Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kerfufflology 101

To bed with no supper...


my own mess of nerves and sass
born on the 13th,
she said,
I have made such a noise
kicking up dust wherever I went
almost ashamed to show my face,
she said,
born under Scorpio
in an auspicious year for making revolution
grabbing a gun to scare off the rats who pursued me
showing off, pulling up my skirts
immodest in a time of the demure
seeing Mickey Mouse as a great big rat
gnawing on the souls of the innocent
hiding in bed from Mother, she said…
Mother didn’t know that foggy Nov. morning
what she had given birth to! SURELY NOT A KERFUFFLE??

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis


Thanks, Pat! Kerfuffles abound this week, and Medusa has gotten her own bad self into one about THREE—count 'em—THREE mistakes of late. First I screwed up two of Bill O'Daly's poems last Friday by leaving out the line breaks. Then yesterday Pat Hickerson wrote to point out that the January issue of Snakebytes, our monthly online Rattlesnake Press newsletter, said that Pat's reading/release party for her new chapbook would be MARCH 9, not Feb. 9 like it's supposed to be. Then, almost in the same mail, Robin Odam wrote to point out that I left off the last seven lines of her poem, "Vanish", in yesterday's post! They say errors and accidents sometimes come in threes; I can only hope...

Anyway, my apologies all 'round, and herewith are the corrected version of Robin's poem, as well as her gracious take on the whole kerfuffle. Today we also have Tom Goff's poem about MLK Day, plus various takes on our SOW: Cosmic Kerfuffles (featuring The Snake Holder, Ophiuchus) and Dewell Byrd's poem about JFK, who took office on this day exactly 50 years ago. FIFTY YEARS? Now I'm in a kerfuffle!


—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

I live in a cartoon.
My hilarious broom
sweeps dust over blacktop.
Dust and weeds.
Broken cobwebs.
Brittle twigs.
Particles of years.

You fiddle with
rust, faded boxes,
missing treasures.
You arrange secrets
on a shelf.
You are serious.
I forgot to tell you
it’s a joke.
My stifled laugh hisses
into the dark night.

I surprise myself
and listen...our
Music in the dark.
Always on time,
in the late night,
he plays it low.
Feel the hunger.

I slide my broom,
cling to my
wisp of sanity,
align myself with
a thin line,
pull a long breath for
the next caption.

Cartoons can be deadly.
One can become
missing from the next frame.
I vanish and reappear.

You place our chairs
beneath the little tree
and bring something you found,
some words, ones we said
countless times
I feel shy and
begin to vanish.

Cartoons are unstable.
I listen to the music
and reach
for my broom.


—Robin Gale Odam

Seven lines vanished, the last lines of the
poem, the youngest ones. Like a row of ducklings
winding their way through morning, they wandered
off while their mother was guiding the others across
delicate pages and stepping over fallen kerfuffles.
They are feared taken by Serpens as he slipped
through the fingers of his master, Ophiuchus.
A search is under way.


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

It was the sixties
And my friend Bob
Had a vision: a
Beneficent cosmic
Force that ruled
The universe.

Everywhere and
Nowhere, timeless
And all knowing,
It looked like
A giant, sentient
Cheeseburger, but
Made of lint
And hair. It was
The sixties, remember.

Bob donned a ratty
Old brown terrycloth
Robe (It did have
A hood), and began
To preach the gospel
Of the First Church
Of the Cosmic
Fuzzburger in his
Parents’ basement
Between Star Trek

In the spring
I cut my hair
From beyond
Shoulder length
To boot camp
Buzz, and
With the help
Of a little Spray-Net,
Fashioned a very
Nice graven image
Of the Fuzzburger.

I topped it off
With a sesame seed
Bun, packaged
It in a pretty
Pink box from
An artisanal bakery
And sent it
To Cosmic Bob.

His parents said
He went pale
When he opened
It, stopped preaching,
Got a job and moved
Out of the basement.
They were very

Looking back,
I’m sort of sorry
To have caused
A kerfuffle, to
Have disturbed
The Force, to
Have hampered
A nascent institution.
But having
Glanced in the mirror
Just now, I really
Regret giving
Away all that hair.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

I cut the cannas close to ground
on Martin Luther King Day—see
our garden air now naked, free
that swam with plants, tall-stemmed, tight-wound

and topped with bloom-effronteries
of orange akin to gold, now brown
with rot, and crimson witcheries
now bent with rot, already downed:

epiphany? Or epitome
of us? Self-crediting, self-crowned
deservers: claiming heights (oh drowned,
delusional blooms!) we hold in fee
from green upshouldering peasantry…

(Find earth, little worm, crawl back to ground.)


