The Ophidian 01
poetry & art anthology • winter The2010 Ophidian 01 —
The Ophidian 01 Winter 2010
Published by Rattlesnake Press Kathy Kieth, Editor and Publisher Richard Hansen, Co-editor and Designer P.O. Box 762 Pollock Pines, CA 95726 Contents ÂŠ 2010 Rights revert to artists upon publication. Cover snake illustration: Sam Kieth Cover photograph: Richard Hansen
â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
Sam Kieth | oPhidian logo
charlesmariano 38 MaryMills 39 KathyKieth 05 intro Carol Louise Moon 41 DavidAnderson 07 Patricia L. Nichol 42 frankandrick 09 B.Z.Niditch 43 JoAnnAnglin 12 JoyceOdam 44 ShawnAveningo 13 C.Piper 45 CharityBryson 15 AnnPrivateer 46 TrinaDrotar 17 henry 7. reneau 47 Jeff Dutko 18 VictoriaRodriguez 49 DavidGay 19 JoannaRosinska 50 TomGoff 20 Marie J. Ross 52 TaylorGraham 23 CarmelaRuby 53 CleoGriffith 24 MitzSackman 55 Be Davison Herrera 25 StephaniSchaefer 57 PatriciaHickerson 26 AllegraSilberstein 58 Margaret Ellis Hill 29 JeanineStevens 59 James Lee Jobe 30 SandyThomas 61 ColetteJonopulos 31 ElizabethVaradan 63 AndrewKerr 32 D.R. Wagner 65 NormaKohout 33 AnnWehrman 66 LauraLeHew 34 PatriciaWellingham-Jones 67 CynthiaLinville 36 DanielWilliams 69 PaulLojeski 37 RichardHansen 70 postscript
Art01 Sam Kieth 01 02 04 05 72
Trina Drotar 14 15 39
Richard Hansen 01 33 70
Patricia Hickerson 28
sandy thomas 06 22 60 68
Carol Louise Moon 40 48
Stephani Schaefer 08 54 56
Katy Brown 62
ronald lane 10 34
D.R. Wagner 64
L The Ophidian 01 —
â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01 Sam Kieth | oPhidian logo (Sinister variant)
KathyKieth pollock pines, ca
Medusa speaks!0 Richard Hansen (of Poems-For-All fame) has given us a stunning piece of design work here, a beautiful tapestry of our fine poets and their artistic and photographic work. For once I am speechless! Perhaps a wee poem: slim green snake
slides along the infinity of cyberspace. Poets at work! Enjoy! Kathy Kieth Wrangler-in-Chief
Daily news from the Snakepit of Rattlesnake Press (poetry with fangs!) and the cauldron that boils over with the rich poetry stew that is Northern California.
The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D;
sandy thomas | the french chandelier â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
DavidAnderson Lincoln, CA
The Road and the Wind flowers stipple the roadside grass purple Indian paintbrush streaks the ground between the pines cream-colored heads of dill toss in the wind the poplars’ leaves turn downside up petals appear in the leaves’ undershine sprawled at the road’s edge a deer lies dead the road and the wind carry on
L The Ophidian 01 —
â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
frankandrick sacramento, CA
#3 Uneasy Pieces 10.10.08 Incandescent transfiguration, birthing ghosts into a room … The red rag hangs — beckoning by its presence alone. The children, who, being children, see miracles every day cannot disengage their eyes — the focus of their dreams speaks in scarlet. Wonderment steals fear from the question mark. Wrapped in a rapture that is boundless. Me, this thing fashioned from shadow and light. In Spiritus; To Haunt Is Always Greater Than To Possess. In That Spirit I Hope I Haunt You Forever. In Spiritus; Hanter est toujours mieux que posséder Dans Cet Esprit, j’Espère Te Hanter Pour Toujours. ~~~ Into Sensation Which Is Finite … SHE … Imported The Infinite Dans La Sensation Qui Est … Fini ELLE … Imported l’Infini. ~~~
I Find It Hard To Think Of God Without Giving It A Feminine Face
Il M’Est Difficile De Penser à Dieu Sans Lui Donner Un Visage Feminin
The Ophidian 01 —
ronald lane | Chrissy
frankandrick sacramento, CA
Pensee Park Musings 8.31.08 death day This is no willed obscurity. In some words the symbols themselves are fearful of taking form. Clever twins sacrificed one to the other. Sister and brother dying to know each other. It begins when the mind appears before itself. Hallucinated and illuminated. The face behind the face veered inwards viewing vaster vistas and veldts than ever before. When will we realize that there is more life and space inside of us than we will ever find outside of us? To be patient till the experience itself and what it invokes becomes language. The language of exile. I speak to some in a common tongue the language of exile. To permit myself every adventure, even the love of god and the hatred of the banal and the mediocre What is forbidden is to be found in creation. To meld learned and childish improvisation. I wonder what shape the next dark deliverance will take ? 10 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
frankandrick sacramento, CA
