Saturday, December 19, 2009

Those Gnomes of Home

Create your OWN luck...


letters, memos, notebooks,
empty envelopes with poems on the back,
books, pamphlets, old newspapers,
magazines, fliers, index cards...

I live in a house of cards,
flattened boxes, printer paper,
photographs, post-it notes,
maps, instruction books
for appliances I no longer own,
postcards, posters, scraps...

I live in a house of cards,
insurance policies, old tax returns,
workbooks, expired coupons, lists,
receipts, phonebooks, rosters,
wrapping paper, drawing paper,
expired New Year's resolutions
about creating order out of chaos...

I live in a house of cards.

—Katy Brown, Davis


Thanks to Katy and today's other poets! Hell, it's all just a house of cards, right?

Update on Snake computer issues: there isn't any. My computer helpers have been very busy and haven't been able to come to the rescue yet, but we'll get there.

To repeat yesterday's message about Time Tested Books: Medusa apologizes for a calendar error last Monday; the Time Tested Books reading took place on Dec. 13, not this coming Sunday. That was the last in the poetry reading series for Time Tested, by the way. They have future events scheduled, though—check their website at


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

And if we can’t be soldiers, let’s leave gnomes,
jests, riddles, scrawls as proofs we were once new:
let each of us die a famous death at home.

John Keats, his lungs destroyed, in a room in Rome,
last breaths like sallow flowers sparsely strewn,
writes few last letters—every word a gnome.

Lincoln, the weary face all plow-scored loam,
retains the wrestler frame of striving youth,
grows “one with the ages” dying at someone’s home.

The dying Beethoven, thumbing through oratorios
of Handel—think of the works he won’t peruse—
braids death-as-allegory into his genome:

the Hammerklavier fist at thunder-groans
unheard, the abdomen sluicing bitter juice
—caught dying a famous death in a squalid home.

Franz Schubert, of songs and musical palindromes,
a symphony cut short that no one views,
bequeaths to legend his death-and-maiden gnomes.

Like these, let us die famous deaths at home.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

These pathways are lined with anxious
Dreamers, unable to sleep.
The floors are damp with longing.
Animals drift past, unaware of our
We speak to each other abandoning
Some live their entire lives like this.

The trees are terribly upset.
They shake their branches pretending
There is a wind. An elm of great age
Has split itself apart. Pale ropes
In a rage from within the white wood.
Rain. Snow. Are you alone my

Can you hear the red voices
Naming your sweet children
Like an adagio or an intemperance
From the stomach? Unable to swallow
We offer them to your red seasons,
Our hands unclean. We send them back
To God as if they were a charm
On a little girl's first bracelet
That has become lost and causes
A crying as only little girls cry
For lost things. Take away their
Guns before we are all dead.

The dream of the children inviolate.
A spinning out of control, beyond
All kinds of dreaming. Children
Are reduced to names. We forget
They shot from our bodies fully
Alive. We have no idea how love
Impacts the core of our being.
We will do anything to name
How we spin everything against
What we really want to happen.
We call it our lives. Then it becomes such.

So still we think
It might be the young
Of some deep forest animal.
It is not. It is our heart.

I’m breaking the morning.
There are spirits drifting
Through our bloodstreams.
We offer them to the gods.
We think we are smiling
As if there were more information.
Somehow there never is enough.

We smile to ourselves.
Whatever we think is poison.

Window shopping
For souls. Sometimes
They are the broad
Leaves of the deep
Purple iris. Sometimes
They are the vestments
Of the eyes as they gaze
Into those of a lover.
Sometimes they are shopping
For souls, forcing dreams
To submit to their fantasies
Without regard for the hours
Being chanted aloud before
The sun has even considered rising.


Today's LittleNip:

stand tiptoe on the tip of a needle
like a grain of sand flashing in sunlight




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.