Monday, June 26, 2017

Beatin' the Heat

Cavy-Coolin'
—Anonymous Photo



HEAT, DON’T GET ME DOWN
—veRONIca Jackson, Sacramento, CA

The club house
is empty, save one.
Skip-Bo cards sit idle
in the cool, air conditioned room.

The walk, considered short
in winter, spring or fall,
is dehydrating in the breathless
triple-digit heat this June—
with no relief in view.

No one is coming, I tell myself,
I should go home;
however, I think I’ll stay
awhile in the coolness
of the club house.

At last, faithful Katie
enters through the kitchen.
We play a game—I win.
Then joined by a third,
we play a second game—I win.

I return home with a thirsty throat
and shiny skin to find
the greatest win is in
not giving in to Ole Mr. Sun



 —Anonymous Photo



BY THE SEA
—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA

A zure skies loom bright, above the warm sandy
B each.  Toes wiggle down into the gritty grains
C olliding with seashells and other hosts from the sea.
D igging a little deeper, there is the cool wetness of beach
E arth, renewed with each motion of the surf.  It’s
F ragrant scent fills the senses.
G ulls wheel overhead.  Those ashore, raucous with clacking bills,
H ungry for tidbits often thrown by beach goers.  They are
I nstantly aware of even the slightest fallen crumbs.
J ackals of seashore, they feast on handouts and carrion.
K ildeer, on stilted legs, skitter to and fro with the surge of the surf,
L ooking for minute crustaceans washed ashore.
M ussels cling to outcroppings of weatherbeaten rocks, showing at
N eap tide, their shells glistening in the sunlight,
O nly to disappear with the change of tide.
P  elicans, keen of eye, fly low over the waters surface
Q uick to dive at the first sighting of prey.
R afts of coots float serenely in the midst of sea life activity.
S un rays sparkle atop tiny surface ripples, while
T erns, in noisy colonies, wheel above their ground nests.
U rchins, in colors of purple, reside in small tide pools with a
V ariety of other colorful sea life,
W aiting for the turn of the tide to return them to the sea.  While there are no
X erox copies in the sea and seashore driven life, they all
Y ield to the way nature has designed them, in a lifelong effort to reach their
Z enith.



 —Photo by Sue Crisp



FADED MANSIONS
—Sue Crisp

Weak light manages to
filter through grime streaked pane remains.
Lacy filagree hangs loosely from posts.
Creaking porch boards speak loudly of old ghosts.
Missing, is the rattling of chains,
the smell of witches brew.

Tread lightly in the wake of former hosts
and the history it sustains.
Memories of a few
shares the respect it’s due.
Listen to the echoed refrains
sighing through the rooms of the past it boasts.



 —Anonymous Photo
 


REMEMBERING MOMMA
—Sue Crisp

I was ill a lot as little girl, and
I remember when my momma would
let me sleep in her bed until I felt better.

I had a very bad temper as a little girl, and
I remember when my momma would
take me aside and tell me my actions were unfair to my sister.

 I grew into a very shy teenage girl and
I remember when my momma would
reassure me I would out grow it, and to give it time.

At sixteen, I was allowed to marry, and
I remember when my momma would
remind me this was not a step taken lightly.

My early years of marriage were not always smooth, and
I remember when my momma would
tell me to pick my battles and be fair, not spiteful.

My chosen hobbies for relaxation were not always usual, and
I remember when my momma would
say, “give it your all, and make your hobbies a proud part of you.”

Too soon, our years of mother and daughter were drawing to a close, and
I remember when my momma would
always let me know what a joy I have been as a daughter.

The time was nearing when she would leave her earthly home, and
I remember when my momma would
hold my hand, smile, and say, “It’s going to be ok.” Yes, I
remember when.



 Baker Beach, San Francisco, CA
—Anonymous Photo



I wanna go to San Francisco
    the summer weather is much cooler there
    If you're going to San Francisco let me know
    I'd like to get out of triple digit temperatures in Sacramento for awhile
    I want to hang out by the ocean bay in San Francisco
    even if I might have to wear a sweater 
    In the streets of San Francisco
    there isn’t heat frying your brain and sweating out your pores
    People there enjoy summer afternoons outdoors—
    on a sunny day they can go picnic, play, and dance in a park
    Sacramento’s people get no relief from possible seething heat until it’s dark
    For those in San Francisco
    Will you please sponsor Sacramentans to go to your city?

