Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Cricket Sang Tin

Singing as it goes,
an insect floats down the stream
on a broken bough.



—Howard Moss

There was a day when
Swifter the world turned,
Matting the Queen Anne's
Lace on the hill, and
The fern and its thin root
Lifted a long beard
Like a haired carrot
Unwinding. The wind heard
The sound of a cricket,
A castanet-quick-catch,
And, as the sun set,
Quickly my wrist watch
Spun both its hands round,
Fine as the fern root,
And to that light sound
I tapped my light foot.

I ran down a hillside
Steep as a staircase;
Flailing my arms, I
Entered a spring house;
Black doors and windows
Closed on my coming,
Casting vast shadows
Up on the ceiling.
Again and again, when
The cricket chirped off in
The wood, I lay down in
My spinning coffin.
Suddenly night ran
Under my eyelid.
The cricket sang tin,
And I pulled down the lid.


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

“I’ve never really
Been much for autobiography,”
He lied.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

I am one-eyed and grateful
For the sight I still have
When I was seven a doctor told me
If I lost the sight of one eye
I would be totally blind
It made me cautious, worried
Afraid to take some kinds of risks

Last summer I walked into a door corner
In the middle of the night
Five operations later, I accept that I will never see
Out of that eye again
But I am grateful to say
I can still see
If somewhat less
Life has changed
But is still good

I wonder now how my life would have been different
If I knew as a child
The doctor was wrong
That I could see one-eyed


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

My ears trouble me a good deal;
hair grows in and around them
a bit more, they are failing me,
a musician, just a bit. Deadening,
not ringing. And they itch.
Depend upon it, if anything itches me,
it does so to the point of actual pain,
actual torture. The way schoolmates
tortured me, long ago, was to
tickle me; pin me on the ground
and poke devilish light fingers
into my ribs. Good God, one could
do so even now; Al Qaida, Dick Cheney,
you’ve got me there, no need of dogs
or hoods or incessant noise or
waterboarding or head-banging. There,
you see, another of my traits: going
off on tangents. Now I’ve started on
war, which is, to no one involved in
the brute certainties of it, tangent at all.
War, a central horror, yet I’ve never
seen it directly, thus never tested my nerve.
Yet I read incessantly about warfare,
to the detriment of solid historical
knowledge: commerce, the arts,
education, and divides between
cultures along trade routes. As much
as I loathe battle, conflict, so am I drawn
to it on paper. Epic poetry, the Iliad, brutal
dismemberment; Milton, Paradise Lost,
equally brute judgment, division
of the real, crude depictment of the real,
into good and evil, or their sticklike
symbols. Yet a raw system, an ethic,
therefrom to be taken. Certainly
Adam and Eve are strong and frail,
our giant parents, mannequins
of all our sins. The adage goes:

Radix malorum est cupiditas;

that, I never believed
wholeheartedly. But what better
lesson could Eve have learned, Adam
have learned, than to limit self,
stop short of knowledge, reach one
less gleaming apple? Thus, I limit
my ambitions. No epics here; Lord,
spare me the hunger to bleed verses
justifying an Augustus, a leap
into conquest and empire, as does
Vergil. So, though I could digress upon
my pet peeves, regale you with my
hatred of computer solitaire,
rush-hour traffic, and classical
bonbons purveyed by vain violinists,
let me stop and not bore you too much,
needing only you, dear friend, my
one reader at a time, some solitude
in which to write, and a visionary fireside
where intellectual flames
lick these old hands, however coldly.


Today's LittleNip:

An artist's heaven and hell revolve around moments of decision.

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

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
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.