Friday, September 04, 2009

Lodging In Solid Rooms

Marie Reynolds
and her daughter, Meredith, in Poland

(Sierra City, California)

—Marie Reynolds, Sacramento

Mornings, we linger in the Red Moose Café
with the Caltrans crew, and Nate & Tammi,
(who own the place), cups of coffee and mid-
week news. In the afternoon, rain begins.
We listen to Mozart, Rutter, Faure. I watch
you doze on the iron bed, toss and sigh,
try to slow your shallow breathing. We tell
ourselves it’s the altitude – up this high
it’s hard to keep alveoli open. The phone
in the lodge seldom rings. A red sign blinks
VACANCY. We like it, though – the sky is low
and no one comes. A river runs through
the canyon below, pummels and sprays
unsettled rock. Friction. Resistance. We’re
restless. I listen. I watch you breathe. You wake,
prod the embers in the Franklin stove, swallow
your pills with a Diet Coke. We don’t say
hope, we wait and see. The innkeeper rummages
outside our door. Your hand is warm. We’re lucky,
you say, and I agree. We come to lodge
in solid rooms. We leave the windows open
at night. We let the sound of the river in.


Marie Reynolds began writing poetry at the tender age of fifty-two. Her poems have been published in Ekphrasis, Poetry Now and Rattlesnake Review, as well as the online site, A Women’s Writing Salon. She has had the good fortune to study with accomplished poets and teachers in the Sacramento area over the last several years.
Join us at The Book Collector Wednesday, September 9 at 7:30 PM
for the release of Marie's new littlesnake broadside from Rattlesnake Press, Late Harvest.

This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Sat. (9/4 and every 1st Sat.): Rhythm and Rhyme readings at Butch N’ Nellies near 19th & I Sts., Sacramento. Televised music, open mic. Info:

•••Monday (9/7), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center’s Book Release Event for Tim Kahl’s new book, Possessing Yourself. HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Drinks and a tantalizing spread will be offered. Tim Kahl’s work has been published in Prairie Schooner, American Letters & Commentary, Berkeley Poetry Review, Caliban, Connecticut Review, Fourteen Hills, George Washington Review, Illuminations, Indiana Review, The Journal, Limestone, Nimrod, Ninth Letter, Notre Dame Review, Parthenon West Review, South Dakota Quarterly, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Texas Review, and many other journals in the U.S. He has translated German poet Rolf Haufs, Austrian avant-gardist, Friederike Mayröcker; Brazilian poets, Lêdo Ivo and Marly de Oliveira; and the poems of the Portuguese language’s only Nobel Laureate, José Saramago. He also appears as Victor Schnickelfritz at the poetry and poetics blog, The Great American Pinup ( Additionally, he is also the editor for Bald Trickster Press. He can also be found online at

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

Poetry Papers 21-30
by Jimmy Ray West Jr.
10 pp, $2

If you’ve read my previous review of chapbooks by the local poet Jimmy Ray West Jr., I can add nothing new. For as much as I like the work of this young man, I can’t help but feel that it is fractured and unfinished and not, under any condition, made for the page. However, if I judge this chapbook by its raw, undiluted emotion, then we have a strong, uncompromising voice in Sacramento poetry that is reminiscent of a young Todd Cirillo and is as untamed as a Steve Vanoni. The trouble here lies within. I said it before, I’ll say it again: Jimmy Ray West Jr. is a voice that needs to be experienced live. So, if you have a chance to catch any of his readings at Luna’s Café, you’ll get the full impact of this talented young poet.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


(for Jim)
—Margaret Ellis Hill, Fair Oaks


A horn honks, but I’m not willing
to leave. Chests of drawers
contain things to smell, taste, embrace:
logo stamped T-shirts,
soft jeans, handkerchiefs,
your favorite yellow cardigan:
wrapped quarters, the Irish bear:
blue-striped socks worn to cradle
your leg so you could walk:
the smell and pine, spearmint and aloe.
I sit in the indentation of the bed
where you lay content and still
on that last night.


I ask the driver to wait,
bear with my slow pace.
I want to take you with me
leave nothing behind for dust
to quilt, for thrift shop’s claim.
In the huge hole of silence,
I fight to save you in my mind,
not discarded out a car window,
driving down a road whose light dims
the farther away I travel.



in dusty fields alongside abandoned farm-
houses, where well-worn hands once planted
a few friendly faces. . . Late August heat

has finished short leafless lives: faded pink
bonnets bob away from searing sun, bow
to the golden grass crowded around bare

feet. Farmhouses are just as faded: porches sag
as paint peels off the dry wood. But the naked
ladies will be back when next year's sun climbs

once again into August: fresh faces will
remember those well-worn hands
planted in the past. . .

—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines


—William Stafford

All night like a star a single bulb
shines from the eave of the barn.
Light extends itself more and more
freely into farther angles and overhead
into the trees. Where light ends
the world ends.

Someone left the light burning, but
the farm is alone. There is so much
silence that the house leans toward
the road. The last echo from dust
falling through floor joists happened
years ago.

Owls made a few dark lines across
that glow, but now the light has
erased all but itself—is now a pearl for
birds that move in the dark. They polish
this jewel by air from their wings. This glow
is their still dream.

The sill of the house is worn by
steps of travelers, gone—boards tell
their passage, their ending, copied
into the race. When you pass here, traveler,
you too can't keep from making sounds,
like theirs, that will last.


Today's LittleNip:

—Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice
that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.



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.