Thursday, September 24, 2009

Autumn Rubs Her Hide

Photo by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Thomas Kinsella

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
With the touch of the dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
Hears through an open window the garden draw
Long pitch black breaths, lay bare its apple trees,
Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweetened soil,
Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St. John's, all toil
Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Domestic Autumn, like an animal
Long used to handling by those countrymen,
Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
Sensing a fragrant child come back again
—Not this half-tolerated consciousness
That plants its grammar in her yielding weather
But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
Familiar where we fell asleep together.

Wakeful moth-wings blunder near a chair,
Toss their light shell at the glass, and go
To inhabit the living starlight. Stranded hair
Stirs in the still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgment, waned and—bearing daggers
And balances—down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women: Justice, Truth, such figures.


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

At the Threshold of Alchemy
by John Amen
Presa Press

83 pp, $13.95

ISBN: 978-0-9800081-5-9

Let’s get this straight: John Amen, the author of two previous collections of poetry, Christening the Dancer and More of Me Disappears, can do no wrong. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed At the Threshold of Alchemy. This young poet has a grasp on language, image, and the music of words that just seduced me into the poetry of this book with poems like “Birthday”, “Culmination”, and “Portraits of Mary”. The sense of place and time tends to rattle your bones with life’s pivotal moments. There are no wasted words in this text. In fact, if I have to have any real criticism, it's in the choice of typeface (some of the text is quite hard to read) and, more important, the lack of experimentation on the part of the poet in using the page. Will I tell you to go out and buy this book? A big, hands-down yes! However, you have to wait until October, because I’m writing from a review copy, and the book won’t officially be released until October 2009. But by all means, if you have the chance, grab a copy of At the Thresholds of Alchemy. You won’t go wrong.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


(To M.B.)
—Joseph Brodsky

September came on Tuesday.
It poured all night.
The birds had all flown south.
I was so much alone, so brave,
I did not even watch them go.
The empty sky is broken now.
Rain-curtains close the last clear spot.
I need no south.

(translated from the Russian by George L. Kline)


—Richard Eberhart

It is what he does not know,
Crossing the road under the elm trees,
About the mechanism of my car,
About the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
About Mozart, India, Arcturus,

That wins my praise. I engage
At once in whirling squirrel-praise.

He obeys the orders of nature
Without knowing them.
It is what he does not know
That makes him beautiful.
Such a knot of little purposeful nature!

I who can see him as he cannot see himself
Repose in the ignorance that is his blessing.

It is what man does not know of God
Composes the visible poem of the world.
...Just missed him!


Today's LittleNip:

The gates of thought—how slow and late they discover themselves! Yet when they appear, we see that they were always there, always open.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Rattlesnake Press is proud to announce 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 Idea),
and a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest). All are now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.


RR23 is now available at The Book Collector, and contributor and subscription copies will go into the mail in the next two weeks.
You may also order a copy through

Deadline is November 15 for RR24: 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!


On Wednesday, Oct. 14, Rattlesnake Press will release
a new chapbook from Brad Buchanan (The War Groom)
and a new Rattlesnake LittleBook from
William S. Gainer: Joining the Demented.
That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector.

WTF!!: The third 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 send me two bux and I'll mail you one.

Deadline for Issue #4 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

Then gear up the flivver for a ROAD TRIP on Monday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 PM
as we all travel over to HQ for the Arts, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento
for Rattlesnake Press's release of the new SPC anthology,
Keepers of the Flame: The First 30 Years of the Sacramento Poetry Center.
Editor-in-Chief Mary Zeppa and her helpers have put together
many, many documents and photos
from SPC's history, and the resulting anthology (and SPC's 30th anniversary!)
will be celebrated that night. Be there!


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.