SHE SLEEPS INSIDE MY BLOOD Leaving his well researched chronicles for the momentum of mystery he allowed his voice its own delight at its descent into darkness. “Then one night I had this dream” intoned Richard, letting his walls wander, “it was not a regular sleep, I , I, don’t know how to explain that. Consciousness, outer sight, feeling, all that left me-it all sank away. Something as thin as a shadow, faint as a breath of air rose up and took me. It replaced fear with a curiosity, a yearning for some nameless forgotten loveliness that our world has lost. In this dream I found myself in a very dark land. Everything in this new world was black; different shades, graduating textures, but black just the same. Black on black on black on black. An entire existence made out of darkness. All around me hung this immense brooding, a beautiful caressive feeling of being touched by melancholia all over at once and at the same time. Thick and alive with the silence of a dream … a scent, Wisteria, Narcissus, and Rose dominated the unseen. As on earth the experience of deep twilight brings a palette of shades to play for the mind that loves to harbour shadows.” And What Of The Soul’s Blood? Invisible Streams Pouring Out From Wounds Too Terrible To See
L The Ophidian 01 — 11 The
JoAnnAnglin sacramento, CA
Boy’s Ranch Before you arrive at the gate, you have wound through the clefts of pale yellow hills. You have seen flocks — wild turkeys, then Canada geese — and shallow pools reflecting blue skies. Further, like old men, crouched turkey vultures pause in their pavement feast. Beyond fences: cattle, tilting trees. Drive on through the oak grove where a loping coyote stares back. The gate arm lifts, lets you pass. Not such a bad place, you say at the last curve, as jays and woodpeckers fly through the double rolls of razor wire atop the 20-foot steel fence.
12 — The Ophidian 01
ShawnAveningo sacramento, CA
PANCAKES Splat. Pancaked by life’s steamroller, I felt a bit like Flat Stanley, but instead of faraway lands flying in a manila aeroplane, I was packing my bags for that long journey to the front door. I’ll leave her the iron, the skillet and the spatula. Splat. He likes his pancakes with blueberries.
L The Ophidian 01 — 13
Trina Drotar | Night Garden
14 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
CharityBryson Grass Valley, CA
The Woman in the Faded Blue Honda trailings of summer have created a morning of hazy heat my car window open in hopes of a breeze tuesday i ended my dogâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life her pain outweighing my needs today i sit waiting for a green light faded blue honda pulls up beside me gray haired woman holds wads of kleenex in her liver spotted hands swipes at blotched damp cheeks mine are dry today mounds of kleenex fill the seat beside me running my liver spotted hand across the place where my little red dog shared my life lung-wrenching gasp of grief
i would like to scatter grief like autumn leaves into the wind for the woman in her faded blue honda for mine she glances my way instead i send her a shadowed smile she nods her head red light changes to green she turns down her street i head onto the freeway wondering what sorrow had invaded the life of a woman in a faded blue honda
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 15
Drotar 16 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Trina The Ophidian 01 | Egret
TrinaDrotar sacramento, CA
Crossroad A man with burlap bags boards a noon bus at a stop across from a market where young girls once purchased cigarettes with money their mothers never used for apples or pears, a market tourists mistake as a meditation retreat because the only letters left are the O and the M. Insect husks, flattened and dried, plaster the windshield like paint on a Pollock canvas. Sweat-bees and flies shooed from his hair, the man heaves a second bag, pushes it onto the bus. Torn-up leather work boot with half a heel covers the right foot. The left wears a right boot.
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 17
Nice Poem, Nice Poem I took a poem for a walk. Neatly folded a few scrappy lines into my shirt pocket and started out the door and around the block for some fresh air and exercise the top of the paper sticking out like those cute accessory dogs so fashionable on the red carpet.
Still, no one asked to pet my pet project and no stranger stuck a hand out to offer little bits of leftovers
in hope of making its tail wag enthusiastically. What is it we fear about poetry? A bite far worse than its bark?
18 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
As we boarded the train we sang the Haggadah, Hallel, obey the law of Moses and Yaweh.
The Torah will snap Egypt’s chain. We sang
hymns of hope, and hope sprang out of mud
and blood and the thud of the dead piled in pits with crud, crud of lime and mud and shame.
We sang each night, ate soup and grain. We trained our souls to sing with hope. We knotted our lives into rope. Rope can choke. It will winch a crane, winch a crane to lift dawn’s sunlight. Watch a feathered crane leap in flight, the flight of joy, and kiss goodnight, our life, our wine, our wife, our sacrifice. And kiss goodnight, our wife, our life, our wine, our sacrifice. And kiss goodnight. And kiss goodnight. And kiss goodnight.
