Monday, August 30, 2010

Speaking Snake

Catfish McDaris, left, with Ray Bremser

—Catfish McDaris, W. Allis, WI

The rattlesnake lay on a boulder
sunning its diamond back
watching prairie dogs yip & wrestle
blue quail dozing under mesquite

A coyote paws the air
running in a dream
horned toads licking
ants from prickly pear

Waiting for the sun to set
to gossip at the water hole
with the other rattlers

The snake sees a human
a famous poet of some renown
the poet asks in rattlesnake
"Where are you going?" he hisses

"To tell my friends what I saw
today," replied the snake

"A poet that speaks snake?"
asked the human very proud
of his accomplishment

"No, a human that thinks
he's a poet," the snake
slithered away.


Thanks, Catfish! Catfish McDaris say: My guardian poet angel was from Tulare, Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel. I grew up in New Mexico & lived in Monterey for a year; I now live in Wisconsin, but I love California. I also did a chapbook with Jack Micheline & Charles Bukowski called Prying. I'm a journeyman bricklayer & recently retired (after 30 years) from the Milwaukee post office. I'm married to a beautiful Mexican lady & have a 22-year-old daughter. I've been nominated for 15 Pushcart Prizes (many times by Gerald Locklin) in poetry & prose. I've had 20 chapbooks out & last year won the flash fiction contest from Unlikely Stories, judged by the Poet Laureate of the U.S. In ‘99 I won the Uprising Award. I read at Ginsberg's farm in NY in ‘97 with all the beatniks left alive, and I read two years ago in Paris at The Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore & will read again next month in NYC at The KGB Bar & The Nuyorican Poetry Cafe. I enclose a photo with me (on the left) & Ray Bremser, an infamous bank robber beatnik poet. [Read more about Catfish at or email him at]

Cynthia Linville, Kara Synhorst and Robert Roden are reading tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm. You may remember that Robert was featured on MK last Friday, at which time we talked about his publication from the past, The Silt Reader. Looking over the Aphasia Press website (, I notice that Catfish was a frequent contributor to that fine journal. A small world it is, at least in poetry.

Several deadlines coming up August 31, including Tiger's Eye; scroll down to the SNAKE ON A ROD in the skinny blue box at the right and click on "Upcoming Deadlines".


—Catfish McDaris

As I paint
I think about

Van Gogh painting
sunflowers & irises

Degas painting ballerinas

Cezanne painting fruit

Gauguin 's Tahitian women

Frida Kahlo capturing sadness

Neruda & Li Po painting
with words

I wonder if any
of them ever

Painted a bathroom
with ordinary
white latex.


—Catfish McDaris

It was the time of
the magician
the juggler
the ancient serpent
the jester
the philosopher
the blind

Dark thoughts existed
in tumultuous clouds

The elusive words hid
in the shadowy rain

Difficult to grasp

Almost impossible to transcribe

Brooding thoughts prevail


—Catfish McDaris

When life becomes
too hard & it
always does

Death seems an easy choice

Death is selfish
a coward
a one way ticket

Almost irresistible

the right thing
to do to yourself

I've been there

Staggering on a razor's edge.


—Catfish McDaris

The drug dealer answered
the door wearing a bulletproof
vest, 45 auto in one hand
38 snub nose in the other

The cop shot him 3 times
in the chest, drug man
shot the cop in the elbow

Cop shot druggie once
in the forehead, blowing
off both his ears, they
stuck to the walls

A brunette lady reporter
in a tight yellow dress
with melon knockers

Said, "Apparently only
the shot to the head worked."


—Catfish McDaris

Going to the grocery store
with my ladies, I notice a
beautiful woman gliding
majestically behind
her shopping cart

Ending up in the line
behind her, she sticks
her long lovely red polished
fingernail into her ear

Digging out a chunk of
wax, she flicks it & it
lands on my nose

I say, "Lady" & point
at the yellow glob

She says, "You're sick"

My wife gives me a
hard elbow, our daughter
tries not to grin.


Today's LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

Pay little
or no attention
to what people
say they have done,
plan to do
or definitely will do.
Focus instead on
what they do do.



Sign by the road in Somerset
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis