Thursday, October 27, 2011

Still Spookin'

Pumpkin Patch, Half Moon Bay
(Note shark on bounce house and
wee spook in the pink hat in front)
—Photo by Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Grandma was a druid priestess
scratching her poems
with a pointed stick
dipped in her hearts blood
digging Gaelic symbols
into the rough dirt of the Salisbury Plain
hard life she survived
did what she was told
chanted her poems,
grew into witchdom
awarded her tall, pointy black hat
came down through the ages
voiding time
tunneling space
channeling voices

now, with her black cat Johnson
black cat like a dark mountain
bigger than life
stripes like white waterfalls
furring his back
mounted behind on her broom
reptilian tail wrapped around Grandma
holding her fast as they travel the night sky
sharp silhouette on the golden moon
sail into my kitchen
‘wake up!’ Grandma screeches;
‘it’s Halloween’!

Johnson paces the floor,
grooms his wall-wide whiskers for the feast
while we boil up a patch of pralines
sugary spreads appeasing pecans
bubbling brown on a plainsong platter
Johnson wants one…o yeah…

Johnson, f’god’s sake,
get your paws off the stove
you can’t have all the pralines!


—Patricia Hickerson

the icy breeze on my ankle hey, icy breeze, Pam, what do you make of it? the house in Sonoma I’m usually alone sitting alone watching TV icy breeze on my ankles oooo what’s that? never felt that before invited my friend Pam for an overnight Pam loves Sonoma wants to live here I invite her for an overnight we split a bottle of wine, grownup pajama party eat Fritos and Cheesits watch scary Dracula movie I tell Pam my ghost story: after my mom died I was staying in her house for the funeral; that night I walked down the hall to turn off a living room light I felt a hand pressing my left shoulder very hard from behind. Is that you, Mom? Anyway Pam is here for an overnight big comfortable house an old lady died here people say she weighed 300 pounds all her life ate junk food I live alone invite Pam for an overnight just an ordinary house at the end of the road, cows graze by the barn, horses wander in the pasture beyond we sip wine watch scary movie, finally go to bed Pam in the guest room; much later what time is it? Four a.m.? I hear footsteps go down the hall past my closed door… I’m thinking those are heavy footsteps for Pam; too many Cheesits? she’s getting more Cheesits? I wait for return footsteps it doesn’t happen next morning Pam says she didn’t go down the hall in the middle of the night. Then who was going for Cheesits? Or maybe it was the Fritos?


—Lily Viek, Davis

From a small town far far away
To a major city with frightening creatures
Taken from my home with many others
Forced to change my name and my form

Clustered together waiting for the inevitable
Tossed and turned without a care
In a huge building of many noises
With dangerously dark narrow corners

So easy to be lost and forgotten
Giant cobwebs stretched across the ceiling
What is this dungeon, this factory of terror?
I can feel my soul fleeing my body

I’m forced into the scorching heat
My figure melting, dripping, gone
What’s left of me? Nothing. Just my essence
My soul lingering in its new form

Wrapped up and packaged to be sent away
Traveling from one place to another
I’ve been trapped since birth with no hope of escape
This is my destiny, my purpose, my fate

I’m one in a million and no longer me
No one notices, no one remembers
My new self is grabbed and gathered
Displaced and distorted. Lost and confused

In a deep dark hole with no way out
Constantly being crushed and shaken, unable to move
Trapped and blinded by darkness
Screams and laughter filling the air

When I thought it was all over and all had settled down
I’m freed from the cave and from my colorful mask
Only to enter a new dark and damp torture chamber
Of which I’ll never return


—Sestina by Lily Viek

Watch as the world is drowned by the sky’s tears
Listen to the beat as they pound the ground
Surrounded by endless and cold darkness
With only the shining light of the moon
Illuminating a couples first kiss
Creating everlasting memories

Oh, how bittersweet are those memories
As they flood your mind and force out the tears
While you think of the final goodbye kiss
Your knees shake and you fall to the ground
Not even the bright light of the night’s moon
Can shield you from the eternal darkness

Liquid bullets attacking in the dark
Causing you to drown in your memories
Carried by the tidal wave of the moon
Crashing and breaking into shards of tears
The undertow sweeping you off the ground
Pulling you in toward the sea’s deadly kiss

Wishing for just one final true love’s kiss
Before your life fades into the darkness
And all else fails and crashes to the ground
When all you have left are those memories
That cause you to drown in those painful tears
Under the reflection of the bright moon

Trying to hide from the cruel, taunting moon
Trying to avoid the sea’s murderous kiss
Trying to hold back the persistent tears
Trying to run from the growing darkness
Trying to block out the sad memories
Trying to keep both feet on the ground

Hear the rhythm as the rain hits the ground
Searching for your reflection in the moon
As you silently recall memories
Of those bittersweet first and last kisses
Before you disappear in the darkness
And all that is left are those final tears

Memories resurfacing to the ground
Tears of rain fall and compliment the moon
Filling the air, rain kisses the darkness



Rings hollow
On All Hallows Eve

Trick or treat!
What are you?