L The Ophidian 01 — 19
TomGoff Carmichael, CA
Restaurant Train On Second Saturday, having shuffled our fill of galleries, oils, glazes, encaustics and gauzes, we slink-slip crowds into The Old Spaghetti Factory: some mizithra cheese and browned butter on angel’s hair, perhaps? Long long thoughts of ancient recipes traduce our time-sense: necks twisted Dantesquely but kindly backwards, we reflect on old building-functions. Then you tell me: this was once the railroad station where you’d meet or take leave of your Grandfather Roberts, Latvian man the long thin tracks brought click-chunk click-chunk click-chunk from the Nebraska capital. In age you were at sixes, fives, or sevens; he was your vectēvs, your Lincolns opas. Would he stroke your small-girl hair? Maybe a glancing touch at the light brown awning of bangs Mom shaped over your forehead. For certain he spoke soft Latvian words. When you continues
20 — The Ophidian 01
TomGoff continued had to come along with him here for his departure, you and sister Silvia would cry hot tears. Now the train judders past, not the memory train but the real steel-track train, for the smooth cold rails still run right on by. As each passenger car swipes at the outside stucco, making the low-lit interior dark wood shimmy, our out-of-the-weather dining car, restored and foreverstalled, feels itself vibrate till the silverware sings of the rush past of the rapid air like a bridal train and even some sparks that leap across the near strong dark. And in our night bones: the click-chunk click-chunk click-chunk click-chunk click-chunk and we feel the grandfather car farewell and I want to cry too, for the six-, five-, or seven-year-old you; for the downbending horn solos of the long slow horizon train
and the distant runaway fates.
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 21
sandy thomas | auburn drops
22 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
TaylorGraham Placerville, CA
Camped above the River Here, in the middle of the night, why count minutes? Rimrock relaxes – Time’s soft erosion. Echoes lace, unlace the cliffs, river speaking to herself in wordless tongues I’ve yet to learn. No moon, but streaks
Into Sky on a line by Barbara Ras
of light, guy-wires from
We’re finished now with lost keys, the dust
and joint-aches, broken faucets, sleepless nights. The world goes on without us. Lost children, rust in the pipes. Bunged metal, dim lights. We’re finished mostly with ourselves, failed bits
of earth, energy misguided, caught in crumbling bodies. And now it’s sailed – the energy – toward what it always sought: a vantage point, our new selves weightless, uncorroding. Those lost words of mostly worthless poems – a line or two, a phrase released from books that won’t grace shelves –
snakes of spinning space, disembodied birds. Could we sing, in passing, praise?
The Ophidian 01 — 23
CleoGriffith salida, CA
THE DIVER At first it wasn’t all about the medals. High above the water I felt so clean, part of the elements in that most silent place made nearly sacred by the light and air, slicing like a sunray soundless into water. Heaviness came with competition, with the expectation, with desire for gold. With desire, with the expectation, heaviness came with competition. Slicing like a razor soundless into water, made nearly scarred, I fight for light and air. Parted from the elements in that most silent place, high above the water where I’d once felt clean, now it’s all about the medals.
24 — The Ophidian 01
Be Davison Herrera Corvallis, OR
observation paper wasps much like humans respond in synchronal vibrations
when shadows or
scents disperse near their nests
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 25
PatriciaHickerson Davis, CA
SPANISH INFLUENZA 1919 they were sick as dogs 14-yr-old Edith and Mama but not Papa or little Bobby who was 3. After they recovered Mama took Edith and Bobby on the train from Oklahoma City down to Aunt Julia’s Texas ranch. It was there on the afternoon of a tornado at least it looked like there might be a tornado sky all yellow with sulphur flashes some lightning they huddled in the storm cellar Edith let out an ear-splitting scream said she’d seen a rattler coiled on a ledge above My, what a scream to come out of a scrawny teenaged girl Why Edith, you must be imagining things but it was true one of the hired hands saw it, too, said he was going to have a wrestling match with the snake he reached up, Edith screamed again then Aunt Julia said leave the snake alone we are going back to the house Edith told Mama the snake stared at her that he had eyes like Papa’s, always staring at her Mama said don’t be silly Next morning Edith was in the bathhouse, saw another snake coiled on a ledge went screaming naked as a jaybird into Aunt Julia’s kitchen why she still ain’t got no titties, cackled someone’s aged grandma sucking on her corncob pipe rocking on the back porch everybody laughed to see Edith, lanky as a winter tree, still no tits!
