Tuesday, January 31, 2017

As Pagan as Fast Music

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

(Another poem for Ann)

Do not let me hold your sadness.
I might bruise it like a flower.
It is too valuable a thing
to give away—
no—save it for tomorrow.

Your glass laughter
falls about the room
and I catch
the little dark notes of it
in my deepest mirror.
All grim happiness is shared this way.

You are really a dancer,
pagan as fast music,
your feet catching in the
green grass of the rug.
Oh, your joyous shadow
cannot keep up with you.

You take your eyes and your mind
and me to a place where
the man smiles and says hello
and runs his hands
over music to hurt us.
We fill our glasses with
sadness after sadness
and sing him love.

Tell your morning not to go.
I take my illness
and my broken song away.
You swim in smiles,
leaning against the black body
of the piano, giving it
resonance.  You are like
a heart that I leave behind.
To keep you safe
I fold down the wings
of your car before I go . . .

I hope you are writing poems today.

(first pub. in The Ark River Review, 1971)


Today the world is filling with white rain and a long gray
wind and birds with flashing wings and sharpened eyes.
And today the cold is moving in like an old guest, and the
light is thin at the windows, and there is much thinking to
be done. Something is holding the world like a cube of ice.
And today the leaves, as at a signal, fall and soften against
the ground, and I want to write you a letter, but a poem is
trying to write me. And today, time shortens itself into dark,
and it is winter, and will be winter, until winter must let go.
And we wait for that—with a patience earned and remem-
bered. And here and there a flock of words is trying to
become a poem—and I know that if I keep writing, one
will come to me—and when it does, I will send it to you.


lost bird

       in smoke gray 




hard and fast

         how long will 

                this grainy 

                        gray sky 

                               last . . .


In the birdcage of death
the bird sits preening its flightless wing
it does not feed and
it does not look in the little mirror

sometimes it sings its sudden song
and the whole air shatters
when it stops the bars twang still
and the bird looks out of its sharpened eye

sunbeams drift through it from the window
its feathers gleam
it clenches its feet in a little dance
and a voice from somewhere says: pretty, pretty.


Anna and I are looking out the window. “Remember the
fairy tale of the Golden Bird,” I ask her? But she is hum-
ming a little song out of our childhood, and the window
opens, and the curtains float back into the room and
Anna is floating out on a moonbeam—straight out—into
the wing-shadows that scoop her up and away. And I—
back at the window—cold and abandoned, cannot move
for fear of believing the loss of my own shadow to the
night. The curtains fall back into place and hang mo-
tionless. The sound of wing-beats fades, and there is no
moon. For awhile I listen for something mourned and
vague and find myself humming a little song I have
never heard before.



strangely luminous
you fly to my throat
a gauze-bird humming
bent wings around my neck
your beak in my hair
looking for perfume there
your gold feet pinned to my collar
your cold eyes lacking communication
how can I feed you
how can I love you
drops of blood run down my skin
into my clothing
your pin slips position
you fasten again
soon I am apathetic
I hold a glass of tear-water
in my hand for you


Lenora is sitting in the middle of a big cushion. It is a lap. It is a
lap of luxury and love. It is pulsing around her like a heartbeat.
She is smiling. She is wearing a long gray skirt and silver stock-
ings. She has been reading a book. It is called The Sensuous
. Lenora is being a sensuous woman. Her breasts are
bare and she is wearing a metal butterfly between them. Its
wings are moving. It thinks she is a flower. She is a flower. Her
eyes say, “I am a marvelous flower.” She is life to the butterfly.
It will never leave her. It makes a little burn like a tattoo where
it beats against her. The cushion is breathing her a song. She is
learning to say the song in her mind. It sounds like a gray wing.
Lenora is becoming a singer. Her shoes have slipped from her
feet. Her arm is resting over the soft edges of the pillow. She is
holding a lavender cigarette. Her eyes are denying all accus-
ation. She is becoming a painting.


It is from
blue source;
the old sensation
flows and becomes sound—
a hum in the mind.


You almost remember
a word that began you;
you almost wear the identity of
some mother-spirit
made of love.


You weep to be so offered;
now you must find the beginning,
get through . . . get through . . .
wear the wings of falling, 
the new memory trying to elude you.


It was for poetry we made these ruins,
colored them white for distraction,
marked on the calendar the disappearing days.
So many, we sighed. Not enough, we amended.
There is no death, said the words.

In the church of love,
we gazed at the artifacts that adorned the walls.
so many, we sighed, and shifted our eyes.
You wore an aura of red. I deflected you
with a confusion of resistance.
Our hands almost met.
I could not remember the words.

Someone played a guitar in the doorway
to block our going. We sang with the others.
We decided to forego black for the mourning.
Whatever was left, we divided.
Strange to be halved, we marveled,
folding our wings. Oh, Angel, I cried.
Oh, Angel, you answered.


Today’s LittleNip:

(After Capsizing Man 1950 by Albert Giacometti)

Teetering into far-off death
          behind me, the whole sky,
                    reeling away…pulling  my eye…
                              I raise my arms into wings.
                                         I think I can fly.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a hearty poetic/visual breakfast on a cold morning, as she tells us all about Wings, our recent Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is "Candlelight". 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 to choose from.

