Thursday, October 29, 2009

Various Other Scary Thoughts

Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

(October 27, 2009)

—Claire J. Baker

Thousands followed the telecast
of Bay Bridge crashed rod
("big around as an arm"):
we saw a huge metal box(?)
likewise crashed on this
extremely windy evening—
("only one minor injury").

Fifteen minutes later,
camera still zoomed in
on bridge bed, static scene,
restlessly my eyes rode
turbulent waves under
& beyond tick-tack-toe


Thanks to Claire Baker for the comment on the Bay Bridge misfortune; praise be that no one was killed or seriously injured. All this so close to the Loma Prieta anniversary... And, as Claire says, all those turbulent waves waiting like sharks underneath!

Our ghost-a-thon continues today with more wonderful poems from Ann Menebroker and D.R. Wagner, plus another seasonal ditty from Tom Goff. Enjoy!

—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

I never believed
in ghosts—
not even in the dark
when strange noises
flagged down my mind.
Let the sound
walk across the road
to the other side.
I'll be the patrol-guard.
Everything just
wants to get
on its way.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Near Sierraville, nestled in ultramontane,
a corridor, really, of thin-sliced-amber leaves,
a tumbling, mountain-air-slicing Steller’s jay
performs a feat that, reversing field, deceives:
as if the pool or swimming hole were the diver,
he plunges, a black-headed shard of sharp blue water
who disappears in ripples, breaking surface
just where the hillside, hide-tawny, still summer-sere,
transforms into lake, skin human, but more clear.


In Sattley stands an upright Victorian farmhouse,
compact but grand amid ambient grazing cows:
fresh-painted walls butter, trim bronze or brown,
besprent and besprinkled with autumn, down
in a tumbledown goldfall,
stuffing rain-gutters, sticking to windvane and pediment,
thickening the blue air like epithets,
pasted to gables in scatters of brass medals,
a perfect storm of epaulettes.
High in the soon-to-turn-snowy Sierra Valley,
a not yet mudtrod largesse of lonely, windfall
of autumn letters, right up Rilke’s alley.


Descending seven thousand feet of mountain,
we navigate an ominous chicane
where black and blacker spectral trees malinger
thrusting up flat yet far-too-real fingers.
Will we ever be released from this devil’s arcane?
And then we round a turn, and a fiery dell
reveals itself: the glimmer itself’s a swale,
but piling light upon sunset light in orange.
This archangel glow that beckons and beacons orange
stays us for fifty miles or more. Without fountain
spray or waver it renders itself a strange
spiritual geology thrust up
to counter the Range of Light with a Range of Twilight.
The one smooth height diminishes in cherry,
intenser of flavor than any ever tasted,
and clinging far longer in the cup.
And before it has wasted,
we’ve long since entertained a hope, very
faint hope, that if compelled too soon to go,
we might well be climbing the peak confected of alpenglow.


B.L.'s Drive-Bys: A Micro-Review by B.L. Kennedy

The Ghost Light: Master Works of Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Fritz Leiber

Berkley Books

368 pp, $7.95

ISBN: 0-425-06812-9

I know very few people who would argue that Fritz Leiber is not, hands down, a master storyteller in American Literature. His admirers include Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, John Jakes, and Peter Straub. The New York Times wrote of Leiber’s work as “fastmoving, ironic and delightful”. The author Paul Anderson has written “Perhaps no other modern writers except James Branch Cabell and Vladamir Nabokov have gotten such fun out of the human tragicomedy; and they, for all their wit, have never had Leiber’s uninhibited gusto.” The Ghost Light is an overview of Fritz Leiber’s career as a writer. It includes some of his finest short stories, a new novella, and his autobiography. What makes this book so special can be put in just two words: Fritz Leiber. I don’t think I need to say anymore, other than to highly recommend that you go out and find a copy of this book.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—D.R. Wagner

The moon is unsteady; trusting its light

To the stars it cowers behind clouds

Not allowing beams or dreams

To release themselves from its foggy

Journey. The voice is gone.

From the jungle floor we are able

To see those stars with proper names.

We do not greet them nor they us.

From here they seem cold. Distance

Is such a detached maiden, full of thoughts

That have nothing to do with our petty concerns.

Closer, a night bird tells the darkness

Another secret, crazing the place where we sleep

With lines of sound. Fear begins to rise from

Its shadowy rooms, tells us we should be afraid,

Of what we have no idea. Just be afraid

Comes the message. Halloween arranging

Its crested headpiece in orange and yellow,
Glaucous whites and using the wind as voice,

Begins the season's tales. We have heard them

All before and we have never heard them.

“Wait for the moon to return,” someone whispers.

“She will be round and huge and full. We will be able

To see everything the night conceals clearly.”

Perhaps this is a good idea. Things fly quickly

Just above our heads. We smell the cinnamon of

Autumn rising to the top of the night.

Someone calls our names.

We never recognize the voice.

Photo by D.R. Wagner

Today's LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

Bright orange CALTRANS
Trash bags piled on the side
Of the freeway: Seasonal garbage.



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.