Saturday, November 07, 2009

Exhale Some Odes For Us

—Clarence Wolfshohl, Fulton, MO

his pockets are empty
pulled inside out and left surrounded
by a gray canyon
lint hanging to ravelled threads
his mustache droops
frazzled into small curls
over his tight mouth
he does not know what to do
with his hands . . . .
all his pockets have
deserted him.


—Clarence Wolfshohl

At first, she opened
her hand wide.
The bug opened and crawled
off the edge of this small world.

She stooped at the hips,
clumsily grasped the bug
between grains of sand,
rolled it back in her secret palm

and opened her fingers wide again.
The inner-petaled bug unfurled,
spun to the sand
in crustaceous shell ball.

Now she opens her hand slowly,
peering into its dark grotto,
cautiously rolls the bug
into the crease of her palm and fingers,

peels back her fingers
in a timelapse motion
like a lily revealing its secrets
to the sun.


—Clarence Wolfshohl

(In memory of Leslie Duston)

Japanese plum petals litter the sill—
deckled edge purple softening to a ghost
gray with faint pink veins, a white almost
ivory, a radiant pink–all mute until
whirled across gardens by these gusts of April,
and they float to earth, become women
shuffling like orient maidens against the wind.
Still here on the ledge, one delicate petal
awaits its own time to pirouette to earth
in the silks of the wind, to land in rebirth
as one who strides with unbounded mettle
to realms where only her feet dare the dance
among the temples of fate, of chance,
of questions auguries of plum blossoms cannot settle.


—Jeff Dutko, West Hartford, CT

Over coffee, with imitation silk tie in hand
still in use, but not as supportive as once the case
I thumb through the weekends want ads
for available ways to augment my irons

Looking for the windows of opportunity
forced open by the back draft of thousands
pressing shut the doors of down economics
looking for the perfect product to match these times

Independent of my brain, my fingers
presciently weave this new widget
as they work out the complexities
of the noose with my tie

(As I fold the paper closed
I can not help but think
about shutting that open window too

Depending upon its proximity to the penthouse
it could cut into the profits of my new
and entangling entrepreneurial venture).


—Jeff Dutko

For years, I painted words
into the corner of the page
and held them at bay with a fine-haired trim brush
making them heel in unnatural poses
for so long that when I turned my back
they began to snarl at readers
who, after recoiling their hands
gently back pedaled away
afraid of a mark left on the skin

When no visitors returned to the room of the poem
I retired the paintbrush to its easel home
and with a worn-handled broom
began sweeping up the page
nudging outside the dusted words
that long ago settled down
at first obediently, than obstinately
leashed to an antiquated idea of order

With the room now scattered clean
morning finally falls on the page
the work is done and it is time to leave
but before I do, I slide open a window
and prop the broom against the door to keep it ajar
inviting your return
inviting you to breathe in the air of the poem
offering you a chance to exhale your own ode


—Jeff Dutko

Gazing at the rain speckled asphalt
its now deeper black space flecked with sand
mirroring a motionless interplanetary mural
it all looks so imaginable
from this vantage point on the leading edge

And then as gravity pulls me into its orbit
I think, oh shit
we are the advanced alien beings
the prototype that first leapt into space
just as we once first climbed out
of the primordial swamps

The higher life form, if you will
the first to fill the empty ether
with oddly blinking and tilting spaceships
flying in wait for our evolutionary understudies
to advance to an age or tenderness
or a usefulness that we find appealing

In the near future
it will be us mysteriously circling night skies
while below the horizon huddled in doorways
mothers will use their heavenly bodies
to shield their awestruck children


Today's LittleNip:

leaves like bird shadows
the winter moon



Thanks to our out-of-town guests, Clarence Wolfshohl and Jeff Dutko, for their poems today! Both Clarence and Jeff have previous and up-coming work in Rattlesnake Review.


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.