A couple of more readings have popped up on the area calendar this week: one of them is Poetry in Davis on Thursday, when the John Natsoulas Gallery will feature Pat Grizzell and Geoffrey Neill, 8pm. The other addition will be in Placerville on Friday, featuring Sacramento poet Shawn Pittard at the Good Earth Movement Cooperative, 250 Main St.. 6:30pm. 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, as you can see, more may be added at the last minute.



—Anonymous Photo
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. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Black Limb Hovering

—Photo by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA

The heart of Cassiopeia throbs in heaven.
Night returns splendiferous in satin folds.

In the grand hall, a jewel chest opens,
golden tureens fill with verse, poetry begins.

The one with a foreign tongue glances my way,
eyes crafting a conversation, soft lines crinkling

sentences. Late Autumn rain, grief is a black
limb hovering, spirits wandering far from home.

Impossible to relax. Someone has entered my
file, exposed my thoughts on social media.


—Jeanine Stevens

Really a German beer hall west of Napa
near scattered vineyards and new hotels.
On Sunday evenings,
combo plates are served: red cabbage,
sausage, warm potato salad.
The Ump-Pa-Pa band plays polkas
and folks dance until closing.
Field workers come in,
short, slender, hair slicked back,
wearing dress shirts, levis
and polished boots.
They ask any woman willing,
seem to have a partner for every dance.
Dark eyes straight ahead,
they don’t speak English—
yet experts at keeping time.
An occasional waltz,
then thoughts seem elsewhere,
perhaps another village
south of the border, 
white calla lilies at the door
mother and father,
and what might be
served at that evening meal.


—Jeanine Stevens
Snow poles go up along the highway;
what little sun holds no warmth,
yet the few Aspen leaves spin Midas gold.
I walk between small cabins, mostly
closed for the winter. A bright note,
a green wooden trout tacked to a small barn.
I tie up the Red Twig dogwood
to protect against heavy berms,
yet scarlet stems will emerge from
all this black and white.
Bear sightings are rare, the smart ones.
A few crows bring their shadows,
mark the year’s shortest days.
I hang the faded flag that says, “Let it Snow.”
Among summer’s dry needles,
we sit for the last time at the picnic table,
pull scarves tight and open
a split of champagne.
The frosty glass and silver bubbles
seem right. Yard rakes are silent,
the pipes wrapped. We rig the antenna
to receive the Winter Olympics from Sochi.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

They sat in chairs talking, or gathered
around cheese trays and veggies, or circled
the gallery, stepping back for distance,
perspective, giving fancy its space.

The exhibit: charcoal sketches of flight
on recycled paper. Here be dragons?
Reminded me of freeway blowouts, shards
of retread transformed to feather.

A lady asked me point-blank what I
thought of that one, black winged; looked
like it might fly, or hang upside-down
on the wall till we left it in peace.

I hopped astride, the creature came to life –
slipped under eaves; through sky-
blue mind-space it zip-zagged us between
street and belfry, away.


—Taylor Graham

She leaned against a light post
waiting, reading.
Only her eyes moved
following the flow of words
across the page, rapt
in their current. A golden-
crowned sparrow
landed inches from her feet,
snapping her raption.
Then it flew off, flashing
its gold crown
winging the poem
on the page, its flight, its flow.
The girl was a light post
in a morning lit up again new.


—Taylor Graham
The cloakroom has no keyhole to let loose
its secrets rattling wordless as a garnet caught
inside the hubcap, or the refrigerator’s hum
when leftovers are turning
in spite of innovations in coldness; or that
seemingly pointless TV controversy
which nevertheless might become history.
What truths and make-believe persist
in a school-girl’s for-her-eyes-only careful
hand? And how could she have forgotten
her diary in the cloakroom?


—Taylor Graham
Those angel wings I found growing
from a mossy stump—pale, ghostly white
against the dark of misty woods. Angel
wings, a delicacy in Japan. I picked them,
took them home. The wife of course refused
to touch them. I fed a tiny portion to
the cat. Next morning she climbed purring
into my lap. So I tried a bit of angel
wings myself. They were delicious. I had
a little more. All evening, wife watching me
watching the cat. Next morning dawned
misty pale, the cat was dead. Wife
watching me.


Today’s LittleNip;

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA

it’s become
so easy
to not see them

the homeless

freezing, dying

just turn your head
as you walk by

they’re not there


Our thanks to today’s fine contributors!

Note that there will be NO READING at Sac. Poetry Center tonight; the community is encouraged to hear Forrest Gander at 1000 Mariposa Hall, CSUS, 7:30pm. In other poetry events this week, next Saturday, the Crossroads Reading Series will present four area Poets Laureate, past and present: Andy Jones, Allegra Silberstein, Viola Weinberg, and Indigo Moor, at Poet Laureate Park on Truxel Rd. in Sacramento, 2-4pm. Also on Saturday at 2pm, Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will discuss her process of publishing an Indie book at Avid Reader at Tower on Broadway in Sacramento. And there’s always Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento on Thursdays, 8pm. 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.

This just in: This Friday, 6:30pm, The Good Earth Movement Cooperative in Placerville will host Sacramento poet Shawn Pittard, 250 Main St., Placerville.


 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, January 29, 2017

Watch Out For The Dragon!