A babe in the woods
In my formative years
Cute enough to fetch
A haul of candy

A mommy and a flashlight
Hold off all the fears
With a costume bold as
Yankee Doodle Dandy

Here is some candy. Enjoy!

Trick or treat!
What are you?

I am the ghost of promises
That were made and never kept
By leaders who betrayed our trust
And cared not with whom they slept

Here’s an IOU. Good Luck!

—Caschwa, Sacramento


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

She always loved the wind
The way it disappeared when
The milk of clouds moved the dragons
From their dim and purple lairs.

They seemed to be awake, part of
That world, but showed only the froth
Of bone, the skeletons of birds
Showing through all the frozen liquid
Flesh demands of any kind of knowledge.

Then too wind might be God’s falcon or just
The turning of a face away from light
For the smallest of moments and then

The peaks of the mountains growing before one,
The thermals carrying one higher and higher
No barriers to flight but our own bones,
Not hollow like those of birds quarried
So long ago that time has made them

Play a fine music as they move across
The sky. She always loved them, thought
Them part of wind when they were not, thought them
Perhaps part of clouds, when they were not.

They were the seasons joined the way they are,
Moving round and round as ducks do on a pond
An enchantment not the property of time or skill,
A simple pairing of a rhyme, moving line to line,
Almost invisible to everyone but her, caught as
She was in her own skeleton, sipping its pure wine.


—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

In the year
of celebrating
as the "Backwards Lady"
in the north part
of the county
just before the wildfires
settled in
as usual,

Appleton shot out
all the fake flamingos
in Mrs. Bannister's sideyard,

and Dad never came home
for a very long time
every other weekend evening
or so it seemed.

A cousin
nearly divorced
her husband
after he was held hostage
half a week
and almost died----
the way one normally does.

Appleton hurt too much,
love tastes a bit
too close to sour salt

when the wet season
and November 2nd
rolls in

sand spikes
in the neutral air.


—Michael Cluff

Bruce Palmer and I saw
drive-in movies on the sly
down beyond the south fence
of the Baseline Drive-in.

Cheap fare
shoddy seventies
quick rip-offs
of horror movies
and teen comedies,
they never are so good
when cable resurrects
their sorry souls.

With our girls,
Mary and Robin,
in the back
of the Impala
life was good then,
maybe better now,
but not too often so.

Foggy mornings came too soon
as did the leave-taking
of a between high school
and college summer.


Thanks to today's contributors, including Lily Viek, a student of D.R. Wagner's, who's posting for the first time today. A Sestina, nonetheless! I can't believe that you're not getting enough Halloween poems (the Kitchen overfloweth!), but if you're still looking for more, go to

We've got another new photo album on Medusa, this one of the American River Parkway by Carl Schwartz (Caschwa). Check it out!

NorCal poets will be saddened to hear that Richard Hansen's mother passed away on Tuesday. Here's what he posted on Facebook: My mom passed away quietly on Tuesday afternoon after spending a little over a week in the exceptional care of the nurses and staff of St. Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh. We were blessed to have two months in which she was active and happy. We travelled, we ate good food, we laughed and cried, Rachel and Ru were able to visit. The end came quickly, and thankfully, with very little pain. Thank you to everyone for all of your support and positive thoughts.

The Occupy Sacramento folks at Cesar Chavez Park are talking about poetry workshops/teach-ins. The first one was on Monday Oct. 24 at 3 pm with a teach-in on the Revolutionary Poets' Brigade (founded last year in SF). Greg Adams, who is the OS education person and is co-ordinating the schedule at the occupation, suggested that we have a weekly poetry teach-in at the park at 3 pm every Monday (presumably weather permitting...)! Clearly, this is a great opportunity for poets in Sacramento to get out their most "engaged" work. If there is any interest in this in the Sacramento Poetry community, please e-mail Greg at or call Cathleen Williams (before next week) at 916-801-4672 and 916-442-7327. (In addition, poets can have a spot between 6:30 and 8pm to speak, almost any day.)


Today's LittleNip(s): 

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

—Emily Dickinson

Just like a ghost, you've been a-hauntin' my dreams,
So I'll propose on Halloween.
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.

—“Spooky Little Girl Like You” —Classics IV, 1968



 Photo by Kathy Kieth