Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busily Shuffling Mysteries

String Beans
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Adam Zagajewski

I read a Chinese poem

written a thousand years ago.

The author talks about the rain

that fell all night

on the bamboo roof of his boat

and the peace that finally

settled in his heart.

Is it just coincidence

that it's November again, with fog

and a leaden twilight?

Is it just chance

that someone else is living?

Poets attach great importance
to prizes and success

but autumn after autumn

tears leaves from the proud trees
and if anything remains

it's only the soft murmur of the rain

in poems

neither happy nor sad.

Only purity can't be seen,

and evening, when both light and shadow

forget us for a moment,

busily shuffling mysteries.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Any custom, new or old, that can be adopted
to bring back
this old social feeling and companionship
is a boon
and a blessing to the country.
—Elihu Burritt, “A Model Farmer’s Harvest Home”

A kitchen hearth-stone wide and deep enough,
and the long, broad table—at its head, the farmer;
foreman at the foot. Along the sides, men and boys
of plough and sickle, mattock, flail, and scythe.

Farmer-boss and workers of the field—one
harvest family. Already in your day, Elihu,
such camaraderie was going out of style.

But here you find it. Glint of fire off polished
tin and copper, bowls and trenchers, home-
baked bread and home-brewed ale. Sides of bacon
hung among massive hams, festoons of wheat
and barley, garden fruits and flowers.

Then such a clatter and ringing of spoons
against mugs for the toast. Up and down the table,
every farm-hand becomes “a jolly good
fellow!” Farmer-boss and workers of the field—
a reason for thanksgiving.


What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving?
Lots, except for cruelty and suffering on a plate
Yes some eat "Tofurkey"
but that is rather bland and processed
The wheat gluten, too, is not for everyone
Vegans can eat plenty of the Indians' "Three Sisters":
there are many varieties of squash, corn, and beans
all of which are best eaten in their raw state
hopefully grown organic and genetically unaltered
There are also plenty of "sweets"
including fruits as dates and cranberries
eaten as God intended in the beginning in Eden
And to thankfully brag "to eat like a Prince"
just like the vegan rock star

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


The man who ate too much.

He saw the turkey...said, Okay!
Began putting the food away.
Stuffed in the stuffing
and cranberry sauce...said,
Pass the gravy across!

Mashed potatoes were going fast.
He ate like this dinner was his last.
All of a sudden he began to swell.
His friends and family asked
...Are you feeling well?

He grew bigger and bigger,
rose right off of his chair...
began free-floating into the air...
flew out the window, got stuck in a tree.
How all of this happened...a mystery.

The food was great...
he loaded his plate,
then sadly, did over-inflate.

—Poem and sketch by
Richard Zimmer, Sacramento


Today's LittleNip:

Look! The silk in the milkweed pods is what the fairies use to stuff their mattresses. Blow on the dandelion down to make a wish...Pause in the middle of fantasy to see the natural world as fragile and precious, threatened as well as caressed by human dreaming.

—Mary Catherine Bateson



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Deadline was November 15 for RR24; join us
for its unveiling and get your free copy at
The Book Collector on
Wednesday, December 9.
After this issue, Rattlesnake Review will be taking
a few months off for remodeling—
watch this spot for further developments!

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!


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)!

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 fourth 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.

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


The Thread of Dreams,
a new chapbook from
Carol Frith,
will be premiered at
The Book Collector on
December 9, 7:30 PM,
along with the new issue of
Rattlesnake Review.
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.