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA



 —Anonymous Photo



T.S Eliot wrote “The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
   It isn’t one of your holiday games…"
   Considering this, the ASPCA apparently held a “cat naming” contest:
  “Help Us Find the Best Kitten Name in the Whole World,” they announced
   (among Eliot’s suggested names were Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter)
   Not one of the four names, narrowed down from 1,370 submissions, were of Eliot's invention either
   ASPCA names to vote on were Covfefe, Gizmo, Henry, and Whiskers
   The first one, “Covfefe” has an entry in the online Urban Dictionary:
   “the once secret name of an ancient tentacle monster that white supremacists fornicate with”
   Why in the world would something that President Trump tweeted about be considered for any beloved pet's name?
    Eliot said a cat’s name must be dignified and give the cat a sense of pride
    So how also does referring to your cat after a creature in the movie Gremlins (“Gizmo”) do that?
   “Henry” is a human name, among those that belonged to kings
    (including one who beheaded his wives)
    “Whiskers” is undoubtably a common name for cats
    But T.S Eliot would argue it lacks imagination and doesn’t invoke intellectual contemplation
    Whiskers is surely a name that does not create conversation with the cat’s guardian, so  why such a name
   —and the cat him or herself may not want it—
   When author and animal rights activist Cleveland Amory named his cat Polar Bear
    He claimed he asked the white cat that he rescued one Christmas what to be called in human language
    T.S Eliot and Amory would have agreed a cat’s name is one that he or she agrees to give an answer to
    or come to when called
    and the ASPCA should follow suit and even allow a cat’s name to be possibly changed from the one they give it…

—Michelle Kunert



 —Anonymous Photo



A Sacramento Bee’s "Pet Connection" said "Three useful behaviors to teach your any-age cat”
     It claimed you can teach cats commands as “Sit”, “Come”, and “Touch a target”
     Dumb a**es at the Bee, one doesn’t “train” a cat, a cat trains his or her human guardian!
     No, a cat is not a dog who lives to please
     A human is to be the willing “servant” to the cat he or she wishes to cohabit with
     Oh yes, cats will share affection with humans—but on their own terms—
     whatever a human does, it has to be with the cat’s approval first
     For instance, one cannot just simply grab a cat to hug and expect the cat to like that
     The best thing one can hope for in a cat is he or she just doesn’t suddenly bite or scratch
     and that he or she will always use the given litterbox when going indoors
     as well as use a scratch post instead of clawing the furniture
     Every cat is different, depending on their personality
     Many learn their own “tricks” rather than be trained to do stunts to “amuse"
     My family for instance had cats who’ve turned on faucets to drink from
     Cats merely learn to do things that they see they are going to benefit from

—Michelle Kunert



—Anonymous Photo
 


UNLISTED
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Unwelcoming neighbors say we are a pox
And try to evict us from our only box
This is our hole and we are the fox
No address, no doors, or windows, or locks

The cellar is a darkened storm drain
Sticky bottles of wine cry out in vain
Find me fast before the big rain
A hard metal cover shields some of the pain

The attic, of course, tends to be very small
Its once shiny treasures now quite beyond recall
Piles of dust and countless creatures that crawl
The perfect trap for every lost ball

No central air, just sudden heat
From helicopter search lights high above the street
Plenty of warnings, but nothing to eat
We with arthritis, they, much too fleet



 —Anonymous Photo
 


KID STUFF
—Caschwa

I couldn’t do everything I tried to do,
But at least I had finally learned how to count
Still I was not yet old enough to gamble
Or even to go to school. 

Of course at that age
Everything I said or did
Was a gamble

One day Dad told me, the second child of 2,
That Mom had suffered a miscarriage.
Slowly and carefully, Dad explained that
Mom would be very upset

So I told Dad to just tell Mom the same calming words
That he had told me when I was very upset,
“2 out of 3 is OK.”



 —Anonymous Photo



Today’s LittleNip:





______________________


Our thanks to today’s contributors as their varied voices begin our week! This weekend I heard from Donal Mahoney, who has been regularly posted in the Kitchen; he just got out of the hospital after 54 days due to a torn esophagus! Get well soon, Donal!

Tonight you have two choices of reading venues in Placerville: Poetry on Main Street begins at 5pm, and Poetry in Motion begins at 6pm. Then at 7:30pm in Sacramento, Sac. Poetry Center presents Tamer Mostafa and Rhony Bhopla plus open mic, 7:30pm (www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/).

