Monday, August 28, 2017

Eclipses, Earthquakes and Ben-Hur

—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

At first light, I must prepare
for the onset of second dark.
My day moon, you’ll soon bare
your scimitar edge, round, black.

I want you to superimpose,
cross my face with your wayfarer grace.
Lunar rover, waif, repose
your ghost-orb on my crescent face.

Your mouth shies over its overbite
I’d love you to plant hard in my lip.
Devour me whole with my light
as you hush the long sky with one sip.

As you pass over me, my dun,
your darkness I see is not tooth.
Tongue melting the rusk you’ve won
as with glib words made vapor by truth.

Male covers female animal,
yet mastery is not my pride.
I wished for eons you’d slip, all
cool skin, over my burning glide.

Why, just as you’ve enveloped me
in chill, and blindfolded my sight
in the urge that craves obscurity,
must you slip off and leave the light

lit that needed extinguishing?
Sun faints from his day’s own heat.
All solstice, one long anguishing
without your cold darkening, sweet.


—Tom Goff

Above me, nine miniscule clouds
in silver-pink, each one a fish.
This is the Folsom commute
charioteers only would wish.

Nine clouds for each harrowing lap.
Circus Maximus toward home
from work. Sky turns fishes over
per each turn in this mad hippodrome

of craze and race and near-crash.
As this black monster minivan tailgates
and ricochets round me by rash
near-diagonals toward the next side street,

he piles into this lone standing soldier.
Your shield and helm cannot save you.
Still at arms in the V-6’s shadow;
then speed, mass, and impact. Enslaved you,

did it, this empire of commerce,
posing you in your one role frozen,
till you lost the knack for survival?
You weren’t the only one chosen

for stupor or vapor of mind,
caressed into risk by exhaust.
The fish-clouds turn one by one down.
For me the great race is long lost.

Dazed, I’m the slowpoke in the whole pack.
Messala’s ahead. His black horsepower
brawls with Ben-Hur’s white sedan.
Each car’s a demolishing tower,

raging, rampaging the field.
The steel peloton long since lapped me,
yet I have to watch mirrors and blind spot
in case unseen sideswipes yet slap me.

Let the hero and villain contend
for the whip hand, butt end and lash.
I’m content to lose all but my life
or my car in the scuttling slash.

Now I end up hands frantic, still steering
my wheel. Naked engine block, drive train.
The whole rear sheared away, my legs dangle.
On white sand I trail a red stain.

—Photo by Christian DeLaO, Sacramento, CA


—Tom Goff

All light is crumbled powder since you left,
the powder we call pollen lifeless dust.
Without you, birds take wing more slow, less deft,
their song reduced to shrieks and squawks of lust.
The round of this world without unearthly you
has lost its stained-glass color-flare at dawn;
sweet dawn itself’s diminished to steel blue,
metallic stains and odors on each lawn.

Your farewell lesson for me is but this:
the grind of degradation—light to powder,
powder to dirt and sand, to ash that sand—
means life was never one pressure toward the kiss,
the coupling of sweet flesh, with godly power
to push back dying in the youngest hands.

You go, I shrivel; life knows one thing, to chafe.
No more than bring you back may I keep you safe.


—Tom Goff

And below a rock shelf, my dog
making his own swirls, mud, eddies.
He’ll come out shaking, sharing.
                                    —Taylor Graham

I’ve always wondered how dogs shake,
themselves: no, earthquake, tremor all over.
I’d push vertebrae and neck close to Point Break
if I tried. Wholehearted as any rover,
I’ve never clamped jaw to shook squirrel
or made rag-dolls of rabbits. What whirl
or shimmering water-shimmy I can make
tells me dogs are onto a great something.
Intuitive beyond humans in at least one thing:
They’re breaking off bits of water-shine to share.
Do we so kindly rent room-pieces of lair?
Dogs must discern as do the French—say, Proust—
when lagoon, pond, Lucerne, comprise a fine piece of water.
Each piece of water they doff is diamond dust.
Sun-melt of the finest water, this showplace.
Generous shaggy unspooling of each loosed
blessing offshaken from the aspergill…
How should I respond to flung samplings of this glowplace?
Whether in attitudes of thrill or chill,
say thank you, you wag. Receive grace, the only must. 

