Sunday, December 30, 2007


—Carl Sandburg

Scrutinize the Scorpion constellation
and see where a hook of stars
ends with a lonely star.

Go to the grey sea horizon
and ask for a message
and listen and wait.

See whether the conundrums
of a heavy land fog
either sing or talk.

Let only a small cry come
in behalf of a clean sunrise:
the sun performs so often.

Speak ot the branches of spring
and the surprise of blossoms:
they too hope for a good year.

Search the first winter snowstorm
for a symphonic arrangement:
it is always there.

Take an alphabet of gold or mud and spell
as you wish any words: kiss me, kill me,
love, hate, ice, thought, victory.

Read the numbers on your wrist watch
and ask: is being born, being loved,
being dead, nothing but numbers?


Is the first of the year nothing but numbers? Or is it a new door, a chance to start again/clean up your act/re-write yourself? "Take an alphabet of gold or mud and spell as you wish" some poems about this new door/gate/portal/opportunity. A gate, like Janus, looks both ways, yes? What about the opportunities of an unlocked door, and the lack of same (or the very different kind of opportunities) of a prison gate. The "gated" community, floodgates, the door of a birdcage, the fox burrow that has as many as ten entrances/exits...

And those keys!—Big shiny gold ones, rusty old iron ones, or the new kind that have pictures and colors on them. The pivotal key to The Secret Garden (and Robin who "points" it out). The jailor with his iron ring full of jangling ones, or the tiny, hidden key to a music box, or...

Anyway, send your poems and/or photos and artwork about openings to Medusa ( 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

Here are some more "portal poems" to stir your Muse:

—Shinkichi Takahashi

The shoji blocks the winter sun.
As fallen leaves shift, scattering,
So goes history: the eye and its subject fused.

The eyes, turned sardines, are broiling
On the grill. The torn shoji flaps in the wind.
Like the universe, its frames are fading.

The drinker is silhouetted on the shoji,
And there's tea's subtle odor:
Tea whisked, like cares, into a froth.


—Czeslaw Milosz

Later dense hops will cover it completely.
As for now, it has the color
That lily pads have in very deep water
When you pluck them in the light of a summer evening.

The pickets are painted white at the top.
White and sharp, like tiny flames.
Strange that this never bothered the birds.
Even a wild pigeon once perched there.

The handle is of wood worn smooth over time,
Polished by the touch of many hands.
Nettles like to steal under the handle
And a yellow jasmine here is a tiny lantern.


—Czeslaw Milosz

Before a sculpted stone portal,
In the sun, at the border of light and shade,
Almost serene. Thinking with relief: this will remain
When the frail body fades and presto, nobody.
Touching a grainy wall. Surprised
That I accept so easily my waning away,
Though I should not. Earth, what have I to do with thee?
With your meadows where dumb beasts
Grazed before the deluge without lifting their heads?
What have I to do with your implacable births?
So why this gracious melancholia?
Is it because anger is no use?


—Frances Horovitz

For three days we waited,
a bowl of dull quartz for sky.
At night the valley dreamed of snow,
lost Christmas angels with dark-white wings
flailing the hills.
I dreamed a poem, perfect
as the first five-pointed flake,
that melted at dawn:
a Janus-time
to peer back at guttering dark days,
trajectories of the spent year.
And then snow fell.
Within an hour, a world immaculate
as January's new-hung page.
We breathe the radiant air like men new-born.
The children rush before us.
As in a dream of snow
we track through crystal fields
to the green horizon
and the sun's reflected rose.



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 (