—Tom Goff

What is it about the cosmos
that sifts far more wishes
than the genie-standard three
and, granting them, flummoxes us?

Why, when we night-chariot like two
speeding Ezekiels just to stargaze Van
Goghs, Gauguins, and Cezannes
—the big Post-Impressionist Show
at the DeYoung—why does San
Francisco ensorcel our quest with tunnels,
sharpen our eyesight with soft easeful
fog to and from, and last, trick of tricks,
display the Golden Gate Bridge

like Vincent’s last still-undiscovered
masterwork from Arles: the sky’s
nightshade purple-black, against which
lift the vast towers, gloom-looming
sentinels in spectral bitter orange
—while amber-and-lime hanging
lamps mimic his thickly articulate
whorls of sour-sweet French star?


What brought it about, what work
of God that, every time our Orquesta
Mexicana de la Juventud performed
Bizet’s First Symphony for the indigent
in a conquistador-built church, rain
downclattered, lightning bolts dowsed
the lights, yet we would soldier on
through a lyric third of the slow movement
in the pitch dark? Till, of course,

the awkwardness of so many student
strings would bunch up silent
at the next bar’s threshold, melody
irretrievable even by a conductor…
Understanding ESP and its limits, osmosis
and its, the audience, some never before
behearers at a concert, applauded,
their cyclotron palms the only heat source
in that ancient cold nave, they not naïve.

And what spacedust sprinkle
of wormhole despair made Bizet
slough aside his teenage triumph
of a symphony, one lone parchment
abandoned fourth-dimension deep
in the dust of a conservatory library shelf?
As melodious a gem as Mendelssohn
could muster thus young, singing
of Georges himself and no other,

yet lilting undiscovered for itself and that shelf,
or for the earless old stars feigning
to listen through the library window
from faroff deep, for eighty years’
patient long black nights…


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Avid study hall closet gay pride of
lions share crop the picture perfect
idiot light of my life sentence
structure design flaw.

Player piano bench press release
button hole in one way off stage
coach the team spirit rapping.

Let my people go cartwheel
and deal cards and letters of
reprimand the dog-eared seal
with a kiss a frog jump start the
engine noise.

Get even numbers game preserve
a win a prize heirloom repair shop
until you drop biscuits and gravy
boat sails lowered expectations.

Close the window cleaner air gun
powder room size up to speed
limit line dry mouth off guard
post no bills to pay attention
deficit disorder treatment facility
hours and days to remember back
strain the soup bowl a strike three
little words.

Rough and ready to open the till
Hell freezes over exertion.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz

No other man or beast, not
even the most hated, feared,
crazed, lunatic tyrants and
political figures come close
to the sum total kerfuffle of
a snake:

Writhing body in constant
tension, coiling and uncoiling
its singularly muscular limb,
ever ready to strike with
fangs, venom, and crushing

It is imminently dangerous
to even peer into the eyes
of this cold-blooded predator,
who will capture your glance
with the awesome beauty of
a volcano, and then simply
swallow you whole, putting a
sudden, dreadful end to all
your feelings, sensitivities,
agendas, etc., leaving no
material part of you to bury.

It is the general consensus
among a consortium of
reputed kerfufflologists that
a snake will even consume
your memories, and the very
memory of you.

Sleep well tonight.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Dewell H. Byrd, Central Pt., OR

Why web those two rosebushes:
Midas Touch and John F. Kennedy?

Why strain against north wind
when Peace is south of you?

Do you prefer the lure of gold
over soft, pink perfume in bloom?

Relax, try to save your energy
for bug battles, live breakfast.

If your web is torn, will you still grace
my rose garden with gossamer magic?

So think, my eight-legged friend,
Peace is calm, dignified, serene,

a natural match for Kennedy’s
vision of hope, of Camelot.


—Medusa (with thanks to DR Wagner for finding us today's Medusa portrait)

 John F. Kennedy