Friday, October 09, 2015

Burnt Sugar

—Poems and Photos by Kate Campbell, Sacramento


They’re everywhere, they’re us, plentiful
benevolent, fragile, driven, languid in fall

when mothers prepare reds for eggs while
males waltz alone in river shallows waiting

for her to finish nesting in gravel beside
crumbling banks before laying pink pearl

clusters of life in murky folds then fining
away to founder, expire, while he stays

close, floats over the nursery trailing life
milk across the piscatorial nest adorning

the future, preparing the Yuba River for
another golden run, another dance, another

time glittering before us, for everywhere
a fragile plentitude a forever and ever gift.



This morning as I settled under the lemon
tree, I fell in love with the song of a strange
bird that flitted from towering redwood
to squat quince where it sang leaf-cloaked
against neighbor’s prying eyes and feral

cats lurking in the shadows of a fall morning,
too warm for a shawl, I fell for a musician still
at his after-hours horn and later we played,
listened to birdsong, shared pancake kisses
with maple syrup drizzled over layers, sliding

into the best kind of love, I thought,
without price, without gifts or suspicious
words or yammering of mundane details,
this pure love of a lemon and a hot quince
blossoming, puckering lips to mouthpiece

blowing, no huffiness, just a blue note every
now and then, with a whiff of burnt syrup.


In night shadows the city does
its business carrying on with clash

and clamor while lost and lonely
specters huddle in blankets beside

castaway foam in a sea of bent
boxes and carryout containers

vessels for riffraff,  bubble-wrapped
spirits blithely discarded easily bagged

and boxed then neatly folded and
the men, the men dress in yellow

reflectors and yank wires connected
to the city's heart to our bones

to our fiber to our optics to our

broken nails clawing toward sunrise.


Gently squeeze to see
if fruit yields, using a firmly
placed thumb. Astringent
types are yielding when ripe.

Non-astringent varieties
go either way, but in fall
note size and color of each
exotic piece, orange and plump.

Place in brown paper
bag with an off-gassing banana,
crumple or nestle together
in a deeply rounded bowl

for a couple of days and long
nights, nesting, entwined. Eat
strawberries while you wait,
sip champagne, embrace, then
slip into my luscious sweetness.

Note: Scientists in California and Japan have discovered how persimmons trees have sex. Male trees code for a very small piece of RNA that acts as “molecular scissors,” cutting down gene expression to create a female tree. But, the experts say RNA scissors can be “fickle,” and this may help explain why “dioecious” plants that are genetically one sex can also function as another.

Many thanks to Sacramento's Kate Campbell today for her fine poems and pix! Kate can be reached at or her blog ( or her Author Page:

A couple of notes:

Today is the deadline for the annual Jack Kerouac Poetry Contest. Send maximum of 3 poems (6 pages) to plus page w/name, phone, address, email. See also The Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize Revelation Ceremony and Reading on Facebook at Winners will be announced Oct. 16 (8pm) at the Jazz Beat Conference at The John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis; winners will be expected to attend and read their poems. Judge: Dr. Andy Jones. Prizes of $150, $75, $25 plus honorable mentions and publication. 

And poet/publisher J.D. Hart, who was featured on Medusa’s Kitchen this past Wednesday, encourages submissions to his various sites, including:


Today’s LittleNip:

—Kate Campbell

Swans as summer wanes
sense chill and know by
feel the flight to come

know cygnets have fledged
know migration begins warm
as velvet then slips into icy

asides while wings entwine,
necks arch when trumpeters

call us to wander.