26 — The Ophidian 01
continued back home in Oklahoma City, Mama decided to take Bobby back to Kentucky to show off her beautiful child to her mother and her sisters leaving Edith alone in the house with Papa one morning he was standing in her bedroom doorway looking at her as she lay under the covers she knew what was going to happen drew the covers up tight under her chin didn’t matter decided she would scream bloody murder loud enough for the neighbors to hear and Papa would leap from her bed undone as though he had never been there and that’s what happened when Mama came back from Kentucky Edith told her what Papa had tried to do Mama just said “awww” and pushed the air with her open hand as though what can you expect from a man like that who won’t even take care of his family a man who stands on the street corner all day long jawing with his cronies but it didn’t mean Edith stopped loving Papa after all he was her father he’d given her a cameo ring for her 12th birthday (where’d you get the money for that, Mama stormed)
one morning brought her a tumbler of whisky saying this’ll put hair on your chest Edith made a face at the smell turned on her pillow Take it away, Papa
The Ophidian 01 — 27
PatriciaHickerson Davis, CA
INWOOD BABY Holding Grandma’s hand I stood at saperewack the glistening place of Minuit’s contract sat at shorakapkok the sitting-down place waded in at showaukuppock the cove not in jangled Manhattan’s broad ways and sold-out streets Sherman, Post, Nagle, Dyckman screeching El rails scurried rats winter slush summer sidewalk steam and stink the Hudson plowed by scows and ferries bubbled bodies at the brim— no, not in those places but on the borough’s northern edge (with Grandma) before Hendrik’s parkway stole the pieces the first gentle outer curve of Manahatta below Kingsbridge and the Bronx— intact the forest pocked with caves of schist, marble the great tribe lived, finessed a deal, abandoned debris under tulip trees stands of ancient cedar At Spuyten Duyvil the devil spit his dew into the river (my link with the city’s lower hive) I buzzed the honied lanes with Grandma winged into the Speedway tunnel to meet her halfway seal our bond in moss-damp puddled hollow our cries echoed we hugged tight our own secret saperewack, glistening—
Patricia Hickerson 28 — The Ophidian 01
Grandma, wild playmate-in-the-wood, we were Princess and Tribal Mother; we rolled out mud pies in our tepee only a minute ago under the tulip trees
Fair Oaks, CA
FAMILY MATTERS Uncle Douglas, so sure of kings and aces, sauntered through every day with a smile.
Margaret Ellis Hill
Angel Flights enhanced his ass and good looks. He laced himself into the arms of flashy dancers found every night outside the alley door of the Why Not Bar and Grill. The queens lolled all over him, pursed their lips, batted bedroom eyes, hoping he’d satisfy needs in the back-seat of his Fairlaine, maybe between promised satin sheets at Minnie’s Motel. He figured no man matched his prowess; the family jewels were safe and available. Never thought an angry husband would break his pace, quietly slide in and slide out to snatch a piece of the action from under him, send his body reeling out a window. The move from reality to silence was nothing but a bloodless job, unless it be said that brains don’t bleed. His mother said Hail Mary’s. Aunt Josie shuffled the cards, knowing the joker was gone from the deck.
L The Ophidian 01 — 29
L 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
James Lee Jobe davis, CA
EASY Just as a snake does, this life sheds its skin and escapes, clean and new. Every new skin is a fresh start. Every husk left behind is forgotten without judgement. The snake swallows its tail and goes round and round.
ColetteJonopulos Eugene, OR
THE ART OF SAVING you have saved them for autumn the crane flies of our summer legs bent oddly trembling you have shown me glassine wings shadow too delicate to sustain time you are full of expectations of flight aware of the sensitive places on wings that never heal you have saved them for autumn legs woven together in a plastic bag thorax against thorax you have saved them for fire the only light left in the room the swift lick upward
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 31
AndrewKerr Davis, CA
Concert Show He carefully reads the help wanted ads, those square stacked beads he mumbles over; there’s always the hope there might be something. But the real satisfaction is in rejecting: I won’t do that, nine bucks an hour to do that? forget it! And the sudoku puzzle tidies things up for him. On the TV is a concert show, a singer with a big band, croon, scat and ache, liquid glissandos, “there’s a thing called love”—he could turn it off. Slender white arms and brown arms wave in the lights, gleaming trombone arms swing down, “where is the love for me”. All these women in the audience who came with husband or boyfriend, they’d climb those regular men’s shoulders and necks like stairs to be with the singer, that voice, jazz jerking elbows hips, swoops and smile; the women’s arms reach up. He could turn off the show. His wife scuffs into the kitchen, shuffles through the day’s mail. Or he could watch, but then, eventually, there’s the disappointment, when it’s over and the lights go off. The wind chime outside tings and klings but is no longer heard.
32 — The Ophidian 01
NormaKohout sacramento, CA
SAN FRANCISCO BAY ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON all over the grey-blue water from bridge to bridge white sails bent with sea-wind the Vallejo ferry churning around Treasure Island trailing a long white wake the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resident fog hovering over blue sea water flowing under the Golden Gate grand sweep of the bridges reaching toward San Francisco reaching toward Marin and the beautiful wet expanse great tidal mother mysteriously flowing in and out.
