Saturday, September 12, 2009

On The Wings Of Swans

Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer, Davis

Some spend days
in stench
wondering who will survive.

Some stomachs
shrivel in rain
soaked garments,
sleeping bone to cement.

Some have no clothes,
only split shoes
and a bloody nose.


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

In a long-ago childhood
we kids flattened castaway
cardboard boxes & jumped on
at the top; holding hands,
we bumped, glided, spun,
laughed, yelled down
summer hills, the hills
laughing more AT us than
with us, but we didn't care.

Yesterday I saw a solitary boy
lug to the top of a hill
a bright blue plastic slide-board—
edges curved up to hold him on.
He flew silently to the flats.
I wished for him lots of friends,
yells &
old-fashioned cardboard.


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

On a hair shirt day
scenting early July's quiet
reading with abandon
my Marlborough street lights
the stiff reverences
on right-hand corners
not straying from the page.

Looking out windows
near an unmade bed
wishing for any mea culpa
to dispel my studious mood
a radio blasts
on the fourth floor
toward my unassigned direction
given pause
to groove in time's way.


—B.Z. Niditch

Airy crows and egrets
reach a trembling dawn,
in the yellow sun
you gesture July daylight
wanting a bronze oar,
sweating and out of breath
with the sparkle
of your adventurous eyes
like an exiled Ulysses
scarring the surf,
not expecting Minotaurs
and wandering mermaids
to follow the wind and sea
combing the beach
and shifting
your spongy visor
by lighthouse sounds,
you collect shining sails
shells and visions
on the wings of swans.


(for Aung San Suu Kyi)
—B.Z. Niditch

A blue scarf
over windy hills,
signs are memories
of injustices,
land lacked daylight,
a mouth is screened,
letters voiceless,
closed handkerchiefs;
a fresh bandage
in a waiting sunrise.


—B.Z. Niditch

leaves hiding shadows,
bodies over spirits,
an eye without a face,
words covering
your reprieve
of homeless suffering,
silk flowers washed
in lukewarm water;
not wanting to sing
in your absence.


Today's LittleNip:

No less than twenty-two publishers and printers read the manuscript of "Dubliners," and when at last it was printed some very kind person bought out the entire edition and had it burnt in Dublin.

—James Joyce



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.


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

The release of Rattlesnake Review #23 was, as you know,
delayed, and will be available at The Book Collector
and other venues as of Thursday, Sept. 17.

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. 7, 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 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.