Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why Edson Gave Up Microbiology

Creepy, yes?
Katy Brown found this photo and sent it to us.
More about Katy on Monday!

—Russell Edson

A man had a herd of miniature elephants. They were like wads of gray bubble gum; their trumpeting like the whistling of teakettles...

Also, he had a box of miniature cattle. When they lowed at sunset it was like the mewing of kittens...
He liked to stampede them on his bed...

In his closet a gigantic moth the size of a dwarf...


—Russell Edson

A huge shoe mounts up from the horizon, squealing and grinding forward on small wheels, even as a man sitting to breakfast on his veranda is suddenly engulfed in a great shadow, almost the size of the night...
He looks up and sees a huge shoe ponderously mounting out of the earth.
Up in the unlaced ankle-part an old woman stands at a helm behind the great tongue curled forward; the thick laces dragging like ships' rope on the ground as the huge thing squeals and grinds forward; children everywhere, they look from the shoelace holes, they crowd about the old woman, even as she pilots this huge shoe over the earth...

Soon the huge shoe is descending the opposite horizon, a monstrous snail squealing and grinding into the earth...

The man turns to his breakfast again, but sees it's been wounded, the yolk of one of his eggs is bleeding...


—Russell Edson

This is the street where my head lives, smoking cigarettes. I pass here and see it lying half asleep on a windowsill on my way to school where I study microbiology, which I finally give up because it all seems too small to have very much meaning in a world which I attempt to live in.
Then I begin my studies in advanced physics, which entails trying to understand atoms and subatomic particles. I give this up too when I finally realize that I have entered a world even smaller than microbiology.
I think then that I should become an astronomer and open myself to the largest view, but see only dots, which the professor says any one of which might have taken millions, or perhaps billions, of years to reach only recently evolved optic nerves; and that in fact any star whose light we accept might be long perished, leaving only a long wistful string of light. And I wonder what this has to do with me or the world I attempt to live in. So I give up astronomy.

I come here now, into this street, looking up at my head lying half asleep on a windowsill, smoking cigarettes, blinking, and otherwise totally relaxed in the way men become when they have lost all hope...


—Russell Edson

Cows they had, many, drifting like heavy clouds in the meadow.
But it was a wheelbarrow they didn't have. They studied catalogs and prayed.
At last despairing the future they tied wheels to the front legs of a cow; two stout men lift the hind legs and wheel the cow about the farm.
The other cows, having never seen a wheelbarrow, turn and look. Then, turning again, they drift out like clouds into the meadow...


—Russell Edson

The old man definitely has wings. You see them when the light is right. They are attached to his faded covercoat, which once blue is turning brown.
The wings are so delicate, so transparent, they don't seem the kind of wings an old man would have. One would expect thick, woody feathers.
Yet, still he wants his hot soup, and wants to sit near the fire and rub the hands, grown thick and stiff, of this life together, to feel the blood of this life in them.
When he takes off his overcoat to sit by the fire I look to see if the wings are still attached to it. And of course they're not. Now the wings are attached to the old sweater he wears. When the fire blazes up the wings are suddenly there. They droop from his sweater and hang down from his chair, the ends lightly crumpled on the floor.
He rubs his hands together gazing into the fire. How he enjoys the fire of this world...



Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as 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 (

SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:

Journals: The latest issue of Rattlesnake Review (#15) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Deadline for Snake 16 (Sweet 16!) is next Thursday, November 15—yikes! Less than a week away!

Coming November 14: The Snake is proud to announce the release of Among Neighbors, a rattlechap from Taylor Graham; Home is Where You Hang Your Wings, a littlesnake broadside from frank andrick; and A Poet's Book of Days, a perpetual calendar featuring the poetry and photography of Katy Brown. Come celebrate all of these on Wednesday, November 14, 7:30 PM at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.