Year of the Fire Rooster
—Anonymous Photo

—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA

San Jose is a big town:  lots of people die
here, and the cemetery full of mossy markers
goes on for blocks.      Time on my hands, I

pull in, pass giddy palm trees and patient
evergreens as they arch over graves covered
in plastic roses, pinwheels, party balloons, clouds
of woodsy incense, candles huddled under
an angel’s wing.          One woman

in pink slacks pushes her white hair back
with one hand while she clips long stems
into short, making a tidy bunch to fit the rusty
can sunk in the grass.     I don’t look for

my relatives, but settle down deep into some
daisies on the lawn and watch the Sunday families
come and go, all of us with plenty of time to kill. . .

On the way home, I get caught up in the Chinese
New Year’s parade:  my car slowly snakes between
a smoky red-orange-green dragon and a truck-
load of rowdy teens, who throw firecrackers
when the policeman’s back is turned.

Gung hay fat choy! one of them calls over to me—
                        Watch out for the dragon!



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Language of the Winds

—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visual Provided by D.R. Wagner


I’m not going to watch this.
I’m not going to stand alone.
I’m reaching the edge of town soon
And I can’t recall why I ever came here

And what it looks like
When you’re falling in love.

Everything that I know
Has changed all its clothes.
The places I visit become new
Once again and I can walk
Through them at twilight when
They turn on the lights.
I can see the big wheels
Roll up to the sky where people
Are kissing, where laughter is right,
When it mixes with meaning
When it brings on new life.

I’m seeing you everywhere.  I wear
Out your name.  Every flower
has meaning, every tree can explain.

There we are sleeping.  Now here
We are gone.  I’m living on essence.
I’m drinking up songs.

Here the sounds can expire.
The road still goes on.  It’s not
Blacktop or concrete.  It’s dirt
Just like me.  I’m going to make
Me a fire, rub my horse down
And read.  The stars become
Blue lights that twinkle back on.
I think I’ll sit here till morning.
I think I’ll wait till its gone.



I cannot believe the poetry any longer.
This course of words after words having their
Breathy dance has fallen away from me and I
Can no longer find the secret rooms that once
Held me to their stars and kept me dreaming.
They have become deserts and the ruins of cities.

I pass them here in my tiny apartment and no
Longer see them or, if I do hear them, they do not reach
Me though the years.  I have forgotten how to read.
Or I have gone blind and find only husks of what
I imagined.  They slam against my chest as I try to call
Out.  But they do not come close.

I pull myself into bed without drawing the covers
Over my body.  The lights are out.  I pretend I am alive.

 Community Gardens, Locke, CA


I am not the first one to see
A lion fall from the moon.
I am sure it happens more
Often than one would suppose.

Tonight the moon looks like the body
Of Christ transubstantiated
In the high broken stillness
That punctuates itself with
Darkness and the sound of automobiles
Trying to sound like the water,
Flowing water, but they do not.

And it is not.  It is the moon
Only.  The street paved with tongues.
It seemed we are always trying
To escape in whatever way possible.

Great animals spring directly from
The frontal lobes and are left
To chase 'round and 'round the park
Like old songs being played on radio
Receivers decades after they have
Been popular.  Little churches
Springing up around them the way
Wayside shrines might in the Swiss Alps.

It is a waltz of melancholy and
Thwarted desire manifesting itself
In coded drawings and mythical books,
Science Fiction stories, Horror,
Fantasy and the mysterious, until
One could gather enough knowledge
To turn all those ideas into
Sexual contexts and begin to act
Upon them in new ways that
Have nothing to do with reading or
Literature.  Hiding in the dark
Reading theology, trying to find
The top of the heap.  Then,
Waking up in the middle of the night
With pajamas sticky from wet dreams
And a rosary clutched in a tight fist.


Ramon could speak the language of dragons.
He had learned it many hundreds of years ago.
In the yellow well he had drifted though tunnels
And forests never seen on the face of the earth.
He could speak of the swarming and of the pointed
Tongues and leather wings.  He knew their foibles.

Things seldom went well for dragons.
They came off as too fierce
Or the wrong color
Or with alarmingly bad breath.

Most had boring jobs
Protecting treasures hidden by stories
To await the arrival of a hero of some ilk,
Whereupon they were often dispatched
And promptly forgotten.

They could fly.  That was always
The best part, and Ramon told
Me of this when I was quite young,
Before I traveled to any of the wells
Of Marlee.

They were, for centuries, the memory
The land kept closest to itself, for the trees
Had stopped speaking long before this so that
They might use the language of the winds.

The dragons could recall the wanderers
Of the lowlands and the high and dark places
That once belonged to kingdoms long without
A name to identify them.  They would hold council
And by the fire of their breath talk to those who could
Change the pupils of their eyes from horizontal to vertical
At will.  These creatures somehow shared our blood
And it was they who assigned us to the many tasks
We were committed to in protecting the people
Who lived in the lowlands below the cliffs of Marlee.

The colored wells on the cliff tops were a great
System linked by much magic that was never anxious
To help our troop know the full measure of our jobs.

Still, we were expected to learn the ways of the people,
The customs and traditions of the forest, and to come to know
The deepest of secrets held by the early ones.  The dragons
Were our guides.  It would be many years before I could
Learn a few words of this lore.  We would live for many centuries
In exchange for our service and would eventually only be found
In myths and legends.  We do not expect you to know us
As anything but lights in the deepest of forests.  Hear
The shrieks of the dragons.  Watch them as they gather us
Four times a year to teach what must never be forgotten.

