecorner Press Poetry Award, the Skysaje Poetry Prize, the Dean Wagner Poetry Prize, the Elizabeth R. Curry Prize from SLAB and finalist status for the Gerald Stern Poetry Prize, the Mudfish Poetry Prize, the Greensboro Award in Poetry, the Joy Harjo Poetry Award, the South Carolina Review Poetry Contest, the Creekwalker Poetry Prize, Press 53 Awards and runner-up in the Georgetown Review poetry contest and the New Millennium Poetry Competition. Recently released is Mod Gods and Luggage Straps, a poetry/art broadside from BrickBat Revue. Forthcoming are chapbooks from FootHills Publishing and Pudding House. Ellaraine also serves as the Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. Most recently, Folded Word (a You-Tube literary journal) featured her poems and handmade papers in a video done by Jessi Graustein in Sacramento in Ellaraine's new art studio in the side yard known as Mamie's Place (for the aunt who left her the money for it). Here's the web page for that: Also, Literati just did a home page for her at:


This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Monday (7/6), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Bob Stanley and John Allen Cann at HQ for the Arts at 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [See last Friday's post for bios.]

Coming up at SPC:

July 13: Danny Romero and Neal Whitman
July 20: Hot Poetry in the Park with Poetry and Music by Litany — Miles Miniaci, Bob Wilson, and Chene Watson plus special guests. Fremont Park, Downtown Sac, between 15th and 16th and between P and Q, 7:30 PM
July 27: Shawn Pittard and LaVerne Frith

•••Weds. (7/8): Carlos Alcalá of the Sacramento Bee is asking for poetry about garden pests or other garden inconveniences: weeds, snails, squirrels, deer, etc. He wants short poems (75 words or less) by this Wednesday, July 8. Send ‘em to and watch for his “favorites” to appear in the Bee’s Home & Garden section on July 18. Include your name, town and a phone number where you can be reached.

•••Sat. (7/11), 1-10 PM: Dairl Helmer, the editor of Sacramento’s Broccoli, Cheese & Crackers, will be at the Sacto Zine Symposium at Brick House Gallery, 2837 36th St. Sacramento. He'll be bringing some back issues, and you are invited to come see how BC&C changed since it was started in May 2005. If you're in town and out & about for Second Saturday, stop by and check out 'zines that people are creating here in Sacramento. Should be interesting... And it’s free! Info:

•••Sat. (7/11), 2 PM: Citrus Heights Area Poets (Barnes & Noble, Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights) will host open mic for poets and feature some who work with musicians. Tom Bakey will talk about his poetry students in Hawaii and bring a CD featuring some songs they have written. A songwriter from Sacramento has promised to come read some wonderful lyrics (poems) he has written. If he doesn't have a paying gig, Tony Kaye may lend his professional talents to accompany Margaret Bell’s reading of a poem, and Kathy Cook has promised to come share information about the Citrus Heights Street Marching Band. All poets are encouraged to come listen to the program and read their own poems.


—Ellaraine Lockie

I love you too
An utterance I abhor
Words worthy of a plastic parrot
whose battery button's been pushed
Cursory command performance
bending in predictable bow
Insecurity sanctioned
So don't depreciate my declaration
with perfunctory follow-up
Give me naked silence
not security blanket cover
An original response
instead of automatic echo
Or just accept the gift
with gratitude
Because I love you
isn't a petition
pathetic in its plea
And a peck-on-the-
cheek phrase
is the kiss of death
A battery run down with
distorted foghorn drone
Deafening in final effect

(First published in Taproot Literary Review)


—Ellaraine Lockie

The bathroom hosts a bidet. It squats like a toilet that hasn't yet grown up. I wonder why a five-star hotel in Florence would harbor such antiquity. My husband and I keep dirty thoughts from soiling our conversation. We walk a wide berth around the relic.

Bouquet in a vase
Sunflowers nod their welcome
Poppy turns its back

On day two, curiosity narrows the path around the bidet. What is its function? A urinal for men perhaps. A toilet for tots. Or their drinking fountain. Maybe a women's lingerie tub. A bathtub for babies. A bottom wash for adults.