View from the Vallejo Ferry Richard Hansen
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 33
LauraLeHew Eugene, OR
CATHEDRAL a lingering hug dusky eyes consuming her an unexpected brushâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;skin to skin the touch of his index finger against the hollow of her wrist his arm drawing them together hip to hip; snaking up her back his thumbnail strokes a crescent moon, lobe to clavicle caressing a jangle of bangs inhaling her with small baby kisses to her crown a chaste kiss on lips a kiss on lips 34 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
ronald lane | Autumn The OphidianDance 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 35
CynthiaLinville sacramento, CA
Shattering The morning of the day you left me I woke up dreaming of the full-length mirror falling off the wall. Why was I surprised then later when you started talking about doors that open and doors that close and doors you just canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t walk though? Now I wonder when the snow will erase your foot prints, and I remember the first draft of the first poem I ever wrote you, and I notice the mirror reflecting a fingernail moon.
36 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
PaulLojeski Port Jefferson, NY
My Big Mouth I remember working in a carpet store in San Francisco and getting fired because I told the security guard that the recent killing of a fleeing suspect with a bullet to the back was just another case of a fat, out-of-shape cop beating a murder rap. My big mouth has been going off like that my whole life, and I’ve been thinking about it lately, trying to figure what exactly is going on there. With my mouth and my brain. That relationship so unpredictable and dangerous and counterproductive. Like the time I got fired for trying to unionize the job
and, as they dragged me out, I shouted, Work with dignity! Were all the circuits just melted, or what? Certainly, there’re stacks of research on the subject but I can’t find anything to explain why, for instance, at another spot, I told the foreman he could kiss my ass, I wasn’t about to dig holes in the freezing cold in ground hard as iron when there was plenty of heated indoor work available. Do you take me for a goddamn fool? I yelled on the way to my car. I’ve been blathering on unedited like that for what seems like an eternity. That restaurant, for example, in the lovely town by the sea, where I asked the boss for a raise and he told me to stand on a box, with fists ready, for christ’s sake. It goes on and on but you get the gist. If you’re young, take my advice ‘cause no one told me, no one gave me warning, or sounded
the alarm: keep your trap shut, your eye on the ground, and a steady pace about you. That’s all I know. It’ll help, I guarantee, unless, of course, you’ve got a big mouth, too. Then you’re screwed, friend. You hear me?
The Ophidian 01 — 37
charlesmariano sacramento, CA
unseasonably it was during
and remembered fondly,
the latest change
a slow, dragged-out climb
your eyes, smile the smell of your hair
i remember drowning
to staggered lope
miles and miles
that i received word i drove there hwy 20, to 1, the last roadtrip to big water, and lingered too long with mourning sickness “we are gathered here…” i sat down on the rotted wood dock, with my hastily scribbled notes damp pages,
38 — The Ophidian 01
of ocean somewhere out there a lifetime ago, near big water
MaryMills West Deptford, NJ
CONTROL concrete nests crumble paved streets crack light switches fail water pipes burst oil burns quickly out of control. what control? damage control? power seized is power failure.
Trina Drotar | Ponding
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 39
Carol Louise Moon Bathers and Kraits 40 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; TheSea Ophidian 01 Welcome
Carol Louise Moon sacramento, CA
SHE’S GONE TO DIE Black lab makes her way through the almond trees to the lone oak just past the water dome. Headed north she follows the hot summer breeze. Black lab makes her way through the almond trees before autumn, before winter or the winter freeze. Too far, too long she’s been away from home. Black lab makes her way through the almond trees to the lone oak just past the water dome.
L The Ophidian 01 — 41
Patricia L. Nichol sacramento, CA
PLANS You drive our family to the relatives: laugh and talk easily, flirt with all the women, make your plan as you devour fried chicken, potato salad, kuchen with wonder berries, drink cola braced with whiskey. I am your daughter your toy your plan. Someday I will have a plan too: will tell about your visits in the dark, your lies told with a smile. Whiskey lacing everything.
42 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
B.Z.Niditch Brookline, MA
CESAR VALLEJO’S NIGHT, 1892-1938 Night travels the field among a hundred days, your bed enters darkness on a bridge of departure from a poor man working dreams against tomorrow, the heated sky opens beneath an indifferent sun, unlocking a map of clouds from a Peruvian cosmogony. Your nightmares enlighten the shadows of corpses along vast mountainsides no doubt, the earth photographs your long face among the pine leaves trampling over your grave, petals fall on meadows pressed by your doorway granting hours of eternity from those who won’t forget.
