Monday, July 25, 2011

Above Night's Shadows

Café Terrace at Night
—Painting by Vincent Van Gogh

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

All is calm in the Arles café tonight, stars
slashed into a deep blue sky, blurry people

ambling toward the light, clean white tables
on the patio. But the balcony

is out of whack; wrought iron railings
slide over the lit roof's slope; someone

could shoot right down onto the cobblestones.
Van Gogh watches behind a slate-blue lintel

listening to the murmuring with both ears;
more light sneaks under the mullioned door.

A waiter glides among the early crowd;
a black-hooded figure slips into the café;

a tree, the dense green of twilight insinuates itself
over the street, grooved with gutters

to carry off rain; there will be no rain tonight.
I see the source of light, a lamp that swings

maniacally at the end of a frail red pole, casting
yellow onto green walls like paint. Van Gogh

peers down the alley at the big white stars;
orange and green lights wink on in the shops.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Where dogs bark.
Where light changes.
Where one can see dreams.
Where all things are spoken about.
Where birds are always flying.
Where joy comes into the heart.
Were all memories turn into great wheels.
Where you meet people you will never see again.
Where you live.
Where dancing is better than talking.
Where the moon claims the surface of the water.
Where the old stories are remembered.
Where waiting learns to defy both hope and time.
Where one must stay and be seen by others.
Where what we know is changed forever.
Where everything seems impossible.
Where Autumn receives sadness.
Where love finds it is bound by neither time nor space.
Where great sorrows receive the gift of tears.
Where the erotic seems to go on forever.
Where thought and decision are unable to recognize each other.
Where the sea is invited into the palace to dance and tell tales.
Where animals carry greatness in secret.
Where we realize what we believe.
Where music undoes its colored scarves and explains itself.
Where earth, air, fire and water show us their relentless
Where we know the moon recognizes our blood.
Where sleep becomes our master and we long for its embrace
                                        that we may know
All places, unbound by words, imagination and the far barking
                                        of dogs.


—D.R. Wagner

The cities abandoned. I saw you
Walking there long after the others
Had left. It was as if a huge
Truth stretched out in front of you.

It glowed and had teeth, sparkling
Pointed and sure to find flesh
Before feeling. Great winds
Filled with lightning moved
Throughout its body.

Could this be the same place
Where we had made love together?
Could this shower of glow discharging
Ether be the same feelings
That once were tender in our hearts.

Oh poor mankind, to be caught so far
From harbor on this night,
Slouched and desperate far from
Arms that love you.
“Come home,” I said
But none could hear angel music
In this place, save animals
And the pure of heart.


—D.R. Wagner

Death has a beautiful garden.
We all grow in it, strong,
Also beautiful and ever so proud.

Such fine children. I can’t
Remember better, those smiles
Broken hunks of light scattered
Throughout the rooms we walked through.

We remain shaken, constantly falling,
touching the sides of the room
Like a good thigh, a dream in which
the mouth remains moist.

Tree tops. The things we cannot speak of.
The crops left deserted in smashed
Choruses thinking great thoughts of
Girls who never had a name.
The clouds again moving ever
Toward that same garden
We helped death in, planting ourselves
For the perfect harvest.


—Katy Brown, Davis

I tether myself with twine
to the bedpost and
line the doorframe with
St. Benedict’s herb
to ward off evil.

Nothing after dark
looks the same.
Chairs and sofas
turn to wolf and leviathan.
Shadows sneak along the floor,
poisonous mouths
ready to devour any bare foot.
Mirrors capture reverse
images in crinkled silver
and cast them back.

They have found me,
out by the well,
addressing the midnight cat
in a language like
Babylonian or some
obscure Sioux dialect.
I have no memory.

They say sleepwalkers
are changelings
trying to return to their first world.
When stars sigh in the void,
the well, deep with echo,
draws me like a portal . . . .


—Katy Brown

We have been following you
to the edge of this wilderness
for some time, now,
trying to see where you go;
but you move too quickly
beyond the treeline.

You always come back
with the first pewter light of dawn,
no evidence of having walked
dark paths through
thicket and wood.

It is dangerous beyond the light,
you say. Stay here in the compound
where watchdogs sleep by the door.
Trust me, you say,
the world is a dangerous place.

As if to agree, the distant wolves
begin to sing somewhere in the direction
of Stone Mountain,
a giant hunched on the horizon.

When you are gone, we suspect
that you speak with the wind.
You know the dialects of water
and starlight. You hear the owl’s wing.
We wonder who you meet out there.

Tonight, I followed beyond the buck brush
and manzanita, into pine and cedar darkness.
Crouched low on a patch of bear grass,
I watched you look around
as if catching the scent of something
on the silk-light breeze.

In the softest voice, beseeching the stars,
Fly, you said . . .
as if it were that easy.
Then you lifted above night’s shadows. . . .


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Under the mountain's stone,
a meadow, an upland pool

that captures images in reverse:
your face framed by tree-line.

Something draws you
like a portal—two boulders

opening onto light, to wind,
to water speaking in its dialects

of snowmelt and fall. A deep
echo of rushing river.

Follow me. Water makes
changelings of us all.


About her murmurous poem, Jane Blue writes: According to Wikipedia, Van Gogh was very happy that he could paint a night scene that was all colors. He painted it on the spot. This was the first painting in which he used a starry night.

Heads up: The Primal Urge reading series, Poetry With Legs, has moved from the 2nd and 4th Thursdays to the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, starting this week. That’s at The Shine Café, and the readers this week are Patrick Grizzell and D.R. Wagner, with Bill Gainer hosting. See the b-board for details.

While you’re b-boarding, note our new feature (in the green, lower section, right above Poet-to-Poet): Medusa’s Classifieds. What do we consider classifieds? Well, I don’t rightly know, actually—it just seemed like a good idea, and already we have two posted; check ‘em out, and send us more. One of them involves Cynthia Linville, who’s big in Medusa-news this week: not only is her writing group forming a new reading group, Erotica Poetica, but she has provided us with tomorrow’s Seed of the Week, a form she’s "invented", called a Linvillanelle. She also traveled to Ashland, Oregon recently, and we’ve posted her travel photos in a Facebook album; go to the Medusa’s Kitchen page on Facebook for a peek at that. Cynthia is one of Sacramento's Convergence editors; you can click onto their latest issue on our b-board, as well.


Today's LittleNip: 

If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it.

—Carolyn MacKenzie



Giant Bug Exhibit, Cal. State Fair
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento