Photo by Hubble Telescope
—Tom Kryss, San Francisco
Out near Sirius the winter star
where against the so-called laws of physics
they were gliding piecemeal toward a black hole
I met them one night with my innocent
telescope which didn’t know it had this power
to sidestep time and pierce the darkest strongholds
of the universe.
They were made of light, tied invisibly, drawn forwards
(what is up and down?)
In a delicate and wide-ranging chain reaction,
multiple thinly colored raindrops tending toward cohesion
in the lying void—
the black hole not a product of assumption,
but a living foam shaped by surrender.
I followed their course through my hand-held eyes.
I thought I lost them and they returned,
scattering on the long winds which blow for years
without catching the blade of a windmill, leaves.
Again they reformed in a kind of ragged line, moving
I took the telescope, a simple thing, a gift,
and thinking I could will them away from unforeseen
destruction, I swept the lens and tried
to drag them, like a cursor.
Revolting against my very hand.
This and only this was the purpose of my life, why I was born,
and where I sleep.
Thanks to Tom Kryss, poet, artist and long-time publisher, for a beautiful poem.
Calendar addition for this week:
•••Tues (10/13 and every 2nd Tues.), 6:30 PM: Open mic at the Empresso Coffeehouse off the Miracle Mile, 1826 Pacific Ave., Stockton. Chinetana 'Nana' Phounsavath and Donald Anderson would like to welcome everyone to enjoy an evening of poetry, essays, music and more.
Politicians: Can't live with 'em, can't...
You think you're free of politics? Not if you're married, or in a relationship, go to work, belong to any clubs, listen to the news, vote or don't vote... Life is all about juggling relationships: my wants/your wants/our needs—in other words, politics and the politicians we all are, yes? And then, like the last poem below, sometimes it's about our relationship to ourselves...
This week's Seed of the Week is politics. Send your political musings to email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 94726. No deadline on non-giveaway SOWS.
What shall be done to the man
that killeth this Philistine?
—I Sam. xvii, 27
The first shot out of that sling
Was enough to finish the thing:
The champion laid out cold
Before half the programmes were sold.
And then, what howls of dismay
From his fans in their dense array:
From aldermen, adjutants, aunts,
Adminstrators of grants,
Advisers about careers,
And advertisers, of course,
Plus the obvious b——s in force—
The whole reprehensible throng
Ten times an alphabet strong.
But such an auspicious debut
Was a little too good to be true,
Our victor sensed; the applause
From those who supported his cause
Sounded shrill and excessive now,
And who were they, anyhow?
Academics, actors who lecture,
Apostles of architecture,
Angst-pushers, adherents of Zen,
Alastors, austenites, A-test
Abolishers—even the straightest
Of issues looks pretty oblique
When a movement turns into a clique,
The conquerer mused, as he stopped
By the sword his opponent had dropped:
Trophy, or means of attack
On the rapturous crowd at his back?
He shrugged and left it, resigned
To a new battle, fought in the mind,
For faith that his quarrel was just,
That the right man lay in the dust.
SONG OF THE PALACE OF CH'EN
—Kuan Hsiu (832-912)
Think sad thoughts of other days,
those palace gates, overflowing...
Reckless feasting, feckless loves:
no Sages, there.
Jade trees' blossoms singing, there
among a hundred flowers.
Coral jeweled, the very window frames,
sun from the sea, scattered, jewels.
Great ministers to audience; Mi'Lord
still in his cups, and even when he'd sobered
few wise words got past his ears.
So. The Palace of Ch'en
is rubble in this farmer's field,
and the peasant's plow turns up the shards
of a courtier's mirror.
(translated from the Chinese by J.P. Seaton)
Sleet and rain, as if the pot were boiling.
Winds whack like the crack of an axe.
An old man, an old old man,
toward sunset crept into my hut.
He sighed, sighed he, as if to himself,
"These rulers, so cruel: why, tell me
why they must steal till we starve,
and then slice off the skin from our bones?
For a song from some beauty
they'll go back on sworn words;
for a song from some tart,
they'll tear our huts down...
for a song, for a sweet song or two,
they'll slaughter ten thousand like me, or
like you. You can cry as you will, let
your hair turn pure white,
let your whole clan go hungry...
no good wind will blow
no gentle breeze
Lord Locust Plague, and Baron Bandit Bug,
one East, one West, one North, one South,
(translated from the Chinese by J.P. Seaton)
—C. Day Lewis (for George Seferis)
To this room—it was somewhere at the palace's
Heart, but no one, not even visiting royalty
Or reigning mistress, ever had been inside it—
To this room he'd retire.
Graciously giving himself to, guarding himself from
Courtier, supplicant, stiff ambassador,
Supple assassin, into this unviewed room
He, with the air of one urgently called from
High affairs to some yet loftier duty,
Dismissing them all, withdrew.
And we imagined it suitably fitted out
For communing with a God, for meditation
On the Just City; or, at the least, a bower of
Alone could know the room as windowless
Though airy, bare yet filled with the junk you find
In any child-loved attic; and how he went there
Simply to taste himself, to be reassured
That under the royal action and abstraction
He lived in, he was real.
What frighened him was that there might be no mystery—only cash registers, politicians and the horizon.
RR23 is now available free 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 rattlesnakepress.com/.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 rattlesnakepress.com/.)
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!
COMING IN OCTOBER:
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 email@example.com (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 rattlesnakepress.com/.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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 (rattlesnakepress.com). And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.