—Jane Blue, Sacramento, CA
My life is increasingly geometry: the rectangles of windows and doors, the hypotenuses of shadows on the sides of houses in the bright early spring, the right angle of a chimney to the roof; ellipses of light filtering through the slats of blinds; the obtuse angle of the sun; the arc of a new moon; the sphere of the full moon in a midnight sky; the curves of the white resin chairs on the porch. I was not good at geometry in school, but school was the simplest part of my life.
Dark-eyed junco, finding nothing in the roses, seems to stand on air at the window, hovering like a moth, like an omen. I go out on the porch; sounds appear, a junco sings "chu chu" like a squirrel arguing with a cat, they all chitter in urgent conversation. Wind chimes peal their little laughters; there is a cloying sweetness from wild violets, weeds in the lawn; a burst of cheering from a Super Bowl party down the street. The doors, the windows, beckon me back.
A year of turquoise. The willows ache.
The words balance on my tongue.
Lilies buckle. Yarrow rains.
Fleur de lis in royal tatting.
Hot and cold, hot and cold, a manic-
depressive spring, a peripatetic
lover. A sea of jellyfish yearning
under her in the Baffin Sea. Frigid
unswimmable waters, she swam.
Harlequin lutenist. Flensed Flesh.
Mon Amour––a love story.
Bodhisattva keeps coming back.
A stone pilgrim cries out. England.
or Pompeii. A palimpsest.
The words come suddenly at midnight.
“I wish I had a bidet.”
How long before they all slip away?
*Words and phrases from Katy Brown’s journal, Musings.
(first pub. in June, 2008 Rattlesnake Review)
BAX: VIOLIN CONCERTO
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
I write of Gandhi’s loved grandniece; think of my muse;
pen thoughts from a violinist’s inner world,
jot words meant for another’s eyes, all truths,
yet keep you, vision, within my closed fist curled.
At last you spin in beside me—a waterspout’s whirled
gyrations; they send young pulses rumbling through
my own heart’s machine, the turbine inside the furled
and twisted lobes of my brain—and ghostly too,
you are, with spectral stealth and speed to arrive
and leave. I would not press you with a kiss,
I scarcely clasp you with my poetry.
Maybe with music—a violin piece alive,
girl-fingers touching its elder composer with bliss:
notes lightsomely spent (as never with us), he walked free…
(recurring figure in narrative poems by Robinson Jeffers)
Loving the works of diversely creative ones,
why do we play them against each other so?
I muse why Robinson Jeffers brusquely shuns
such worlds of visions as Arnold Bax feels glow,
an otherland Ireland of redundant beauty
glimpsed, gone: like mirages given the Jeffers-man
Onorio Vasquez, toilsome ranchhand duty
never for long obscuring his heavenward scan
where sundown vistas bring great clashing sights
of creatures and conquistadors that twist
in the temporal flow, wage their delusive fights;
yield flailed by the twilight rose’s fragile fist.
Despised by his poet for useless reveries,
he consoles the afflicted. Oh, his maker still sees…
If ever I should grope for motives to love,
I would not have far to seek, for you are here.
I have no daughter to admire in weird
unseemly fashion, no opponent to shove
in jail for causing me hurt through my remarks.
Yet I’ve often been less of a partner, true,
than should be someone who owes much to you,
though by habit I expose less my light sides than darks.
Who was it said Donald makes memorable sound-bites?
