Friday, October 13, 2017

Light Bulb Psalms

Walking in Orange Light
—Poems by Judy Katz-Levine, Norwood, MA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


The electric blues guitar solo inspires a mocha grande high
smartphone photo of the pick-up date who will become a lover
a black baseball cap with dark sunglasses animates
silver earring like full moons of the woman with silver hair and she nods
and the dialogues ride a roller coaster of autumn light
the waiter in black T-shirt with a goatee smiles as he scoops ice
to the gospel tune and he will win the lottery, maybe
pregnant mothers drink chai—their children with huge almond eyes
jump and run—run up to a coffee saint and run away
the laptops are mute as mimes who put their invisible cups
to invisible lips
silence comes and goes—now the murmur of an old man
who blows a kiss to the woman with moon earrings as he walks
out the door into the sun
and a feather of a pigeon floats over the chessboard table—
inviting stares of great innocence



A door opens just slightly, a friend.
The dark and bloody moon that sobs.
A sprig of mint in the kitchen, roots.

We have something to say which is like
the strings on a harp.

The torn branch like the torn body heard
collapsing in a hurricane.

A door opens and just a triangle of light, a friend.
The lips that remain sealed...

But we continue to hear—
harp strings vibrate the secret into our bones.

There's the fire—we toss our letters that burn
but the signs within them sing as ash lifts.

The bruised face that cries.
But we will receive their hands holding ash and light.
A door opens just barely, a warmth, a half-grin.

 Out for a Walk


Austere glare of noon
the most profound grin
could you remember
that moment when a
thought like a canoe
drifted to an island there
a red-tailed hawk poised
on an aspen lifted and rose
into sky, and your hands
trembled, a star at dusk
the face of someone lost
drifting away       returns
with a kiss like a dragonfly
landing on your arm
with iridescent cobalt
wings, and a message—
rise and be counted, rise
and speak, rise
over the water
austere glare of noon
a star at dusk
we never capture
what is given to us
as freely as
the lift of an iridescent
crimson dragonfly
or the reflection of a leaf
in the eye of a hawk
we move slowly
wanting to stir the waters
we kiss a vision
and embrace the glare of noon



Uncaught wanderings in light bulb psalms
the way of moths in their unheard sanctuaries
their silent cries but there are human beings reaching
through the fences with vessels of water
and the eyes glistening with the desire to rescue
those who can no longer utter a blues
some took a wrong turn in the avenue, who,
hidden in the room with a dim light, will unravel
their one healing palms stolen



In this text that flies there is a human whisper
because the mouths that are open search
caught songs burst like pods of milkweed
and you and I can only kneel in the passing
because the mouths that are open translate
the language of grass the language of willow
strangely we take each other's hands in our own
fiery lights in the cobalt fiery writing in the sapphire
in this text that flies there is a thrown sign
we kneel before immense cisterns and the gusts
come shaking our frail but fiery limbs



We would glance at the way the light rose over our hands
and in the autumn the pearl black eclipse of a dream
came so suddenly and someone was so thoughtful to grasp
the image of a brother who was on the road, a delicate
feather in his pocket, he was one who could sing extraordinary
ballads to an audience in a tavern, and then the rose in his lapel

 One of the Boys of Summer


No one is every really forgotten.  There are kayaks that come
in the night and take the diminished ones to a blue forest.  No
one is really ever disappeared.  The floods come and lights
are snuffed but the names rise like smoke of sage to the lips. 
A fever came, and a child dreamed of being with a very
illuminated mother, and her name was taken, and her hand
trembled and fell against a boulder.  She is with me, and she
is humming a tune she heard, a gospel, "Angels Watching
Over Me”, and though her father's truck was caught in a
tornado of rising water by the bridge, she has come over. 
And we all remember her name, Rafaela, every one of us
remember Rafaela Ann Costas, the girl who sings in English
and Spanish, there by the high grasses under the one star
without a name we can remember.

 Three Sisters


I listen for the way sand pours under the stroke of a series of whistling hands.
We were always protecting one another from a hidden intention which I won't even mention.
Instead the cirrus blinding the tongues which insinuated harm.
And we became more loving, even, more capable of the rescue of a suicide of a young
Forsythia.  And because I saw it all, I was able to act, was able to bring the bandages and balm
gestating in a simple syncopation from the tune called "Night And A Crescent Moon Of Yearning".
No one will ever know how hard I fought to keep you alive.

 Evening in Wm. Land Park


We were never angry.  In the terrible years we summoned
the most unusual jokes from the cerulean dusk.  Our hands,
veined with age, became promises under ferns.  Bridges
made of human bodies in a dance of torn fates gave us
passage.  We journeyed from one dream to another, we
were never upset.  Instead, we came to this house of texts
written in night breath.  It was mysterious, how we smiled,
how we grinned, in the face of hurricanes, how we gave
from full pockets, or empty hands.  The broken lampposts
still glowed, because we could not become irate, in any
way.  We lifted our arms high, our hands towards the moon. 
Was it a turning towards the first spider web we had ever
seen, glistening against a door filled with light?  A song
that said, we were not the dust in the corners of a broken
house?  We, even in hospital beds, were able to jest, and if
there was a drop of honey to spare, we gave it to someone
walking along a path, where human beings made bridges
of their bodies and a tenor singing in the distant meadow
at midnight, knew.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Judy Katz-Levine

Midnight solos inhabit my hands
a teacher had a dream of blue hydrangea
it was my garden, my cascade of double-time jazz


Our thanks to Katy Brown for today’s fine autumnal photos, and welcome to Judy Katz-Levine! Judy is an internationally published poet whose collections include
Ocarina, When The Arms Of Our Dreams Embrace and When Performers Swim, The Dice Are Cast. She has published new poems recently in Kritya (India), Salamander, Ibbetson Street, Blue Unicorn, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Peacock Journal and several other magazines. A new collection, The Everything Saint, is due out from WordTech LLC in August of 2018. Find our more about Judy at

The El Dorado County Poet Laureate Trail begins tonight at El Dorado County Library, 345 Fair Lane, Placerville, 5:30pm, with Taylor Graham, Kaitlyn Stahl, and Kate Wells. And don’t forget that the Davis Jazz and Beat Festival starts tonight at 6:30pm with the Jack Kerouac Poetry Contest winners announced and reading, and music by the Tony Passerell Trio. John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis.

Also tonight: Love Vibes music and poetry in Old Sac, 9-11pm, Greciano’s on Front Street, admission $10. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

And the latest issue of
Ekphrasis, the fine journal of ekphrastic poetry edited by Sacramento’s Laverne and Carol Frith, is now available. For info, see

—Medusa, wishing you a very lucky Friday the 13th!

 Judy Katz-Levine
Celebrate poetry!

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