Friday, April 27, 2012

Polyethylenes and Hellbenders

Medusa's Worst Day EVER...

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Every so often, a woman student, taking short
breaks, ambles around the Center, drinking
deeply, unselfconsciously from a square plastic

half gallon bottle of water. Elegant, feminine
upward tilt of face meets mouth of bottle:
doesn’t she emulate the turbaned “Arab”

on old Hills Brothers Coffee cans?
Mr. Arab lifts up his face unto heaven,
heaven in a shallow tilted coffee dish,

the bend of his arms as easy and supple
as a violinist’s perfect stroke of bow. And
the brown liquid he quaffs is the sun!

Oh, I wonder what nourishment you absorb
from the light cube, what clarity you ingest,
dear young student. From what cosmic fount?

Will it quell spring fever? Replenish gaze-
juices the monitor tractor-beams into its glow?
O drink your fill of the water beyond pure,

clearer than heaven’s eye, burnpoint hotter
than the insanest, unsafest fireworks, purity
brighter than the flesh made of the Word.

Drink till it hurts, young one, drink
down the pure beyond (how
many of us hoist, and then sip from,

the expanding cube of the universe?)…


—Tom Goff

The day runs long; sinking sun
clings to afternoon, claws sunk
in the tinge of thin copper coating
my lenses. Light lozenges paint
transparent anti-radioactive facepieces
on eyes and noses behind wheels:
where are my isotopes?

Or have my driver’s eyes turned ocelot’s
gaze in the rear-view mirror?
Sunglasses, safety glass, drivers’ visors!
How we old ones do shield ourselves
at every turn. Oh for the sheer
nit wit to stare and keep
on staring at the Great Round
Thing, sun-blinded, sun-seeing at


—Michael Cluff, Corona

The nose runs
faster than the speed
of sound
and snot
and the eyes produce
more water per hour
than Niagara after
an intense ice melt
in northern Canada
due to global warming.

Yet the smell
of orange blossoms
and purple peonies
creates pleasure
that appeals, repels
the sadist/masochist
within me.

A plastic head-bubble
would work sometimes
but not when
my claustrophobia
and allegry to polyethylenes
kick in.

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs

Lilies-of-the-valley brush the cheeks of stone
Buddhas as white coral bells ring in a new season;

sharp-eyed daffodils bend to watch
a dedicated honeybee mine the muscari;

pastel fairy rings of wildflowers hem
vernal pools in rickrack;

a Mallard pair makes careful circles, then
skids in for a slick landing on the glassy pond;

calla lily goblets offer up cups of their own nectar
to make wine out of last night's rain;

ferny carrots ripe for pulling rub
shoulders in chocolate soil;

an orange tabby tiptoes along the grape arbor, covets
the tiny, quick hummingbird feeding below;

arching rosemary reaches up to cerulean skies
with long arms dressed in sleeves of mauve;

turkey toms fan showy tails in thanksgiving
for willing hens;

but darkness still brings frosty breath
and pinpricks on bare skin,

and bluebellies still sleep in burrows
we'll never find.



as he paddles the shallows over
shiny wet stones of pumice and
dendrite: slim, sleek agate he is,

swimming over the rocky creekbed:
legs tucked tight against his long
comma of a body: oars that reach out

for a push: tuck back in again as
his muscle of a tail-rudder takes
over: snakes him along: curves him

around the pre-history of a mossy
boulder and that tricky bend
in the bed. . .  Through crystal

water, dark shadows dapple him—
tease the hovering sunbeams,
threaten them with nightfall: light

and dark: dark and light: shape-
shifting sunplay as the aging
afternoon follows the hellbender

along this pebbly backdrop of
a winding crystal stream. . .

—Kathy Kieth

 Thanks to today's cooks in the Kitchen! Tom Goff says his second poem is in honor of poem in your pocket day. BTW, I think John Adams advised young John Quincy Adams (himself a poet), in more or less these words, "You will never be alone, with a poet in your pocket."

And Michelle Kunert, who has a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page, was inspired by the story of a mini-van-sized meteor exploding over California, and she challenges readers to write a poem about it, especially if they saw or heard it. See  or

Speaking of  inspiration in the news, don't forget to keep an eye on Medusa's News-SOWS over there at the right on our green board. Like the news, those links change a lot, and sometimes they're poems just begging to be written!

Today's LongerNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Bowlers reach a block where
They can’t score any higher
Sit still and watch the experts
Act humble and inspired

Worse than an enigma
More detested than dilemma
It was a problem for which
No solution was desired

Let it be, surrender
Resistance is futile
There’s nothing to salvage
Forget it, you’re fired

If something is worthless
No value can be proven
Just roll with the punches
No effort is required

This is not where a good
12-step program can help
Diffusing a time bomb
That was cleverly wired

Some day you’ll just be gone
Off lists, out of memory
Your energy all dissolved
A motor now retired.



 Michelle Kunert reads at Sac. Poetry Center—
Be sure to check out Michelle's new photo album,
Storytellers' Fest at Carol's Books,
on Medusa's Facebook page!