Photo by Mary Mills
—Mary Mills, West Deptford, NJ
Don’t touch the cats.
don’t pet the cats.
I heard them say
as I walked in
I climb and climb
thousands of years;
I keep climbing;
the sun’s rising
My belly is heavy
from a burden.
worn from my unborn.
I stop at the top
I drink the water
you offer me
with haste not waste
Didn’t you hear them say
don’t touch the cats
don’t pet the cats
as you climbed up
For you I sat
for a picture-
a cat fat with
young in her belly
Thanks to Mary Mills and Salvatore Buttaci, two right-Coasters, for today's poetry. Sal, a long-time SnakePal and contributor, has a new book out: Flashing My Shorts. Check it out at allthingsthatmatterpress.com/buynow.htm and at Amazon.com
Wow! Last night's Rattlesnake reading was hijacked by some local SnakePals and well-wishers; all I remember is the two featured readers, Colette Jonopulos and JoAn Osborne, getting up and announcing that they weren't going to read, and me thinking, Great. Now I have an hour to fill. After that, it's all a blur. But apparently I read for 20 minutes, then folks got up and said nice things about the Snake (including poems put into beautiful broadsides by the long-suffering Richard Hansen), then we had cake and champagne and other wonderful things to eat. At least that's what they tell me; I'm still in shock... But thanks to all of those who contributed their words, their time, energy, generosity (and secrecy!—I didn't have a clue) to make it a wonderful event. (I don't know who to single out, though I do know the Hansens were key, and the Tiger's Eye gals.) My only regret is that we didn't get to hear Colette and JoAn, both wonderful poets, and I apologize to those of you who arrived thinking that was the soup du jour...
Serendipitously, and because Tiger's Eye was releasing my chapbook, I wheedled Sam into coming, and I glad he was there to share this with me. If you scroll down to "Life in Pollock Pines" on the bulletin board, you'll see him recovering. Sam has a new sketchbook series coming out from Oni Press; Google "sam kieth amazon" to see a preview of it.
While you're looking at Sam the Odalisque, check out the links section again. I'm up to 60, and there's no end in sight to poetry-related sites in our area. Dude!
Another of our SnakePals and frequent contributor of photography and poetry, Stephani Schaefer, is gathering work for a project that starts with photos and ends with words. She is seeking poetry and prose. The publisher will be Lost Hills Books. Send query to firstname.lastname@example.org for photos and guidelines.
LIKE A FIERY COMET
—Salvatore Buttaci, Princeton, WV
she's holding onto the tail of the year
riding it like a fiery comet
but the year is deaf to
regrets and requests
it's got an appointment to keep
with the trash heap of history
it's got to arrive there at midnight
it's got to dive into the burning barrel
it's got to submit to the new year
that stands there stirring the pot
turning up the fingered flames
bragging how it'll be a better year
but the old one's gained wisdom
twelve-months of it under its belt
and it knows as it burns
even a year just does what it can
IF ONLY POEMS COULD SAVE US
I wish poems were antidotes
for life's poisons
an eye pill to cure the dying
something to read ourselves
to sleep each night
and awaken feeling young
as the rising new dawn
an amulet to wear
around our necks
to ward off evil spirits
to purify the air
to enable us to hover
in our walk through life
over the weed fields
In a last ditch effort to save himself
he dove into the white rapids
Without a paddle or a prayer
Doubting he’d survive the spraying plummet
Into what he was certain was certain death
So it amazed him when the roaring waters
Finally bit their tongues and in the silence
That comes with miraculous events
He lay panting on the rocky shore
Swearing aloud he would turn a new leaf
Marry the woman who frightened him
With threats of a marital forever
He would grin and bear it because
After all he just beat death
And God, that felt great enough
To convince him he could take on life
Destroy whoever the enemies were
Walk with his head high like a man
Who suddenly finds out he’s invincible
The prisoner nobody but nobody takes
PRETENDING IT’S STILL DAY
lost to the call of the evening
when stars lure the weary
with talk of sleep dreams
I pretend the day never ended
the moon somehow fell into
the wrong galactic ring
the voices of daytime still speak
of coming snowfalls
the loss of loved ones
the heaviness of sorrow
until the inevitable
coup de grace
that sleep presses like
the edge of a sword
against my forehead
WE KID OURSELVES
We envied Richard Cory
For the good life that he led,
But it was quite another story:
He put a bullet in his head.
Sometimes what we’re seeing
Is not what’s there to see,
And we kid ourselves believing
What life brings is “woe is me.”
Let’s put aside self-pity,
Thank God for what He gives.
Dig down deep to nitty-gritty,
Begin with the breath that lets us live.
And don’t forget what’s gold won’t stay,
But love is never ending.
Things of this life will fade away.
To God your thanks be sending.