Must be because brusque syllables remind
of the long-ago playground yell, chest-thrust, raised fist:
remind me of me, in fact, when starting fights,
provoked to project on you the faults I find
layered deep in my mantel: I would make gneiss, create schist…
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
The moment schools cut cursive
From the curriculum
“pen” was crudely excised
From “poem” leaving just “or”
We have taken poetic Epiphone and
Hacked away the essential elements of
Motion, direction, rhythm, and alliteration
in favor of “or”
On the good side “or” means choices
Backspace, delete key, cut and paste,
Properly cite authority
Find a better word
Save it in a folder
For later review
No need to commit now
Don’t waste keystrokes
On the bad side we have arrested pens
For the high crime of being obsolete
And used the force field of spell check
To hold them forever at Guantanamo Bay
Gone is the dignity
Of putting something in writing
Our original Declaration of Independence
Is now no more than graffiti
Gone are wet signatures
And a good dose of the
Integrity that was implied
Poem minus Pen =
MOON ZENITH AT MIDNIGHT
—Don Feliz, Sacramento, CA
The waxing gibbous moon,
two nights short of full,
lights my room bright as day.
I lay awake in a midnight
day dream of holding your hand
on last winter's dark nights,
watching phases of the moon
from our back window
Our thanks to today’s contributors for musings about Fall and midnight and all sorts of things going on around us, including area poetry events this week, which include Pilar R. Aranda, Joe Montoya, Jr. w/musicians Vinnie Montoya & Michael Blanchard at Sac Poetry Center tonight, 7:30; Midtown Out Loud at Shine Café in Sac. on Wednesday, 8pm; Poetry at the Library on Thursday at noon; Bob Stanley and Rick Rayburn at Luna’s Café Thursday evening, 8pm; Evan White and Don Thompson at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis Thursday night, also at 8pm; Dennis Hock and Beth Suter at The Other Voice in Davis Friday, 7:30pm; and Poetic License in Placerville Saturday, 2pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute. And if you’d like your event publicized on Medusa, it’s best to send me an email directly. I watch Facebook and other online sources of information, but I do miss things now and then—like Sacramento Voices at Sac. Poetry Center last Saturday. (Sorry, Stan Zumbiel, Heather Hutcheson, and host Phillip Larrea! I hear it was a spectacular reading.)
Publishing! Get your work out there! That’s the name of a Medusa-link at the top of this column, and it’s all true. Submit, I say! That’s the name of a section of the green column at the right, and I’ve found some dandy journals and contests for the Fall season to list there. Some of them are highly competitive, especially when there’s money involved, others are not so hard, but fun. Some are on-going, others have deadlines. Some are for chapbooks, others for separate poems. Whatever your interest, there are plenty of options to be had, and I’ve hunted down the links for you. So get busy—many of them have deadlines at the end of this month!
As always, though, it’s important to research a venue before you submit your poems there. Acceptance depends on sending work that fits in with the style of a publication. We used to have to send away for a copy of their journal in order to get a feel for what kind of work it favored. Nowadays we have the blessed internet, and we can find out a lot about a publication online before we submit.
The granddaddy of poetry resources is Poet’s Market: go to www.writersdigestshop.com/poets-market-2017 for discounts on the 2017 paperback or eBook. Their parent company, Writer’s Digest, is also looking for articles on the craft of poetry, the business of it, and the promotion of it for the next (2018) issue of Poet’s Market; see www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-poets-market-call-submissions/. (Deadline is Oct. 31.) Also check out their poetry awards competition at www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions/poetry-awards. (Deadline is Nov. 1.) And while you’re on that page, sign up for their free email newsletter (with free eBook of writing prompts!), and look at their other resources.
A just-for-fun prompt option from MoSt (the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center) is the 7th annual New Year’s Poetry Challenge, which will start on December 10 and run for 30 days. Each day you will receive a prompt via email. Whether or not you choose to write to the prompt is up to you. No one checks in on your progress and you don’t have to report in at any point. These are just for fun. You can write every day, you can write only when the poetry muse moves you, or you can save them up for later. Toward the end of the 30 days, they’ll put out a call for poems and, if you’d like, you can submit your favorite poem from this year’s Challenge. All poems submitted will be compiled into a chapbook; these will be sold to cover printing costs, but nothing more, so they usually run about two or three dollars each. So join the fun! Send an email to email@example.com to be added to the list. In the meantime, help the promoter! If you have a great idea for a prompt, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org/.
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back