Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Immense Poetry

Bolinas and Frog
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Who was it joined the hurricane
To the canticle describing wonder?
Clipping it to centuries long gone
And a hand constantly thought of
As a tree pulled from a landscape
Martyrs might enjoy, notes torn away
From the piano, working temporarily as birds.

A glittering air formed of an immense poetry
Where nothing appears but a singular
Consciousness in the form of an umbrella,
A green mind, then changed by metaphor
To a clear spot in the forest loaded
With medieval trappings and a presence.

A bell-like sound across the square
Where we sit on green chairs
And pretend to be waiting for something.

We watch the hurricane unlock itself
And deliver a blank wall of pure rain.
We have forgotten all about words.  We join
Hands and sway side to side, humming.


—D.R. Wagner

When I pressed myself toward waking
I discovered that some of the rooms
Of my dream had been eaten away,
Large chunks had gone missing.

The parts with the steep steps leading
To the sea, the twilit room where the
Lady sat crying, holding the long-tailed lamb,
The hills where one could see how large
The fires were as they swept toward the towns,
Nothing on earth able to stop them.

A hunger was left in my bones because of this.
I could hear a historic wind wind through my skull
As I reached for coffee, searched to find where
The window looking upon the fields had gone.

Holes in the sky, something peering through
Them from speechless realms, carrying weapons
The likes of which I had never seen before,
Clouded with forgetfulness and trailheads that
I had seen once in youth that had been stolen,
Used to make fires to cook food upon, the smell
Of roasting meat swelling the morning air.

And now this, an aching within my body
Overarching all but the eyes of the highest
Hawk, the screeching bird, seeking thoughts
Smaller than voles to feed upon and I tried
To run back to the sheds of sleep and the coolness
Of streams hurrying down the hillsides
Eager to see the sea, to join the endless tides.


—D.R. Wagner

Creeping out among the branches
To know your name.  I am above you now.
This is like breathing.
The support we feel when
We recognize our name on
A list of things that may be
Eternal, a whispering in a hallway
That we do not understand.

We watch the lightning strike
The trees in the garden,
The fountain.  Oh who will tell
Me if I am dreaming?

I look through the long lists of the saints.
They had no idea at all if they were
Dreaming.  I discover my face
In a book of rare engravings kept by
The captain of a long ago disappeared ship.

 On Jack's Path, Bolinas
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner

A primitive land that leaves
Nothing much behind.  It owns
The Winter sky and displays it
In the dance a willow tree
Chooses to describe a wind.

I would try flight but who would
Understand?  Even the birds do not
Know why and it is not everything
To them.  Huddled close to a tree
Trunk, knowing when the wind departs
It will once again be time to find
Seeds just beneath the snow.

They have black heads and blacker eyes
And carry maps made of their bones
That tell them where to go.

So I, come here late and without guile
Still detect a primitive ecstasy in
The noises of the crows, the impatience
Of the weather, the scolding I endure
From all imagination for calling this reality. 


                                         for W. Stevens
—D.R. Wagner

This space between here and the clouds
Seems careless but for fleeting beauty
And a wharf for docking weary eyes
To something not covered with the dust.
A dreamt majesty that doesn’t
Stare but remains an argument
That there is a sweet, staring
Distance between all things.

Waking as we do from whatever
Uncertain depths we
Direct ourselves in so-called sleep,
We find the wide heaven,
This sparkling haven where we no
Longer need make choices
But use the energy we have gathered
To quell time’s complaints about
Everything that is not dead,
Forgetting even our own names,
Living here without bodies to see
‘The low owl plummet, rising of the morning.’ 


—D.R. Wagner

I am sunlight on the surface of the ocean.
I too am the ocean itself,
Streaming to the very bottom
And tracking all that moves within me.

I am the tears of children.
I am the fjords leaning deeply into
The land.  I can see the high cliffs.
I am the the songs of the beasts within my body.

And I can speak their words.
And I can know their language.
And I can move with storms.
And I can move with romantic calmness.
And I can carry the burden of the loveliest
Of breezes within my wave troughs.

I can capture the light of the lighthouses and guide
The ship and soul back to the rooms
Away from the wind to sit before
The fire while night rages against
Everything and I can tell you of these
Things for I am the sunlight on the surface
Of the ocean.


—D.R. Wagner

We did not at first recognize him
As the archangel.  How could we?
A svelte and affable young man
Saying, ‘Hello, my name is Mike.
I’m here to tell you that you
Will want to check on your children.
This is a very bad neighborhood.’

Who is like God anyway?
Someone finally thought to ask
To make sure the children
Were alright.  ‘Whose side are you on?’
Shouted another.
‘I’m just here now,’ he answered.