Thursday is Open Poetry Night at the Gallery (Crocker Art Museum) in Sacramento, with an all-open mic at 7pm to celebrate their new showing: “Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose”. (Sign-ups at 6pm.) Info/registration at www.crockerart.org/event/1380/2017-06-29/. Also Thursday, Speak Up presents “Extreme”, with storytellers and poets at Avid Reader in Sac., 7pm. And Thursday is also, of course, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, with featured readers and open mic, 8pm.

By the way, you can read more about the Hi-Fructose exhibit at the Crocker at www.sacbee.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article157224099.html/. Check it out!

Beat the Heat with the word game posted at the top of the green column at the right.

And Editor Cynthia Linville writes that the Summer 2017 issue of
convergence is online at www.convergence-journal.com/summer17/index.html/. Lots of Snakepals in there this issue, I see!

—Medusa



 Celebrate poetry!













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
to Medusa.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Leap, Spectral Rose

Joyce dancing the Odamesque w/Danyen Powell 
on her 80th birthday, Aug. 7, 2004
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA



DANCE THE ODAMESQUE
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
 

I sing of one good poet whose words dance
not quite the bergamasque: the Odamasque
alone will serve to name the magic prance
which no urbane Venetian nor suave Basque
can claim. One odalisque-nude yearning glance
from one soft half-concealed face—no flask
of liquor nor gunpowder ignites the dance
as do the almost unseen eyelights ask

that someone match her ardent rondo swerves,
first footfalls out then footfalls back again,
while bows and bends blend hints with faint fan-flirts:
sly woman equals amorous roguish man
in dulcet indirection. Night sky-curves
bring tristes tropiques with notes of wistful hurt.

Not Romanesque, this round dance, nor Burlesque,
this Rite of Spring puts metronomes to riotous task.

Leap, Spectral Rose, and leave the damask rose
a frail leaf-scaffold yellowed, all wormholes,
beside your arabesques a pale grotesque…

All revelers, glide like silk, take nips from flasks:
don dominos, visors: dance the Odamasque… !  


                        —for Joyce Odam, poet nonpareil
            (Writ, I hope, in evocation of her style when 

             the dance is upon her.)

_________________________

—Medusa







Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dimensions of the Evening

Walker
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Provided by D.R. Wagner



PAPER LANTERNS

Tonight the paper lanterns have been lit,
Given a voice of light to the riverbank.
They utter wave forms and harmonize
With the lapping upon the shore.

There are spirits in the evening.
They rove upon the land,
Sit on hillsides watching
The paper lanterns flicker.
The close glow of their quiet flame
Agrees with the loneliness and the sorrow of age,
Unravels where the mind once played
And gives gifts of muted color
To those holding hands and gazing
At the display before them.

Song releases its legions of dancers.
They whirl beneath the paper lanterns.
They trail memory out behind them
Like toys forgotten in some child’s room
Seen through a slightly open door.

The owl is silent as it passes
The paper lanterns.  Nothing like this
Will ever happen again.  There is no
Way to know the dimensions of the evening.



 A Carol for Brown Owl
—Illustration by Margaret W. Tarrant



VISION FROM THE DOOR

We had just passed the door
When someone asked for time.

Was it something you heard
Or something that will keep you away?

She said:  “You’ve seen birds, haven’t you?
Can you tell me what kind?”

It must have been an owl.  It was night.
“What flies at night?”   “That was time.”

A thousand crows lifted from the trees
Just beyond the meadows.  We thought
They were the leaves of the tree.

A murder of crows all but blocking
Out whatever moon we had.
 


 Girl With Bird
—Illustration by Margaret W. Tarrant



WAVES COLLAPSING

Years have gone by.  They refuse to relent,
And form dense piles, like paper
Written on and confined to a single room.

There is no sense in thinking about it.
Almost anything one can create will
Be able to assume any shape, use
Any language, make signs with its
Hands, if it has hands, or become
Any person at all, even one that
Is loved very much but has remained
Trapped in an object for a long time.

A sister was a sofa for years, then a teapot.
The dogs became undone and settled
Into becoming two chairs and a kitchen
Table that was left over from
A flock of birds she had once seen
But could no longer recall where.

There was still the shore, but now
It was night and the waves collapsed
In a stutter a friend had suffered
With long ago, in the fourth grade.

Anything but this place.  Help get
These things out of line and into
Something that could fill one
With a deep sleep.

Waking high above the sea in a villa,
Full of sun, near Naples, on Capri.
Hearing someone humming a song, sliding
Plates over each other, the smell of coffee,
Silverware tinkling as if it could help.

