Thursday, December 17, 2009

Only The Light

—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

I worry in worlds of possibilities
before there are limits and rules.

If ever a bird told secrets, this
was the day. It went from tree to tree
giving up its stories. An owl stole
one of them, disappearing over the fields,
wide as a big river, where anything can
become invisible with enough encouragement.
Grass held what was left of the original
words, a nesting of verbs with open,
hungry mouths, asking for action.
But there was nothing bright enough
to attract even a crow, nothing
worth the trouble to pass it on.


Thanks to Ann Menebroker for the poem that not only speaks to our Seed of the Week: House of Cards, but to my wee owl visitor of last Sunday.

The Snake is unraveling a bit here: my computer died. Kaput. Nada. I'm using Sam's, which is the good news. The bad news is that, although I knew this was coming and had evacuated most of Snakedom to his computer already, apparently I didn't transfer the last/new Snake. The good news is that we have a Retrospect program which probably has it. The bad news is that we haven't gotten it out of there yet. So the good news is that we probably will, but the bad news is that contributor/subscriber copies are delayed—not to mention the Christmas rush if I mail them this week or next. The good news is that there are some copies in The Book Collector still, but the bad news is that there aren't all that many. And the final good news is that I can always retype it. (Which is bad news, for me, actually...)

Chaos and change. A fitting subject for this week; at such times, all we can do is wax up our philosophicals. Let us drown ourselves in poetry...


—Chrys Mollett, Angels Camp

Tiger, Tiger! Burning Bright.
On the green and in the night
We all thought you had it right.
Talent, skill, a beautiful face—
Moving with a tiger's grace.
First in everything, your place
But Tiger, Tiger, now your fall
Has shocked and disappointed all.
A long way down from where you were—
And half the world will side with her.


—William Bronk

How soon across these hills air
hazes green to blue, then hardens it
to purple. Ah, the changes! Cloud shadows run
the lifted contours of the ground and the earth is moved
like water, form and color changing with the light.

And there is weather here, and season, so that hour
by hour, month to month, it seems it could be
almost only by our own not
moving that this air-moved, lightmoved, restless place
could be called, as we do all it, the same place.

Oh call it so, but rather because a change
which stills all other change is in ourselves
where an inner weather rages and becalms, grows light
and dark, with as complete effect as though
it were everything the weather, the shifts of light.


—William Bronk

Belief goes in time, belief in the self
included. What was it I was, or thought I would be?
Who could remember? Something of fruit, of trees,
of things that show their form from the start and grow
larger, fuller, riper, in the same form.
More of that form. That was wrong. For me
it was wrong. No matter. There are changes. Forms are destroyed.

I am the stripped house, paint-peeled,
dewindowed. The airs blow through. What comes comes.
Snow in winter. I am open. It would be wrong
to speak of growing. Fruit and trees no more.
And no going. I am here. I turn my hand,
my mind, to whatever or fail to. Something to do.
I like it. Whatever else there is is gone.


—William Bronk

Isn’t it true though, we could ask
—who?—almost anybody, what’s
it all about? Yet, asking, not
wait for an answer, or getting one, part
of one, suspect it, scoff, know it was false.
It is—strangely—as though we already knew.
It is as though we agreed, all agreed
never to say it, to lie about it, speak
anything but the truth, knowing what we know.


—William Bronk

Seen by starlight from the window, fat
blue spruces patch the lawn with darker dark.

Arranged in pairs. People no longer plant
these trees in pairs, with bird baths set between.

Fashions in ornamental planting change.
Houses and yards lose style in twenty years.

Seen by starlight. The universal stars.
Something here is certainly laughably wrong.

Ideas are always wrong. Their separateness
causes a threat to neuter each other out

and leave us without a world as it does here:
heavens and styles collide meaninglessly.

The unsubmissive mind has freedom to be
nothing, worldless—not to exist at all.

Because the various world we sense is not
ever apprehended as one, or formed as one,

ideas are always wrong, always unfixed
and often their power to make the world real is lost.

Huge factors stand ready to leap in
to alter or destroy a world we defend alone.


—William Bronk

The light at least was not to be dismissed:
a hunked-up moon rode a starred sky.
Those objects—what were those objects? Some trivial trees.
Something. Never mind. It was the light
that mattered, as earlier—that afternoon—
the wash of sun crossing the same place;
but it was not the same in a different light.

Would it be otherwise in a real world?
Who could answer? Here, it was always the light
that mattered, and only the light. Once, it had seemed
the objects mattered: the light was to see them by.
Examined, they yielded nothing, nothing real.
They were for seeing the light in various ways.
They gathered it, released it, held it in.
In them, the light revealed itself, took shape.
Objects are nothing. There is only the light, the light!


Today's LittleNip:

—William Bronk

Order is what teaches us the abstract because
whatever we make of order defaults, is wrong.
Things and systems all come apart. There is no
order we can live with. There is nothing else.

—William Bronk

Our passion for chaos is more than our passion for form.
We want disorder. Order? Yes: the way
we make love. Wonderful; but we can't
be at it always. Trash it! Trash it all!



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

The Thread of Dreams,
a new chapbook from Sacramento's
Carol Frith, is now available at The Book Collector,
1008 24th St., Sacramento.


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 as soon as I'm able
(computer troubles).
Contributor and subscription copies
will go into the mail as soon as the troubles go away.

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 the 2nd Weds. reading series (except for January).
Watch this spot for further developments!—I suspect that the break
will be short-lived and will engender lots of activity,
including calls for submissions
to some exciting new projects.
Don't miss 'em!

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!


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.

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


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.