The husband makes his own assumption. He washes his feet in it after a day of museums, tours and shopping. No way would I sit in it now. But I turn-on the faucets. See how the bowl fills fast with fresh water.

Arno River runs
under Ponte Vecchio
Tuscan sun dazzles

Day three and I'm embarrassed to ask about the bidet. I do what any modern traveler would: I Google on my laptop. I read that bidets are as common as toilet paper in much of the world. That toilet paper is unhygienic. Americans are unhygienic.

Light from the full moon
floods the bed where she sleeps
Red colors the sheets

Day four I follow instructions on Google. Face the wall. Straddle the thing. Turn faucets. Basin fills. Water like a spring brook. A linen towel on a rack. The online address where I order my own Biffy bidet converter. Works on any American toilet.

(First published in the art broadside, Mod Gods and Luggage Straps)


—Ellaraine Lockie

Color has a quiet history here
The creek, reservoir and river as clear
and toneless as air on a calm day
Even rainwater runs mute brown
And when wind stirs the prairie
dust and weeds tumble in a grey line dance

Winter howls in white
or in the crystalline of cut glass
Fall, spring and summer live as plain
and pale as honesty
Except for the tease of temporary
from penny blossoms that scatter
wealth of color like Easter eggs
Or the sun that briefly bares its soul
in sunsets and rainbow pastels

Earth tones weave through greens to hide wildlife
And hues of sky and mountain blues long ago
became invisible behind the cloud of everyday
People wearing primary colors
rode in on the train
Synthetic dyes from cities
as loud but short-lived as the whistle

They came in mail trucks
inside Sears and Roebuck catalogues
Whose pages cried Buy me in outhouses
before they were returned to the earth
Only if crops were good on a given year
might colors have sung their praises
on women and children in church

But never the scarlet-woman color
Red didn't shout from lips or clothes in public
And blood still lives a private life here
sneaking out in hospitals and slaughter sheds
Thoughts of crime wash clean in the silence
of social control in such a well-mannered world
surrounding the clotheslines

(First published in Prism Review)


—Ellaraine Lockie

The scene in Edwardian England
was a smoke-filled room
with windows dimmed by steam
Rising around a busy woman
who brewed coffee over a blue-flamed stove

The all-male babble of voices
from clusters around small tables
Men engaged in card games or backgammon
Others expounding on politics of the day
Animating the air's heavy haze
as they exhaled from porcelain pipes

I was the Bohemian camouflaged
as a man in black corduroy knickers
alone in the corner
Breasts bandaged flat
And writing first drafts in margins
of the coffee shoppe's newsletter
My words for sale in a stack
of chapbooks beside me

Two pennies apiece
to support my coffee house habit
Or if requested
a tenor rendition of my latest verse
A sonnet, cinquain or rondelet
Always something in rhyme

Airwaves in coffee cafés today sag
with the weight of cell phone conversations
satellite songs, colossal coffee machine growls
and a bisexual blend of voices
The only segregation cigarette determined
by smokers on patios

My voice and verse as free as my body
under mini-skirt, black tights and cowboy boots
The coffee is what comes costumed
as Café Mocha, Americana, Caramel Macchiato
or other equally indecipherable epithets
But the chapbooks still stack beside me
And a sale buys the day's quota of caffeine

(First published in Chiron Review)


Today's LittleNip:

A dyslexic man walks into a bra...



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

COMING FOR SUMMER: There will be no rattle-read in July, while the Snake enjoys a little summer hibernation. (Stay current on Sacramento poetry, though, by way of Medusa's Kitchen.) Then join us Weds., August 12 to celebrate Joyce Odam’s birthday month with two new books from her: Peripherals: Prose Poems by Joyce Odam (illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love). That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Free!

WTF!: The second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick, is now available at The Book Collector or through, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one. Next deadline, for Issue #3, is July 15. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 (clearly marked for WTF). And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at

RATTLESNAKE REVIEW: Issue #22 is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Or you can order copies of current or past issues through Contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail this week. Deadline is August 15 for RR23: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to add all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of the on-going Medusa are always hungry; keep that poetry comin', rain or shine! Just let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one, and please—only one submission packet per issue of the quarterly Review. (More info at

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

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

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Tuesday: 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, or any other day!): 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.