Saturday, January 09, 2010

Where Music Is

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

(for John Cage, in memoriam)

Sunday took up
soundproof rooms
of our genius,
I'm playing bass
of a ravenous jazz,
imploding fingers
in atonal clashes,
you on hurting piano
by a wind section
with improvisational
Drum rhythms
sound out in footnotes
by big apple taxis
of eerie urban noises,
we rehearse the cool
chromatic notes
of our adolescent blues,
jumbling wanton distillations
and nerve ending scales
carrying electric cords
of augmented beats,
frazzled metronomes strike
like a couple of pitchmen
moving in aesthetic time.


—B.Z. Niditch

In the cataracts
of "Sugar Night"
you expect
the city to be moved
to sleep in the instant
of asking electricity.

Let's go
past reverberating mirrors
lines of scorned tongues
where the moon
has a reprobate quarter
and balconies
slide from Friday on Saturday.

Beside you
this night is imperceptible
when grief is transparent
and bread is pillaged
for a four-seasoned refugee
and white
is blacker than mineral springs
outside the chloroform street pulse.


—B.Z. Niditch

Sitting around the table
sunlight slips away
its crystal inconvenience
same old dusk
by the effaced portrait
at the open window
its passing strip of sky
daubed with pink,
expecting guests
at a moment's arrival
with Proustian phrases
tortured confessions
of catching idle gossip
by unveiled fruit
looking like a Cezanne
among the dead of season
suddenly a returning memory,
the dark spotted gesture
a wounded after word
follows me home
and muffled wisdom
boxed in blindness
of a striking voice
from the past
of Grandpa Mendes
saying to a child of ten
"life is not poetry,
but prose."


—B.Z. Niditch

In a treehouse
with shadow play
a boy leafs through secrets
spying on aspen and elm
frozen in the open woods
ice spreads its shadow
on white sugared mounds
with a one-eyed sun
outspread over tasseled snow
exposing winter's threats.

A lone birdsong
calls from heightened clouds
followed by another runaway
circling on a bicycle
with a stolen lens
losing the memory of footsteps
eating up photos of you
the wind reminds him
of an absent time
and only you, diary
will have an open line
of this effaced hour.


Today's LittleNip:

When I asked John, a professional composer, about his creative process, he said, "I go to the place where music is, I listen, find what I want, and bring it down into the world."

—Lewis Richmond, A Whole Life's Work



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. Let me know if you don't get yours by the end of the week.

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. (Check out our updated format! Did you know that, if you click on the pictures we post, they'll enlarge for you?) 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, especially for NorCal poetry. 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, mini-reviews of poetry and books about poetry (100 words or less), and 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. Voila! Or, if you know the date, go to the archives column at the right, click on the year and scroll down to the month, then the day.
Plus, be sure to check out the links in the right-hand column for more poetry and poetry news, local and otherwise. You can also become a "follower", or click on the pix of the followers to see what's going on with them (D.R. Wagner and Donald Anderson, e.g.) or send Medusa to somebody else.

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.


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.