It was later we saw the sword,
The splendid boat he boarded to
Leave us.  ‘I’m going to the mountains.
I just wanted to say I will protect
You forever.'  And then we believed him
And saw the chairs surrounding him.


Today's LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

Music in a basket, taken to make a room
And then a dwelling and then a palace.
It has proven itself to be no
Architecture for living.  There is no
Inside.  The rooms are beautiful
But without doors.  There is only
Sound at the end of an arm or a
Stepping across a threshold trying
To direct the forward motion of the whole

We live in the crescendos and
Diminuendos.  Legato to the
Edge of the cliffside
To see the view and there,
To once again discover the
Woven basket,
Capable of any season,
Full of song and placed beside
The clearest water of a Spring.



 Bolinas Rockslide (with Lisa)
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
 [Check out Medusa's Kitchen's Facebook page
for D.R. Wagner's photo album, 
"Surf's Up!"]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Like Riding Comets

Napa Fountain
—Katy Brown, Davis

—Michael Cluff, Corona

Early summer "Spring Cleaning"
this year led to discovery:
an old blue polyester blazer
and blue/white checkered dress pants
from around the time
of Nixon's resignation
were packed away
with disintegrated mothballs
into the attic
the now nearly stagnant pond.

A reminder of days
when making a religion class
at the mousy inland college
on time and relatively often
so as not to be dropped
was the worst worry
I had to face
or if the spray-on
would comb out
all the dirt
during a Thursday afternoon
track meet.

Now avoiding the auditor
and bill collector
makes me wish
the pond ran deeper
and ever so much faster
over the intermediate rapids
between here and Brown Bay Inlet.


—Paul Lojeski, Port Jefferson, NY

The great stones move far below
in red fire, as time shoves it 
all forward. 

Now, no more wine or wild nights
of disregard, the bones frail
and light like broken twigs.

I list those already gone
in a drama of loss and reflection,
this self-serving grief a shield

from my own break with the world.
How to approach the final moment?
Will poetry and love be there?

Putah Creek Cafe Wall
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Paul Lojeski

Staring out
the window
at white mist
and mountains,
he begins to play
the songs
in his head. 
Others join in:
their sounds
walk the wind,
sail streams,
fly the night sky.
One thinks of space
and possibilities
like riding comets,
feeling the rush
of sunlight.
And eyes close
as dreams' dark
doors open.
Walls of music
walking on
in sleep's endless
Time just ahead.


—Paul Lojeski

A giant boulder
sat in the middle
of the road. 
Crowds gathered
and pleaded with it
to please move.
Later, as evening
cooled passions,
various eloquent
speakers stepped
forward to make
sensible arguments.
You’re impeding
human progress,
the Mayor said. 
Applause and cheers
followed.  A mother
cried, Our children
can't see around
you to the future.
Here! Here! the mob
shouted, and a thin
farmer grumbled,
Your shadow's
killing my crops'
sunshine!  Some
pulled their hair
and others threw
to the ground
but nothing changed
as days slipped
into weeks and the weeks
into months.
Still, the great rock
refused to budge.
That’s when they
brought out the dynamite.


—Paul Lojeski

Down winding roads 
in spring rain, trees 

heavy with green. 
In the supermarket

prices are high,
higher than yesterday

with no explanations 
issued forth from leaders 

too busy with the business
of invisibility.  Though

I shake it off in front
of shelves of cookies!

How can an empire crumble
amidst such splendor?


Today's LittleNip:

—Paul Lojeski

I sat on the couch next
to a table.  The lamp

on the table lit the way
across poems of ancient

times.  Vast distances
were everywhere.


Napa Doors
—Photo by Katy Brown

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thinking, Healing

—Photo by Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento

Take this lotus bloom
Hold it over your eyes,
Your nose, your lips

Its mist will provide
A salve for those grooves
That your tears have made

Nothing will take away
The shadows that come
In the blanketing night

Nothing will solve the mystery
Of what it means to be alive
What it means to be true

You are a particle of the nature
And your weight in this world
Is counted by each breath you take

Breathe out the song of your pain
Let the rhythms of life intoxicate you
Hold all memories inside your chest

Don’t let the salve seep into the earth
Let it thrive in your cells
And nourish the blossoms of healing.

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

On the long, hot drive north,
this vacant lot—unmown patch
of grass, an olive tree; ground
littered dark with fruit
that no one wants—wild mustard,
and a strange, tall weed
with spreading fans for leaves.
It waves
an invitation to the breeze.


