Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ghosts & Children

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

Painting on your mask (to blend in with the trees)
you unmask yourself, become transparent:
aquiline nose, high cheekbones melt and
(stubble and worrylines gone)
you become The Pan
almost, here in the forest.
Ex-army scout, you expertly lead the way.

With slipping steps down steep leafy ground
we find our knoll in the dim flashbeam,
stop, and listen to the night
barely daring to breathe —
we two, the only humans for five miles, you say.
Under this oak-canopy
you toss away dead branches,
smooth the dirt with your boot.
Then (we take off our shoes) I cast the circle
by incense and candlelight.

We hum and chant and sing together
our separate songs,
we hum and chant and breathe together
and in the echoes
we sing and chant
until our pulses drum together.
Beads slithering over, slithering over maraca
snake-rattles chills up my spine.
The spirits looking on must gather
just beyond our circle
(the white-painted boy, the old Indian guide)
in racoon rustlings,
almost giving glimpse of themselves
but not

except for the Shadow Woman who dances with me
to your primal conga drum, so big
she reaches beyond the trees, touches the stars:
snake-arms undulating, stomping feet lift high,
hips swaying with bear-like grace —
At first just my reflection, then separate
she comes alive,
beckons me into her Shadow World.
I am frightened and have to look away.

"It's that fear that holds us here in this world," you say.


Thanks, Cynthia! Our Seed of the Week is Ghosts. Got any ghosts lurking around the corners of your life, hiding under the armoire? Ever lived in any houses you just couldn't quite warm the chill out of, either literally or metaphorically? Everybody has a ghost or six hanging around. I personally have too many to count.

Send your ghostly poems to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.

—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

This house is a mess: old stories litter
the carpet—toothless and arthritic,
they are, but still hobbling around
the couch, muttering and hunkering
under the coffee table. But I'm used to

these sad old tales—some of them
have been with us for years. It's the ghosts
that really mess up this place: flashing us
around corners, popping out from behind
the armoire, rustling and rattling

with the rats in the attic. It's those tiresome
ghosts that can't make up their minds
whether to stay or go: whether to cozy
under the quilts or back-flip up
the chimney: rude, smelly intruders

who won't let us eat or sleep or watch TV
without having to listen to their cater-
wauling, their whoo-ing and pointing
of fingers, their constant night-nattering
back and forth with those same, tired

stale old stories. . .



mewl around
the doorway: mumbling mould

of threats and imprecations:
murmurous memories

of long midnight passages through
plotless dreams and hot, scratchy

blankets of dread. Close your door
and lock it; still those ghosts

slide underneath to choke
the warm creature of your

sleep: bring with them the green
stench of all those might-not-be’s:

the endless errors of omission:
sharp-edged skeletons still

clattering down the hall…

—Kathy Kieth



own Halloween, sandwiched as they are
between the quick and the dead. Not quite
jelled, they flap like see-through bats between
Here and There, like holograms in some
elsewhere-kind of theme park, where they roller-
coaster/bumper car/ferris wheel all day, slipping

back and forth through reality cracks to bring us
bits of news and fresh pieces of other-worldly
pie. Just the other day, I caught one hanging
in my closet; but when I got out the broom, she
flipped back into her bed, pretending again to be
a mere child. . .

We earthenware adults had better stand aside,
especially on All Hallows’ Eve, or these spritely
creatures will bump right through us. . .

—Kathy Kieth


Today's LittleNip:

Struck by a
raindrop, snail
closes up.

—Yosa Buson



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


RR23 is now available free at The Book Collector,
and contributor and subscription copies
have gone into the mail—you should've received yours;
let me know if you haven't.
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 kathykieth@hotmail.com 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!


Now available at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento:
A new chapbook from Brad Buchanan (The War Groom)
and a new Rattlesnake LittleBook from
William S. Gainer: Joining the Demented.

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 was Oct. 15;
it'll be released at Luna's on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Next deadline (for Issue #5) is Jan. 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 fandrickfabpub@hotmail.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/.)

Now available: Rattlesnake Press's new 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 is available
from SPC.


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo (Secrets of a Violet Sky);
Rattlesnake Reprint #2, this one from frank andrick (Triptych);
plus our 2010 calendar from Katy Brown (Wind in the Yarrow)!
That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector. 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 kathykieth@hotmail.com (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.