Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Time For Sonnets

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Late September: against all forecasts, chill
as autumn. Time to cut things short. The lush
green stalk that’s growing in the compost pile—
an avocado from a pit?—bring it
indoors in a pot. What’s left of garden
after ground squirrels? Now’s the time to season
the Vermont Castings stove; inventory
pantry shelves, galoshes, boots; remember
how woolens gather us in sleep. No time
now for a sonnet’s 14 woven lines.
Fall cuts it short.


—Taylor Graham

The aspen's gone past golden, you've crossed
so many weeks off the calendar that stains
the south wall. A sun-struck summer's gone
tarnished. The country’s closing up like shop,
green shutters nailed. This morning feels
the closest thing to snow. You've checked-off
water, power, late October boarded up safe
till June. Mountains keep their plans without
you. Coffee? one last cup to steam your breath
against the inside pane. A blottered window
can't look out now on a faded meadow falling
to creekside willow, won't hear beaver
gnawing their under-ways through winter.
Listen, they're counting the aspen calendar,
and your last interrupt of tires on gravel.
You're guests with time to leave.

(First appeared in The Brownstone Review)


Thanks, TG and JO (and two more about crows by A.R. Ammons). We're talking about Fall; send your fall poems to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

This is the story of four trees,
aligned on a rolling ground.

Above, the layered sky,
the fierce red sun—

the four trees
turned to fire in the churning light

—ablaze in fiery vertigo
as the panoramic sky pulls by

and the red sun sinks into
the old blue hills that wait to bury light

and the four trees change back
into familiar silhouettes.

(First appeared in Song of the San Joaquin)


—Joyce Odam

Mygod, you talk of Christmas
and the sun upon the land
shrivels the harvest we are tired of.

Buckets of pithy squash and soft tomatoes
stand useless for our energy.
The beans swell in themselves
and dry upon the pole.

This day we must consider what we lose
for we are sick with lethargy
and turn instead to talk of winter.

But rain-threat from the mountains
will not come
though thunder almost sounds
where we are looking.

The air is dusty.
Birds are shrill and restless as
the rumors that we feel.

We should be gleaning,
saving more of our investment
than we do.

(First published in One Dog)


—A.R. Ammons

The crows, mingled
powder white,

arrive floundering
through the

heavy snowfall:
they land ruffling

stark black
on the spruce boughs and

chisel the neighborhood
sharp with their cries.


—A.R. Ammons

When the crow
lands, the
tip of the sprung spruce

bough weighs
so low, the
system so friction-free,

the bobbing lasts
way past any
interest in the subject.


Today's LittleNip:

Poets aren't very useful.
Because they aren't consumeful or very produceful.

—Ogden Nash



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.