—Taylor Graham

I've walked out under stars, until
I'm lost—the land so dark and still;
the sky, the mountains scowling down
with that wordless, primeval frown. They wish me ill.

Be silent now, and wait.
How would you master Fate?

I see no road, no sign to guide
me home. No meteor to ride
across the treetops. Where to sleep
in a wilderness-dark so deep? On every side….

Don't move. Be still, just wait.
See how stars blaze the gate.

yes, we got no bananas
—charles mariano, sacramento
have a habit
of scotch-taping a cartoon
at the beginning of every
journal day,
right before i note
the date and time

not sure why,
guess it’s to lead-off
with a light touch,
an amusing visual,
‘steada just reading
my ugly handwriting

this morning,
strangely enough
couldn’t find one
that spoke to me

no cartoon
is like driving
without a seatbelt

finding the perfect
one that slays me,
is critical

it’s how i begin, burst through
seed to sapling,
gasping for air, first light

should write a disclaimer
for today,

Big-Ass Bump in the Road,
Proceed With Caution


Thanks to today's chefs! About her photo, Robin Odam says: I’ve been thinking—crisscross, intersecting, overlapping thoughts. Taylor Graham writes:  Oh, the unexpected pleasures of overlooked & derelict places! As for the floressence, can there be pleasure in being lost? well, maybe in retrospect—after one is safely found. She's talking about our Seed of the Week: Unexpected Pleasures, and the floressence is the poetry form invented by Brigit Truex that we're fiddling with this week (see the green board at the right of this). 

Speaking of unexpected surprises, Carl Schwartz noticed that yesterday's cat photo by Frank Graham has a mug of a dog on the cat's chest—unexpected! In addition to your poems, don't hesitate to send us photos or even artwork of your surprises. The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!

And speaking of photos, we have a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page, this one featuring D.R. Wagner's recent trip to Bolinas—Surf's Up! Check it out!


Today's LittleNip:

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

—Jon Kabat-Zinn



Bolinas Graffiti
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Gift Store Rabbits Multiplying
—Photo by Frank Dixon Graham, Sacramento

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Complimenting you on your glasses,
how they frame or fit the shape
of your face. I should Ellington
my praise: darling, it’s your face
makes those lenses lovely.

Watching you slip into
the room beside mine.

Sitting silent behind you
also sitting silent, we about
our different works,
finding such rhythm as this

Glimpsing skin by hint. Excerpts a blank
book opens on. Capris giving each taper,
calf-to-ankle, a tabor-beat
lightness, a taper-light lilt. Where

another pretty might keep her
back-of-the-ankle tattoos:
little dragons, small mandalas.
Could the look work for you?
I’ll never know, unless lip-close.

No: still little to no makeup, nor ever
the need for. What psychology
says, suppress right here
your urge to adorn, say, these facial
curves exquisite as finely milled
beauty bars, and as nude? And

so adornment just resurges,
more urgent, over here? In this
dragon’s-milk, lamb-and-maiden-fed,
scent-flowery, thought-billowing kiss?

What ornifieth a gentlewoman,
oh my lady.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

street guys
they go to a bar
they pick up women in boots
everything goes screwy
they go out on the street
sunny skies
they kick up their heels
they dance down 5th
soon it’s midnight
afternoon has gone quietly, dies
waltzing down 5th
darkness and quietude
middle of the night
they march up the stairs
arm in arm
into the room
now the real dance begins    


—Patricia Hickerson

a drooling, winking liar
his eyes are on me
a liar with a bald head
eagle eyes
and a small sharp beard
preferably dyed black
he’s a dyed in the wool
words drip from his lips
lips moistened for the kill
drooling, winking liar
nails manicured
opened-up collar
double duty jacket
for pleasure or sex
drink in hand
elbow at bar
hey, lady, whacha doin’ tonight
romeo in khaki shorts
toes on the brass rail
voice lost in the noise          

Red Tomatoes
—Photo by Frank Dixon Graham

—Patricia Hickerson

nothing tidy here
no yelling, no barking
no dogs to distract
words spread wide
no songbirds twittering
no sheep ba-a-ing
words spill out
crawl up the walls
the real songs we sing
night and day   


—Patricia Hickerson

I told
I’ll tell again
I tell everything
I tell it to the world
I tell it to my friends
I tell it to my son
I tell it to my dog
I tell it to my priest
I tell it to the walls
I tell it to the sun
I tell it to the moon
I tell it to the earth
I tell it to the road
I tell it to the valley
I tell it to the hill
I tell it to my flowers
I tell it to my chair
I tell it to the window
I tell it everywhere
I tell it to you   


—Michael Cluff, Corona

Last Friday
I discovered
missing college newspapers
I had written for
in the mid-seventies.