Tonight I stand on the clifftops overlooking the ancient cities,
Watching the night fires flicker in the distances and bring us
The tools of dreaming.  Tonight I am able to speak to you
For a short time.  You will think these stories nothing more
Than fictions birthed in mists and far things.  They are not.
These are true things.  Come here to find our voices, lest
Everything become a madness barely understood by any.


Even these words are silvered
As the evening is silvered.
A quiet accumulation of dove-like
Thoughts flitting through shadows.
Branches of trees too dark
To identify as roads to dreaming.

We get no choir of direction.
Only an indiction toward a center
The night collects to decorate
As avenues of magic and overheard
Discussions of subjects we had
Never wanted to hear on any journey.

There are only handfuls of trees,
The fluttering of these wings.
A language made of night.
We feel our way from trunk
To trunk.  A night circus
Almost devoid of form
Yet an unmistakable pathway.

Bamboo, Locke, CA


The last poem that was this
Beautiful wasn’t allowed to stay
In the world very long.

It was put in a drawer, and later
The house burned to the ground
With the poem in the middle
Of it all.

This one stands a better chance.
It doesn’t have any tricks
Or difficult words in it at all.

It will just sit here before you,
Staring back into your eyes,
And will be far more beautiful
Than anything you’ve ever seen so far.



The morning comes
Struggling to have us believe
Everything is new once again.

All is a new and unblemished kingdom.
We have never walked here before.
We have been told that long ago
All of this was a dream.

Today I will dream you
And I will dream myself
So that we may
Walk together
Along the edge of the sea.

We will be able to sing songs
To one another and listen
To the waves hiss toward our feet.

By evening all will seem
To have been pure magic.
We will pass the gates of sleep
Again.  The morning comes again.
Everything is new once again.

 Today’s LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

One wall was of eyes.
One wall was of thunder.
One wall was of lies.
One wall was of wonder.

One window looked upon the sea.
One window saw the sun rise.
One window looked beyond the trees.
One window looked back inside.

One wall held a painting.
One wall held a clock.
One wall had a doorway,
But the door was always locked.


Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s poems and pix on this, the Year of the Fire Rooster!
For more about Chinese New Year 2017, see www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/spring-festival/chinese-zodiac-years-of-2011-to-2020.htm/, or for a fun slide show, go to www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/754893/chinese-new-year-2017/.

Poet-residents of West Sacramento, Yolo County and the Sacramento Area 15 years and older are encouraged to send poetry on the theme of the river for a sidewalk art project in the Washington neighborhood of West Sacramento. The winning poem will be incorporated with artwork into the sidewalk of E Street between 5th and 3rd in W. Sacramento, in an attempt to draw more visitors to the River Walk. Deadline is 5pm, Monday, January 30—that’s this Monday! The winner will receive $5000! Info: www.cityilights.org/2017/01/03/poetry-requested-for-public-art-project/. My apologies for posting this so late—I just found out about it.



 Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Celebrate poetry in Placerville today, 2-4pm, at 
 Poetic License at the Placerville Sr. Ctr. 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. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Alice on the Barricades

Daleks from Dr. Who
—Poems by Neil Fulwood, Nottingham, UK


“Eck – eck – eck –” You’d think
he’d been presented with a staircase
or a one-in-three gradient. (Allowing,
of course, for the pre-reboot
non-aerodynamic model.)

“Eck – eck – eck –” The Dalek
at the foot of a lighthouse, ski-slope
or queuing for the helter-skelter.
The Dalek at a funfair, soft-play area
or squaring up to stepping-stones.

“Eck – eck – eck –” Zygons
would shrug and get on with it,
Cybermen welcome the work-out,
K-9 laugh at a level playing field
then cut loose with the laser.

“Eck – eck – exter – extermi –
Eck – eck –” There is a Dalek word
for bollocks. There is, on Skaro,
a phrase that roughly translates
as render me unto tinned goods.

The human version is fuck my life.


This has gone beyond
Alice through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole

or wherever else
her misadventures took her.
This is Alice stunned,

Alice in despair,
still wearing a campaign badge
that’s yesterday’s news.

This is an outcome
with no contingency plan,
a never event

recast as headline.
This is ugliness rising,
hatespeak gone mainstream.

This is terminus
and internment camp. This is
Facebook and Twitter.

This is the raised voice,
the repeated phrase, the fist
hammering the air.

This is the past doomed
to flunk its own subject, shoot
itself in the foot.

This is the montage
that will serve as epilogue:
streets choked with tear-gas,

broken glass pavements,
Alice on the barricades;
curfews, martial law,

restrictions, own good,
Alice spraying sedition
on the underpass,

on the railway bridge;
Alice wearing a hoodie,
her face turned away

from CCTV,
something in her hand that flares
as it’s thrown; Alice

on a street corner,
in a bar, on the subway,
receiving something

or passing something,
giving someone a signal;
Alice waiting … waiting.

Alice confident
of the day, the uprising,
the restoration. 

 —Anonymous Photo



We are crammed into a room without windows
where strip lights insist on giving us headaches
like a bustling aunt with a plate of stale biscuits,
not taking no for an answer. We have signed in.
We have introduced ourselves. We have drawn
circles on bits of paper; linked them with arrows.
We are reviewing our normative functions.
We are learning how to soothe the savage breast
of those who yell at us for other people’s mistakes
with the simple application of warmth, congruence
and respect. The trainer asks us what is meant
by congruence. We wonder if he knows himself.

