Monday, December 31, 2007

Come With Me

—Taylor Graham, Somerset

The doctor’s an hour behind schedule.
Does this cause midnight to come
sooner, or later?

A nurse calls numbers, and people disappear
behind the door — are they entering
a new year, or locked into the old?

Rain smudges the window.
Beyond our dark, I imagine
stars shifting patterns

for a swing from one number
to the next, loose
in thin air between the years.



through the gate of late December woods.
Hairy-gray lichen stubbles the branches
of every twisted oak. One dried leaf;
then a dozen drift down-spiral in the wind
with whirligig-wings of pine-seed,
a flying-school of the dead and unborn.
They settle in these somber woods
like songless birds. But look, here’s
willow-ochre, rust- and umber-weed
dull as brass, wild-grape gone sapless,
brittle; every color stained with earth.

Come with me. We’ll walk
until we find a tarnished shaft
of sunlight, some misty token
of the long night’s frost.
We’ll search out a shadow of cloud
on the stream before it too
disappears down-sluicing these last
hours, count-down days of a year
not quite frozen to its past.

—Taylor Graham


Thanks, TG! Taylor Graham and Peggy Hill (below) have taken the bait and writing about portals/openings/gates to kick off the new year with Medusa. Send your poems and/or photos and artwork about openings to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by midnight next Weds. (Jan. 2) and I'll send you a copy of Pat D'Alessandro's new SnakeRings SpiralChap, Metamorphic Intervals from the Insanity of Life, or any other Snake product of your choosing (see Remember: previously-published work is fine for Medusa (but not for Rattlesnake Review).

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (1/4), 7:30-9 PM: The Other Voice presents the dynamic husband and wife team, Susan and Joseph Finkleman, giving us their unique two voice poems with music to accompany them featuring flautist, Francesca Reitano, and percussionist, Mark Halverson. It’s a brand new year, so come and party in the library of the Davis Unitarian Universalist Church, 27074 Patwin Road, Davis. Refreshments and Open Mike follow the reading, so bring along a poem or two to share. Susan says, We've got 8 brand new poems for you, as well as a few old favorites. Susan and Joe have a SnakeRings SpiralChap, Poems in Two Voices, available, as well as CDs of their work. Check out their website: They can also be reached at

Joseph Finkleman was born in Hollywood, CA. He has a BFA and an MFA from the S.F. Art Institute, was a professional photographer for 20 years and taught photography and animation. He recently completed the libretto of an opera that will be performed at Sac State.

Susan Finkleman began her writing career at age 10 as a struggling novelist in Detroit, Michigan, then as a poet at the age of 13. Recent work has been published in Susurrus, Rattlesnake Review and The Yolo Crow. She now works as the office manager of the Davis Cemetery.

Francesca Reitano studies and performs with Mary Youngblood. She has been a singer/songwriter since the '60’s and her study of the Native American Flute began in 2003. For Francesca, making sound has become a path of communication, expression and healing.

Mark Halverson started playing drums in local surf, rock, soul and blues bands in the '60’s and '70’s while taking lessons from Stanley Lunetta. Currently, he performs with Lucy’s Bones and the Blues Gurus.

•••Saturday (1/5), 8 PM: Special reading: Songs for Maya, featuring Litany with Miles Maniaci, Mario Ellis Hill, Vincent Cobalt, Robert Lozano and others. Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Info: 916-441-3931. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy.


—Margaret Ellis Hill, Wilton

Haskell Free Public Library straddles
the marked international border.

Their patrons park their cars in Quebec,
walk through the front door in Vermont.

The main desk sits on a Canadian rug,
sofas or chairs sit on American turf.

(Informal exemption from border restriction
may change as authorities consider

crackdowns on illegal aliens passing
through unguarded streets.)

Under new rules and regulations
Canadians would have to detour

through special ports of entry
to borrow a book or two.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

The flock of sheep stand still before the gate
until a latch is raised. They know the sound—
and with the creak of hinge, won't hesitate
to go. A shepherd leads them out around
the edge of ponds and brooks to find a place
where oats grow high and rye tastes sweet and good
and clover covered hills and fields, a space
to eat their fill and more. No likelihood
until a latch is raised. They know the sound.
The shepherd keeps his charges close at hand
as skies become the covers the surround.
Old oaks will whisper with the wind to plan
some leafy beds. Both day and night the air
stays cool and kind, the weather mostly fair.
He know his role. The shepherd smile his fate—
the flock of sheep stand still before the gate.

(A sonnetelle, published in Poet's Forum Magazine, Autumn, 2003)


Thanks, Peggy!


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:

Rattlesnake Review: The new issue of Rattlesnake Review (Sweet 16) is available for free at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, or send $2 to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 and I'll mail you one. Next deadline (for Issue #17, due out in mid-March) is February 15. (Sooner than you think!)

Coming in February: The Snake has crawled into winter hibernation for the rest of December and for all of January: no readings, no books, no broadsides. (Medusa is always awake, however, and will keep posting through most of that time. Send stuff.) Then, on February 13, Rattlesnake Press will roar to life again with a new SnakeRings SpiralChap from Don and Elsie Feliz (To Berlin With Love), plus a new littlesnake broadside from Carlena Wike (Going the Distance), as well as Volume Two of Conversations, B.L. Kennedy's Rattlesnake Interview Series.