Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reading The River

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Keats’s name, yes, but also Wordsworth’s
more skate-bladed asseverations,

as Seamus Heaney distills them; these
are just two ideas. Isn’t every poem

soluble? Isn’t it true that as it veers,
the verse I serve severs, tracery crystal

trembling, breaking up, reconfiguring
in the reader’s brain? I know of no

holier writ than those delicacies:
intimate books limned over loose

and silted deltas, estuaries of
conquer and relinquish, ewer and basin.

Even a mud-tinged, night-dimmed water
lustral in sunlight, astral in starlight.

Sundown-tinged American River: links
of mutable blue chain mail.

What writes finer—just etch any yielding medium
and see it erase—than the water strider

gliding digital across a liquid motherboard?
Imbuing time with vagrant elegy

(just say My elegy will last, and see how quickly
the stream uproots all its chill droplets and departs),

these beasts who inscribe palimpsest even
standing in soup spoons of surface tension.


Thanks, Tom, for the poem, and thanks, Steph, for the river photo. We're talking about water this week. Taylor Graham sends us three: one about dry and two about wet. Send your thoughts about water—or the absence thereof—to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

By the way, Taylor's last two poems originally appeared in Joyce Odam's Brevities; more about that tomorrow.

—Taylor Graham

Above stone ruins, a waterproof sky,
now windless blue in high convection,
now billowing gusts of wind hammered
from cloud-anvils on the horizon.

What makes you stay here? No shade.
The incendiary sun sparks an edge
of summer grasses—cleric of parched soil
telling days of drought like a rosary;

illuminating the margins with a brittle
gold gloss. It stings the fingers. Who
could live here? How long since it rained?
Remember moving water, silver sound.

Now, it’s all been changed—if cycles
under heaven change without our doing—
utterly changed in the wheels of weather.
This pool of dust in your palm.



—Taylor Graham

Already I can hear it whispering

old rhymes. No, it flows

so fluently, it's free of speech.

I came without a book.
I'll read the river.

(originally published in Brevities)



—Taylor Graham

So many soft-percussive fingers

on the roof,

so many invisible lips on reeds.

Radio in the dark.

(originally published in Brevities)


Today's LittleNip: A Comment on Last Sunday's Post:

—A.R. Ammons

I'd rather
suckled by
outworn pagan
get my
wreathed in
old triton.



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


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.
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 and I'll send you one. Free!


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.