Friday, October 11, 2013

A Moment's Taxidermy

 —Photo by Ann Privateer 


once held Hidden Valley Dips
now its faded green lid seals
seasonal pests; slugs, snails,
beetles, green worms, a leaf
or two with rows of eggs.  Those
long dead becoming a kind of
base material where newer victims
will rest.  Sure, I could snuff
out a beetle between thumb
and finger, but I'm too squeamish
and they go.  Today, as I
unscrewed the lid... a yellow
butterfly or moth fluttered inside
eager to be free.  Hurray, there is
life inside the killing jar.

—Ann Privateer, Davis 

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Far into the day, I will remember how,
in predawn darkness, you, my beagle always
insinuate yourself between my legs, docking,
wedging, harboring for warmth: a double
warmth, blankets and thighs. A living
tableau. Yet our stillness, broken every so
often by a dog sigh, might be that
of a stiff relic. Dizzy in sideways slumber,

I am the Prometheus of my mattress.
You’re the eagle who, because I feed you
liver, won’t eat my liver. Am I not wall-mounted?
Slob on a slab. Our night’s-end dog-man oblong
a suspended oval, a trophy of Someone’s great
hunt. You and me, my scent-tracking avatar
of nose: we’re lucky we’re not skinned
and eaten, lucky not to be left a glass-eyed prize
at the business end of the shoot.

Don’t you wish, though, we were poetry?
But aren’t we a peachy-keen sonnet, sweet
beagle, one soft fountain pooling in snuggle?
Or are we just a couple of hung rabbits
rendered: a moment’s taxidermy?...

—Photo Enhancement by Ann Privateer

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Unadorned of mouth, you seem seraphic:
your paintless lips might form a small charm bracelet
of pale fire opals—or small serpents?—which, face lit,
you press (I’ve seen it!) to a boyfriend’s cheek.

So kissingly pressed home, sweet lips form a fire-
circle tattooing you into him. So meek
and so taboo you are. The stitches of desire
scar—or gem, as in National Geographic:

Evading a predator, the white-faced chameleon
transforms itself into a living jewel.
Mimicking solid rose quartz or carnelian,
this ancient rain-forest species avoids the cruel

jaws of the scarlet macaw
…but you self-alter
by making self beautifully difficult to conceal.
Today, you had your sweet hands hennaed, spidered
all over with witching designs, the very seal

of Tuareg bridal grace and royal symmetry,
soft vapor trails, Apollo telemetries.
Such temp tattoos (if they fade) help me believe
you will take seriously the need of some skin

left undesigned-upon: I’d love to feel
it’s your divine skin I touch, no Cairo cartouche
or Aleister Crowley scheme, blood-signeted sin.
I want to kiss your bare darling ankles; leaves

from those fire-roses etched and dyed therein
would seem, where I pressed, to stuff my lips mid-smooch
with green and twiggy matter. But I’m simple:
a youthful credo, The body is a temple,

persists in me despite not having defined
what makes for that temple, how worshipped or defiled.
Your Greek ancestors both carved and painted their statues,
kohl-heavy the dark-pupiled eyes, and coral the smile:

Does your beauty, like that of Athens, trace to the Nile?
I sculpturegaze: still the bare gleam. The white one’s response,
a stareback, but Aphrodite, what says she?
What is it? “You: get lost”? Or, “Love, right back at you”?


Our thanks to Tom Goff and Ann Privateer for poems and pix with an eerie similarity of subject.

Contests and submissions opportunities abound this time of year; be sure to watch our green board at the right of this column for homes for your fine poems. Cynthia Linville sends us this one:

Attention Sacramento Area Writers/Photographers:

Here’s a cool contest with a quick deadline coming up (midnight on Sunday, October 27th).  All are welcome to enter.  No entry fee.  However, YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN Saturday, November 9th, 5:00-8:30pm, Fusion International Arts Center, 2030 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento.  The photographer and writer MUST BE THE SAME PERSON (no two-person entries allowed).

The contest is part of a special event, the Opening Reception Party for Doug Rice’s show, Faraway, So Close, and for short films by Jenny Stark and Jonathan Joiner inspired by Between Appear and Disappear.


1.    Take a photo.
2.    Write a very short story or poem (one page or less) inspired by the photo.
3.    Email both the photo and the story/poem to Yukiko ( by midnight on Sunday, October 27th (.jpg and .doc or .rtf recommended).
4.    Judged by Sac State Art History Professor Elaine O’Brien, Sac State English Professors Brad Buchanan and Doug Rice, and Fusion International Arts Center Director Gayliene Omary.
5.    The winners will be announced at the Opening Reception Party on November 9th (5:00-8:30pm) at Fusion International Arts Center, 2030 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento.
6.    Awards: $100 First Place; $50 Second Place; and two $25 Third Places. There will be additional awards as well!  Must be present to win!
8.    Questions? contact Yukiko at


Today's LittleNip:

Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted. 



Zarina Zabrisky and Simon Rogghe perform 
a Mexican poem/song at Shine this week
[for a new album of Michelle's Shine poems, see
Medusa's Facebook Page]
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento