Thursday, October 08, 2009

War, Babies, Poems...

Brad Buchanan

—Brad Buchanan, Sacramento


A government spokesman has confirmed
death, decay, a thousand forms
of degradation and a consuming
need for greater security
among the reasons for the timing
of the attack on our enemy.

The decision to call it a crusade
was made after lengthy consultations
with experts on our national pride
and interviews with the families of victims.


It’s Sunday evening. I try to remain
thankful for one more secular weekend.

Sports have resumed defiantly,
as a sign that troops are on their way;
normalcy is a welcome change
but it carries the message of revenge.

The beachhead I walk on with you is safe
except for strong currents and jellyfish.

The landscape’s neutral majesty
is still part of America, threatened but free,
complicit in what occurs beyond
its natural borders. I take your hand.


—Brad Buchanan

Long ago, before it mattered
who I loved, you wanted to be
a soldier—no other girls had bothered
to be so defiantly
unusual. Never mind advice
and warnings about the men you’d meet,
you courted honor and disgrace
and pretended you were an adult.
The pictures of you beaming from
the green-brown world to which you’d been assigned
amaze me, still. You never complained
except about what you didn’t mind:
the waiting, the work, the unwanted sex-
prestige of being the one woman in
your unit, the wondering what would come next.
You wanted a different man, after all,
and there I was. And here I am now
half-disbelieving the miracle
and writing back to you at last, to show
it hasn’t ended. Soldiers are real
to everybody but themselves
in wartime—what you wrote to me may heal
our old wound, mistrust, but today nothing salves
the fresh truth hurting: you’ll be gone
for as long as it takes to secure a dream
of hegemony, and angry words sound wrong
to a husband who just wants his private wife home.


Thanks, Brad! Brad Buchanan’s poetry has appeared in more than 160 journals, including Canadian Literature, Fulcrum and The Wisconsin Review. He has published two previous books of poetry: The Miracle Shirker (2005) and Swimming the Mirror: Poems for My Daughter (2008), and is co-founder of Roan Press ( He teaches English at California State University, Sacramento and serves on the Board of the Sacramento Poetry Center.

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, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Free!

We're still having the octo give-away for our Seed of the Week: send your octos to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by midnight, Sunday, October 11 and receive a free copy of Susan Finkleman's new rattlechap, Mirror, Mirror. See last Tuesday's post for the octo form, and be careful—to receive your free book, you have to follow it exactly. Here's a fine example from Richard Zimmer:

—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

This contains no punctuation
for those picky grammarians
No colons or dashes required
Smash all the commas until flat
Use in litter box for your cat
No colons or dashes required
for those picky grammarians
This contains no punctuation


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

Edited by Neil Martinson
Proof Press
64 pp, $5.95
ISBN: 0-9673621-0-5

Recently, I made a trip to San Francisco where I had a chance to visit my friend June Monster General, and had the opportunity to read at a special occasion celebrating Joe Donahoe’s new publication, Specious Species, already reviewed as a Drive-By on Medusa’s Kitchen. Anyways, while there I could not help but visit some of the local bookstores, and was literally amazed how many classy book stores like Abandoned Planet no longer exist. Such is the economy, the world, and hopefully not the future. However, while pouncing around, I found this other bookstore called K-O Books and quickly made friends with the owner, Neil Martinson. While having a fairly decent conversation, Neil tells me about this magazine he publishes called Proof: The Magazine of Virtuous Reality and was so kind as to give me a copy. Well, I hate to be brutally honest, but you’re not gonna find something this good in Sacramento; no matter how much the small press in this town tries, it’s never pushed itself to the limit [Ed. note: Limit of what?], and Proof is simply one of those unique magazines that pushes the envelope over the edge. How can you get it? You’d have to go online and look up Neil Martinson, or make a trip to visit K-O books in San Francisco. But either way, can’t go wrong, this is hands down one of the finest magazines I’ve had to encounter in the last five years. And for the price of $5.95—to have something this classy and so beautifully put together with very cool and informative articles is hands-down the best deal on the block, baby.

—B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


—Carl Sandburg

Doctor Williams having delivered
eleven hundred babies
in Rutherford New Jersey
also delivered from himself
eleven hundred poems
each poem a baby
to grow up and please the Doctor
and give him pride in himself
as the mother of each baby
and himself her obstetrician
thus having two prides
ever pleasing his heart—
one the embryo poem
in his fertile brain-womb—
the other his obstetric skill
with no use of forceps
delivering the brain-child
to wriggle in black ink on white paper
Doctor Williams saying often to himself,
"Good babies make good poems."


Today's LittleNip:

Lake shadows color of cold,
Willow branches weep ice.
Swan rises dazzling in the sunlight.

—Deng Ming-Dao



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.