L The Ophidian 01 — 43
JoyceOdam sacramento, CA
Things that love the light,
then fall— a long dark fall toward what is not there: the silky wish, the sad path of flowers, the last golden bee with no explanation for its falling. There is a plateau of light where everything goes— goes in a quiet surrender to have its future told. A lady with a turban sits staring into the sun she keeps in a dusty globe she fills with truth— what she says, you must believe. Do not believe her. Silhouettes crowd the wall at night where windows flare with light. There is nothing outside: only the non-sound, the possessive feel of eyes, the dispossession of the shadow.
44 — The Ophidian 01
C.Piper Napa, CA
Plastic Surgery The surgeon says scars are proof of healing and offers a surgeon’s hope: reduce the cuts with cutting, reconfigure the disfigurements, remove flesh there and graft it where flesh was removed; old scars exchanged for new. The surgeon’s knife can slice clean through, but cannot reach the severed nerve that feels the presence of absence — a phantom pain and endless itch that can’t be scratched. The surgeon says scars fade with time; untrained eyes can’t tell unless they know. But you know. You always know. Scars are proof.
L The Ophidian 01 — 45
AnnPrivateer Davis, CA
in the distance there is silence and spent puddles plates crack too much clarity dread seeps into the room as distant as the Milky Way taming the storm of new ideas that free fall and catapult spiraling out of control
46 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
henry 7. reneau davis, CA
communion the Chinese character for poetry is made up of two parts: word and temple a fellowship of torturing voices in my head like compacted fire, as they hurl themselves into constellations speaking in the name of all those who are now silent, a������ few rebuking the few who control the many poems Ready to known, not known something whispered, something we can’t quite hear, a chattering conscience splintering the volatile skin we speak like a harvest moon pregnant with mankind’s wishes, a clairvoyance that shows its face after the fact, a ghostly, neon, whiter shade of pale poetry, taught to behave as i was not, a swollen garbage bag of words, more light than tunnel, always wresting on my mind, embraces skylights and spirals my imagination into a whirlwind of butterflies, into babies dancin’ in the midnight sun
L The Ophidian 01 — 47
Carol Louise Moon | Snake and Ivy
48 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
VictoriaRodriguez sacramento, CA
May That cherry couldn’t stop Itself From getting me all nasty and
Like cold cherries and I
Sticky. I have to wash my hands now
Tell you they taste
Better directly from the place they
I can kiss you.
Are born in. I am standing on the
Kiss your dark, brown
Bricks to finally match your height. It
Salty forehead. You bite
Is nice not having
Into the tiny red fruit un-
To tippy toe up to you
Aware of the stains on your new shirt
As I’m sure you need a break from
Unaware your teeth,
Bending down to get to me. But
Flashing as you laugh in between
We both don’t mind reaching up
To pick the fruit
To red, then back to pink as you suck
Of summer, of the heat you hate
Sweet sweet juice. You say you
And of the sweet
L The Ophidian 01 — 49
JoannaRosinska Corvalis, OR
In a light breeze ink shades of saturated blue fly away before dawn, give way to Sun redolent of daffodil First joy from a feathery throat on the adjacent branch, a hymn to morning’s regalia sung in the major key of yin. Trills stretching into inaudible range sustain the day’s vibration, make the morning dew glitter under Sun
50 — The Ophidian 01
when day confluences night.
night-walker, Moon relieved from duty hums to herself a lullaby in a minor key of yang
es In the doorway to her bedroom Moon gives a hi-five to the morning glory vine. Curtains drawn she sleeps her beauty rest until her next performance. Her daybed within a sunrayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reach of the waking day.
by Joanna Rosinska
The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 51
Marie J. Ross stockton, CA
There is Wish The canopy stretches to wide in ebony with punch of thunder on cranium. Ears hear words of aggression and control over human emotion. Eyes watch the
in shoes of insecurity,
see weakness in the masses. In celestial region there is wish... no furious winds
to fling dreams into oblivion. The atmosphere rotates through time...
for thought and retreat from storm
and a canopy stretched in blue.
52 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
CarmelaRuby sacramento, CA
GETTING DRESSED Death started the minute I broke off my doll’s head and threw it out the window. The more I handle dead bodies The closer they be kin. I try on fur of mole and cat and still-reeking scales on sand; Watch, with clinician’s eye, how quickly my mother purples. No funerals needed. Memories enough: dead flowers, dead bears and fish and hogs in pens. Friends. And wolves. Wolves.
