Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bracelets & Cheap Wine

Dawn DiBartolo

murder by syllables
—Dawn DiBartolo, Citrus Heights

“let’s kill some time,” he said,
and drew down on my words
as if to murder or memorize every one,
tied my thoughts up
in his temporal expressions,
familiar, yet somehow new.
he raped my mind,
taking ponderance without permission,
though consensual tones were implied.
the hour got away from us,
bleeding minute after minute
into never-more,
and i grieved each precious departure,
each syllable a testament
to the era of him.

(from Love & Other Eternities)


frayed bond
—Dawn DiBartolo

bitter tongue,
acid speech dripping
from sharpened teeth ~
why? angels kissed

your feet, and you
walked on beds of glass
ignoring the stains left
behind, haphazard blood
spotting memory’s childhood.
you are life,

given to the creation
of beautiful things ~
why then? contaminant

of angel wing,
find flight toward
purpose and love,
i pray.


the knee incident
—Dawn DiBartolo

at a night-club in the humid recesses
of Texas, once, when i was young,
i had a whiskey-slurred debate
indulgent of the spinning lights
and loud shake-your-ass beats.

one side of me said,
“caution! you’ve only
seen this done, on t.v.,
no less, you are not
a doctor!” the other said,

“if you don’t at least try
to help her, the night
will be shot, and you’ll spend
the next six hours
in emergency.”
well, i tried…
tried to realign her
dislocated knee
with my desired
freaky-sweaty fate …and

spent six hours
in emergency ~ possibly
because i tried; after all,
i’m not a doctor.

i was so simple then ~
young, hot and barely clothed;
the world hinged, that night, on
another amber drink from the guy
with the wicked green eyes;

sustained complexity ~
permanent damage;

i’ll always wonder
if she wonders…
and hates me for it.


Thanks, Dawn, for the poetry! Dawn DiBartolo is the happy mother of three, currently residing in Citrus Heights. She has been previously published in several local and online venues and served as guest editor for Poetry Now. Her book, Love & Other Eternities, is available online, and her littlesnake broadside, Blush, is available through Rattlesnake Press. Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for Rattlesnake Press's new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo (Secrets of a Violet Sky). That's 7:30 PM at The Book Collector. And for more poetry from Dawn-D, go to Medusa's archives at the right and click on May, 2007 and scroll down to May 29, or to Sept. 2007 and scroll down to Sept. 11.

This week we're talking about money. Here are some thoughts on the same by Patricia Hickerson, Taylor Graham, and Kevin Jones. Join in the fray; send your poetic thoughts about money to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.


bring me a bracelet
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

on stiletto heels
she stalks her easel, brush in hand
excuse me, Jin says, but I am no artist

her crowded studio
her sheer blouse
her gold chain

what is she? all of 20? making money
oh I’d rather be in Guangzhou, Jin says
I like the big city life
it’s so boring here in Old Dam Art Town
I might as well be on the farm again
she laughs hoarsely
brush never wavers

it has to be perfect she says
this painting of Water City (needs more N-3GI)
she gazes at a postcard of Venice
or they’ll send it back

I know nothing about art
I don’t know how to paint, she laughs
I hate painting

bring me a bracelet she tells her boyfriend
he’s a copyist, too,
he brings their copies to an agent in the city
I want a bracelet from Guangzhou, she says

a bracelet


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Elihu Burritt, Consular Agent at Birmingham, England 1868

For once in your life, Elihu, you have a steady
job. No more piecework at the smithy,
where you starve if no one needs a hoe-head
or a plough. Better yet, it’s government
employment; Congress sets your pay.

Of course, you’ve got expenses:
printing, postage, envelopes, a clerk; rent,
coal and gas, taxes; charities, subscriptions,
public dinners and occasions. Food.

Now—with Mr. Lincoln dead—
Congress cuts your modest pay, and
retroactively! Once again, you may starve,
or sell your rocky farm back home
to subsidize your service.

But Congress will have its say.
You know how it goes:
the government giveth
and the government taketh away.


—Taylor Graham

A madhouse on the near shore
as pale travelers jostle in the mists
of underground. Once-men
now angular as if hollow wish
and bone, or cut so short in life
you’d think them dwarves
or infants—all mill and stumble
on the mucky shore, and
search their pockets. Some souls
so poor they can’t afford
Hades. Who has a token
for the ferry? Who can ratchet up
courage for the ride? Each one
is worn from striving, wants
the dread river’s washing of hand
and mind. And thrice-famished
Cerberus on the other side.


Today's LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

“You come in late,
You dress badly, you’re
Surly and
You reek of cheap wine,”
The supervisor said.

“That’s because
You don’t
Pay me
Enough to reek
Of expensive wine.”



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 likelihoodof 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.

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.

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


Join us on Wednesday, November 11
for a new chapbook from Dawn DiBartolo
(Secrets of a Violet Sky)
Rattlesnake Reprint #2 from frank andrick
(PariScope: A Triptyche)
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.