—Lynn Hansen, Modesto
Oh Medusa, goddess in the temple of Athena
ravished by lustful Poseidon, made monstrous
by jealous Athena, your anguished face belies
your outrage. Take heart. Consider your positive aspects.
You are wise. Your power will always be in your head.
At the sight of you, everyone is stopped dead.
You command attention. Your image drives off evil.
It was your head that saved Andromeda from Cetus, the sea monster.
You will always have a full head of hair, alive and curly
and will never suffer joint pain or osteoporosis
since those parts of your body no longer exist.
Your blood is life giving. Because of you we have
corals in the sea, serpents in the desert and our muse, Pegasus.
A connection to the sacred, your image is both powerful
and terrifying. You are an icon of female rage
against the enslavement of women. You are a guide
through our terror and anger into our source of power as women.
Even in death you are not vanquished.
My china cabinet came from a French bakery,
open shelves displayed cakes, petite fours and napoleons.
You can see wooden legs pucker where someone
mopped the floor. Now it holds needle-etched goblets,
Mother’s earrings, Grandfather’s coin purse, and small
boxes enameled with Egyptian pyramids and the Taj Mahal.
There are baby spoons, a chipped glass bowl, Indiana
Circa 1895, and souvenirs from Beatrix Potter’s home.
Abandoned doll clothes wither on tiny metal hangers.
Filled with curiosities, crammed, the habits of a bowerbird.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
A dark night in a darker wood.
A figure stepped from between the trees—
making strange chiaroscuro of his face,
the folds of his cloak. Not a word,
but he pointed one illuminating finger.
As if Doré, ghost of an engraver passing
through a story, changing it with his hands.
I saw Death standing on a stair,
the Raven's loveless gaze. A million
names of the lost. One dark angel
overbending a desolate heath. Wings.
Wind followed each glance of his eye.
But it carried no stink of ozone
or hellish heat, no balm of Paradise.
My dog sat quietly at my side
as if we were quite alone. And then
she whined, twitched her nose
to test a breeze, if it brought forest
breath and voice. I followed, as moon-
light slid through mist and leafless trees.
BEYOND THE DITCH
My dog dashed over leaves fallen hard as earth-
skin; through winter-dead weeds, through
pearly-everlasting—the tips of its fingers bursting
into cold silver flame—dry-petal sparklers
in her wake, fireworks without the smell
of sulfur: an instant vision, gone too quick for
a shutter; random, unrecorded, unrepeatable.
Already my dog is past, finding a new
trail, footprints mud-frozen: someone
passed through this tale my dog tells, winter
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Dancing and more
of dizzying songs
in four languages
leaving a poet's initials
with the host language
on boxwood tables
next to the soon
with red snapper
ginger, green onions
in a creole sauce
with the lights
dimming from phantoms
of the Charles River
covered with frost
and feathers of snow
soon the late crowd
will taste my sax
bathing in cadenzas
splashed with high notes
and asking for toasts
and blacked out
feeling a year younger
apprenticed to my fans.
Back in the really, really old days
humans gathered together for safety
and the focus was entirely on
then someone discovered fire
another invented the wheel and
one or more bright homo sapiens had
an epiphany that gave us math
which became a complex system of
sets, subsets, formulae, equations
statistics, accounting, audits
quizzes, exams, answer keys
such that math has infiltrated and
assimilated into all facets of the fabric of
human existence, until it is now
the case that math defines us:
we are now known by our income brackets
the faces on currency by the numbers at the corners
the worth of stolen property by its street value
our progress in school by grade point average
the success of a safety program by percent of victims
high occupancy vehicle lanes for 2 or more people
the timeline for when a fetus is counted a person
and everything about voting
today when I hear public officials who claim to represent
the very best interests of all the people
speak in terms of numbers,
that defines them.
That first bite into the cookie
lets out all the calories
a trombone player warming up
gets rid of those nasty bad notes
the longer one is kept in prison
the more one's soul is cleansed from evil
campaign promises must be credible
if they are endorsed by high-ranking officials
Roll out the red carpet to celebrate
our break from the culture of monarchy
not all artists are
people of color
when a product is backed by 9 out of 10 doctors
we deserve to know what that 10th one thinks
if a poem doesn't rhyme or have meter or flow
its only audience will be those "in the know"
Medusa's Kitchen was wide open for cooking
please shut the door when you are through looking.
The bubble pack card
for my new magnifying glass
said it magnifies 3X
Darn, I've already
used it 1X.