Thursday, September 03, 2009

Each-ness and Us-Ness

Susan Finkleman


silent as dawn
slides between cobalt bottles,
lights on my hands, curled
around a morning mug of tea,
then slips between
the stories I tell myself.

—Susan Finkleman, Sacramento


Thanks, Susan!
Join us at The Book Collector (1008 24th St., Sacramento) this coming Wednesday, September 9 at 7:30 PM for the release of Susan's new chapbook (Mirror, Mirror: Poems Of The Mother-Daughter Relationship, illustrated by Joseph Finkleman). Susan Finkleman, a retired teacher and practitioner of meditation, now manages a beautiful cemetery. Her poetry has appeared in Susurrus, Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Bee, Tiger’s Eye, Yolo Crow, and Welcome Home. She also publishes in trade journals, as well as writing and performing two-voice poetry with her husband, Joseph. You can learn more on their website:, and a collection of their work is available from

—Susan Finkleman

You slam the door, clanging ‘good riddance,’
but your words, angry red birds,
pound me with plumage
in their frenzy to protect
some mysterious corner of yourself
I never wanted to attack.
They throw themselves against the glass
in a wild melisma of motion meant to break me,
re-make me into someone who won’t hurt you,
each-ness and us-ness
lost in a blizzard of feathers.


—Susan Finkleman

Always I wanted windows:
a way out of the dove greys and wines
into the scarlets and umbers of the fall leaves
or the sparrow-winged spring,
slicing through skies of Michigan blue.

You gave me a crimson umbrella once,
like one you wept to own when you were small.
Courting bad luck, I unfurled it, tipped
and spun it on its shiny knob: indoors.
It did not shelter me from your dismay.

Hiding in the shadows of the sculpted carpet,
I longed to ride the wind-spattered rain
drumming its secrets against the window.
Nose pressed to glass, I traced
the gnarled black branchings of our family tree
generations of hollow women
bent with fruiting emptiness.

Still you peddle guilt like the umbrella vendor
and I barter six rain soaked panes
against the unbroken wall of your bitterness.


—Susan Finkleman

Shaggy white mother,
fierce cave of fur and instinct
arching over her young
until they are ready
and she drives them away.

Will they remember in old age,
recognize her on the trail,
like humans, bound to their cluttered pasts
by memory and obligation?

I am a mother,
a daughter,
and the rust red pain of both.
I want to be a bear,
white against the snow.

(First published in Rattlesnake Review)


—Susan Finkleman

White as bone china,
green as spring reeds;
I am awash in gratitude
entering her estuary.
Shards of wisdom glint,
pearlescent, among the riprap.
Below, expectations
ground fine as sand
by what is.


Today's LittleNip:

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.

—Winston Churchill

A room without books is like a body without soul.




SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


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 Idea);
a littlesnake broadside from Marie Reynolds (Late Harvest);
and a brand new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#23)!

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

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
Issue #23 will be available at The Book Collector the night of Sept. 9.
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!


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.