They weren't all that good
and now I realize why I skipped
over journalism as a lifestyle.
But seeing my first wife
in the guise I first met her
plus all the thick hair
on my nape back then
made Monday's haircut down
to the scalp
(to hide what was long gone
in some strategic spots)
all that more delightful
since her playing with my locks
got us married in the first place.

A lack of alimony
in my life since 1991
is a treat
I enjoy at the end
of every month.

Thanks to today's contributors! Frank Graham reminds us of two things: that the second session of Sac. Poetry Center's International Poetry Tour which he hosts with Emmanuel Sigauke will take place at North Natomas Library this coming Saturday, and that the deadline for the next issue of SPC's Tule Review, edited by Linda Collins with Kate Asche and Frank as Co-Editors, is July 1. Check the green board for details about that, and scroll down to the blue board below it for more info about Saturday. By the way, poets in our area have two choices tonight for readings; be sure to check out the blue board for those, too! 

About his poem, Tom Goff says:  For any wishing to know if "ornifieth" is a verb, it is, at least coming from the pen of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who seems to have coined it. inventive as..."Shakespeare?" The word is listed in the OED as appearing no earlier than 1590, with uses by William Segar and Thomas Bedingfield, both men known personally to de Vere. But de Vere had used it c. 1573, in his preface to a book some scholars think Hamlet must've been reading (it fueled his soliloquy, and those touches about the "unknown country"). 


Today's LittleNip: 

—Patricia Hickerson
thru an earthquake
lightning strike
fall back on the bed
hit the pillow
breathe in
breathe out
a dream of poetry 



Cat's Table
—Photo by Frank Dixon Graham


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Snags of Time

—Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

To begin this odyssey, we gave away all 
we owned—kept our map in a secret 
place, and memorized what we could of 
it to dispel our growing terror at the 
thought of thieves. The Spirit of the Self 
seemed far away but we had to find its 
shrine which filled the empty place of 
our imagination and desire. The village 
faded behind us with all our old connec-
tions. I could not relinquish everything. 
I kept a souvenir-cup from when I was a 
child; later we would drink from it and 
use it to scoop and portion with. At last 
we reached the shrine of our long seek-
ing—a small place, really—not what we 
expected—set way back, with all its 
windows broken, the path to it over-
grown. But something told us this was 
it. Though worn-to-the heart with 
weariness and dried-up tears, we stayed—
content at last, to repair its damages, 
hack its weeds.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 1998)


—Joyce Odam 

Nothing here is familiar—
a land of whispers and sighing.
The sky has lost its color.
Rusty mountains guard its borders.
At night there is a crying.

Old dreams gather to escape from memory.
But memory follows them
like timeless travelers.
Giant flowers lean and murmur—
offer the gravity of answers.

Morning will be cold again.
The land will wake to loneliness.
The birds of sorrow
will return
but without their singing.

The spirits of love and loss
will resume their searching.
The moans will sharpen everywhere.
The mournful gods will say, not yet . . .
not yet . . . and speak of love to one another.


—Joyce Odam 

seagulls drift in the white sky
and are not amazed that it is night
and my dream of them

they cry their white cries
and search for themselves
in the translucent dark

all night they make the sky invisible
and my sleep that harbors them
I am held in dream’s white soaring

 —Photo by Joyce Odam

—Joyce Odam

What of the room of longing
that holds no lovers now.

Sad curtains tear the
dusty sunlight.

All day the old room-shadows
search for what is gone.

At night the voyeured window
brings it all back,

when the closed room fills
with ancient moonlight.

(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine, 2007)

—Joyce Odam

They turn away from what was theirs.
The long afternoon. The joy of yesterday.

No music follows. It is a quiet time.
A time of eloquence, with no more to say.

The landscape shimmers.
A small stream continues its thin journey.

The sky goes white.

They have no horse.
They have no wagon.

They have only their walking,
their same direction—

still resolute,
as though without regret;

they grow smaller
as though distance beckons them.

They dissolve together in the gathering light.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's treasures! Our next Seed of the Week is Unexpected Pleasures. Send your musings about the little (or big!) things that surprise us, like the cool breezes we've had recently after all that heat, to


Today's LittleNip:

(An Octo)
—Joyce Odam

Wandering through the mauve garden,
bending like old trees toward night,
leaning our shadows together.
Is it sadness that we feel—or

something unknown that we deplore.
Leaning our shadows together,
bending like old trees toward night,
we wander through the mauve garden.


—Photo by Joyce Odam