Monday, April 30, 2012

Perfect Songs

—Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane

—Ronald Edwin Lane, Colfax

You probably don’t know this,
but there’s a bed of roses, miniature
ones, in bloom, and they’re

the grip of purple vetch, while
bunched by bromes, and topped
by thistles bearing green pumpkin
head buds pushing purple Mohawks.

The sky is gray.  Rain mists.
Weeds compose once clean
decomposed granite paths.
It’s painful to get around.
Foxtails cling to socks, poke ankles,
foot.  Filaree corkscrews through
shoes.  Prickles abound. 

And you can’t hear them scream,
these roses you don’t know, though
it seems they should, after all

they’re dying inside, despite
the show that others try to hide,
deny.  And they may survive, but
with a gardener’s hand
the roses would surely thrive.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
Spring hides nothing
everything opens
the trees the leaves the buds
voices are softer—listen!
rain pauses to let in May
where we walk
along the rosemary hedge
breeze drifts up we sneeze
cloud covers sky blue earth whirl
spinning Spring on the ant trails
where we walk
dirt roads and muddy bypaths
rabbit jerks its head to our footsteps
we’re not a quiet species hammering atop nature
where we walk
weeds poke through our concrete efforts
might as well give in to Spring


—Michael Cluff, Corona

needs to be
must in most cases
when humaneness calls me forth

becomes clear
as the rainbow shows
what man refuses to laud

move highchairs
across Merced town
Mirelle follows right behind

suits encumber
one into doldrums
safety in conformity


Gopherweed with Bee
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

She's worn us both out with mis-
match sits and stays; she breaks—why
can't she learn simple English

commands? and now she's high
as April grass on the ground, humming
to herself, a silent music

simply breathing free.
I drop the leash and wander off
to watch the gopherweed

in bloom, the bees have found it,
tiny golden bees wild as
April puppies, moving in and out of all

the harbors of gopher-flower green,
and as I wander in and
out of thought-flower, flies and bees

and one silken moth,
my puppy follows me, her breath
a perfect song.

Carl says: When I lived in the L.A. area, I had to drive 60 miles out of town to see the stars and planets… 

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Fever, virus, falling Venus
Crescent moon growing soon
Weather and wardrobes each
Try to outsmart the other

Hot tubs warming
Mosquitoes swarming
Time to mate, commit to fate
River rising over the gate

Short handed, left stranded
Abandoned fertile farmland
Ears of corn filmed as porn
Gobble the curious like quicksand

Blue tarps cover sheds and cars
Royal blood flows from their scars
Weathermen shout what has transpired
They’re wrong a lot but don’t get fired

Most accidents happen close to womb
We’re having a sonic baby boom
Pull over, kid, you skate too fast
It feels good now but it won’t last

Parasailing in the parking lot
No one is chasing, no one gets caught
Takes us back to a starlit sky
Spring fever heat, an open fly.


A true story...


The lady with the shiny oversized
Crucifix necklace had just finished
Buying some merchandise and was
Walking toward the exit of the store

Holding a few shopping bags in her hands
And talking busily on a cell phone
Held tightly to one ear, she reached
for her car keys…..gone!

She hurriedly checked in every bag
And in the shopping basket she used
And then in other shopping baskets
And asked the cashier if she saw them

When there were no keys found and
No answer right away, she put
The cell phone on hold and starting
Using words that don’t appear in scripture

Soon she found her car keys in the store,
Regained her composure and promptly left,
Leaving us a distinct memory of her shiny crucifix,
Along with those words we can’t repeat.


Thanks to today's cooks and artists for our Monday morning breakfast! 

Those Crossroads Reading Series gals (Trina Drotar and Sandy Thomas) have their ducks in a row, for sure! Trina writes: The audio of the latest Crossroads reading featuring Lisa Dominguez Abraham and Susan Kelly-DeWitt is now available at  Look on the right hand side and scroll down a bit.

The audio from the first reading featuring Julia Connor and Victoria Dalkey is still available in the archived area.  Look for past events and scroll down.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the next Crossroads reading series on July 21 featuring Shawn Pittard and Danyen Powell.

To get a head start on the rest of the season, the dates and featured readers are:

October 20 - Laura Hohlwein and Alexa Mergen
November 17 - Kathryn Hohlwein and Dennis Schmitz
December 15 - JoAnn Anglin and Graciela Ramirez

If you want to keep updated on the Crossroads readings, please consider checking out the Crossroads Facebook page at or go to Facebook and search for Crossroads Reading Series at CCAS.  That is where you'll find event photos, event news, and links to the audio.


Today's LittleNip: 

Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz) took his inspiration for this from yesterday's Benét poem:

I see your Stephen Vincent Benét
And raise you one Edna St. Vincent Millay
Each is betting the farm on the belief
That Spring is not just another day.