Perhaps it was a prayer.  It could have
Been a prayer rising up through
The room and then the body.

Someone was there holding her hand.
It might be her sister or it might
Be someone never before seen.
“Don’t open your eyes,” says a voice.
“Just go back to when we found
All those lovely shells.”

That could have been anywhere.



 Centaur-like Wraith



FEVER

There is a fever in my hands.
It is higher than that red mountain.
It keeps me from moving my feet.

I can hear that singing
I told you about when I was young.
Do you remember the words?

I look to the western horizon.
It makes my face hurt to remember.
These are tears, aren’t they?

I’m going to close my eyes.
Pretend that I am dreaming.
Perhaps I will wake as a child again.



 Girl With Chicken Skirt



SOMETHING LIKE A SONG

There were little fires in all the books.
I was trying to explain something
About the night, but I was choking.

The room began to fill with with pain.
I was dreaming like I was made of fire.
“No, she said.  You’re made of books.

Try something like a song.  You may have
More luck.”



 Asparagus



HER APRIL

It was her April.
Full of swallows
In the evening.

Hanging above the river
A blue-gold serpent
Uncoils in her mouth.

Two hours before sunrise
The temperature drops nearly
30 degrees.
The climate of her soul.

She wishes us a fine sleep.
No dreams at all.  Ever.
She kisses us on the cheek.



 Peas in a Pod



TRYING TO EXPLAIN

We never left the mountain.
The light across our bare feet.
We must have been lost all
Our lives.  Someone was calling.

It seems they have made a night
Only for us.  A drift of precious
Animals gazing upon a marvelous
Throne.  There were children
Weeping in a pale blue room.

Why is it things are able to be
Exactly like this?
I’ve seen a hand
Open and pearls as beautiful
As the world pour out across

The shore.  Here even is the moon
I told you about when we left
The meadow this morning.
Everything dressed in birdsong.



 Light Bulb Swing



BLANKETS

What was it moving behind the trees?
It made a mist as it moved.
Our skin became damp of a sudden.

Mother brought some blankets
To the yard, spread them for us.
Crows came down and landed
Next to us.

“What makes the stars, my children?”
“We do not know, Mother,” we answered.
“Music, she said.  Pure music.
Sing for me, my children.”

We sang.  The sky filled with stars.

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

A TEASE
—D.R. Wagner

She spent time at the window
Using its soft gold coin to tease
A cat waiting patiently for a train.

___________________

—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and pix!



 Cooling Off at a Train Station in India
—Anonymous Photo
Celebrate Poetry!
Don’t let the heat get you down… 
Head over to Sac. Poetry Center this morning, 10am, for 
the Writers on the Air live podcast with Katya Mills
Then this afternoon at 2pm, Poetic License will meet at 
the Placerville Sr. Center up in Placerville.
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.








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
to Medusa.

Friday, June 23, 2017

They Call Me Bone

Eyeline Smith
—Poems and Photos by Smith, Cleveland, OH



BONE

They call me bone
in secret name
no one knows is secret

Covered heart alone
carries weight
waits

Meat is meat
if no magic
magic no magic no meat

Uncovered heart atones
recent track
marries meat to bone



 Sat Cat



TOP SHELF

Third-floor window
dim in
bright out.

Big bee flies clumsily across
two leaves flit float down in dance
bee bumbles back
as third slow falling leaf
lingers in light.

Inside is pre-cricket quiet
outside the water rush
of wind and traffic
babble of birds
feeding at feeder.

Black cat quivers
crouched on sill
wanting bee
leaves
the birds below.



 Borders



ROAD WORK

Outside the fire
it's tooth and claw
feather beak talon all
glint of eye
gulp of gullet
no reason why
just bite the bullet
enjoy the good
outlast the bad
it's all about survivalhood lad
and lassie
avoiding ire
and being had
so protect your chassis
in this slant land



 Featherweather



ACID SNOW

Such cunning, these beasts.

By pruning Heaven
they've stilled the old wild yeasts.

Yet in breeding unleavened
seed such sheetings of grief
shat out uneven
o'er poor human paste
that all dogs believing
rise lonely, and weak.

These acids know weakness.
Know mercy for grief
or inherent meekness
unheeded beneath
these semen-stained sheets.

Keeps meat on its knees
and power unaided
or tree on the leaf
and tragic the shaman.



