Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Singing Through My Reluctance

Orange Poppy
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Today is still gray with winter.
April is next—taking its time.

For days rain has owned the world
—the old wet world.

The tireless rain keeps filling the rivers.
Hillside houses slip a little.  Gulls circle.

Clouds flood the sky—near and distant.
Heavy.  Dark.  And gray.

Levees hold—or give a little
—unseen, but felt in apprehension.

Streets puddle.  Cars slosh through.
Red sirens echo like howls of pain. 

Somewhere, a familiar sorrow
makes its way home . . . stays forever.



You said it would be with bells
that you came ringing to my side;
you said it would be with a heart full
of festive butterflies to my heart winging . . .

I polished the silence for your tonguing sound
and let the eager flowers fill my eyes . . .
you said it would be with bells! with bells!
with butterflies and bells! but you have not arrived.


I know how she does her garden every day.
Mornings at her window, looking out upon
the singing of the birds, I know how her
two shrubs cast their shadows by the door,
and how the tree responds to breezes;
I know the habit of the neighbor’s cat
who walks across the lawn, and the watchful
way she measures that against the habits of birds.
I know how the iris look in sunlight and the
roses look in shade, and the way each purple iris
has a slightly different shade though growing
side by side. I know how she goes out to check
the flowers and the changing tones of day,
and how the seasons of the garden drift away.


Now she will get up from her chair and dance;
it is a myth that she is this heavy and this old.

Sunshine has lowered to the window, and the
bells of evening fill her with surprise.

Her door will open and a gold air will pull her
from her dark room and her awful chair.

The gold air will pull her into the sunlight
that is low enough to touch.

She will go into its energy with all her light
and be new again, as once she was.



I will be the source of your discovery.
Come find me:

I am sitting at a small round table with a white tablecloth
waiting for a white cup of House Blend coffee to cool.

I inhale its steam and close my eyes.
I drift away from the moment and wait for you.


I heard the birds singing today
under my sadness
and I said,
Should I believe in spring?
Permit feeling?

And the birds were oblivious
to my thought
and they sang in the tree
by my house
where I hung clothes
under a cloudy sky
and I said,
Should I believe
in possibility?
This singing is so pleasurable.

And the birds
sang through my reluctance
to permit joy to enter my heart
and I said,
Should I permit my heart to
open to anything again?

And the birds
continued singing
in the tree by my house
and I said,
Should I linger at this chore
and enjoy the singing?
And the birds continued,
oh, continued, singing.


Up close, the slow boats on the
   tranquil water, passing each
      other in layered perspectives,
         the boats anonymous

The far off mountain sleeps
   under the flat sky—this is
      a year among years—
           time protects the boats
                 and the tranquil water

The day drones on,
   the boats seem to not move
      but they are moving—through
         the daylight—gazing—grazing
             toward the sleeping mountain.

 Orange Petals


Lest I regress to some old meaning
less desired
old scriptures lost

burdens of cost
old blunders

poor rhyme not wanted here
slant or pure
all layers intertwined

but my heart and soul can overflow
at the sight of pink blossoms
in the moody month of March,

how the quickened feeling
of hope
can change the air—

but more like the close call
of some gentle thing
that got away from death,

or the final unwinding of
the endless ball of tangled string
that life depends upon…


Today’s LittleNip:

“flowers were dressed in nothing but light.”
                                               —Mary Oliver

It was
as if the light
gave itself away to
everything—especially the

(first pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a beautiful bouquet of poems and flowers, as Persephone struggles to get above ground during these tenuous days of spring. Our new Seed of the Week is The Challenges of Breeding. (Yes, breeding.) 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 a might-ee-fine selection.


 Celebrate poetry and challenges (!) 
and the return of Persephone!

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, February 27, 2017

Blind Mice & the Buckeye

—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

—Don Feliz, Sacramento, CA

Red rain of dread fell for a month
on outsiders and blue urbanites
marching throughout the nation.

