Monday, June 27, 2011

How We Live On Fringes

Bad Hair Day
—Photo by Janet L. Pantoja

—Janet L. Pantoja, Woodinville, WA

Toby extracted his front
Tooth—hoping for a coin or
Two—placed it with care under
The pillow. Distracted Mom
Thought not of dental duty.
Trouble was averted by
Technological email.


—Janet L. Pantoja

The boy wants Daddy to fix his computer,
but his daddy is indisposed at the moment—
he is in the process of dying.

Laptop under his arm, the boy approaches.
Daddy is agitated, confused, heavily medicated—
in pain in the process of dying.

“Dad, can you fix my computer?”
he asks while adults scurry to tend to his daddy
who is in the process of dying.

The boy pleads with his mother:
“Mom, all he has to do is log on . . .”
“Can’t you see your daddy is in the process of dying?”

Crushed and brokenhearted the boy walks away,
Laptop clutched tightly under his arm . . .
tears well up, spill over for his daddy who is dying.


—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

Dancing down the wind again
dust realigns cervices
roiling the mass
the simple taste
water rolling into cubelets
the wastrel in you
addresses the waves
gerunds with no place to go.


—Michael Cluff

The wind bites the hills
into straight drop-downs that rattle
the creek beds below
kangaroo rats
never should see the equinox light
it would boil their brains
to a sloppy mess.

And in the umbra
of the arrowhead
a defining lacuna
of geological import
above San Bernardino
a heated soul
shoots buckshot
at lizards of no account.


I could keep the key
for all eternity
I could hold the cup
'til man's time is up,
I could tell the story
of a saint's singular glory.

I must hold the words
or sing them only to the birds,
I can maintain a confidence
and never cross the repressive fence.

I will look always at you
up til one of our lives is through
you should worry about me
now who is the one who is somewhat more free.

—Michael Cluff


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

These roses in a row were planted
So long ago it is almost impossible
To tell there was once a house here.

I came upon them while traipsing
Through the drying fields and wondering
At the open space close to the creek.

They seemed out of place. Why would
roses choose to be here red, yellow
And a fiery orange, rangy but quite
Lovely? I paced the area and realized
A house had been there about a hundred
Or so years previously. This was the back
Garden. Then, at creek edge
A lilac full of the season.
This was a home, no doubt.

I sat on a rock for the afternoon
Watching the slow turning of the turkey
Vultures, listening to the landscape,
Imaging the seasons, a dry rock
Staircase leading to a dancing floor
Once full of life, now brushed
By ghosts and the fine voices of insects
Tidying up the Summer as their own house.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

For now, the vultures
have left off their heyday spiraling
above a rock staircase built
into hill; up to a house too recent
for the memory of buzzards.
Late afternoon, approaching dark.
Patio party. Listen to the zing-zitzing
of insects tidying up the summer,
and deeper—pond not yet
dozed over—a basso bullfrog
singing bugs down this
high-season's gullet. This is how
to live on fringes thin and edgy
as a leaf, a frog's tongue.



at the edge of afternoon,
three hooded figures
draw scrolls from sleeves—
pass codes and secrets
in a land that cares more
for the art of war
than the poetry of art.

They pass information quickly,
aware of watchers in the shadows.
They’ve come from lands of
meadows and orchards,
from the land of foxes and voles.
They speak in the old language
of equinox and stars.
They name the winds.

Before they vanish again,
in hushed voices, they plot
to wage peace;
murmur a canticle
in a dialect of adoration.
They share the hope
of enlightenment
one stanza at a time . . . .

—Katy Brown, Davis


Today's LittleNip: 

Today we are afraid of simple words like
goodness and mercy and kindness. We don't
believe in the good old words because we
don't believe in good old values anymore.
     And that's why the world is sick.

—Lin Yutang


—Medusa (with gratitude to today's contributors, including Pat Pashby for finding us the LittleNip that she says seems to fit with yesterday's burro poem.)

Taylor Graham, D.R. Wagner and Katy Brown read 
from their on-going Kitchen table conversation at
A Starry Night Poetry Series in Lodi yesterday.
For more photos of them and 
some of the other readers, see our Facebook page:
just type in "Medusa's Kitchen".
For more about A Starry Night, go to