 Intertwine



FOREPLAY

Freud comes tonight
to mock our mere
reflected lives'
refracted fear,
shelf dependents
miming mirror
of every man and action.

In abstinence
such sibilance
through undue trade
and undulance
calls forth
in outlawed ambulance
emotional transaction. 

These scars we horde
until they're heard
to bargain bare
a binding word,
the players paid
and pompous lured
to daily dead transgression.

Nipples rise
through lemon dust
raw, red
and real in sapient lust,
emasculate tongues
court and musk
mother's moist application.



 Vatican



SISYPHUS SMITH

First couple sips strong black coffee
couple tokes cheap weed
a bit more coffee
see if the ache of pains pass
sit in the low light
waiting for sun to rise
my favorite time
before light before strife
before might turns to maybe
turns to later
turns to lost
turns to let it go
walking this waking wheel
working the worry weave
for answers
to get through one more day
rolling the rock
losing the rock
rolling the rock
losing the rock
letting it go
letting it all go
cherishing what remains



 Crosshatch



NO WAILING OFFENSE

There will be
No tears
No wailing
No gnashing of teeth
When I go
When I’m gone
When I die
When my flesh
Is sold
For packets to eat
Or doorstop
What knot
Plot not
Best to burn me baby
Use me as sand
Grit to rough the bland
Just call me
Oyster helper
Pearl point
Beginning irritant
Smooth in end



 Stonecash



SOLD AMERICAN

We're born in blood, raised in flesh
In Ragnarock 'n roll Armageddon
So let's go let's go let's go go Sell American
For the red white black and blue

Schroedinger's cat is dead, perhaps
And we but lie, lie dreaming
This tit for tat means this this ain't that
No matter what the ragweed’s weaving

My Little Bo Peep's out eating her sheep
With Darwin doubtless her handle
Your Little Boy Blue's down sniffing glue
While cooking a spoon over candle


To hear this online, with music by Peter Ball, word & voice by Smith, go to
www.reverbnation.com/mutantsmith/song/8051052-sold-american/.



 Yesterday's Wine



Today’s LittleNip:

MOM & POP SHOP
—Smith

This this is where I am—
the dead are dead,
their just desserts undelivered,
and regret a nasty beast
with no heart to pierce with truth.

____________________

—Medusa, with many thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) from Cleveland for today’s fine poems and pix! And music besides!



 Easter Sunrise
 —Photo by Smith
Celebrate poetry!










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
to Medusa.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chasing the Ponies

Pony Hand-Off, 2017 Pony Express
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA



OBSESSION: THE PONY                       

I must have been surreal to the guy at the bus
station; asked if he’d seen a horse and rider
coming through; the Pony Express, I couldn’t
find it. I had the same trouble last year.

So this time I prearranged everything—got on
the official website, followed the Pony’s
progress St. Jo, Missouri through Nebraska,
Wyoming, Utah, Nevada. And then

in the middle of historic re-enactment, trail-
updates stopped. Another mudslide? unseasonal
snow over the summit? secret pact of silence,
fear of digital hijack? robbery of Pony mail?

I got in my car, set off for the last known
position—the last constant—on the Pony map.
Maybe I went surreal, running on snow-time,
star time, sun-shadow on a league of mountain

high; running on horse time. By chance I found
them outside Front Yard Nursery—one horse
arriving, switch of mailbag, fresh horse trotting
off west into the unknown. The dismounting

rider hugged her little boy, hoisted him
high into the saddle, then led her honey-sorrel
toward a waiting horse-trailer. One
young boy in danger of becoming surreal.



 2017 Pony Boy



TRADERS

What’s the retail price of a human life?
Slave traders raiding the village
know, and the old woman left behind
with a gangrenous leg,

mourning her stolen children.
She’ll be dead in minutes or days.
No time postponing, thieves on horses
across the river, already gone.

But this father travels silent, on foot,
leading mere boys—one who chips rock
to lethal arrow-point; one who charms
the snakebit pennon to its quarry.

Together they crouch behind
bushes, watch the slavers carousing
with a crazy bottle, hatbands
cinched over poisoned dreams.

One boy stands guard, one unfetters
the slaves, one frees the horses
so they gallop away.
The father judges it a fair trade.