 —Anonymous Photo



… as if they were in flight, drawers
and wardrobe doors left open, burglar alarm
forgotten; one hastily packed suitcase
in the back of a minicab, RyanAir booking
on credit card by way of a false trail
and a train ticket, one-way, bought for cash.

But you’d chase them down anyway,
arrive at the station concerned and breathless,
just in time to stop them boarding.  
So sure you’d made arrangements with them,
baffled that they’d have other plans.

 Alice in a Big Chair
—Anonymous Photo

(after Edip Cansever; for Harry Paterson)

A man budged up in his chair
And made room for his granddaughter,
Read her stories while the fight
Against injustice and the jackboot of politics
Was put on hold. A menagerie
Of stuffed toys joined them on the chair—
Pooh and Piglet and Eeyore, comrades
In the liberation of Hundred Acre Wood.
The stories were filtered through experience
But the chair guaranteed happy endings.

His friends visited. Bottles were opened.
The world was set to rights
But language kept clean for the sake of the bairn.
Books were plucked from shelves
And passages revisited. The chair
Accommodated the burgeoning crowd.
Some kid from the council estate
Read poetry that would have earned him
Broken windows or graffiti. A man
Of the Muslim faith wished peace on all
And was taken at his word.

People leaned against the chair,
Or perched on the creased leather of its arms.
His granddaughter fell asleep
And a blanket cuddled with cartoon characters
Was draped on her and the chair given over.
He thought about friends
He hadn't met yet, other grandchildren.
The expanse of his home and his heart were undoubted.
It was just good manners that his guests
Be seated. He measured the room
And emptied his pockets,
Made provision for a bigger chair.

 —Anonymous Photo

(after the film, Vanishing Point)

It fills the frame,
motion blur wiping the background
into nothing even as the camera
holds steady.

Sunlight prisms
through the windscreen, lens flare
arc-welding the moment in time
and out of it.

The 60s are dead.
Reverse zoom stretches the blacktop
from the bottom of the screen
to a fixed point

between forever
and disappearance. He is a fugitive
from nothing. Or maybe from memory.
Either way,

there is no point
beyond the road itself. The 60s are dead.
There are Jesus freaks singing hallelujah
in the desert

and the 60s are dead.
There are snakes in the desert and the 60s
are dead. There’s a voice on the radio
preaching the scream

of funk and the 60s
are dead. Kowalski, eyes heavy-lidded,
is at the wheel of a 1970 Dodge Challenger,
white in colour,

and the 60s are dead.


Our thanks to Neil Fulwood, poet from Across the Pond, for his comments on our recent attack of the Daleks. According to Wikiquote (for those of you who have been passed by by Dr. Who), "the Daleks are a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, created by the megalomaniacal scientist Davros of the planet Skaro to be an emotionless ‘master race’ bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse." Neil was featured on Medusa’s Kitchen on June 24, 2015.

Today’s LittleNip:

The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.

—John Lennon



 Celebrate poetry (and clear your head of chaos) tonight 
by heading over to Davis to hear Susan Kelly-DeWitt 
and Carlena Wike read at The Other Voice, 7:30pm. 
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. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Bell Rock Lighthouse, 1819
—Painting by J.M.W. Turner


Emily spurned
all other artists
in her art thesis
but Turner
whom she adored
as much as Blake
and the Dutch masters
such as Vermeer
another Romantic
a generation later
in a metamorphosis
shaping our critical future.

 Still Life With Le Figaro
—Painting by William Hartnett


Down the long corridor
fascinated by
William Hartnett
like his still life
clarinet paintings played
over instrumental themes,
a violin hanging
onto a door
with a torn piece
of sheet music
others as a Dutch Jar
and a Bust of Dante;
Cigar Box, Pitcher
and "New York World";
Lobster and Pester Lloyd

or Still Life With Le Figaro;
another of Havana cigars
or Le Mot d'Or
at the back of the museum
by rack pictures of Peto
a possible mentor
but no imitator of tabletop
we decide to stop
at this innovative
persuasive inventor.

 Job Lot, Cheap
—Painting by John F. Peto


It was a D.C. dawn
by the National Gallery museum
outside it is snowing
minding my own business
after my slumbering dream
feeling stress in a faint
needing a cheese croissant
with an omelette
and two cups of green tea
as a jazz poet takes out
to play riffs on his alto sax
from his pea jacket pocket
with a map and address
going up and down the street
to take a look at a still life
by John Peto
without regret
saw an early painting
Fruit, Vase and Statuette
and a chaotic jumble of books
piled in an enigmatic heap
called Job Lot, Cheap
and "rack and door pictures"
shaped in tatters
scattered in frayings
and scuffs
in the rough-and-ready
from a painter's steady hand
yet to Peto it all matters
as I begin to awaken
at his rack and porous pictures
like at the back
his Tea Cup and Slice of Cake
as the chorus of sun pours out
from feeding the birds
from an all-blue sky
my words roll out
for an early reading
in Washington's capital
of our country.

