Thursday, December 31, 2009

Like Drunken Wildfire

—Tu Fu

The men and beasts of the zodiac
Have marched over us once more.
Green wine bottles and red lobster shells,
Both emptied, litter the table.
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" Each
Sits listening to his own thoughts,
And the sound of cars starting outside.
The birds in the eaves are restless,
Because of the noise and light. Soon now
In the winter dawn I will face
My fortieth year. Borne headlong
Towards the long shadows of sunset
By the headstrong, stubborn moments,
Life whirls past like drunken wildfire.

(Translated from the Chinese by Kenneth Rexroth)


Turns out that "once in a blue moon" is not so rare, after all; a blue moon (two full moons in one month) actually happens about once every 2-1/2 years. Tonight is one of them, in fact, at 7-11—7:11 PM, that is.

We're still having the lira give-away; see yesterday's post for details. Deadline is midnight on Sunday. Thanks to Taylor Graham for a couple more of them, "Taylor-made". (It's not every day one can work "rutabaga" into a poem.) And to Shawn Aveningo and Katy Brown for contribs, plus Donald Anderson and Marie Ross for their joint poem. Happy New Year's Eve!


—Taylor Graham

Blackberries sweet with August,
dark-succulent as everlasting summers.
January’s meager crust:
ice-crystal stars in road-dust;
echoes of brambles loud with bees and hummers.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

She walks below castle walls—
a new-year’s feast to comfort against the cold—
tapestries in chilly halls,
silken ladies, sequined balls.
What secrets those moats and battlements must hold.

She walks the green wall of trees—
a monastery, its garden hidden there,
rutabaga, spinach, peas—
penniless prayers to appease
an old year’s sorrow; hopes for peace; quiet air.

Those wildwood privacies, those
stone sanctums and closets of a lone desire—
what might the new year disclose?
Petals of the gypsy’s rose,
night’s wild communal music around a fire.


FROM AUGHTS TO OTS…we oughta know by now
—Shawn Aveningo, Rescue

The year, 1999.
The date, December 31st.
It was THE party of the century,
even wilder than Prince could imagine.
Which, let’s face it,
is saying A LOT!
She wore her body-hugging
dress in black,
yet apropos,
paying her last respects
for a century passed.

Less than five minutes
frantic wait staff
filled champagne flutes
to the rim.
Just as Dick Clark
cued the ball’s descent,
the room went pitch black.
She felt a soft tap.
Then another.
And another.
From lips, to hips,
from tips to toes.

Auld Lang Syne
blasted from the Bose.
Room now illuminated by
a mysterious purple glow.
All she could see were
glowing white circular stickers,
adorning each tit,
freckling her ass,
sparkling on her body
like cosmic beacons
on a crisp winter’s night.

The man next to her
playfully inquired,
“What do polka dots taste like?”
She simply smiled.

……And that, my friends,
is how this decade
became nicknamed the “ots”,
short for polka dots
of course.


—Donald R. Anderson and Marie J. Ross, Stockton

The trees grew at a slant from such force of wind,
the windows recessed so far within.
A year’s end celebration...
Snow dressed the landscape with the power of white,
its overcoat blown open as the blusterous gale echoed.
And in the marsh the trees ruled with the power of black—
critters rummaging to warm hollow places, fiesta of night.
The cork popped, giggling voices capturing the air, music
no one heard because dizziness colored the whirling room
as one stepped out into the cold.
A bird was calling, like an angel’s voice crying,
sweetly collecting what bugs it could from the bark;
she held back her hair scattering into her face in a gust.
She walked toward the barn, watching her footsteps sink
into icy turf, just like the time his walked the other way.
Flurry, the chestnut-colored mare, was restless because of the noise.
She calmly stroked the mare’s neck, “Shh-shh-shh-shh.”
“I’ll be here with you,” she said, “the silence will enfold the night,
the snow storm will ease, let’s pretend the noise makers are sounds
of nature meant especially for us.” What was Flurry without the wind,
and what was she without...
she led Flurry out of the barn, mounted her, feeling the need to run
as much as Flurry did,
and they raced with the wind at their back
till they were dizzy.

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis


Today's LittleNip:

Finishing a day of begging,
I return home through the green mountains.
The setting sun is hidden behind the western cliffs
And the moon shines weakly on the stream below.
I stop by a rock and wash my feet.
Lighting some incense, I sit peacefully in zazen.
Again a one-man brotherhood of monks; quickly the stream of time sweeps by.

(Translated from the Japanese by John Stevens)



SnakeWatch: A New Year with Rattlesnake Press:


Issue #24 is now available (free) at The Book Collector
or may be ordered through—
or send me 4 bux and I'll mail you one.
Contributor and subscription copies
will go into the mail this week and next.

After this issue, Rattlesnake Review and most of our
other print projects will be taking
a few months off for remodeling—
but not Medusa's Kitchen, WTF (see below)
or our 2nd Weds. reading series (except for no reading in January).
Watch Medusa's Kitchen for further developments,
and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, Snakebytes,
by writing to me at


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.

WTF is the only Rattlesnake print publication
that will keep going during our break;
next deadline (for Issue #5) is Jan. 15.

Send 3 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).
No simultaneous submissions, previously published work,
bios or cover letters.
And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at


During our hiatus from most print publications (except WTF),
Medusa will keep cooking in the Kitchen every day.
Only a few of our poets have picked up on the fact, though,
that Medusa's Kitchen is a great way to get your work out there
on a very frequent basis; the snakes of Medusa are always hungry.
Plus, we accept previously-published work—such a deal!—
(please cite publication and be sure you own the rights)
and, like our other journals,
no bios or cover letters are required; just mark it for Medusa.
Send it all to or
P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
(No simultaneous submissions, though, please.)

I'm convinced that the 'Net
is the future of poetry; print may continue,
and of course has its benefits,
but where else can your work be seen by
an almost unlimited number of people (including your relatives)
with this kind of speed and frequency??
Where else can you connect with Duluth or Greece or Zimbabwe
for free, day by day, liberated from
the vicissitudes of the postal service???

So keep sending poetry, photos, art, cartoons, events,
reviews of poetry and books about poetry,
other handy resources such as books, websites
and submissions opportunities—
whatever poetry goings-on that can be posted.
Watch line lengths on poetry, though; they are limited on the blog.
Blogspot does refuse to indent, too; work must be justified left.

Need to find a poet who posted in the past, including yourself?
Go to the search bar at the upper left of the blog and
type in the name.
Or, if you know the date, go to the archives column at the right,
click on the month and scroll down to the day.

Plus, be sure to check out the links in the right-hand column
for more poetry and poetry news, local and otherwise.

(Did you know that, if you click on the pictures
we post, they'll enlarge for you?)

So watch for an expansion of offerings and opportunities
as the Kitchen gets remodeled along with everything else ophidian—
2010 is going to be a
Big Year for the Snake!

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
in print and otherwise.
Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or
write to me (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free!
See for a complete listing of all our other
publications, free and otherwise. There's a link to the right.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as REVIEWS, RESOURCES and 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.