Saturday, December 13, 2008

Knee Deep in Silence

Old Sac at Night
Photo by Frank Dixon Graham, Sacramento

—Margaret Ellis Hill, Wilton

Driving Route 16, with winter
sun trying to burn off fog,
I happen to glance at furrowed fields.

The sight mimics waves
rolling towards an asphalt shore.

Startled, I look again,
imagine another stormy scene;
through the rising spindrifts,
half expect to see
a man walking on water.


—Margaret Ellis Hill

mimics standing on the edge
of some catastrophe
the kitchen is on fire
the edge of stupid decisions
I wanted that new fur coat
on the edge of slitting a wrist
this headache must be a migraine
that edge of a divorce
chance to say the right words
I love you John
or burying oneself in an overdose
I’m locking myself in my office No calls
of work turning the mind into a split level flat
where is the G file and the letter to John
complete with stairs that go nowhere
maybe I need to go home to Mom
that edge of mind-clutter aided by
her telling me over and over
it’s gray-blankets and rain

through my office window,
an edge of light finds an open place
in the pasture across the street
illuminates delicious shades of green
chartreuse apple forest cypress
on a row of trees as if through a filter
a photographer uses on a camera
then a space widens to view sunset
clouds swirled in colors of lime cream
and raspberry sherbet Although the trees
become skeletons at the edge of twilight
look how branches mimic arms
that have no choice but to reach skyward

(Published in Cezanne’s Carrot, online e-zine, Sept 2006)


—Margaret Ellis Hill

Haskell Free Library
straddles the marked international border.

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

The main desk sits on a Canadian rug,
and sofas or chairs on American dirt.

(Informal exemption from border restriction
may change as authorities consider crack-

downs on illegal aliens passing
through unguarded streets nearby.)

Under new rules and regulations
Canadians would have to detour

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

(from an article titled “Town with US Border in Library Worries Feds”
by Wilson Ring of Associated Press, posted on AOL news online)


Thanks to Peggy Hill for three poems about, as she says, different kinds of fog, in response to our Seed of the Week: When The Fog Lifts. As for PP, we have snow up here this morning, maybe 1/2". Time to break out the hot buttered rum, as Taylor Graham says, for the first snow of the year! (And no bear last night—too cold, I guess.)

Medusa has been a bit remiss in advertising the Poets on Deck program from Sacramento Poet Laureate Julia Conner. JoAnn Anglin writes: As you may know, I was fortunate enough to be included a few months ago in a local arts project called Poets on Deck. This is an actual deck of cards, with each of the 52 cards featuring a local poet, illustrated, and a few lines from her/his poem. It was one of the projects of Julia Connor, Sacramento’s Poet Laureate for the past 3 years. Some of the women at my church decided to have a reception with coffee and snacks this coming Sunday to honor me. This was a pleasant surprise, and I do feel honored. If you would like to drop by for some nibbles you are very welcome. It will take place at 12:45 PM, after the services. There will be copies of the Decks of Cards, which cost $15 [the money returns to the Sacto Metro Arts Commission]. I’ll also have a few of my chapbooks for sale, including my chapbook from Rattlesnake Press, and there will be publications by other church members who are poets. It is in the library of the main hall of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento on Sierra Blvd. in Sacramento. The website,, has a link to directions.


—Thomas Merton

No more loud Fall
October is suddenly over
Sunk in snow.

It feels good to be without hearing
In the lone house
Loaded and warm

Or out following the hidden ways
The ways of instinct
A stranger in the double
Loneliness of snow

Ploughing the deep drifts
Of finding free footing
On shallow stone

All these trees
So heavily changed
Bend and adore

The hills sleep
in frozen eiderdowns

I go knee deep in silence
Where the storm smokes and stings
The chattering leaves

You can't rule it
You can't tell it when
To come and go

Sink in the hidden wood
And let the weather
Be what it is

Let seasons go
Far wrong
Let freedom sting
The glad wet eye
Of winter.


