Saturday, October 17, 2009

Howl, World

Tom Kryss

—Tom Kryss, Ravenna, Ohio

Just as the last leaves drift from trees shoring up the horizon,
snowflakes enter the air. At first single entities, dancing lazily,
cross some line it is difficult to see, and take up with others
like children being let out of school while there is still time
left to holler and run as if something vital in their lives
depended on getting nowhere in life, just running, everywhere
at once, and lifting the sky, altogether now. Truth itself.


Thanks, Tom, and my apologies for saying earlier in the week that you live in San Francisco. If you Google up Tom Kryss, you'll see all his wonderful poetry/art/publishing accomplishments. When I asked him for a bio, this is what he sent:

Tom was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1948. The hospital was torn down some years ago and he later happened to come across the empty space. Just sitting there. His grandfather came from RZESZOW, in Poland near the Ukraine border. Tom has recently spent many hours poring over the photographs, and it is a place he now likes to think of as one of his homes. As Sacramento was, briefly, in the late sixties, and still may be. He remembers the color of moonlight on orange trees, the smiles of D.R. Wagner and Douglas Blazek. Ingrid Swanberg, too, come to think of it.

When he returned to Cleveland (several times) he continued to write, as if the urge were not limited to a certain locality, and to set his hand to making pictures and printing books. There is something about a book made by hand that cannot quite be approached on the internet: First and foremost, probably, that it can actually be held; and that the mistakes, and in some instances perspiration and blood of the maker, can be freely experienced as integral to the process. He now lives with his wife in Ravenna, Ohio. There are more trees than he knows how to name, which, in a way, simplifies things greatly.


—Tom Kryss

In the dream two young friends from warring tribes had this conversation concerning a decision made by the chieftains. “I understand we’ve been exchanged as prisoners, you and I.” It was only a joke but Manuel, of the trusting heart, believed it. “Can I take my pony?” he asked. “Why not?” “When does this take place?” “This evening at the rise of the moon we meet here and cross sides.”

That evening they meet on the chaparral. Manuel’s pony and Crazy Horse’s pony recognize each other at once, and Crazy Horse breaks out laughing. His serious friend, who he has known since they were little boys, asks, "What’s so funny?”

Crazy Horse’s father, a minor shaman, listens to the dream and says, “My son, when was the last time you had a dream with actual people inside it, other than yourself?” Crazy Horse had to admit it was rare. “Also, did you ever hear of a voluntary exchange of prisoners before they were even captured?” Crazy Horse searched his memory long and hard but could not say that he had.

That autumn the two young friends find themselves on a rise above the Platte. They sit on their browsing ponies, and Crazy Horse turns and says, “You know, I have never accepted these differences the elders have among themselves.” Manuel reigns his pony closer and speaks to the heart of his friend. “Yes. It seems only in dreams we are free to cross sides,” and with a trick learned from just such a dream he spooks Crazy Horse’s pony. “Why you little so and so...!”

The two friends ride around each other with war cries and laughter, counting coup, in defense of dreams, and the dust they kick up follows them across the badlands in a line as straight as an arrow.

“Dreams,” says the old shaman, fully realizing he is addressing his own son and any misconceptions may come back to haunt him, “Dreams are like these buffalo berries which grow where other plants and shrubs might not survive. You should never find anything strange in them, and always take from them only what you need, or what others might need, and put them to use.”

“Are the berries dreams themselves?” asks the son, chewing one slowly and making a terrible face. “Wanahosni! How can you say that? Do they taste like dreams?”


—Tom Kryss

Three from wealthy families who spent
the better part of a lifetime living in poverty,
and two born in poverty who never forgot.

All tried to help; none said a prayer without
first rolling up his or her sleeves. Without
exception, each of them shied from a halo—

one went so far as to bury it in an unmarked
plot, another grumbled that they were only
the hallmark of second-rate portraitists.

As a rule, kindness considered the operative
principle and blinders held in contempt. "ANYONE
can do this," they said. They asked of themselves

only everything. And from others? A little
compassion, like a pinch of salt to leaven
the bread; that discouragement be given
its due in distrust.


Roan Press book release today:

The second book of poetry from Roan Press, Zoe Keithley's Crow's Song, will be released today with a celebration at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St., Sacramento) at 5 PM. Info:

Don't forget to send poems to the Sac Bee:

To celebrate SPC's birthday and Sacramento Poetry Day, Carlos Alcala at the Sacramento Bee is asking for your poems about Sacramento or one of the surrounding communities in 75 words or less. Send it to by Monday, Oct. 19, and they'll run some of their favorites in the Books & Media section on the 26th. Include your name, town and a phone number where they can reach you if your poem is selected.


Today's LittleNip:

—William Bronk

Howl, world, in your hurt: that certainty
always to bear, be born. Never to fail.
Hearing the wind, I hear the world's wail.
Let me go sleep on it. Sing, sing.



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


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

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!


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 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!


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from dawn di bartolo (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 (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.