Thanks, Carl! More about Steve Benét's poem tomorrow...



The journey is
really the writing process.
I am the conclusion
—Photo and Caption by Ronald Edwin Lane


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beauty Rose

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Stephen Vincent Benét

The last post flickered, failed. The screen's dead white
Glared in a sudden flooding of harsh light
Stabbing the eyes; and as I stumbled out
The curtain rose. A fat girl with a pout
And legs like hams, began to sing "His Mother."
Gusts of bad air rose in a choking smother;
Smoke, the wet steam of clothes, the stench of plush,
Powder, cheap perfume, mingled in a rush.
I stepped into the lobby—and stood still
Struck dumb by sudden beauty, body and will.
Cleanness and rapture—excellence made plain—
The storming, thrashing arrows of the rain!
Pouring and dripping on the roofs and rods,
Smelling of woods and hills and fresh-turned sods
Black on the sidewalks, grey in the far sky,
Crashing on thirsty panes, on gutters dry,
Hurrying the crowd to shelter, making fair
The streets, the houses, and the heat-soaked air,—
Merciful, holy, charging, sweeping, flashing,
It smote the soul with a most iron clashing! . . .
Like dragon's eyes the street-lamps suddenly gleamed,
Yellow and round and dim, low globes of flame.
And scarce-perceived, the clouds' tall banners streamed.
Out of the petty wars, the daily shame,
Beauty strove suddenly and rose, and flowered . . .
I gripped my coat and plunged where awnings lowered.
Made one with hissing blackness, caught, embraced,
By splendor and by striving and swift haste—
Spring coming in with thunderings and strife—
I stamped the ground in the strong joy of life.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sometime Queens, Dancing Fish

Electric Flowers
—Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The Sometime Sleeping Queen
Had awakened and had beside
Her a beautiful child who
Brought joy to all who saw,
For there was magic in the bed
Where the Sometimes Sleep Queen has slept as
All her city had slept and
All the realm had slept.

When it was already evening
I became the snow peaceably
Drawn by the countenance of the soul
That I should come, disguised
With my lover and would tell
This Sometime Sleeping Queen
How such a thing could be
And that this selfsame lover
Was none other than myself and we
Dwell with you now with
Children three.  The first was
Spring whose joy could only bring
Her sister Summer to the days.
And long, long they were and
Everyone we played with
And in the cool of the evening
Brought us another brother, Autumn
From the Sometime Sleeping
Queen’s most bountiful of wombs.

While I, the Winter with my
Lover continued to swirl
Until my lover was all
Within each child as blood
Within a living body and took
From that Sometime Sleeping Queen
Only this tale that wraps itself
Around your heart and finds
You too sleeping till the dawn
Must find you, full, in the arms
Of any season.


WHAT IT COMES OUT OF.”  ....Ridley Walker
—D.R. Wagner

You must forgive me
If I forget the night.
I’ve managed to keep it
Outside with the Spring
Of the frogs that have
Settled into it.  April
Sounding like a fantasy,
Birds in the air,
Pictures in the wind.

I struggle to make myself
Understand it, but it is too late
And the day has leaked
Itself all over me
Staining my clothes with
Memories that are not mine.

A drift of ghost
Schools of small fish
Cascades into my
Frontal lobes like
Waterfalls of songs.

Please help me here.
There is no place left
To go and I can see
The dogs circling the fires.
How long have we lived here?

Wishing and chasing the light
Into our own hearts,
We grow old by the
Fires next to the fences
Erected to keep us
Away from all that
Has failed the land.

I spend my life thinking
Words that could head
Away of these and wade
In the chill of morning,
My hands burnt and
Bleeding.  Prayer shaft
Of light that bores into
Our souls.  Help us.
Help us.  Help us.
They become the chant
Of the frogs in Spring,
The whining of dogs
Left alone, the
Stumbling through
Night after night
Obliged to continue
Living beneath the
Detached dome of
Time.  Our very breath
So precious we
Can barely say
These words.


—D.R. Wagner

The hands opens.
The hand closes.
The breath has harbors
Where it could stay
For years watching itself
Move easily over wave.

Being the waves.
This is not more.
This is not less.
This is not distraction.
This is ten thousand years.
This is a single cup of tea.
This is the weight of the world.
This is still the breath.

The weight of breathing
Does not change.  It
Remains the music we
Have dreamed so full of
Each breath.  There.

Now opening the ears.
Now letting all sounds
Pass the doors.  Now
Letting all discussion
Float upon April.

Only frog sounds all night.
When I weigh them
In the morning the
Scale refuses to move
At all.
April. Breathing.  What
Is weight after all?


