Friday, December 17, 2010

How Sweet the Horror

Medusa II
—Painting by Josef Mehoffer, 1904

                        for Italo Calvino
—D.R. Wagner

Here, against the sea
To make the softest of beds, Perseus
Has strewn the sand with leaves,
Small branches of plants born under
Water and has placed Medusa’s head
Upon this to keep it from harm
Face down. The little sea plants touching it
Turn to coral and nymphs begin to gather

Bringing seaweed and sea plants to touch
The head and doing so make coral ornaments
Where there was but sea wrack moments ago.
How sweet the horror of this head
Becomes. Why even the blood of Medusa

Is of such lightness that Pegasus,
So beloved of the muses, springs from
Her blood and white and winged
Perseus rides off with the face of the
Gorgon hidden, carrying a reality that
Is invincible like a precious burden.

May the winds bear us too with our sight
That we may behold the world’s delight without
Gazing directly into its eyes but
Find ourselves reflected, alone and wondering
Rather than in the coldness of its stone.


Thanks to today's contributors! Big storms headed through this weekend; curl up with a good book and keep your powder dry. Write about the rain, then tell Mother Medusa all about it... And thanks to D.R. Wagner for his ditty about (and the cool pic he found of) the old gal.

SnakePal Sal Buttaci writes: The Poem Factory at invites you to submit poems for consideration in the Winter 2011 issue: 3-5 poems (24-line limit per poem) + a brief bio (up to 3 lines). Poems need not be about winter! Deadline: January 07, 2011. Send poem(s) in an e-mail (no attachments) to Salvatore Buttaci at In the e-mail's subject line, type: FACTORY POEMS.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

From time to time I am rewarded
with the mental images of my college
days at UCLA when I would venture
into the Papa Bach book store in
Westwood Village, sit down at their
old upright piano and play from
memory a couple of Bach’s easier
2-part inventions, very fast.

Today my 10 fingers can no longer
remember past the first 6 or 7 notes
which keys to press in which order,
at any speed.

I pick up my old trombone. Is it
wrong to ask the mouthpiece to
remember my lips? Do I have to
do all the work?

How wonderful the Internet! Just
type in one little shred of memory
and it responds with companion
data one may have forgotten.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

At work, just out the window, on this blue day,
fruit filling squeezed into a sandwich of steady rains,
I see, just lifting their head-crowns over hill-ranges,
the Sierras, icy white packed down to stay.
This kind of sunlight ripens no harvest grain,
no grapes-on-the-upslope sensuous afternoons.
Who knows how quickly the night clouds come to estrange us
from the million million bodily tides that strain
guylike, tugging our skins toward bursts of moon
made most ferocious in their eloquence
by gusty cold trained on our upstraining faces?
Our eyes water; we think this means moonlight
has forged its halo into microfine spears
and stabbed at the pupils. But no, this is part fright,
part shame that cannot stand to have drawn these tears
of gravity, of lunar influence.
Let us bow down our heads in acknowledgment,
as odors rise from dark ground, like mud, like mint.
But all this is to anticipate the night.
Savor the day: the cold, the savage light.


—Tom Goff

What’s best forgotten is nothing at all of you:
How can I not remember the call of you
without any sound or summons within my skin,
knowing wordlessly not to begin
to think why you are beautiful, but most
only to know you do infiltrate like a ghost:
you sway within your body inside mine
as giving throats declare soft long swallows of wine.
You’re richly laced and laden vintner’s juice
still soft in a glass unbending as blue spruce.
How do you know how to fill me spilling over
with light, or lift my awkward decorum cover?
I forget everything of who in me is who.
But nothing of what one other who? You know what who.


Today's LittleNip:

—Ann Privateer, Davis 

Frost with a chance
of rain icicles

recall days
when grass

was green
instead of brown

and I could smile
instead of frown.



 Photo by Ann Privateer