(a version of this poem was first pub. in 
Muddy River Poetry Review)



 Piper's Eyes



PIPER’S EYES                           

A dog has her rights. To be with her master,
not groveling; enlisting cheerfully for any job.
Piper threw herself into it with the ferocity
of a reincarnated spirit—spirit of all the self-
willed dogs of our past. Nothing could enclose
her. Left at training camp while you hid
for someone else’s dog? she’d slip her collar,
tie-out cable, and harness to find you.
Left in the truck after her shift, on that search
for the kidnapped girl—she escaped to join you.
Could you question her devotion? Just look
at this photo, her eyes. She’s passed
to a better, fenceless world. Those eyes
are still boring holes in the wall.



 Upcountry



COLLECTING SPECIES                       

An aerie of eagles was the
blue sky’s eye as we set out on trail
contouring above alpine lake, a
drift of swans below—you,
ever the naturalist, said “swans,” being
field guide unto yourself,
guide of diminishing vision, so a
herd of deer becomes collective, each
individual melding in the whole. A
jinx of jokers are we,
keen to conglomerate while wandering
lost to unnoticed miracles of
mountain; busying ourselves with
naming,
organizing—a
pox of pundits when we should
quit talking; just walk, breathe, look. A
ratchet of rattlers might be
sleeking out from under any rock
to make our day
unnerving. There’s a
vastness of views in all directions, a
wellspring of wonders.
X the nightingale off your list;
you know it doesn’t occur here. No
zenith of skylarks either. Look, a raven!



 Balance Point



WHERE WE ARE                           

The sky’s gray silk unbound. Delicate balance
point. I step out the front door to set the faucet
at just a quarter turn, water downslope to keep
our young trees alive at the edge of Wildwood.
I listen for significant sound in this interval
between dark and light. A dog barks briefly
down-canyon, and there’s a soft scatter of birds.
Tiny machines waking—not machines. Nature’s
workers. Electricity everywhere, longing for
light. Above the big blue oak, a perfect half-
moon moves west, so slowly it will be the ghost
of sun in daylight. Soon everything will bustle,
heating up under a sky so hot blue, it seems
finality/the spark of something. Spring delivered
a truckload of ground squirrels to under-tunnel
our land, and our dogs add their own frantic
digging, trying to reach them. Pests must have
their place in a natural order. So far, a good day.



 Star Thistle



O STAR THISTLE

They won’t sell you at nurseries,
you’re a noxious weed. You’re easy enough
to find. Through long droughty summers
no one waters you, yet you survive.

You flourish along roadsides
and give a soft jade tint to fields where
everything else turns bone-brittle,
dead and dry. You thrive.

Sheep eradicate you. But they’re just
an interruption. Now the sheep are gone.
You creep through fences,
on wind you fly like bees to hive.

I crouch, Star Thistle, pulling you
up by the roots, your golden flower
with a crown of spikes. Shall I
call you hero? rejoice at your drive,

your stubborn, invasive
green? In this tarnished landscape
burned by the long summer sun,
it’s you who look alive. 



 Septic Truck



Today’s LittleNip:

FAR FROM THE SEATS OF POWER   
—Taylor Graham           

Off the freeway. Lift my visor to the blessing
of oaks overarching two-lane chipseal.
Valley oaks too graceful for the straight-away.
I take it sweet and slow here. Truck ahead.
No turning back. It’s a septic pumper, essential
to our country way of living. I do a double-
take—this road’s not meant for laughing.
Message painted neatly on the bumper:
        HAULING POLITICAL PROMISES

_________________

Our thanks to Taylor Graham for these fine poems and pix today!

Those of us who read El Dorado County's Mountain Democrat, longest-running newspaper in California, were able to enjoy an article yesterday (Wednesday, June 21) about Sacramento Poetry Center’s archives—nearly 40 years’ worth of articles such as posters, scrapbooks and publications—coming to CSUS, to be housed in the Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives at the CSUS library. The collection is open to the public.

Thursday night is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, with featured readers and open mic, 8pm.

And the summer issue of the online Canary literary magazine about climate issues, from Gail Entrekin in the Bay Area, is now available at canarylitmag.org/.

—Medusa



 Eyes of the Dapple
2017 Wagon Train, El Dorado County
—Photo by Taylor Graham
Celebrate poetry!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SomeOne New

—Poems by Allison Grayhurst, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
—Anonymous Photos to Celebrate the Summer Solstice



SomeOne New
       
Change is crouching
on my back deck,
behind the pillars
and rotted wood.
Change is tossing in my womb
and giving me a bell to ring.
Like someone new to sing to,
it nicks my forehead with its
broken rhythm. Like starlight
weaving under my skin, growing,
wanting my speed,
change is alive, but small as a rice grain
forming its heavenly head.
Welcome little hamlet of wonder,
welcome from the blue breath of God.
Come see us all and turn this home

of three kindred souls into four.