L The Ophidian 01 — 53
54 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
MitzSackman Murphys, CA
SITTING IN A HOTEL LOBBY I was sitting in a hotel lobby Waiting, waiting and watching The outfits go by Men in suits and sports jackets Some sporting shorts But bearing a uniform look nevertheless Women buzzed by in an array of colors Mauves, pinks Shocking reds Blues, greens, oranges Plaids, stripes, bold solids Neutral solids and embroidered accents Pants, skirts, dresses A long skirt It is all about the swish Graceful elegant motion In a column of khaki With just a hint of leg A short skirt It is all about the legs Towering columns With minimal mystery
Flourishing with flowers above
Our clothing tells stories about us
The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 55
Stephani Schaefer | three images
56 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
StephaniSchaefer Los Molinos, CA
I TELL MY SPONSEE Pick up that crockery you broke and mend it. She thinks it broke by accident or maybe her mother threw it. She thinks the world’s a crock. That’s why she drinks (she thinks) Sick puppy that she is (she got that phrase at rehab) she must mend first. I tell her that’s a crock. First, pick it up and then you’ll mend. I think she’s looking for another sponsor.
L The Ophidian 01 — 57
AllegraSilberstein davis, CA
COUNTERPOINT You rush in like the north wind I thirst in the vanish of years by a deep well of want bend down to please the needy inward crowd Your coyote spirit served on a platter of patterned tile I pull at weeds neglect the polish of words the demand of blood a crucifixion of creation The wind that holds you folds you in your doubts
58 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
JeanineStevens sacramento, CA
Sugarloaf In fourth grade, the teacher was evil, placed columns of math problems on our desks, even before the bell rang. By 9 A.M., I was defeated and still three hours until lunch. No snack breaks— anemic, by 11 A.M., famished— then Geography—a photo the lofty mountain in Brazil—Pao de Acucar. Named for the refined sugar packed in bread-like loaves, it towered above Rio de Janeiro. I could smell Sugarloaf baking, crust cracking cinnamon, soft, light inside, coated in confectioner’s sugar. It held me until the walk home at noon for leftovers, and a small helping of pink watery Junket. If we had enough red, dime-size food tokens, lunch was bologna on fluffy Wonder Bread and bright cherry Kool-Aid. We returned to rest our heads on desks, a symphony played over the loudspeaker. Part of the afternoon, we knitted squares for blankets—our soldiers freezing, hungry in a distant European winter.
L The Ophidian 01 — 59
Sandy Thomas | three singers
60 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
SandyThomas sacramento, CA
Chinese Lantern the east holds her lamp with the red and midnight hues adding beauty west
! American Lotus the golden poppy in the center is sitting the meditation
! Tower Bridge above the river gold cast reflected on blue yellow flames bursting
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 61
62 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01 Katy Brown | Four images
ElizabethVaradan sacramento, CA
Winter Trees In the damp air A calligraphy of Branches Encrypt a code More secret than Humans can devise. Some primal grief Bends them in Sorrowful grace as, Against the wind, They weep Splinters of truth.
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 63
D.R. Wagner | Art car D.R. Wagner
64 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
D.R.Wagner elk grove, CA
COPPER It’s the copper sulfate that turns The hydrangeas that blue of oxygen Exhausted blood, making these full Flowers beacons to bees foraging, That we may know sweetness From all the earth. The verdigris on my hands Has been rubbed from the copper Pipes I have been twisting together so We can have water on the upper Stories of the house. I can Feel the water moving through the pipes. It is mumbling about a blue Green language infecting Everything it comes In contact with. In my grandfather’s room stacks Of old pennies are piled against the walls Filling the space with the scent Of copper coins. Coins with dates Stamped onto them recalling All of his life for him. There were Indian heads and Lincoln portraits.
There is precious little that is Worth remembering about the Electric lines high up the towers Where hawks and hot stick linemen Command the hum of energy Through the great body of air. Cities, I see you there, copper Glistening in the copper dawn Light, crackling in the copper Colored air, boiling water in Huge copper pots, pliable And bending, easily shaped Like our own dear souls, stolen, Melted and reformed into useful implements. So often we forget our own society And see it become other than this ore As we tread the copper tinged waves Forever drawing us closer to that Blue breath poured against our Bodies as we conduct all that copper Into a way of saying we shall ever understand.
L The Ophidian 01 — 65
AnnWehrman sacramento, CA
Crown of Thorns spring sun presses March wind fecund buds emerge from bare trees I languish on the sidelines bleed out my possibilities
he might have had your hair, your eyes
she could have been smart, danced
no one tucks seed into soil blood all waters of my body wasted branches alive with sap twine across my forehead
66 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01
PatriciaWellingham-Jones Tehama, CA
March of the Rooftops We ride north from Sacramento to our countryside studded with cows and almond orchards and walnut groves and olives and rice. On our right, on our left, the march of the rooftops. They surround every patch of green, lurk behind slumpstone walls, send shudders across my skin in waves of ripples. Like anthills built of wood they spread across the earth. Circus The circus pulled out last night, drove almost in silence through the dark town. Left behind, dung-stained straw on the ground, pink floss of cotton candy like Spanish moss draping a tree, a tinge of elephant-seasoned popcorn-flavored air, and a child who dreamed of circuses and got her wish.