—D.R. Wagner

Ramon began lighting the candles
Hours before the sun set.
He lined them up along the
Beach, just out of reach
Of waves.  There was no wind.

The moon rose.  It reached out
Touching each of the lamps
With a moonbeam.  Ramon
Returned to the shore and
The moon seeing him took
Him by the hand and carried
Him to her home.

This I have heard from
The starfish who live in the sky.
They have seen lights along
The shore and watch the silver fishes
Come to the edge of sea and
Dance upon their tails
As I have danced here
With my own tale, though
I know it is true.

For Ramon who loved
The lights in the night
Has come to see me too,
Holding the hand of the moon.
They both swear this is true.
And who am I to say it
Was a lie when it was told
To me by Ramon and the moon?
For neither of them can but
Speak the truth
Or there will be no lights
Along the shore and the
Dancing fish will come
No more and this story
Will grow so dark
There will be not
A single word more.


Today's LittleNip: 

—n.ciano, Davis

A word
is not a few
but an entity,
and a meaning to the whole. 
Every word holds a position
for a chance to take a stance
in a battle cutting deeper than
any sword could ever withhold.
Your words could not be seen
but it were for those
that turned into a meaning
cleanly cutting into a feeling.



 S.F. Fishing Fleet
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

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!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peach Blossoms and Poems in Your Pocket

It's National Poem in Your Pocket Day!
—Photo by Sandy Thomas, Sacramento

—Kim Ku, 1488-1534

I spy the three-colored peach blossom
As it floats down the mountain stream.
A free spirit,
I jump in, fully clothed.
I scoop those flowers in my arms
And leap up and down in the water.

(trans. from the Korean by Kevin O'Rourke)


—Anonymous, 16th Century

It is the third watch. The girl
     in the bridal bedroom is so gentle,
     so beautiful, I look and look again;
     I can't believe my eyes.
Sixteen years old, peach blossom complexion,
     golden hairpin, white ramie skirt,
     bright eyes agleam in playful glance,
     lips half-parted in a smile.
     My love! My own true love!
Need I say ought
     of the silver in her voice
     and the wonder of her under the quilt.

(trans. from the Korean by Kevin O'Rourke)


—Anonymous, 16th Century

Love, why don't you come!
     Why don't you come!
On the way did someone build
     a castle of iron,
     erect a wall within the castle,
     build a house within the wall,
     place a rice-chest within the house,
     put a box within the rice-chest,
     tie you up within the box,
     make the box fast with a pair of
     dragon-turtle locks?
     Why don't you come?
With thirty days in the month,
     surely you could save one day for me?

(trans. from the Korean by Kevin O'Rourke)


—Anonymous, 16th Century

Six crock bowls the bride smashed
In a fit of temper on her wedding night.
Are you going to replace them, mother-in-law asked?
The bride replied: Your son has smashed beyond repair
The vessel I brought from home.
Weighed one against the other,
The balance would seem quite fair.

(trans. from the Korean by Kevin O'Rourke)


—Anonymous, 16th Century

Wind last night blew down
A gardenful of peach blossoms.
A boy with a broom 
Is starting to sweep them up.

Fallen flowers are flowers still;
Don't brush them away.

(trans. from the Korean by Virgina Olsen Baron and Chung Seuk Park)


Poems-For-All at The Book Collector in Sacramento
—Photo by Sandy Thomas

Sandy Thomas sends us photos to remind us that it's National Poem in Your Pocket Day; for more about that, go to or see for Trina Drotar's article in Sacramento Press.

Actually, there will be a lot going on today! Poetry With Legs features WTF's co-editor Rachel Leibrock along with frequent contributor Sage Alejandra; there will be film, cake and champagne to be had tonight to benefit Sacramento's French Film Festival coming in June (; or if you're more adventurous, you could head up to Minden, NV for the Genoa Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival this weekend. Info on all this can be seen on the blue board to the right.

And last night Andy Jones wrote to say that he and Sacramento Poet Laureate Bob Stanley will be reading on the Wyatt Deck of the Davis Arboretum at UCD today at noon. Hosts: Rebecca Moos and UC Davis Arboretum.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Anonymous, 19th Century

it's quiet in the house so quiet
outside the snowstorm wails
the dogs curl up noses under their tails
my little son sleeps on his back
his mouth open
his belly rises and falls
is it strange if I cry for joy

(trans. from the Inuit by Stephen Berg)



Jeanne Wagner reads at the Sac. Poetry Center
Monday night, April 23
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
[Correction: yesterday's post mistakenly stated
that SPC's Fiction Night took place April 23, 
but it was actually held on April 16. 
Time flies on silver wings, that's for sure...]