Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Elderberries & Tall Weeds


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

We drove an hour to get there.
At the first turnout, the berries were long past ripe;
at the second, some still green. At the third,
perched on the berm, we picked half a garbage bag
to sort and clean.
You lost one leather glove of a perfectly good pair.
I walked a mile, searching for tan leather,
and found six beer cans, worth 5 cents apiece.
The glove is gone.
A hunter stopped for news. He’d seen nothing
but a doe with fawns.
We traded good-mornings, recipes for elderberry
wine, good-lucks.
I scratched my legs on gooseberries
and ate a red one; prickly, but short on sweet.
We drove an hour home;
filled the kitchen with elderberries
hazy blue as a Sierra canyon at the edge of fall.


Thanks, TG, who writes "How did you know we spent Monday elderberrying?" Well, that's how poetry is: serendipity and mystical mind-reading... We're talking about blue this week; send your poems about blue things to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.


Bay Area Poets Coalition's 30th Annual Contest will be open for entries:
October 1st - November 15, 2009 (postmark deadline)
Cash prizes in (3) line-length categories. Poet's choice—any subject. Open to all.
Rules available on website: or request by email: or send SASE to BAPC Contest 30, POB 11435, Berkeley, CA 94712



The moon's bed, the bride's bed:
An azure blue sky
Held up by ancient hands;
A cricket flutters about,
Shrilling a love song to the net.

The moon's bed, the bride's bed:
A Chinese junk with a thousand sails
Crossing the sea of sleep;
Stars fall one by one,
Yawning with sweet visions.

The moon's bed, the bride's bed:
A kingdom of ghosts and spirits,
Drunk with the flavour of incense;
Dreams scatter, one by one,
Cracked by brittle truth.



You're the woman I love best and forget fastest, my love,
Because in this evil silence weeds grew over my miserable heart,
Tall weeds, with long torturing roots.

They're dark weeds, soft, painful.
She's dark and swaying
And she blossoms in sin.
My heart's still yours
But weeds grow in my breast.



In the pale moonlight
He carries his bride
Up that hill,
Both of them naked,
Bringing nothing but themselves.

So in all beginnings
The world is bare,
Empty, free of lies,
Dark with silence—

A silence that sinks
Into the depths of time.
Then comes light,
Man and animals.
So in all beginnings
Everything is bare,
Empty, open.

They're both young,
Both have come a long way.
Passing through dawns bright with illusion,
Skies filled with hope,
Rivers lined with comfort,
They have come to the afternoon's warmth,
Both of them dripping with sweat—

And standing on a barren coral reef.
So evening comes,
Bringing dreams
And a bed
Lined with gleaming coral necklaces.

They raise their heads:
Millions of stars in the sky.
This is their inheritance,
Stars and more stars,
More than could ever blink and go out.

In the pale moonlight
He carries his bride
Up that hill,
Both of them naked:
The world's first face.


Today's LittleNip:

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged... I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.

—Erica Jong



(Today's poems by W.S. Rendra were translated from the Indonesian by Burton Raffel)

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.