Thursday, July 09, 2009

Stories Told Again & Again

Caryn Gottlieb

—Caryn Gottlieb, Carmichael

I look for Jesus in the back of your truck
Grey ford with broken taillight,
Under my skin
A possible sighting of bruises,
On the floor of your father’s church
After the hay from the children’s production of
“Hey Noah, Where is That Son?"
Has been swept away.
I wait for your voice
With feet tapping inside
My patent black shoes with silver buckle
And click against stomp.

We are so pretty
Violent in this evening time-violet
Bites all over me
All toes and longer ligaments.
A new testament of
My blood, wounds,
Raw open spaces,
Playing anything
Towards an increasing
And smallness
And O
Am I finally Nothing?

I close my pretty eyes
In my earthbound
Smallness lying
Spoons against your back
In nighttime.
I am streamlined,
With your fingers spelling circles
In my palm.
Sweaty I doubt this
Mythical creature
Whose pain was ever
Bigger than mine.


Thanks, Caryn! Caryn Gottlieb is a Jewish, NYC-born, Sacramento-raised child of two fifth-generation South Africans. She moved to Oakland to get her BA English/Creative Writing from Mills College, then came back to Sacramento a few years later to get a MS Special Ed and loved Luna’s! Eleven years later, she still loves writing poetry, prose and her thesis… Not really. She’s been published in various journals, etc., but can’t remember where because she suffers from what she thinks is early dementia, and all of her stuff is in a massive storage unit.

B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy:

In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales
by Lord Dunsany
Edited S.T. Joshi
Penguin Press
400 pp, trade paperback, $14.00
ISBN: 0 14 243776 X

Luck o the Irish! It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity and the pleasure of partaking in the work of Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, the 18th Baron Dunsany, known to Americans simply as Lord Dunsany. When I was a kid, Lancer paperbacks put out a whole series of adult fantasy fiction. Among the writers included were Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and of course, the phenomenal Lord Dunsany. It’s a pleasure to have Penguin Classics finally release some of the Good Lord’s classic stories in one volume. This is a collection that I highly recommend to everyone who has a deep and sincere love for language and poetry. On a local level, for example, one only has to examine the works of poet D.R. Wagner to see how far was the reach of Dunsany’s prose. We might even say that Dunsany was a true pioneer in the field of imaginative literature, having not only influenced H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, but J.R.R. Tolkein as well as C.S. Lewis, in addition to such legendary authors as Harlan Ellison, Jorge Luis Borges, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Fritz Leiber, Lin Carter, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Chances of finding a copy of In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales at your local used book store will be slim, for Dunsany’s work seems to disappear from the shelf as soon as it arrives. But if you have the chance, do not under any conditions, especially if you are a poet, pass up on the work of this great author.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence



I wish you had a stronger will.
I wish you had been able to resist.
Strangely, there is a draw you have to pain.
I never thought I’d say this
But sometimes
I’m sorry I never hurt you,
Then maybe you would have chosen me.
But, you don’t need to pick-up my pieces.

The reason you must be walked away from:
You were given the
Willy Wonka
Golden ticket
And you looked deeply at it
Turned it over in your precious hands
Put it in your pocket for a couple weeks
Then plonked it on your table
And left the room.

I am so glad you never fell in love with me.
Wouldn’t that have sucked?
Something easy.
Something comforting.
The idea of tender arms
Must be utterly awful.
Although, I’ve always hated my arms too.

I like my back.
So, here I go.
Back turned to you.
Just like we did
On that night
When you juked me on Jesuit’s soccer field
Under the moon
The night I grabbed your sweatshirt
And kissed you.

I will run.
I will run.
Back turned
to you.

—Caryn Gottlieb


—Caryn Gottlieb

When you taught the joy of chess
To my back muscles
Or walking fingers over the pale skin
And thinking of art,
I forgive you.

Show me the amber of rain
The closing together of eyes
After leaning so close
To a moment of perversion
And then breathing us both backward to refrain.

At times
You have walked so slowly through my dreams—
Keeping stride with a sorrow I find
Only inside of this heart
Others are stories told again and again
After night’s fall.

I promise
To hold you
Brown shouldered
And sad-eyed
Nothing can get you
And nothing
Can fall apart.

Caryn Gottlieb


Today's LittleNip:

Sleek sky of cobalt blue;
Water like nectar satisfies deeply.
Air sweeter than the best perfume;
Sunlight warms a grateful cat.

—Deng Ming-Dao


Errata: Yesterday we reported that Annie Menebroker and Joyce Odam would be reading at Time Tested Books on Sunday, August 19—which is clearly in error, since 8/19 is NOT a Sunday. The actual date is Sunday, August 16.


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.