__________________

CHILD

As wounding as
the stars reflected in
the river, yours is a beauty
too big to embrace.
You are the everlasting miracle
that walks these floors each morning
and day, marveling at every turn.
Your easel is full of yesterday's colours.
There are songbirds under your bed, and in the closet
are assorted hats that call to you to try on
and wear down the hall.
You are the syrup on my toast,
the first tulip of spring.
Before you, I was too afraid to dance with freedom,
crippled by a servant mood.
You are the open door where teddy bears
dream and live—a soft, unhindered love
that cures the hardness
overpowering any room.






HIT THE MARK

This sunrise, rushing
from your pores, smooth and
bright as perfection
has trailed out from a loving home,
out from the endurance of a decade tattooed
to your skin.
You, under the spotlight
bearing no fractures
are as close as the bone is to the shell.
And everyone was transported, gliding
through your soliloquy like birds in
a cool spring air.
A coming together, a rejoicing of all
your struggles, the last completing thread,
magic and kindled by your spiritual voice.
Animated like silver dust on still water, you arrived.
You made the world, at last
understand and listen.






IN PRAISE OF WALT WHITMAN

He wandered as an individual,
care-full and tender with all he touched.

He embraced beauty in his arms
by embracing a young man's dying limbs or
the trunk of a tree, hundreds of years old.

Faithful, clean, pursuing
vitality and depth with compassionate strength,
he was what each hopes to be,
entirely oneself, unafraid of battle
or of withering or joy, unafraid to stake
everything
for the necessity of honest expression.

He, with his brave, child-like being, waded
in the brutality of war, in the ponds of dazzling
and delicious Nature, equal in his love
and in his giving.






THE LAST WALK OF
THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
    
            Heaving strange
the pride in my mouth that will not drown.
After all love given and failed, to hold only this body
of a starved finch, gold but lifeless like all else
that has inspired me on. I shifted extremes, bandaged
my disappointments in bitter hate and landscapes
where only serpents were resurrected.
            Of my self, I have no virtue to defend, what I have
is impulsive and merciless, and a fortune
that has placed my fate at the feet of a cunning enemy.
            That I was saved from the seal of drunken suicide.
That I saw my own image float in the river, giving
seed to a non-judgemental faith, and she, my daughter
(who knew nothing of resentment), cradled my cure
in the compassion of her eyes. I walk with a simple fool
trailing behind who says I was rough
but somehow kind, who seems to show concern
when I stumble and for my face so down,
it will never see daylight again.
He carries me to an abandoned shack
where soon I will die—he, unaware of the killer that I am.
            If my daughter finds me, never let her know
the loneliness that drove my desperate deeds or the fear
I felt of losing her natural devotion. If she finds me,
tell her not to put flowers where I rest. Tell her not to grieve
the aftermath dust of the likes of me—a crushed,
unatonable man.

________________

Today’s LittleNip:

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.

—Carl Sandburg

_____________________

—Medusa, thanking Allison Grayhurst for today’s fine set of poems, all the way from Toronto on this, our simmering summer solstice!



 Celebrate poetry! Interested on self-publishing? 
Bob Pimm, Esq. will provide a workshop today 
on the legal angles from 11:30am-1pm at Avid Reader, 
1945 Broadway. Admission is $20 online. Scroll down to 
the blue column (under the green column at the right) 
for info about this and other upcoming poetry events 
in our area—and note that more may be added
 at the last minute.









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
to Medusa.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Unreachable

—Poems and Original Artwork by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA



THE UNREACHABLE

My father in a soft moonlight,
waiting for some dream to waken him . . .

I listen to him crying
but he doesn’t know I am his daughter.

He suffers from failure—that, and some
lost love. My imagination cannot save him.

He stares at a small gray river.
The water-moon quivers his face.

He thinks that love has abandoned him.
My mother stands watching from

her own sad distance—I look
from one to the other and cry out to them.


(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2015)
 
___________________

BREAKING UP THE FAMILY

Father is a crude wooden carving outside the front door. 
Mother won’t let him in. He has pegs for arms and a lap
to sit on where we can change shoes. His expressionless
eyes stare out—painted a dull and listless brown. He does
not know what he has become.

Mother says that next time we move she’s just going to
leave him there—in the rain—in the sun—in the traveling
winds that wear him down. She says that we’ve got to quit
carrying him from place to place—from year to year. She
says we’ve got to quit even remembering him anymore.



