Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Onna Roll!

Masked Bandits

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

his mask costs him shaky hands
face settling into pink jello
digestion channeling black lava

at the track the mask drops
he studies the racing form
rushes to the Parimutuel window
places a bet, hustles back to the stands

bells clang
roars mount
gate opens
horse and jockey spill out
hooves pound
hands sweat
photo finish

time and time again
those horses betray him!

resumes his world mask
smiles to recoup loss—
but from which of his naïve ladies?—
for next day’s race card


Thanks to today's contributors! Our Seed of the Week is Masks, and we're going to kick off the official opening of Medusa's remodeled Kitchen with a give-away. Send a poem about masks to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726, and I'll send you any rattlechap of your choosing! (Go to the "rattlechaps" page on for a complete listing.) Give-away SOWs have deadlines; this one is midnight on Sunday, January 31.

Our Kitchen remodeling continues; we're onna roll. More links (since yesterday!), other tidbits, formatting changes. Don't forget—this is an interactive bulletin board, which means send stuff. Bon appetit!

Some contests to pursue; watch the "Deadlines" spot on the bulletin board. Here's one that hasn't been posted here before:

•••Cosumnes River Journal, Cosumnes River College’s fast-growing literary publication wants your short stories, essays (including autobiographical narrative, criticism, interviews, poems + mini-essays (250 words) on LUCK – good or bad. Also art: photos, drawings, etc. Please forward your contributions to Heather at Include no more than 5 poems or photos per entry; limit your short stories + essays to 2 contributions per year. Please send MS Word attachments for writing + jpeg files for the art. Deadline for the Spring 10 issue: e-mail by March 22, 2010.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Symmetry of curtain, stage, and wings,
of Time directing one’s steps
through another performance—a few slips
and slights, maybe a meltdown
now and then, stars being so very flighty.
A theater thrives on hints of scandal.

Now, shall he leave this dwelling—
this comfortable shell, this mask—
for something new? Two acts done.
Can the third make sense of a world
beyond the door? A sea-snail casts off
its outgrown spiral cell.


—Taylor Graham

A Victorian chandelier hangs
from the ceiling, weeping crystal
dewdrops all night. Imagine
its wrought-brass boughs, its tendrils
and metal blossoms are tears
about to fall into dreams

while, beyond the walls,
something screams from the mask
of midnight. Who can tell—
mouse in the owl’s talons, fox
in mourning. Diminishing
calls in the dark.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Midtown Arena:
Freddie Lightning Carter vs.
Billy The Brockton Brawler Jenkins

Ringside seats fill with people,
grim-faced reptilians.
Cold stares await the gladiators.

The balcony crowd wanders to their seats,
animal-like, hoping for a bloody war,
seen from their eagles-nest perch.

The warriors enter, doing their primal dance.
The bell rings—the battle is on.
Howling is heard from the balcony bunch.

Down below, ringsiders sit,
dressed in fancy suits,
hunched on expensive chairs.

Upstairs, the cheap seats scream,
watching their man pound out a win.
Hands held high, the victor grins.

He fought the fight with one intent,
to be the victor in this violent event.
His face was bloodied, his body bruised,
but that doesn't matter, the crowd’s amused.


—Richard Zimmer

A wealthy old man lay dying one night.
Feverish weak eyes create an illusion.
Family, gathered at his bedside, appear
as masks that float around his head.
Faces of Pride—Envy—Malice.

A pretty niece has a rodent’s-head mask
His daughter, a bird-like mask with a beak
that seems ready to peck at anyone nearby.
At her angry look, the old man turns away.
Specters in an endless night.

He sees his son wearing a wolf’s–head mask
with the hungry look of one seeking his prey.
Upset by this, the sick man closes his eyes,
and hopes to awake from this insane dream.
Masks of indifference and scorn.

His stepdaughter enters, walking over to him.
When the old man looks up, he sees no mask,
but a smiling angelic face. “Thank God,” he
sighs, “My illusions have been dispelled.”
Humanity’s healing magic.

Sometimes, near death, the veil that
clouds our minds is lifted by a force
Divine, and the truth, at last, we find.

After the Rain
Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Today's LittleNip:

The stirring of leaves in the wind makes the wind visible. Their stirring is the wind's stirring, their whisper is the wind's whisper. And so with love. Our actions of love make the invisible visible. Our actions of love make love present to ourselves and to others. And as we go out of ourselves in love, and become, as it were, lost in those we love, we discover a self greater than our isolated ego. We discover the birth of that self born of the death to self-centeredness.

—James Finley