Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wind & The City

Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer, Davis

Even when it’s calm,
evidence of howling
through trees persists,
tops blown sideways
against a mountain
backdrop. Everything
holds on while sea oats
bend and whistle, limbs
arch toward heaven's morn,
a power driving apex force
fills night's aperture with delight.

Raccoons hide, glad to be alive,
roll onto stomach then onto back,
they kick away constrictions
free, to be the breeze.


Thanks to Ann Privateer for the poem and photo! Another Ann, Ann Wehrman, who has sent us some riffs on our SOW: Songs of The City, writes: When I saw D.R. Wagner's photograph on Medusa last week, I immediately thought of "Change of Climate"; that cave photo could be an illustration for my poem! "Change of Climate" is about a very small town, Blue Mound, Illinois, and a much larger city, Evanston, Illinois and how I felt living in first one, then the other as a youngster.

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

I stood on the broad, shingled rooftop
spread like an awning over our sprawling, rented Victorian
surveyed Indian burial mounds, ancient tulip trees,
farmer’s hamlet, five hundred strong,
encircled by vast, mid-Illinois farmland,
where Dad steadied me on a bike with training wheels.
I spied upon the entire block
from my perch in the wide maple on the corner,
kindergarten was fifteen kids in the one-room library
and a Maypole dance in spring.
Summer nights we sang
She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain
and rocked in the porch swing,
adults cradling martinis and orange-tipped cigarettes.

In my dream, I poised, back again on that Blue Mound rooftop,
then it all changed—
through a death tunnel cavern,
walls dripping
varicolored stalactites of ice,
I flew forward, barreled faster and faster—
cave walls a kaleidoscope of ice moon glow
purple, aqua, fuchsia
colder and colder—
then jerked awake, rigid, shivering, numb.
Sleeping out on our new, screened-in back porch,
I tasted Evanston winters to come,
besieged by snow-filled winds
screaming in off Lake Michigan.


—Ann Wehrman

Heat clouds over spit-polished grills and bubbling fries. Tiny burgers steam next to tiny buns; soft meat and buns taste a little like chlorine, detergent, sanitizer. Child-size steel chairs and tables on posts bolted to the floor, cashiers in uniforms, bright neon, white walls, open 24 hours. Faces line up at the counter, peer over the tables—bundled in rags, cheap layers against snow; faces brown, black, exposure-beaten white; swollen noses red, broken veins, bloodshot eyes; teething babies, toothless hags eat and shelter in the glass and stainless cube. Outside: Chicago’s violence, despair. Inside: a seat, a wall against which to huddle. Outside: subzero night, seductive, flash-freezing flesh. Inside: sanctuary.


—Ann Wehrman

On the divider at the center of six lanes,
he stands,
skateboard effortlessly trailing from his hand,
a taut, invisible ribbon running through him,
raising him to the sky.

I feel him soak up the power of vehicles that speed by,
imagining himself a car or a bus,
or flying in his own skin next to them,
just as strong.
Is he dead inside, a vacuum,
humming over and over the latest white boy’s rap
or Britney Spears ditty?

I want him to suffer the danger all around,
vibrate intensely in response,
to soar above the traffic’s strife,
and to use his power for good.


Today's LittleNip:

—Burton Raffel

Nothing sings from these orange trees,
Rindless steel as smooth as sapling skin,
Except a crane's brief wheeze
And all the muffled, clanking din
Of rivets nosing in like bees.



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

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!


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.