Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Into the Dragon Mist!

Joanna Rosinska

—Joanna Rosinska, Corvallis, OR

Ever since I could remember needing
a mood altering experience
I would head for the nearest hospital cafeteria.

Just as Maud (of Harold and Maud)
would attend funerals,
I’d go for pre-mortal drama
of body parts in gruesome collages
of the buffet.
For starters, a mound of hardboiled eggs arranged on a tray,
a proof of cataracts in eggs
rimmed with lashes of parsley.

I start vapidly:
some embryonic lentil soup
of nondescript color
Aww, main courses:
grilled, chicken pecs?
cadaverously dark turkey slice?
or someone’s meatballs today?
All deliciously obscene; what a choice…

In the line with me
there are people for whom food is …not an object.
They are parked here to tend to their loved ones.
I know nobody in this hospital;
this makes for a perfect incognito adventure.

My palms get sweaty thinking
of the normalcy of body parts here,
human or other,
and that the hospital workers
are desensitized to them.
In fact, I am certain that here
pathologists eat their lunch
nonchalantly, among corpses,
in the basement morgue,
while the cafeteria serves animal and plant body parts….
Food for thought, that is;
jiggling cherry jelly
from a brain-shaped mold,
dishes of vanilla pudding:
swaying globs adorned with lung-like halves of walnuts
custard bars topped with apricots split
and pressed
in gooey creamy bog
buttocks up.

Unnaturally pink butterflies on the tablecloths
no longer hold appeal of innocence of consumption for me.
Each visit to body-part buffet awakens a predator in me.
I devour the quiescent eye-like, boiled, hard eggs, with pars-lashes
engulf the “jiggly” things
and suck in tomato-sauce-drowned linguini,
like limp jugular veins.

I wonder if they also admit vampires to hospitals.
Obviously, yes!
no identification stamps of the foreheads
of those doomed for their sorry impulses…
A high risk group, one may say, living their sickly lives.
Do they ever die of AIDS?

What if this man with elongated face behind me
is one of them?
His teeth tucked under his lips, he drools
while looking at drips of melting cherry jelly…

I can’t remember when I started putting on a robe
and darker glasses before coming here.
All just to blend in,
so my eyes darting shamelessly around the platters of
recently deceased organs
will not draw anyone’s attention.
I feel my hands trembling as I load food on my tray.
I’m keeping my head down,
and trying to stay calm.
I really cannot afford
to be kicked out
of this hospital
as well.


Joanna Rosinska, a native of Poland, has been a lyricist, musician, playwright, stage director and journalist. She currently writes poetry and short stories and creates cartoons and soundscapes (multilayered performances of poetry in voice and sound). Her particular interests in poetry and cartoons are nature and surrealism. Her poems and a short story have been published in several small Northwest publications. Joanna lives with her husband, two dogs and a horse in Corvallis, OR. She is an avid dressage rider. She also trains dogs and is working toward becoming a dog behavior consultant.

Cartoon by Joanna Rosinska

Thanks, Joanna, for today's feature! Joanna is part of a writing group called the Dragons that meets in Oregon; Sacramentans will remember some of its other members, Be Davison Herrera and Colette Jonopulos, both of whom used to live in Sacramento. The Dragons whipped up a treat for readers of Rattlesnake Review; pick up your free copy of our new issue at the reading tonight (The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM), when we will let the new Snake out of his cage—plus a wonderful chapbook from Carol Frith: The Thread of Dreams. Be there!

And we're having a rare Open Mic tonight, too. If you'd like to read a "seasonal" poem, let me know and I'll put you on The List. Anything from Thanksgiving through New Year's, including all the holidays, the solstice, the weather...

Thanks to Richard Zimmer for his rondelet, our Seed of the Week (see below). There was a wee error in my description yesterday; a rondelet is seven lines: line
s 1, 3, and 7 are the same (4 sylllables). The other lines are 8 syllables (yesterday I said 7, though the "map" below was correct): lines 2, 5, 6 rhyme with each other, and line 4 rhymes with the refrain. So, to wit:

1. xxxA
2. xxxxxxxb
3. xxxA
4. xxxxxxxa
5. xxxxxxb
6. xxxxxxxb
7. xxxA

Send your rondelets to C'mon, it's easy: look at all the repeated lines! No deadlines on SOWs. Here's Richard's fine example:

—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

On empty days,
when things all seem to take too long,
on empty days,
take time to stop and change your ways,
fill your life with a dance and song...
the carefree way to right what’s wrong,
on empty days.


—Joanna Rosinska

Fall is hanging in a delicate November balance.
We, the Western Oregonians, realize
the coming of the inevitable.
I hold sunny thoughts every chance I get
to postpone the deluge.

In the higher, eastern planes
folks think of holidays,
national or religious
at this time each year.
But not here!
The freedom of expression
granted to weather here
culminates in precipitation
that’s more like dreary libation!

After years of acquiescing to rainy seasons
I began to will the dry spells
but with limited success.

My friends and I hold dry thoughts collectively
all the way through December.
We even refuse to sweat.
It may be unreasonable, of course
to expect no rain until March,
but postponing November downpour
has been our goal for years.

In vain, we’ve asked the frogs,
the holders of the earth’s water rights,
to hold back rather than give back.

Each year there are more of us joining
in hopeful chanting for a break in the rain.
Some of us tried to dance
the sacred Rain Dance backwards,
since none among us has ever heard
of any anti-rain jig.
Still, the Rain-Spirit remains indifferent.

For Sun Dance with chest piercing
we don’t have the guts.

So this year, I took the matter into my own hands:
I invited my dry-winter loving friends
to march with me for drier weather.
We will march on a local weather station!
Shoulder to shoulder,
ready for anything
armed with demands.

We will take over the weather vane,
the rain gauge, and the barometer, if necessary
Into the mist!

Joanna Rosinska


Today's LittleNip:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.

—Robert Benchley



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 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!


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 newest 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.