 David Jones


All the varying magnetism
in his minimalism of painting,
amid the anchors
of an enigmatic plastic art
and anachronism of history,
David Jones emerges
as literary genius
trying to sum up the age
with thumbs-up
to every contrary audience
of the nations
at a religious variance
by the silence of variations
in his legendary mysticism
as In Parenthesis
to glimpse Celtic poetry
with the Imperial Roman,
Saxon, Welsh, Western,
in a poetic forum
of facts on the archaeology
theology, architecture
in an editorial to sum up
the psychology, anthropology
in the artifacts and dry bones
covering over a memorial
of a culture's intimacy reaching
as our own bard's
extraordinary inner psychology
in parts of a dramatic verse
of man's hardened
lost humanity
in the cross-hairs of horrors
of the First World War
in a span of a sorry sighting
from lairs in the near and far
of Flanders Field
he abides as heroic author
in our own English literature
relating to a modernist
who atones
in his own conversation
and Christian conversion
from a vision
not locked in stone
from his boasting soldiers
shields of a Holy Ghost faith
from a poet running into
all of politician's betrayal
and reward by holding onto
a poet's sword of the spirit
from a Holy Grail
which deposits
his last breath and blood
reflecting a heroic epic battle
in the muddy flooded dunes
between the English and Welsh
in an itinerary of "Y Gododdin"
with strident actuality
and vibrant sacramental reality
from his holy water
vessel of the Church
in his hands he ventures out
with a missal
and searches with slings
at the battle of Catraeth
taking his legendary wings
with Malory's Morte D'Arthur
in his own pastoral version
of Eliot's Wasteland
from his emerging reputation
and his accidentally iconic
legendary Anathematata
Jones never boasting
like Esau
with prudent discipline
but is humble in the law
as he gave and forgave
his enemies
in a vision of his own salvation
and from his expiation of sin
telling of the consecration
in details of the Mass
which encompasses history
in a fragmentary paradox
as he completes an epic
not seen since
Milton's Paradise Lost
and in his folio art
going back to the ancients
which rends to our history
by caves and rocks
of Lescaux
(whom like Marcel Proust
or BZ Niditch)
confounds the language
in remnants to save
and sum up the age
of homo sapiens.

—Still from Video by Jaime Davidovich


A thorn on the side
of a great painter
of minimalism
and activist of surrealism
visits us
in Argentina
at Cabaret Voltaire
his Dada performance club
with imitations of Evita
to rub on his colorful
vocal canvas
setting off explosions
in lyrical, sexual, intellectual
texts of his own notions
over walls, out of doors,
covered sidewalks
floors, alleys, local galleries
over a sheet
with his video camera
always ready
as an installation artist
to light up in hallways
as in Road in 1970
or on 3 Mercer Street.

—Painting by Jan Styka 


A slippery art
tarnished on
a slippery nightmare
after eyeing Munch's
of unfinished wet dream
in a long distress
at The Bald Soprano
well acted as memory
in Ionesco's reception
releases in awareness
filling her limpid eye
in knots of the modern
what brushes by us
as we rush by
in our art's stroll
we quote Eliot and Auden
dispersing an outcry
in a promise of Iris
and gentian, gladioli
in a fifth column
aching to flee
arts as a foreign body
at a metamorphosis
in an exiled love
from a metallic kilometer
above neurasthenia fields
from a sighing voyage
as Ulysses with shields
with his poetic utility
of miles out to sea
vibrating by the pier
of fishing nets
Penelope waiting
with many regrets
holding onto
a blue fish vase
with ship phantoms
in a motionless
wishing-well hour
to support gestures
from the underground
with wonder saves
as our culture shapes us
in Picasso's geometric art
from our enigmatic century
in a sound and fury
to tempt the waves.

 Bigger Trees Near Warter
—Painting by David Hochney


Not going by the rules
when you were obsessed
with the dead flowers
given by the showboat boys
of Fire Island
doing his last June paintings
of David Hockney
hearing Judy Garland tunes
perhaps your world
collapses in your praxis
of language
or those days were just nuts
ignoring the parrot
you got for Christmas
half in laughter
for someone in the village
who was always after you
to do his portrait
in language of "No reply"
waiting with
street smart chaps
for a couple of taxis
to go to uptown Manhattan
in his familiar pattern
to give a public reading
you believed you knew it all
believed it all
saw it all
dreaded it all
will not collapse
hidden on a blanket
but David Hockney
you will now outlast
us all.

(James Schuler founded the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, Maryland in 1959 to teach students the methods and techniques of the Old Masters.)

 Ohuva Ozeri


We all cried
feeling helpless
to wail the night through
when Ohuva Ozeri died
this December
but blessed to remember
and hear her as she sang
"The Flowers of the Valley"
in Hebrew
this former Yemenite woman
introduced by the Indian
drummer of Ravi Shankar
of the Bulbul Tarang,
Ohuva Ozeri
a pioneer of Israeli music
and a composer on the banjo
combining African,
Indian and Yemeni
Arab and Asian melody.

 John Cage


of painting history
from the factors
of Warhol's factory
in its faint risibility
of comic oboes,
auras of conceptual
mutual happenings
in acts of dramatics
passes as art's
attic journeys
in faculties
to laugh at our era
at the obliquity
of our theater
here after.

—Painting by Alphonse Mucha 

(for Geoffrey Hill,

Haughty Salome
in naughty epicenter
ancient histories
Kant or cant
from our enemies
in your respectful
as ladies snap
their fancy umbrellas
on Jews who can ill afford
visiting their galleries
you exposed
the fascist vagaries,
the cantos of Pound
sounding like Henry Ford
from wonders
of the underground
starting from the upstart
Herod's initiation
and invitation
to rebuild Jerusalem's walls
in the clamor and glamour
of humiliation
looking forward
to liberation
at our savior's death
from imperial gangs
vaporous gangs
of Germanicus guards
playing dice
gambling for our lives
taking the night off
to meet up for Jesus.


