Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dreaming of Foxes

—Lucille Clifton

in the dream of foxes
there is a field
and a procession of women
clean as good children
no hollow in the world
surrounded by dogs
no fur clumped bloody
on the ground
only a lovely time
of honest women stepping
without fear or guilt or shame
safe through the generous fields.


Here in Pollock Pines we are visited every night by a grey fox—or is it two? This is not his/her photo, I don't think, but foxes are the only members of the dog family who can climb trees. I believe it. S/he jumps up onto the narrow deck railing and walks along like a cat.

S/he also likes to eat tofu-dogs. You know—those hot dogs made out of soy?

—Ted Hughes

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near

Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,

A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head.

The window is starless still; the clock ticks,

The page is printed.


Two submission opportunities:

1. Cleo Fellers Kocol of Roseville writes: If you have a short—15 lines or less—love poem, send it to me by Jan. 15 for inclusion in my Feb. Sacramento Bee column. Those not in the column will be published on line. Send them to

2. Russell Salamon writes: Now is a good time to submit poems for the California State Poetry Society journal, California Quarterly. Send three or four poems, preferably one page long; two pages okay. Send with SASE to: Russell Salamon, P.O. Box 7126, Orange, CA 92863.

We (the California State Poetry Society) are also accepting poems for our MONTHLY CONTESTS (OPEN TO ALL POETS). Topics for 2008 include:

January: Create a poem from words: deaf, cloak, miser, silver, baton
February: Romance, Love, War & Peace
March: Any Subject
April: "Found poem" (with poem, mention venue of finding)
May: Sonnet, Blank Verse
June: Any Subject
July: Haiku, Tanka
August: Humor, Satire, Joy of Life
September: Any Subject
October: Experimental Poem (get creative and let go!)
November: Family, Friendship, Human Condition
December: Best of Your Best (winning or published poem;
indicate name of publication and issue date/year)

Eligibility: ALL POETS, US AND FOREIGN. Poems must be in English and not published, except for December (remember to indicate venue and date).

Deadline: Postmarked by last day of each contest month. Mark your calendar and plan ahead to send in your poem for each month.

Entry Fee: $3.00 entry fee for first and second poem. Third poem and so on is $1.50 each. Example: 1 to 2 poems= $3.00; add a poem, $4.50, etc. No limit on number of poems. Checks payable to CSPS, US funds only. PLEASE NOTE: each haiku or tanka is $1.50, no groups in this topic.

Prizes: First place winner receives 1/2 of prize pool, but not to exceed $100. If pool reaches $100, then second prize get $10 and third $5. All winners announced in CSPS Newsbriefs newsletter.

Submission: Separate checks and envelopes per month. No names on poems. Include cover sheet with identification, entry listing, and theme. Please sign check to indicate contest on note line. Typed or printed poems only. NO handwriting, no art work, except for Experimental Poem category. NOTE: Keep copies, none are returned.

Notification & Judging:
Winning poets receive a certificate and prize money, if awarded according to rules stated above. Include a SASE with sufficient postage for winner's list. Qualified, blind, judging. Judge's decisions, contest rules are final.

Publishing: The California State Poetry Society may publish monthly winning poems in the Poetry Letter & Literary Review. If you wish your winning poem(s) to be considered for the PL&LR, please give your permission on each month's cover sheet. Placing does not guarantee publication in the Poetry Letter. CSPS is not responsible for change of mind or misstated permission to publish.


—Mary Oliver

Every night in the moonlight the foxes come down the hill
to gnaw on the bones of birds. I never said
nature wasn't cruel. Once, in a city as hot as these woods
are cold, I met a boy with a broken face. To stay
alive, he was a beggar. Also, in the night, a thief.
And there are birds in his country that look like rainbows—
if he could have caught them, he would have
torn off their feathers and put their bodies into
his own. The foxes are hungry, who could blame them
for what they do! I never said
we weren't sunk in glittering nature, until we are able
to become something else. As for the boy; it's simple.
He had nothing, not even a bird. All night the pines
are so cold their branches crack. All night the snow falls
softly down. Then it shines like a field
of white flowers. Then it tightens.


—Mary Oliver

You don't ever know where
a sentence will take you, depending
on its roll and fold. I was walking
over the dunes when I saw
the red fox asleep under the green
branches of the pine. It flared up
in the sweet order of its being,
the tail that was over the muzzle
lifting in airy amazement
and the fire of the eyes followed
and the pricked ears and the thin
barrel body and the four
athletic legs in their black stockings and it
came to me how the polish of the world changes
everything, I was hot I was cold I was almost
dead of delight. Of course the mind keeps
cool in its hidden palace—yes, the mind takes
a long time, is otherwise occupied than by
happiness, and deep breathing. Still,
at last, it comes too, running
like a wild thing, to be taken
with its twin sister, breath. So I stood
on the pale, peach-colored sand, waching the fox
as it opened like a flower, and I began
softly, to pick among the vast assortment of words
that it should run again and again across the page
that you again and again should shiver with praise.



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. The last of contributors' and subscribers' copies went into the mail last week. 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.