Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Wound Has Been My Healing

—Howard Moss

As a torn paper might seal up its side,
Or a streak of water stitch itself to silk
And disappear, my wound has been my healing,
And I am made more beautiful by losses.
See the flat water in the distance nodding
Approval, the light that fell in love with statues,
Seeing me alive, turn its motion toward me.
Shorn, I rejoice in what was taken from me.

What can the moonlight do with my new shape
But trace and retrace its miracle of order?
I stand, waiting for the strange reaction
Of insects who knew me in my larger self,
Unkempt, in a naturalness I did not love.
Even the dog's voice rings with a new echo.
And all the little leaves I shed are singing,
Singing to the moon of shapely newness.

Somewhere what I lost I hope is springing
To life again. The roofs, astonished by me,
Are taking new bearings in the night, the owl
Is crying for a further wisdom, the lilac
Putting forth its strongest scent to find me.
Butterflies, the sailboat's grooves, are winging
Out of the water to wash me, wash me.
Now, I am stirring like a seed in China.


Trash Film Orgy Returns!

B.L. Kennedy interviewed the TFO folks for Snake 21; now you can go see the ninth edition of their series at the Crest Theater, 1013 K St., Sacramento, starting tonight with Flash Gordon. Doors open at 11:30 PM; tickets are $9.50. July 18 will feature Satan's Cheerleaders; July 25 is Chopping Mall; Aug. 1 is Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Aug. 8 is Lady Terminator; Aug. 15 is Black Belt Jones. Info: 916-442-7378.


—Howard Moss

At five, nothing but a washrag white,
And one sandpiper pecking at the foam—
A sulphurous saliva drying down.
Drinks are beginning on the porches. Gin
Clear as the light is. On the other side
Of the island, the sunset's foreign stamps,
Great South Bay, and, later, bayside lamps.

At eight, it looks like dirty travertine,
The clouds got up like an old ocarina
Of waxy pink. Then it's not to be seen,
Though something is: the moonlight as a skin
Slicked on each wave, broken on arrival.
A foot falls. Is it onto stone? Or fur?
The whitest sneaker blacks out to a blur.

Night. The passing headlights of a jeep;
The jetties, triple-spaced, the lifeguard stand
Make carbons and go out. And when I turn,
I gather the light's needles in my arms,
The weightlessness of lights, and, falling down
Into a dwarf shadow the moon has drawn,
Or rising up into a giant one,

I waver into wet, stretch out on sheen,
And watch a graduating speck of dawn
Start up the scale from gray to grayish pink,
Turn orange and then red. Soon daylight draws
Two spindles in the distance. Floating in,
Perspective puts a house here, there a dune—
The changing of the gods. Morning. Noon.


—Howard Moss

Last summer's weed sprang from my window box,
A perseverant marvel; I let it hatch
Into a lyre-branch of small sunflowers
That never quite turned gold. Today, for hours
It snowed, and when it stopped, the sun came out,
Ghostly, at first, like a dim parachute,
Then its summer self, hotheaded, prodigal,
Blazing at the cold. The weed stood tall,
Thrust up from a snowbank, with more snow to come,
A fan-shaped skeleton, or wide whisk boom,
A peacock tail but colorless. All form,
Adaptable to cold as it was to warm,
It swayed upon its root, remaining firm,
And bore a second blossoming of storm.


—Howard Moss

A sly computer made her clocks all go
At once. She slept inside a spring
Ready to jump up at the hammering
Of six o-clock. "Eva, make the eggs.
Eva, make the coffee, then the beds."
Eva, in a hurry, did. And failed.
Time up. And how she wanted them to go!
Her husband and his body made of hers,
Her children and their bodies made of hers,
And then, alone, another clock would start:
Trapped in a vacuum, she heard her heart
Tick the day away. Two minutes passed.
Two hundred years.
Say inside her head some beautiful
Stone was forming that she polished there,
And in its lustre, like a shining mirror,
Her mother dove up to the surface where
Once again she took her in her arms
To rescue her, and said, "I am your birth.
Your death is mine." But in those arms
Two zones of feeling wrestled to be free:
To lean upon. Or to be leaned upon.
And scenting danger where it least should be,
She walked out of the house she hated, loved,
And down the street of nothing-to-see
Where everybody else knew the secret. She
Had loved, been loved, could love, was loved,
But like a faded copy of herself,
Growing fainter, she began to disappear.
She turned the corner. There was nothing there.


—Howard Moss

Rarely now I hear the rumor
Of wild, original spring,
Who sang to me when I was three
And planted in my head her summer.
It grew to be a seaside tree
Of jangling glass, not peach or plum or
Any natural one but one
Which soughs the air and is the plumber
That makes the sea go here to there
And fixes up its dark and glimmer.

Rarely, rarely, yet but still
I hear that old newcomer
Racing up the starry hill
Or climbing up the vines, so limber
She can twist herself to knots
And disappear in stems or thinner
Threads of smoke or polka dots
That land on walls of sun or inner
Courtyards, and, in vacant lots,
Her lariat of shady spots
Makes every edgy circle shimmer.

Where running water stills its run
Below the bark on sombre
Limbs and trunks that draw the one
And only flesh through living lumber,
She mixes in the stain of sun
And fixes up the light and dimmer
That shakes the tree from here to there
Which sifts the air and is the summer
Of what is now no more the rumor
Of wild, wild, original spring.


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets.

—Carl Sandburg



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 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.