—Mary Oliver

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain—not a single
answer has been found—
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.


Today's LittleNip:

In a sense...the collected works of any poet are always a catalogue of a sort. There is a kind of image that is natural to one poet and not to another. The frequency with which certain kinds of images occur will say a great deal about the poet. [Or the blogger...]

—from How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:

Rattlesnake Review: The latest issue (#20) is currently rattling around in the SnakePit; more copies will be available at The Book Collector on Saturday, December 13. Contributors' and subscribers' copies are going into the mail this week and next. Deadline for RR21 is February 15: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to include all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

NEW for December: A second chapbook from Danyen Powell (Blue Sky Flies Out); a littlesnake broadside from Kevin Jones (Low-Rent Dojo), and a brand-new issue of Rattlesnake Review (#20)! Stop by The Book Collector and pick up Christmas gifts such as Katy Brown's calendars and blank journals and all our other books—give the gift of poetry! We even have two books that are appropriate for kids: Poems in a Seashell by Kathy Kieth (a children's approach to writing poetry), and SpiralChap #1: The Heart of a Poet, poetry and art by Ashley Redfield and her brother when they were wee ones. While you're there, of course, you'll want to pick up a book or two for your own Christmas tree. And hey—TBC is even open on Sundays!

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at TBC or write to me and I'll send you one. Free!

Coming in January: Other than the ever-restless Medusa, the Snake will be snoozing during January; no releases or readings. But our October road trips inspired a new Rattlesnake publication, WTF, to be edited by frank andrick. This 30-page, chapbook-style quarterly journal will primarily showcase the talents of readers at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, but anyone over 18 is welcome to submit. Deadline is Jan. 15 for a Feb. 19 premiere at Luna’s. Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but please send three poems (each one page or less in length), photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. And be forewarned: this publication will be for adults only! so you must be over 18 years of age to submit.

Coming February 11: A new rattlechap from Sacramento's Poet Laureate, Julia Connor (Oar); a littlesnake broadside from Josh Fernandez (In The End, It’s A Worthless Machine); and the premiere of our new Rattlesnake Reprints, featuring The Dimensions of the Morning by D.R. Wagner which was first published by Black Rabbit Press in 1969. That’s February 11 at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Refreshments and a read-around will follow; bring your own poems or somebody else’s.

Medusa's Weekly Menu:

(Contributors are welcome to cook up something for any and all of these!)

Monday: Weekly NorCal poetry calendar

Seed of the Week: Tuesday is Medusa's day to post poetry triggers such as quotes, forms, photos, memories, jokes—whatever might tickle somebody's muse. Pick up the gauntlet and send in your poetic results; and don't be shy about sending in your own triggers, too! All poems will be posted and a few of them will go into Medusa's Corner of each Rattlesnake Review. Send your work to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline for SOWs; respond today, tomorrow, or whenever the muse arrives. (Print 'em out, maybe, save 'em for a dry spell?) When you send us work, though, just let us know which "seed" it was that inspired you.

Wednesday (sometimes): HandyStuff Quickies: Resources for the poet, including whatever helps ease the pain of writing and/or publishing: favorite journals to read and/or submit to; books, etc., about writing; organizational tools—you know—HandyStuff! Tell us about your favorite tools.

Thursday: B.L.'s Drive-Bys: Micro-reviews by our irreverent Reviewer-in-Residence, B.L. Kennedy.
Send books, CDs, DVDs, etc. to him for possible review (either as a Drive-By or in future issues of Rattlesnake Review) at P.O. Box 160664, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Friday: NorCal weekend poetry calendar

Daily (except Sunday): LittleNips: SnakeFood for the Poetic Soul: Daily munchables for poetic thought, including short paragraphs, quotes, wonky words, silliness, little-known poetry/poet facts, and other inspiration—yet another way to feed our ravenous poetic souls.

And poetry! Every day, poetry from writers near and far and in-between! The Snakes of Medusa are always hungry.......!


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 ( And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.