 Enigma



WHEN YOU WERE FATHER AND I WAS A CHILD

and years grew fast and long between us,
leaving me only Mother.

This is not a complaint—or a cry.
I don’t know what it is.

Perhaps a door that I cannot open—
or close.

Perhaps there should be only the doorway
and no door—an opening

that is the fatherless world—
and no walls around it, to signify no house.

You were not a house, Father; only a door.
With a turn of the knob

you exited.
I still write Why on the wall that is not there.

___________________

FATHER PERSON

I am a press
     of leaf-saving…

I open my book
     and everything
          falls out, th-
               e delicate
                    fragile
                         leaves
                              of
                         times
                    and places
               of words that
          are stained
     with their
impressions…
    
     just as you, Fa-
ther, just as you…



 Heart and Soul



MY MYSTERIOUS FATHER WANDERING
ALONE IN A DREAMED PLACE

I imagine him playing a flute
in a long wet corridor
walled in stone.

I imagine him mysterious,
facing the east with burning eyes,
and at night the west.

I imagine him father to some burning child
made of melting bone, with soul of cold fire
and mouth holding an old moan.

I imagine a long cold note of sadness
that he cannot hear
floating between us in the closing air.

This is the fatherless year
of devastation
when all things break and are gone . . .

I imagine my father . . .
broken . . .
gone . . .



 Quiet Circles



ONLY CHILD
After CD Jacket, girl with butterfly and two birds

Your hands are too small
to hold all that you desire.
The live butterfly
caught in your hair
will not love you for long.

The tethered swallow
you keep on a string
will escape
back to the wall paper.

The beautifully feathered bird
you hold on a stick
will lose its will to fly away.

You are too innocent for such power—
to keep all that life as yours,
to possess and try to tame—
standing there in all your defiance,
as if you dare not believe me. 



 Flourish



ONLY CHILD

I float upon calm water surface
bobbed gently
rocking nowhere
no tide.

The dolls float beside me
stiffly
their rigid arms upraised
their faces staring at a sky.
Is that a sky
or ceiling;
is this a sea
or room?

The dolls multiply;
they wear my dresses.
(How did they get that large?)
At last they touch me.
I terrify.
My many eyes assess my mirrors.
The walls stream.
The room is raining on the sides.
The dolls are sighing . . .
breathing . . .

I multiply,
my struck selves touching
coping with the mystery
of looking for who I am . . .
my many lives.

I hear the light bristle
full of inflections
touching the glass of all my clothing
like shock-costumes
I must wear through scenes . . .

ever back toward my mother
who is always at the edges
floating huge dolls out to me
on all her fragile sighing strings.

                          
(first pub. in Maryland Poetry Review, 1989)



 Presence



ORPHAN POEM           

paints a sun
makes it round
and yellow

draws spikes of warm
into the ground
where the grass
is hard lines of green

the dog
with all its legs
on one side
smiles at the face of
a flower

and the boy
and the girl
with the straight-stick
arms and legs
are brother and sister

and the smiling
mother and father
are looking
at the boy and the
girl and the
dog and the
flower

and the house
with the black curls
climbing from the chimney
stands behind them all
and is very happy

and the blue blue sky
with the fluffy
white clouds
is full of birds

draws them singing



 Night and Day



PATINA

And there you are—
my sister, whom
I have lost so many times.

This time you come to me as a doll
with all your emotion smoothed
to a cold perfection.

How I envy you this—ageless
and without the wear, while
I wear the patina for both of us.

And why are you the silent one
with no question?
Why this return?

Where have you been? What
journey? What experience?   
Did Mother send you?

I ache with an old loneliness.
You look at me in the old blank way.
Did you know our father?

___________________

GREETING CARD

Dear Old Dad, the one I never had—
Here’s to you, Father.

___________________

Today’s LittleNip:

LEGACY OF BLAME   
—Joyce Odam

My father
who was Adam
had one weakness;
he was acquiescent.
And he died
blaming my mother
for his chronic
indigestion.

         
(first pub. in
The Muse, 1961)

__________________

Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her original artwork today and her poems about fathers, never an easy subject for Joyce, who—well, her poems say it all. “Dads” was our past Seed of the Week; our new one is Sudden Heat. What kind of sudden heat? Weather? Fire? Anger? Lust? Menopause? Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

—Medusa



 Celebrate Poetry!









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
to Medusa.