Saturday, November 14, 2009

Four Gentlemen & A Snake

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—Arthur Winfield Knight,
Yerington, NV

I watch Flaming Bullets
with Tex Ritter at 3 a.m.,
sipping a glass of wine.
I remember watching
old western movies
in black and white
every Saturday afternoon
when we got
our first television set.
It was a Hoffman Easy Vision
with a green tinted screen.
Tex and Hoppy and Lash
shot it out with the bad guys,
bam, bam, bam,
but no one ever died.
It wasn’t anything
like real life.


Thanks to today's creators: Bob Dreizler, Arthur Winfield Knight, D.R. Wagner, Richard Zimmer. All of these gentlemen will be represented in the next Rattlesnake Review, due out in mid-December, for which the deadline is tomorrow, Sunday, November 15! 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. Watch for Arthur's poem: "Lesbian Cop", as this ex-Sacramentan tells us of his on-going adventures in Yerington, Nevada.

You may remember from my monthly newsletter, Snakebytes, that some of our projects will be going on sabbatical as of January 1. We'll be cutting back on print projects for several months in order to rest, recuperate and re-think; someone said at the reading this week that the Snake will be shedding his skin. Closed for remodeling. [More about that in Issue #24.] So take heed: you might want to send us your poems for Issue #24. The Snake is NOT DEAD—it will continue. But Rattlesnake Review will be in hibernation for a good part of 2010.

A couple of calendar notes:

•••Sunday (11/15), 6-8 PM: The Pomo Literati radio program airs on KUSF 90.3 FM, San Francisco ( Tribute to Jim Carroll w/ rarites and classic works; plus live guests Christopher Fairman w/ poems & music; plus Ross Hammond, Ruben Reveles, Josh Fernandez, and frank andrick soundscapes, poetry, prose, & storytelling. From pre-beat to ‘way post-modern. Anchor/host is Sacramento’s frank andrick.

Benefit to replace the Stanislaus Art Council offices:

Cleo Griffith of Modesto writes: We have all been concerned about the devasting fire which destroyed the SAC office recently and have all wanted to help when we could. The Mediterranean Grill is offering special tickets for breakfasts next week, November 16 through 20, 6 AM-10 AM, anything on the breakfast menu, tickets are $15.00 and TEN DOLLARS goes to the Stanislaus Arts Council! This is a fantastic way to donate to this wonderful cause.

I will be selling tickets to this as will other people and I'm sure you can also get them at the Grill, 576-7116, 421 McHenry Avenue, Modesto, as well as at the Third Tuesday Poetry Reading on November 17 at 6:30 PM at the Barkin' Dog Grill.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you want tickets. Let's really make this a success and get together and have breakfast and toast the arts and poetry and painting, music and togetherness! Info: Cleo at 209-543-1776.


—Arthur Winfield Knight

We awaken to the rain.
“This is too good
to pass up,” Kit says,
resting her head
on my shoulder.
It almost never rains
in the high plains.
We hear the dog sigh
from her maroon blanket
at the foot of the bed.
We listen to the rain
rushing off the eaves,
holding one another.
A new day begins.


—Arthur Winfield Knight

It’s the same thing
every morning.
We walk our greyhound
down Main Street,
past the court house,
Casino West,
the post office.
We stop to let Nikkie
sniff the grass
while we look
at the bulletin board.
The maintenance man
comes running,
shouting, “Nick-o-lie”
when he sees us. He says
we’re in for a cold spell,
rubbing Nikkie’s ears.
My wife says,
“If there were one,
Gary would be president
of a Nikkie fan club.”
We cross the street
when we come to
the Boys & Girls Club,
then stop to let Nikkie
sniff the plants
in front of the thrift store.
This is our town.
We’re at home here.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

You have found bits of song caught
In the spillway of a beaver dam. They
Are church-like in their praising. They shake
The collection of sticks
Piercing the face of the dam like so many
Bayonets. A rain begins and spills
Upon the surface of the pool, each drop a book,
A crowd, a child, a Golden Heart siging to the fools,
To what is left of the dancers, the poor shoulders
Of the river made to bear a cascade of tears.

They have built a monument on the edge
Of a cliff. It is impossible to get close enough
To look at it without plunging into the mind of God.
We stand watching the little fires in its towers,
The pitiful way it seems to contemplate the end
Of day. A vibrant eye peers from every window,
Some of them weep as only ones who have seen murder
Can weep. Ships send up flares to illuminate this place.

We walk along the edge of the pond where the grass
Grows tall and yellow. We stop and kiss each other
Before deciding to lie in this place and create
Another world, full of wings and the silence invented by snow.
We are unquenchable as acrobats before the highest throne.

House, knife, wonder, tears, cold, a flute,
Lambs, bridges, hills, the beautiful dark,
Silver bells opening like journeys, a crying,
Weaving a web around the heart that it may
Not break. All of the heavens resting
In the corners of your smile.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

When small souls gather,
sometimes their mindless chatter
turns to things that matter…

Two men sit on a park bench waiting for
their friend, Monroe, who takes them to
their weekly poker games.

Henry, a young bank clerk, has lost lots
of money playing cards. He nervously sits
twiddling his fingers.

Charlie, a car salesman, asks Henry what
is bothering him. Henry sighs and says that
his wife thinks gambling is a sin.

Charlie laughs, and tells Henry, that since
Henry’s an atheist, and there’s no god, Henry
cannot commit a sin and can do anything that
he pleases.

Henry shakes his head angrily, saying he’s
not an atheist, but an existentialist. A person
who cares about this world, not any imaginary

Henry asks Charlie what he believes. Charlie
tells him, I prefer to think we’re all put here by
intelligent design, and that I am not just some
evolutionary freak.

Henry waves his hands in frustration and says,
Life must be like a poker game, you win or you
lose…that’s all there is to it.


Today's LittleNip:

You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.

—John Ciardi



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!


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 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


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.