Wednesday, October 07, 2009


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

(with props to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)

Doctor Octopus hates spiders,
most of all gives Spider-Man spite.
Peter Parker, right back at him;
no time flat, like horseflies, flit-fight.
Doc Ock’s tentacles snag, fist-tight,
Peter. Parker webs back at him:
Spider-Man of all most spite gives
Ock, who worst despises spiders.


Thanks, Tom! We're talking octos this week; it's a give-away Seed of the Week, in fact. The octo form is eight lines, eight syllables each; rhyme lines 4 and 5; then lines 6, 7, 8 repeat the first three lines, only in reverse order. Send your octos on any (and I do mean any) subject to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by midnight Sunday, Octo. 11, and I'll send you a free copy of Susan Finkleman's new rattlechap, Mirror, Mirror: Poems of the Mother-Daughter Relationship—or any other rattlechap of your choosing, if you already have that one.

Tom says: Saw Jane Campion's Bright Star this weekend (at Tower Theater). Can't think of a poet bio-pic that better did its job: it really makes one feel the vital heat of John Keats' poetry, while giving loving attention to the part of Fanny Brawne. Erotic, elliptical, subtle, and very moving in the conclusion. Hope it's out soon on DVD.

Mitz Sackman has put out a call for the name of a good rhyming dictionary. Any recommendations? Send 'em to Medusa at

And don't forget the special SPC reading tonight from 6-8 PM (special time, special place): Sacramento Poetry Center presents a reading by the winning poets from the 2009 SPC Poetry Contest. Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library, 828 I St., Sacramento.

More octos—plus something, well, sobering...


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Creek bubbles slowly over rocks
Birds cackle, twitter in the trees
Yellow leaves turn brown, drift below
Fall spirit sings in a bright rush
Coloring reds, yellows with brush
Yellow leaves turn brown, drift below
Birds cackle, twitter in the trees
Creek bubbles slowly over rocks


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

October’s touched the first of frost.
Now, hedge and sky alive with birds
for seed I scattered in the dark—
a nuthatch, towhee, titmouse, jay.
Cold sunshine, it’s a hunger day
for seed I scattered in the dark.
Now hedge and sky alive with birds,
October’s touched the first of frost.


—Taylor Graham

Inside the house we thought we knew,
the new cat’s disappeared again.
A world of possibility—
I gaze into the darkest place
and see two greenish glints in space,
a world of possibility.
The new cat’s disappeared again
inside the house we thought we knew.


—Mei Yao Ch'en (1002-1060)

In my young days I drank a
Lot of wine. There is nothing
Wrong with the love of drink. Now
I am old and my teeth and
Hairs are few and far between.
I still love to drink, but I
Can't do it as I used to.
Now when I drink it upsets
My stomach. There is not much
Pleasure in it. Today I
Got drunk and could not hold up
My head. The room turned round and round.
Seeking pleasure, I find only
Sickness. This is certainly
Not the way to care for my health.
Maybe I should give it up
Altogether. I am afraid
People will laugh at me. Still,
You say it would be a good
Idea. There is not much pleasure
In a sour stomach and
Bad breath. I really know that I
Ought to stop it. If I don't do it,
I don't know what will happen to me.

(Translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth)


Today's LittleNip:

What must be cut away from the poem is not words, but those parts of the poem, if any, that do not serve to involve us... The irreducibility of the poem must be seen not as the shortest verbal line between two points, but as the shortest completely involving line.

—John Ciardi,
How Does a Poem Mean?



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


RR23 is now available 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!


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 (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!


A new chapbook from dawn di bartolo (Secrets of a Violet Sky), a Rattlesnake Reprint from frank andrick (Triptych), and a brand-new 2010 calendar of poetry and photos by Katy Brown (Wind in the Yarrow).
That’s Weds., November 11, at The Book Collector, 7:30 PM.


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.