Today’s LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

In the gallery's perspective
watching her painting
Shenandoah Valley
art discloses
a larger retrospective
of Grandma Moses.


—Medusa, with thanks for B.Z. Niditch for his fine poems this morning! For more about Welsh Poet David Jones, go to www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/david-jones/. For more about David Hockney’s current exhibit in Australia, see www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/art-and-design/article/five-pieces-see-david-hockneys-current/. For more about the current Chicago retrospective of the videos of Argentinian artist Jaime Davidovich, see www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-jaime-davidovich-threewalls-review-20150319-column.html

 —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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Toying With Hearts

—Poems by Linda M. Crate, Meadville, PA
—Photos by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA


disappearing act

i'm the crack on the wall
because even the
fly is noticed,
and as i move no one else makes
a response,
as if they couldn't care less
should i fall off the
face of the
i hear obnoxious laughter and whispered
stories and some obviously loud
drunk screaming something
that her friend is trying in vain to hush
her over,
and i wonder if there is a place for me
to disappear here;
push aside
the wall
pretend that i was never there
it's not as if they'll notice
they never do—
just a face without a name,
and those are never recalled in stories unless
of course there's some rich story to
accompany it;
but i am soft-spoken and quiet
especially when in the midst of cogs who know no better
than to simply turn.


when we were friends

i remember
going-away party
we were/are
still friends,
and there was cake to be had;
you wore his shoes
and he wore
i had vodka mixed with lime and a glass
of red wine,
and laughed entirely too hard at
nathan's joke;
and he apologized insisting he hadn't meant
to kill me or break me as my giggle-fit
made me breathe like someone
suffering from asthma as
i couldn't remember how to behave like a proper
human being—
but still you didn't tire of me
everyone just laughed
at my
and i was wearing my purple rose earrings
hair pulled back;
admiring your beauty and strength and ability to throw
together a party when i don't think i could do
all that in a thousand years
my anxiety ever-present except when i was
with you.


awkward throat punch

that rehearsal dinner was
considering both my ex and i
were in the wedding,
and the first thing i wanted to do upon
seeing him was throat punch
i had to hide in the bathroom
endure it for the sake
of my friend,
the bride;
and sat at a different table
the entirety of the
until he was gone and i could breathe
but not before
the well-meaning woman helping to
orchestrate the wedding tried
to make me walk back through the aisle
with my ex,
and even though sam lightened the mood
screaming “playa” playfully;
i could feel the cold dread in my veins
but that was righted before
he left—
i have never been so happy to see someone
leave before.


once i did love you

i loved you once
don't remember
it much any more
enjoy speaking of
my pain and your monstrosity
as some form of catharsis
that keeps me from
slipping beneath the indigo waves
of my deepest despair and the
black crescendo of my darkest, angriest
there's a part of me that loves you still
i knew that when my heart leaped
into my throat when i saw you and i could not
think straight
simply ran into the bathroom for a moment's peace—
hearing your voice was enough to send me
flying into a rage,
and i couldn't fathom how we were going to get through
this wedding without some form of drama;
but we both survived
i cannot say that i was unscathed
as old feelings resurfaced that i had to smother
because you married another—
the very girl you cheated on me with.

 Homage to Mapplethorpe

i tried to save you

once i had a dream
you were going
to hell,
and i wanted so badly to save you;
because i still loved you
even when you shot that letter of stinging
words straight through my heart
so i reached out to you
for naught, for naught,
you never
and my despair turned to rage
because who would willingly choose the
but your heart is cold, distant, and detached
cold and empty of any emotion
i suppose when you cannot
feel it doesn't really matter where you go
because it all feels the same.


one day you'll suffer 

my eyes
warned my mind to move,
but my legs felt slow
as if in some war
with me
to make me be braver than i
the flight won rather than the fight
because sometimes love is
especially when the man you love
is someone you knew never
who is finding romance in the arms of another
he claimed completed him—
maybe it was cruel of me to laugh when
you were called a "playa" but it's
and you should know toying with hearts is no
minor offense;
one day this regret i feel will be yours
as she tears away your heaven,
making it hell.


Today’s LittleNip:

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

—G.K. Chesterton


—Medusa, with thanks to today’s contributors!

 (Anonymous Quote and Photo)
—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. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When I Was a Crane

—Poems by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
—Original Art by Joyce


the swans are crying unto the northwest
in bright sunlight
the ragged V of them
pointing the way through winter

you hear them see them first call me out
to say See! and we stand watching
turning like figures of a wind-vane
our hands in salute to shade our eyes

the swans stretching out their long bodies
are making such strange little cries
my innermost Oh! leaps up in sadness for them

the wind has glitters of ice in it
the swans have found their way over
morning is sharp as glass upon us

(first pub. in New Salt Creek Reader)

               “Your own shadow sits in silent study”
                                     —Charles Simic

You sit in your yellow shadow in brazen sunlight,
haunted by the dark eyes of my watching. You
glow for me, now that you are aware of
my staring. You almost burn with the
shimmer of blindness—how can I
turn away?—I have yet to love
you. The light forms around
you with such fierceness.
I must penetrate the light
with my possessive eyes.
You emanate and draw me
in. Now I am in the blaze with
you—the web of sunlight holding
us together till I am merely a vibration and
you are a stunning presence waiting to absorb me.



