Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still Wishing, But At Least We Have Ink

Aerial Photography
Rivers flow through arteries,
From roots to trunks to limbs to twigs
To leaves to sky to snow on trees
On mountains high,
Through tributaries
To rivers
To the sea

—Photo and poem by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar


Thanks to Ronald Lane for the photo and poem; watch for more of his work in Rattlesnake Review #23, coming to The Book Collector on Thursday, Sept. 17. (Yes, the ink crisis is resolved, and we're back in business.)

Ekphrasis prize!

Laverne and Carol Frith,
editors of the journal, Ekphrasis, are pleased to announce that Jeanine Stevens of Sacramento has been chosen as winner of the $500 Ekphrasis Prize for calendar year 2009 for her outstanding poem, Frida in a White Dress (from a black and white photo). Jeanine’s poem was chosen from a very strong field of contenders experienced in ekphrastic poetry. The Snake says congratulations to rattlechapper Jeanine; for more information about her, go to her rattlechaps page on, or to Medusa's archives (March 8, 2007).

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

Finding the Ultimate Treasure
by Marilyn Souza
28 pp, $5

I recently had the chance to get to meet this poet a few months back, and I have to admit that I am immediately drawn to her word combinations and to her hopes and fears. But there’s something missing here, and what it is, I just can’t put my finger on. Not that we have a case of bad writing; we don’t: Souza is a talented writer, but her chapbook, Finding the Ultimate Treasure, is haphazardly though creatively constructed, leaving me with the feeling that, to quote the poet: “You tasted like a mistake.” Don’t get me wrong; there are so many different ways that one can approach this text. One can read it as one long poem looking in a very disjointed way for an outreaching validation, or one can read it as a collection of so-so short poems whose interconnectedness leaves the reader with an uneasy feeling of “what just happened?” I want to praise Souza for this short, but, as I said, rather disjointed collection, and I do recommend the book. If you’re up in Grass Valley or if you happen to catch Marilyn on one of her trips down to Luna’s, I would suggest buying this book. In closing, I want to reiterate that Marilyn Souza is a fine, focused but as of yet unchallenged young author whose words will leave their mark on your psyche, but who is in constant danger of giving in to surrounding influences instead of trusting her own voice.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

Got a deathwish
Or sumpin’?”

The school bully
Had me down
Once again,
Sitting on my chest

“Only for you!”
I tried to spit
In my
Best Neville Brand.

Then the bell
Rang and we
Were all back
In catechism class.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

At Folsom High, atop a slow-rising path
from McAdoo Drive to Grover Road, a view
for miles and miles on clean-air days, clear to
the far downtown Sacramento megaliths:

behind them, background rain discloses mountains,
the Vacaville Coast Ranges, past which, the sea;
and, tinting the scene with vatic melancholy,
dark oaks and pines that upshower in follies and fountains:

their blackness dropcloths the landscape’s antique furniture
—Miss Havisham’s cake, but webbed and baked dark chocolate?—
And memory beckons me, Pip, through a black door, lock let
slip, admitting me to a room, no garniture

along the mantel, no rugs, but bare pinewood floor.
Now, feet in the air, downbellying, I’m listening
to phonograph music, the one thing dark and glistening:
“Finlandia” by Sibelius, but far more

stark, the broodery-moodery of the album cover:
horizon’s ominous black broccoli
of trees that so embody sundown witchery,
they shall be called dusk oaks, doom-come-over-

the-mountain pines, or Nordic-snowdrift-death birch.
Give them a child to look upon their silhouettes:
they, not the child, gasp sharp, hold shallow breaths.
Each feels and deals frissons from no high perch,

but stooping, ground-level, close-pressing as an adult
breathing unwanted air in the child’s soft ear.
And that I call fear.

Yet those treelines, self-transfiguring, year after year:
—a nocturnal summons to shiver…and to exult…


Today's LittleNip:

—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

If wishes were fishes,
Would all of us swim
Or merely eat well?



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!


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

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.

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.