Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mermaids & The Rocks They Rely On

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Marie J. Ross, Stockton

I listen;
watch the face of water
roll invisibly to nowhere.
I watch a trickle of leaves
floating, its rush over rocks
beneath on its land of liquid peace.
I hear the journey far, far down
its rippled segue
through stream to river, to ocean,
and infinite weave
out again, forever, forever on its run.
I listen;
rely on its tranquil face, mine mirrored
in its invisible trek.
I, the rock beneath, revitalize as I return
full circle.


—Wendy Patrice Williams, Citrus Heights

A woman
moves quietly
about her house
in slippers,
listens for birdsong:
parakeets, zebra finches,
a pair of nuthatches.

She sits at her table,
book propped,
cracking walnuts,
sun warm on her freckled arms.

Hearing the wind,
she thinks of owl, hawk,
remembers the powwow drums—
her feet dance under the table.

Right now, is she poised with pen,
waiting for the whisper of words?

Does she hear the chirrup in Peche's throat,
her cat laid down years ago?

Does she see into the heart of life—
the message of wind through grass?

And what will she say of it,
ink on paper? What will
be shared with the world?


Thanks to Wendy Williams and Marie Ross for their "listening" poems, and to D.R. Wagner for the rocks! And thanks to Joyce Odam—fittingly, our Formalist-in-Residence—for taking the mermaid quintilla bait! You may recall that Joyce's two new chapbooks from Rattlesnake Press:
Peripherals: Prose Poems (illustrated by Charlotte Vincent) and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love) are available now at The Book Collector. And come hear Joyce read tomorrow night along with Ann Menebroker at 7 PM at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento.

Eeeeeek! Today is the deadline for Issue 23 of Rattlesnake Review! See below for details.

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Why not believe in her—her cries
that haunt you through that olden lore’s
retelling of her searching eyes—
her interest no less than yours.
Why not believe in her… her cries…


—Wendy Williams

Their breasts are white now,
not fluffy-yellow,
but puffed and proud.

Iridescent green tail feathers
lengthen and splay,
eyes pupil.

Nibbles no longer tickle
but pinch like too-tight

Feet, at first
orange and petite,
pink, wide, stabilizing
and when relaxed wizened, reptilian.

Stubby wings —
once naked and pink, now
edged with white ruffles—
flap, beat the air, go nowhere.

Muscovies paddle for hours
in a pool dug into soil,
peck earthen sides.

In their cage,
big bold bodies
nestled in golden straw.


—Wendy Patrice Williams

Sitting on a bench
at Jack London Square, Oakland
he wears a white tunic, his skin
deep-brown burnished red,

striped keffiyeh
secured by a silver band
around his forehead,
cobra adornment
striking from between his eyes.

Staff at his side
wound with a serpent
of wood studded
with green and gold jewels,

his presence calls to me—
ancient origin
sunning as snakes do—
motionless, languid
across the slats

patterns glittering in light.


Today's LittleNip:

Everybody has their own idea of what's a poet. Robert Frost, President Johnson, T.S. Eliot, Rudolf Valentino—they're all poets. I like to think of myself as the one who carries the light bulb.

—Bob Dylan



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Now available: two new chapbooks from Joyce Odam:
Peripherals: Prose Poems
(illustrated by Charlotte Vincent)
and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love).

That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

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.
Deadline for Issue #3 (which will be available at Luna's Cafe on
Thursday, August 20
) was July 15; next deadline will be Oct. 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 (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free!


Join us at The Book Collector Wednesday, September 9 at 7:30 PM
for the release of a new chapbook by
Susan Finkleman
(Mirror, Mirror: Poems Of The Mother-Daughter Relationship, illustrated by Joseph Finkleman);
plus a new HandyStuff blank journal from Katy Brown (A Capital Affair);
a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest);
and a brand new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#23)!


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.