Floods swept unprotected travelers away,
heavens bled nightmares of doubt
on massing threats to the czar’s reign.

Rain only fogged gullible vision
of bumpkin-land basking in assured
retro-wish fulfillment while,

above the mist, oligarchs and plutocrats
enjoyed gleaming gold rays
sparkling from shards of

shattered under-class dreams.

 Creek With Washed-Out Bridge
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

For years I have covertly
Inserted my personal touch
Throughout your vocabulary

Now I am so asha_d!!
The ti_ has co_
To leave _ out

I will _et you under
The capitol do_
The epito_ of all that is wholeso_

So we can enjoy the
Aweso_ outco_ of
Ho_ cooked _als

Never will geo_try se_ the sa_
When I no longer
Am the one to bla__

 —Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Privateer

The macro or the micro


poison leaves no trace

liquor may be quicker

even candy can do you in.

Silent and fast

is preferred, even 

a sharp pencil

could be fatal. 


—Ann Privateer

Time's currency
lights the way
forward, nonstop.
Oceans rise and fall
Lovers come and go
yet something
is always there.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Taylor Graham

I found it on an old skid-trail.
Shiny black to fit like obsidian in the hand.
Who lost it on that mountain-misery
hillside where, a summer ago, the fire-dragon
flew its furies all over the forest,
no cosmic wind but tower-thermals, pyro-
cumulus anviling over the summit;
at last, smoky-blue residues
dissipating like an after-whiff
of passion settled into ash,
like a lover’s phone call gone wrong.
I found it, black as char,
lying in a place never meant
for plastic, its memory of static
and words against cheek and ear.
Months or weeks ago,
it gave up calling in rings and chirps
as if to summon the ravens
who always discover what’s lost
or left behind.


—Taylor Graham

Lest the landscape return from pines to blasted
sand and scrub, there’s a bird of the high Sierra—
shiny-black wings and tail, and long pointed
bill. Listen. Clark’s Nutcracker is calling down
kra-a-a-a at us from a treetop. Without him,
certain pines would go extinct. The whitebark,
limber, and piñon have no wings on their seeds.
They need a bird—eating, digesting, sowing
their seeds on suitable ground.

I’ve learned other mysteries under the halcyon
heavens: how granite boulders send telegrams
almost to-the-moment transmitting news across
canyons and ridges, miles away. While I’m
asleep, what else is happening without my
knowing? Even the tick, the flea, and the stick-
tight may have something to recommend them.
What weed, what pebble on our five acres
shall I seek for guidance?

 Buckeye Leafing
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

In Alaska, spring was breakup
of a winter’s ice and snow. Here, it’s that
big old limb from the birds-eye oak broken off,
lying between two forks of our little
seasonal creek that flooded overnight, a lake
above our driveway culverts, our drive-
way part of the lake.
Loki and Trek chase each other
through storm-wet grass; stop abruptly
at the right-of-way fence; bark madly. Across
the road, a pack of mud-brown dogs
dashes down-creek—chasing
traffic on Green Valley? wild dogs bucking
leaping springing, running full-tilt
for the sea. No dogs, it’s just Dry Creek
on the other side. We never see it
except in flood. This afternoon, or maybe
tomorrow, our lake will recede
downstream, we’ll get across our seasonal
creek where the buckeye’s
leafing out so it must be spring.


—Taylor Graham

In a back corner of the closet you found
tattered blueprints but no sonogram
of the old house opening doors in the dark
before dawn, after tremors—the quake,
the thunder that is Spring. Nighttime
vocals? maybe the bald-pate oak wrenched
from its connector roots above the pond.
Geese in pairs honk over new-cloven roof.
Everything is ripple, wave, and echo
of life that’s gone on, quiet or in hubbub
since before you came; winging outward,
downstream, disappearing into sky or sea.


—Taylor Graham 
The historic old house is in ruins,
the ghost haunts her dead attic.
Let her rest. I didn’t come for her,

but for Spring rising up green
in the fields as if to meet two hawks
in their own Spring ritual—

clasped dance of descending spirals
that never quite plummet
to earth. Somewhere beneath,

minute as the focus of an eye,
their prey—vole or mouse—scuttles
through knee-high grass.

