Thursday, September 01, 2011

Scaffolds of Dreams

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

The man in the moon
as always
refuses to look at
what I am forced by safety, necessity and survival
to see.

He gazes upward left
with a perfect circloidal mouth
of wonder, of awe, of gas,
only he knows.

I stare south
see a lightest brown coyote
shuttle his or her stiff injured,
paralyzed hind quarters
across four lanes of late morning
traffic, he or she
going west
maybe to recline, repose, rest, realize
it hurts too much to ponder anymore.

His or her eyes plead,
pain is in her or his grimace,
open dripping jaws
he or she glares square at us
and me
to stop, to spare her or him
to just let him or her pass over
the asphalt to dry yellow grasses or weeds
on the berm, shoulder
that abruptly goes downhill.

We can't;
I can't
delay the tear
running out of my left eye

the one closest
to a mooncalved face.



Looking anywhere along Wall Street
It is not just the buildings
That have magnificent facades

Ionic columns holding up
Hideous poker-face gargoyles
Are overshadowed by
Iconic columnists painting
Images of baroque splendor.

How many investments failed?

Then turn onto Main Street and
Behold the amazingly populous
Collision repair shops, and a plethora
Of other products and services
That arise in the aftermath of
Entirely preventable accidents,

Plus bail bonds, pawn shops,
Payroll advances, bus bench ads
For divorce or bankruptcy covered
With that ever-present graffiti.
No deep pocket consumers here,
Just desperation and fatigue.

Did Pandora’s Box have a false bottom?


—Caschwa, Sacramento

I was taking out the garbage
Or at least thinking about
Maybe starting to do that
When the news on my TV
Segued directly from a distressing
Amber alert to announcing with
No less emphasis that I absolutely
Needed a bigger TV, right now.

This was important!

So of course I rushed out
To do some serious shopping
And easily found rows and rows of
Bigger TVs all showing that
Amber alert story in high definition
On marvelous wide screens,
Making my humble TV at home
Look like a small pile of garbage.

By the way, incidentally, not to mention
If you look at the fine print
And read between the lines
Every single one of those bigger TVs
Bore an up-front cost of
Several thousand dollars
More than my budget would allow,
And would follow with a continuing
Higher operating expense.

Tired, saddened, disillusioned,
I reluctantly went back home
To my little garbage TV which
Then displayed for me the most
Wonderful, heart-warming news:
The child was found safe at home,
She had only crawled under the
Bed and fallen asleep.

I put a nice ribbon and bow on
My little TV, and headed for
Under the bed.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Mom sits
tries to fix blurred TV
wants to get it smooth and sharp
they come in
through the sliding doors
she’s 15 like silk
blond hair gold-spangled
satin flow
his muscles the lifeguard
he’s 19
sand-grit and muscles steroid-hot
smoothed-out, hair-bleached
sun bulge to the touch
he already has a child
an older woman beyond the beach
look toward the Pacific
waves crash sand burns

through the sliding doors
burned with gold
Mom sits there
tries to get a good TV fix
eyes bobbling on the blur
don’t you get frustrated? he laughs
Mom sits
admires the sun-hot couple
tries to get a good picture
TV blurs with sunlight
the blinding couple they come in
through the sliding doors
all harsh and gritty
kids from beyond the sea
sand-hot and golden


—Patricia Hickerson

what the hell
why is the ball game on
why so loud
enough to wake me up
get me out of bed
go into the living room

well, Mother, there you are
come back from the dead
to scrub my walls
scrubbing away

and here’s Rachel
she’s the Giants fan
puttering around in the dining room
I could cry for joy
honey, your hair when it was long and blond
now done up in a big floppy bun
high on your head

high on the hog
that’s the way you and I used to live,
tramping through Nordstrom’s
thought I was going to fall down
the escalator
my god, wish I were back there now
it’s been dull since you died

come back, you two!


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Tall, gaunt—mounting a windmill-
ladder hand—by handhold, step by step
up thin, peened metal; climbing—
to tilt with the wheel, or grab a sail,
spin out into the westwind—

In dream, it's hard to tell.
Or maybe swinging sledge against
wrought-iron, changing it to trellises
of olive-leaf, peace-lily. By moon-
light, so tall and thin, as if just bones

and wishes. Skeleton—or someone
climbing a fire-escape, leaving earth's
gravity behind—up past kitchens, bedrooms,
a small child sleeping in her crib.
Footfalls multiply upward—

metal switchbacks, drops and landings
of history—to the roof, to write
words on the sky-board. Or, wanderer
bent under his pack, clambering
to a lonely lookout—delicate framework

that always draws lightning. Or
climbing up ship's rigging to the crow's
nest, watching all night for landfall
of a star. I wake to scaffolds of dreams
with moonlight shining through.


Thanks to today's writers! Taylor Graham is one of the poets whose work appears in the Fall issue of the online Convergence; go to

We have a new album on Medusa's Facebook page, this time by Carl Bernard Schwartz (Caschwa), called "Caschwa's World". Check it out!

A couple of poetry news items: Check out Sac. Poetry Center's reburbished website at, and while you're there, take note of their contest for single poems, deadline for which is Sept. 15. Details at

And Surprise Valley Writers' Conference organizer Barbara March asked us to spread the word that the following four scholarships are available for the conference which will be held from Sept. 15-18:

nonfiction: $200 scholarship
fiction: $200 scholarship
poetry: $200 scholarship
poetry: $200 scholarship

See for more.


Today's LittleNip: 

despite the hype
karma is a female dog
she has bitten me

—Michael Cluff