Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
God must be chlorine gas.
On Niagara Falls Boulevard at 1:00 AM
The red lights went on. All cars
Stopped. The air became green with
Chlorine gas as it vented
Into the air of Niagara Falls.
Five minutes of clouds full.
Dreams of death in its many forms
Caught in headlights and a view.
A road stretching toward
The Falls covered in green gas.
Klaxons blaring danger.
A line of cars watching this
Terror blow into our very
Air. There was no escape.
Eventually the traffic light
Changed to green itself and
Suddenly it was safe to proceed
Through Klieg lights on ghost figures
Closing valves against any future.
Thanks, Bob, for the urbane urban photo, and D.R. for the unsettling song of his original city, Niagara Falls. Our Seed of the Week is Songs of the City. Send 'em to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Herewith are some more possible inspirations, plus Richard Zimmer's "Campaign Promises" to round out last week's SOW.
FOUR SONGS OF THE CITY
Showing a torn sleeve, with stiff and shaking fingers the old man
pulls off a bit of the baked apple, shiny with sugar,
eating with reverence food, the great comforter.
In steel clouds
to the sound of thunder
like the ancient gods:
our sky, cement;
our earth, cement;
our trees, steel;
instead of sunshine,
a light that has no twilight,
neither morning nor evening,
Coming up the subway stairs, I thought the moon
only another street-light—
a little crooked.
If there is a scheme,
perhaps this too is in the scheme,
as when a subway car turns on a switch,
the wheels screeching against the rails,
and the lights go out—
but are on again in a moment.
What are you doing in our street among the automobiles, horse?
How are your cousins, the centaur and the unicorn?
NATIONAL COLD STORAGE COMPANY
The National Cold Storage Company contains
More things than you can dream of.
Hard by the Brooklyn Bridge it stands
In a litter of freight cars,
Tugs to one side; the other, the traffic
Of the Long Island Expressway.
I myself have dropped into it in seven years
Midnight tossings, plans for escape, the shakes.
Add this to the national total—
Grant's tomb, the Civil War, Arlington,
The young President dead.
Above the warehouse and beneath the stars
The poets creep on the harp of the Bridge.
They fall into the National Cold Storage Company
One by one. The wind off the river is too cold,
Or the times too rough, or the Bridge
Is not a harp at all. Or maybe
A monstrous birth inside the warehouse
Must be fed by everything—ships, poems,
Stars, all the years of our lives.
OF AN ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE
—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento
All citizens must multiply or be subtracted.
You’ll get mail when we feel like it.
No electric chair, we’ll just work you to death.
I don’t care about your health.
Work for free, or be shot.
You’ll have no income to tax.
Citizens must outscore a dead crow on I.Q. tests.
You’ll be glad to die.
Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness—when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you haven't had time to know how much better it ought to be.
RR23 is now available free at The Book Collector,
and contributor and subscription copies
will go into the mail by the end of this week.
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 email@example.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!
NEW FOR OCTOBER:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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!
COMING IN NOVEMBER:
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 email@example.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.