Somehow the dream does not hold past the dreamer.
Her relinquished sleep is in shreds.

Morning is acute with gray light through which
a dark invisible bird is somehow singing.

The trees quiver apart and shadows flutter out . . .
nothing is as certain as such astonishment.

A black cat walks across the pavement,
avoiding the lines. Perhaps it is a superstitious cat.

The dogs from next door begin their tedious barking;
there are no more roosters in the neighborhood.

In the kitchen, the windowsill figurines
begin their daily routine of watching her.

A telephone rings from so far away
it takes one ring too few for her to reach it.


stories of love
that’s what they are

and the
readers and watchers
believe the stories and
fall into their spell

changing their expectation
to the plot direction
of the stories



she is nude
in the open window of her life
making a face at the world
laughing at its outrage
shouting obscenities at it
when it dares to presume upon her
with its eyes

she is older each morning
watching herself grow heavy
before the daily mirrors
watching herself
the way life watches art

her sensitivities are wound
like wings in web
she flails and struggles
she stays calm
she thinks her way out of
her predicament

each day she admires another layer
her laughter shines like
dew upon the web
her clever escapes
are what she sings about

(first pub. in Dusty Dog, 1991) 

After Georgia O’Keefe (blue woman)

There are many like you :
woman without strings,
woman estranged
from the old notions of ownership.

You move in feather-light
and blaze of color,
twisting yourself into a dance
free of metric direction.

Color swirls around you,
alive with your power.
You are becoming new shape
and song—your own.

Stillness waits,
watching your intensity
like a mirror waiting to catch you.
though you are beyond mirrors.



When I was that crane, stand-
ing in my perfect balance, in
a shallow field-lake, and the
stillness held me—forever,
that long moment—as long
as a glance, and a gray wind
ruffled against me as I stood
watching my ruffling shadow,
and I let myself be taken by
the admiration of others watch-
ing me—I knew I was doomed.
I knew I would have to lift,
suddenly and alone, into time’s
sad distance, would have to
leave my perfectly balanced
shadow behind and never return
to this one last field of
swayed and deciphering grasses,
that I would startle and feel
my own life hollowing-out
as the small field disappeared—
where would I go?  How would I
not grieve for this?  For all
my life, I had been taken ser-
iously as a thing of beauty—
to view from afar—in passing.
Is that not still true, oh, van-
ishing small fields?  Is that
not still true?

(first pub. in In the Grove, 1999)


It’s bird in flight
we marvel at—
not bird on ground,

in hop,
in strut,
in awkward walk—

the pecking motion
of the head—but bird in
sky—on wing—outspread



In the painting, the children are asleep in the quiet
afternoon. They lie across each other like tossed dolls—
two rumpled girls, having worn themselves out talking
and giggling. And now the hour loosens its light around
them and they stir; they realize I am watching them,
though I have been sitting here, drowsily, making sketches.
It is as if they knew I would come and find them there. It is
how they look at me. They rise from their sweaty pillows
and move, dream-like, toward me, their eyes holding my
eyes, their faces strangely serious, and when they reach me,
they take my hands and draw me back with them toward
the shaded porch. But we must hurry, for a border is closing
in around us—a feeling only, for the yard stretches clear to
the formless and spacious end of itself. I do not speak to
them for I do not want to break the curious spell of their ac-
ceptance of me. They pull on my hands to get me to go
faster—the day’s light is changing and they seem alarmed.
Insistently tugging, they keep looking up at me, and I realize
they are pulling me from a familiar distance that has separ-
ated us until now. I move without sensation. For a moment I
wonder if I should be afraid of them. Now we have reached
the house—still not having spoken—where they pull me in-
side the old screened porch where we lie down together—
three time-blessed children, asleep in the quiet afternoon.


Fragmentary. This old light out of older light. Repetitions.
Believe in it. Let it lead you into its farther self. You can
go as deep as you dare. Its name is night. It has many stars.
Count them. Take forever. A child sits watching you, blow-
ing soap bubbles into planets. Wings without angels fly
everywhere. Oh, this is such a night. Go with joy, that old
foe of sorrow. Tell the child not to cry. The child does not
listen. The child rubs an old tear into its eye, watching you
for pity. You are both lost and at home in this night-city
which has opened up its wing for you. Do not try to under-
stand this—you are not here. The child has dreamed you.
Hold the child until you die.

(first pub. in Blue Violin, 1999)


Today’s LittleNip:


—Joyce Odam

two sleepers
          by owl-edge        
                        eye between

watching the night
         move through them        
                        like dreams


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and pix! Her swans, her crane and her crow (and is that an owl in the LittleNip?) triggered thoughts about the meaning of wings, so our new Seed of the Week is Wings. The more you list, the more you can think of: birds, butterflies, bugs, airplanes, angels. Icarus. Zeus. The Internet (cyberwings). Paul McCartney’s group. Mendelssohn’s “On Wings of Song”. Surely you can think of more!—though of course your mind will leap out of this boring daily concrete into the soaring metaphoric. 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 to choose from.


Celebrate your 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.