—Photo by Cynthia Linville 

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

               September 5, 1881


"I love agitation
and investigation
and glory
in defending unpopular truth
against popular error"


"Instead of saying
'Guiteau the assassin',
they will say
'Guiteau the patriot' "


            September 7, 1881


"It is refreshing to get
where I can look at the sea"
"I have always felt that the ocean was my friend"
"and the sight of it brings rest and peace"


When I survived that shipwreck last year
I knew that I had a divine mission
to carry out


            September 10, 1881


The members of the Cabinet
came to Elberon today,
they reported on their departments
rather than in a group meeting

Windom of Treasury
and Postmaster General James
reported they were establishing
Civil Service exams in their departments


"That the President,
under the manipulation
of his Secretary of State,
has been guilty
of the basest ingratitude to the Stalwarts,
admits of no denial"

—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Ludwig von Beethoven used to stroll daily in
The Vienna Woods for inspiration true

Before the area was threatened by urban sprawl

Forests were inundated with all five senses of
Trees such as beech, oak, cedar, spruce, and yew

Before their names populated maps and atlases, et al.

Ludwig recorded and shared all his sensory feelings
By jotting down notes both happy and blue

Without requiring the purchase of batteries at the mall

—Photo by Christian DeLaO


Up all night trying and trying
Infernal dead-end streets
That’s not going to work
No, not that either

Applied cool analysis:
Key part missing?
Design flaw?
Pilot error?

Got a fresh night’s sleep
Retraced my steps
Started from square one again
“Slower pace, forget the race”

Oh, duh, my bad
How incredibly, awfully stupid!
The flat end of the USB cord
Was plugged in backwards

But it fit!!  How could that be??
Usually with plug and play connections
Items must be facing the right way to fit
So one can easily check just by feel

Here this one connection requires
Removal of the blindfolds
And activation of the optic
Data retrieval system I was born with

Now the computer finally recognized
my new All-In-One printer, fax, copier,
scanner, toothbrush, Black Ops (don’t ask)
That was easy.



TV off, cellphones muted
Household asleep, except for a
Persistent knocking sound
From the standup freezer

Like when the toe
Of your sturdy hiking shoe
Hits a small stone
Knocks if off the trail

And it ricochets down
A steep canyon wall
This way, that way, another
Longer than one’s attention span

Okay, that finally stopped
Now all is quiet, good night…
Then a crescendo of trucks,
Trains, planes, motor bikes

Deliver waves of rumble
Transforming peaceful dreams
Into wide-eyed alerts
Good morning!

1940 Dodge, 


as i was writing
i used the term,

“In retrospect” 

at my age now,
everything i do
is done

bridges to cross,
mountains to climb,
not in front

so no matter what
i write,
from here on in,
it's faded,
damn blurry
and forgotten quickly

it's all
nothing more
than a backward glance 

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA


Today’s LittleNip:
Before the sun goes down

I’ll lay my wildflower hand
in your hand’s white wicker basket

and bold—tender—shy I’ll encircle you
as day and night would encircle
the trees of the day and night

and my kisses will live like birds on your shoulder

—Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen (trans. from the Norwegian by Nadia Christensen)


Our thanks to today’s variety of poems and photos in the Kitchen, as we continue to celebrate poetry (and the eclipse) in photos and verse! Readings in our area begin tonight as Placerville presents its Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Ctr on Spring St. from 6-7pm; then Sac. Poetry Center presents Erin Rodoni and Gillian Wegener (plus open mic) in Sacramento, 7:30pm.

On Tuesday from 6-7:30pm, Carmichael Library will host an Open Mic For Poetry and musicians. Then on Thursday, Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will read and her husband, Michael, will present music at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe (plus open mic), 8pm.

Friday is a Good Earth Movement Coop event in Placerville, featuring Barbara West plus open mic, 6:30pm. Barbara has a new book coming out from Cold River Press, and will have advance copies available that night. 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.

Laverne Frith has two recent reviews published at
New York Journal of Books: Mary Jo Salter's The Surveyors at and Michael McGriff's Early Hour at


 Sac State Sign
(Celebrate Poetry High-Impact Areas!)
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

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.