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 67
68 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01 camera action sandy thomas | lights
DanielWilliams Wawona, CA
Wolf Moon Raven and Coyotes Snow on the meadow Ragged white circle The wolf moon Drapes itself Across landscape Encircled With trees Coyote pads Daintily to the middle Barks in the frost For its mate Raven floats Purely black Against clouds From pine branch To the back of Coyote’s head And pecks Continuing its flight While the stunned Dog watches— Coyote’s mate Prances out Together they lie Brown and gray And mustard Upon hummocked ice Coyotes turn their backs Upon raven Raven hops to within Ten feet of the waiting Dogs Snow moon lies a Ragged white circle Crisp as coyote’s bark Obsidian feathers Spackling its surface Like leaves
L The Ophidian 01 — 69
RichardHansen edinburgh, scotland
Postscript—room to breathe It was important, as much as we could achieve it, that each poet get her or his own page. Or pages. Our approach to an online journal allows for this. This is not a print publication, where color and number of pages add to a publication’s costs. We are unrestrained. The Ophidian can get as big as it needs to be. We can give the poetry and art within room to breathe. Traditional web formats require that images be small. Or, anyway, folks have been conditioned to think so. So many beautiful images have been reduced by the need to accommodate format. They are, as a result, diminished. Again, we are unrestrained. And our preference is to give art and photography its necessary space. The Ophidian is an experiment; an effort to find the best features of both print and web. Print as a medium continues to grow increasingly expensive, especially for small press publishers. The web is a medium with its own limitations. The very nature of “web pages” makes it difficult to achieve a desired look and feel; there isn’t a lot of certainty that readers are going to see a “page” as you intended. (Curse you .html pages!) The Ophidian is designed to look and read like a print publication. The journal is in an Adobe Acrobat format (PDF) which allows it to be read online or downloaded to your computer and viewed. Print if you like. The whole thing if you really need to… but I suggest you tell your printer to do so in black and white. This color-soaked bad boy is going to drink your color cartridges dry! Consider, instead, printing just the pages you really, really want. Or need. (Like those with your poems on it.) Whatever way you decide to view the first Ophidian, enjoy! 70 — The Ophidian 01
The Ophidian 02 submissions by March 1st, 2011
In order to be part of the next issue of The Ophidian, send 3-5 poems to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 by March 1, 2011. No bios or cover letters needed; also no previouslypublished work or simultaneous submissions, please. Include name, snail address and e-address on every cyber-page. Art and photography also welcome: send those to email@example.com Submitting images
Think large. Even if the file size is huge. Submit images that are at least 300dpi in either a JPEG (.jpg) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) or TIFF (.tif) format. Images imbedded in Word documents (.doc or .docx) will not be accepted.
L The Ophidian 01 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 71
Rattlesnake Press poetry with fangs!
www.rattlesnakepress.com RattleChaps, Spirial Chaps, LittleBooks, Broadsides, Wtf, a monthly poetry series and so much more. Find out all about the nefarious doings of Rattlesnake Press by going to the website.
CARPE VIPERIDAE—Seize the Snake! The Rattlechaps Chapbook Series
was born in April of 2004 with Rattlechap #1: ANVIL by Danyen Powell. Since then, rattlechaps have been released on an almost-monthly basis, with readings by each poet at The Book Collector—where he or she is surrounded by family and friends in as supportive atmosphere as his/her fans can supply. This is the point of a rattlechap, after all: to do the best poetry possible and give it a rousing send-off. Rattlechaps Chapbook Series is by invitation only, and we do, frankly, have a strong bias toward Northern California poets. Books are 5.5” X 8.5”, cardstock cover, saddlestapled, 16-24 pages of poems. $5.00 (include $1 postage if ordering online). All rattlechaps are available from the author, from The Book Collector, or from Rattlesnake Press website.
Snakes drawn by Sam “the Snake Man” Kieth
72 — The Ophidian 01
SNAKEBYTES is a free monthly e-mail update of all the happenings at Rattlesnake Press: deadlines, new publications, and other warnings of slitherings to come. Sign up by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
TBC used books
the book collector 1008 24th street midtown sacramento, ca 95816 between j & k streets
TBC is proud to be the “Home of the Snake” featuring a complete selection of publications from Rattlesnake Press.
The Rattlesnake Reading Series returns with a reading to inaugurate a new online anthology of poetry & art.
November 10, 2010 Readers include
frank andrick Shawn Aveningo Trina Drotar Taylor Graham Pat Hickerson James Lee Jobe Cynthia Linville Carol Louise Moon Ann Privateer Henry Reneau Allegra Silberstein Sandy Thomas and guest Oregonian
Be Davison Herrera The Book Collector “Home of the snake.” 1008 24th Street • Sacramento free • refreshments provided pfa—2010
L The Ophidian 01 — 73
The Ophidian 01 winter 2010
74 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Ophidian 01