What’s to fix in these cycles?
When might the grand old house
open its doors, admit this new Spring?

—Photo by Taylor Graham

Shorts from Election Mother Goose by
Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH:


As the campaign grew longer
the bullshit grew stronger

   Fears and Fears

Donny fears and Hilly's fears
will make us old before our years

   Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on his ass
Humpty Dumpty passed so much gas
Yet all of his name-calling disquisitions
didn't convince anyone to adopt his positions

   See, See

See, see! What do we see?
The electorate's head where its tail should be


Brains, brains, go away,
come again another day;
Little Donny wants to play

(The following were previously published in Bear Creek Haiku)

  Blind Mice

Two blind mice! See how they run!
They both ran after the elected life
And in doing they stirred up strife
Did you ever see such a thing in your life
as two blind mice?

  Hark! Hark!

Hark! Hark! Pundits do bark!
Kleptocrats're coming to town:
some in Jags, some in flags,
and some in designer gown


Today’s LittleNip(s)

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA


How is it, despite your brown hair piled whatever way,
or your unmade-up lips, untucked shirt green-black plaid,
laundered as if in a woodsman’s labor all day,
auroral of aura, you freshen the stagelit play?


Your salt-sweet flesh, in glasslike translucence clad:
dream, you come in clarity I never hoped nor had.
Small-breasted ghost, your ermine skin’s your one array…


Many thanks to all of today’s contributors for cooking us another wonderful Monday-morning breakfast here in the Kitchen! Poetry for this week in our area begins tonight with the Poetry In Motion read-around in Placerville, 6-7pm; then hightail it down to Sacramento to hear Jay Passer and Genelle Chaconas read at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm (plus open mic). Thursday is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, of course, 8pm, with plenty more open mic. Then on Sunday, Mosaic of Voices presents Kenneth Chacón, Marisol Baca, and Michael Medrano at the new Avid Reader location, 1945 Broadway in Sacramento, 2pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Celebrate poetry—and families!

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, February 26, 2017

A Cold Spring

—Anonymous Photo

—Elizabeth Bishop

Nothing is so beautiful as spring. 

            —Gerard Manley Hopkins

A cold spring:

the violet was flawed on the lawn.

For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;

the little leaves waited,

carefully indicating their characteristics.

Finally a grave green dust

settled over your big and aimless hills.

One day, in a chill white blast of sunshine,

on the side of one a calf was born.

The mother stopped lowing

and took a long time eating the after-birth,

a wretched flag,

but the calf got up promptly

and seemed inclined to feel gay.

The next day

was much warmer.

Greenish-white dogwood infiltrated the wood,

each petal burned, apparently, by a cigarette-butt;

and the blurred redbud stood

beside it, motionless, but almost more

like movement than any placeable color.

Four deer practiced leaping over your fences.

The infant oak-leaves swung through the sober oak.

Song-sparrows were wound up for the summer,

and in the maple the complementary cardinal

cracked a whip, and the sleeper awoke,

stretching miles of green limbs from the south.

In his cap the lilacs whitened,

then one day they fell like snow.

Now, in the evening,

a new moon comes.

The hills grow softer. Tufts of long grass show

where each cow-flop lies.

The bull-frogs are sounding,
slack strings plucked by heavy thumbs.

Beneath the light, against your white front door,

the smallest moths, like Chinese fans,

flatten themselves, silver and silver-gilt

over pale yellow, orange, or gray.

Now, from the thick grass, the fireflies

begin to rise:

up, then down, then up again:

lit on the ascending flight,

drifting simultaneously to the same height,

—exactly like the bubbles in champagne.

—Later on they rise much higher.

And your shadowy pastures will be able to offer
these particular glowing tributes

every evening now throughout the summer.



