Friday, October 30, 2009

October Country

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Haunted, October Country
Spirits of the past
Uncertainty of the present
Possibilities of the future
Ghosts are here now
Shouting in words I don’t understand
Dressed in a rainbow of colors
Invading my dream world
With vivid imagery
That makes no sense of nonsense
Where is understanding
What are these ghosts
Uncertainties of the present
Spirits of the past
Haunted, October Country



—Mitz Sackman

Things that go bump in the night
That hoary old line
Do not describe my ghosts
Mine are liquid memories, soft focus
Shimmering images floating in my mind
Backgrounds unclear
Context unknown
Ghosts flowing swiftly from my past
Running through my fingers
That can never quite grasp
They slide on by
A message for me from my past
I pause to reflect
Why now, what can it mean?


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Fri. (10/30 and every last Friday of the month), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries inside The Upper Level VIP Lounge, 26 Massic Ct., Sacramento (located inside of Fitness Systems Healthclub, by Cal State Skating Rink; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie, right past Motel 6). Open mic. $5.00. Info: 916-208-POET or

•••Sat. (10/31, and every last Sat. of the month), 7-9 PM: Poetry From the Heart presents TheShowPoetrySeries at Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St. (off 35th & Broadway), $5.00. Info: 916 208-POET or

•••Sunday (11/1), 2 PM: Cleo Fellers Kocol will be speaking about the fascinating history of the Comstock Lode & Virginia City, Nevada, as well as reading excerpts from her novel, Fitzhugh's Woman. The novel, which blends fact and fiction, is set in Virginia City during the 1860's. 12 Bridges Library, 485 Twelve Bridges Dr., Lincoln. Free.

•••Mon. (11/7), 7:30 PM: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Richard Spilman, SPC Book Manuscript Winner for 2009 [Judge: Dennis Schmitz] at HQ for the Arts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Richard Spilman was born and raised in Normal, IL and holds a BA from Illinois Wesleyan, an MA from San Francisco State and a PhD from the State University of New York at Binghamton. His collection of short stories, Hot Fudge, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1990. He has published poetry in over thirty journals, most recently in New Letters, Oxford Magazine, The Southern Review, and DoubleTake.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Mary Margo, a writer of mysteries, is on
a book tour. Her latest book, Mr. Death,
has her on edge. The characters she creates
seem so real, she can’t get any sleep.

She goes down to the hotel bar for a glass of
wine. A stranger approaches, asking for an
autograph. He talks about the main character
in her book, called Mr. Death, who wears
a paper crown and says he rules the world.

Then staring at Margo, the stranger says,
Your imagination has bodied forth forms
of things unknown, giving them shape
out of an airy nothingness…

Then frowning, says, My time now has ended.
I am but a spirit that you have created, and
am melting into air…into thin air…

With that the stranger disappears. Margo
looks down at his bar stool and sees only
a paper crown. Quickly she drinks her wine.


—Richard Zimmer

Now comes the haunting hour,
the sun is setting in the west.
Halloween has arrived.
Trick-or-Treaters start their quest.

On that day in late October,
children hurry all around—
little boys in vampire garb,
little girls in witch's gown.

Climbing stairs for Gummy Bears,
sticky things for them to eat—
chocolate bars and candy corn,
the rewards are truly sweet.

All about the moonlit night,
happy children knock on doors.
Back home by pumpkin's light,
candy pours on front room floors.


—Chrys Mollett, Angels Camp

Two brothers were parting out the family home.
They hauled in a large window box
with someone's old violin.
In a carved gilt frame.
The old instrument rests at an angle—
Almost ready for play—
And its beaten-up bow
Nicely placed across the strings
With a weathered copy of Ave Maria.

The framing job's worth more than the poor fiddle—
So I won't unseal the capsule
Which holds the scent of years ago.
It's on display atop a hutch in the music store
Where it catches its own selective dust.
Locked away in a gilt frame—
This piece of a home now gone—

I should come up with a better story.


—Chrys Mollett

People bring them in by the (heavy) boxful.
Choir selections
Grandmama's organ music
A raft of cello exercises
The lifetime collection of an opera buff.
Hits from the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's
Big band numbers simplified for living room dabblers.

Turn of the last century hits
with crumbling corners and darkened pages.
Some of the beautiful cover artwork is priceless.
But for a music store owner, priceless is a problem:
Without many hours of cataloging,
I can't direct even an interested buyer
to the right box
Or to an easy corner for sitting and browsing.

This week it was 2 boxes of banjo stuff
from the widow of an old friend of mine
He helped design my house, and my parents' home too...
I'm particularly honored with this gift.

I'm a last resort recipient of these paper ghosts.
It's me or the thrift store down the street—
or worse—the landfill.

With vagrant pieces, I've carefully folded
and cut snowflakes the size of salad plates
and hung them with string from the ceiling.
Like a fantasy paper winterland.


—Chrys Mollett

The parlor was once filled with music.
Mama passed her father's gift on
To her young daughter
Who's now asked to play
For family and friends after supper.

She doesn't want to.
She knows her fingers will stumble
on that one sticky part she hasn't mastered yet.

The guests' toes become an unwelcome metronome
pushing her on through the piece.

But as a percussive finale,
Grampa lets out a belch from his chair.
End of parlor concert—
and everyone is satisfied.


Photo by Katy Brown

Today's LittleNip:


One night in late October,
When I was far from sober,
Returning with my load with manly pride,
My feet began to stutter,
So I lay down in the gutter,
And a pig came near and lay down by my side;
A lady passing by was heard to say:
"You can tell a man who boozes,
By the company he chooses,"
And the pig got up and slowly walked away...



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

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 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 (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

Now available from SPC or at The Book Collector:
Our 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 30-year history.


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 (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.