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Achilles Weeping

Fantasy Universe
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Courtesy of D.R. Wagner


As easy as going to sleep allows
The dragons to slip into the room,
Out of the drains, out of those spaces
In your room that only the dark defines,

As easy, a tears find their roads
To the center of the heart where
Our relatives, long gone now, still
Are able to be seen in their earthy
Dress and fine turns of phrase,

As easily as a landscape can turn
From blasted sand and scrub to pines,
Oak and earnest streams hurrying
Down the mountain side intent on descending
As far down them as they are able.

Yes, as easily as all this I find myself
Caught in the scarves, the history of war,
The descent to the shore, where that moon,
Moon, moon, too soon so red, so ruined,
Illuminates the wave tops, opens sleep,

Tears its gardens apart, the dragons
Furious with it all, flying all over the place,
Searching for the realms where they are
Still real, still honored, still part of any world.

 Garden, Bolinas, CA


Moon, moon, moon
Hold it in your hands.
Open up your eyes.
See where it lands.

The dreams are thin,
As if they haven’t been fed
In weeks.  They hover in the room.
Even my skin feels damp.

I open the dwellings
Where I have been afraid
To visit, duck my head,
Smell the damp air.

My clothing has been prepared.
I offer the incense to some
Unknown deity.  I can hear
Its voice welcome me
To another night.  I ask
For sleep.  It closes
Upon me.  I can feel
Its hands, so like your own.

 Pirate Ship


A soft, smokey blue filters through the trees.
It belongs to the silences, composed of the drift
Of conversations since the chariots pulled
Hector’s body round the city.  The same
Whispers Patroclus spoke to brave Achilles
Of the shades’ refusal to let him enter
Hades.  Achilles wept and cut his hair.

Ramon and I went down to the shoreline.
Great ships moved along the horizon ablaze
With lights.  We could hear music coming
From them, so far away.  These sounds wore
The same blue that always visits such things.

Radio static in my headphones, parts of words
In languages I can barely understand.
My mouth filled with a metallic taste.
Ramon said he could see time leaking from my eyes.
Shafts of sunlight began to fall like towers,
Crashing into each other.  static.  static.  static.

Tonight, in the full moon, the great sea
Turtles are hauling themselves up onto the shore.
They move like silvered ghosts across the sand,
Leaving trails of their flipper prints on the beach.
They have all the stories.  They dig holes
And deposit their eggs, then return to
That same sea.  Whispers fracturing moonlight
On the waves.

Hector circles ‘round the planets
Again and again and we reach to hold
The memory just a minute longer.
It takes all of our strength.  The
Voice of Patroclus whispers within
Our souls.  Sometimes we feel they are
Cosmic winds, but they are only
Old stories.  We still see Achilles weeping.

 Mouse Headache


A crow made of light
Came to our house today.
It sat upon the swing set
And would not let the children play.

It was so very bright.
We could not look away
And when it cawed, sparks flew
From its mouth all day.

We have never seen a thing like this
Before or ever since.
It must have come from heaven
To give us a little glimpse.

But Ramon said, "No.  It came from hell."
Of that he was quite sure,
For it burned a sulfur yellow
And it smelled like nothing pure.



There wasn’t anything left
That I could touch.
Christine came in with three birds.
“Here, she said, try these.”
But when she opened her hands
They flew away.  One of them hit
The window, but that didn’t
Stop it from fleeing.
I was getting anxious to put
My feet back on the ground.

“You must be dreaming,” Ramon said.
He was sitting in the crotch of a tree
Very far above me and was shouting.
“How did you get up there?”
I called to him.

“I was thinking deeply about things
And I fell into a well.
When I woke up I was up here.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,”
I called.
“Oh yes it does,” he said, but
The tree was growing very quickly
And I lost sight of him before
I could reach a conclusion.

“I can’t possibly live like this,”
I said aloud to no one in particular.
“But you are doing alright now,”
They answered.
“Many swim and some are
Able to cover great distances.
A few even reach the horizon.”
I felt comfortable for a moment,
Then the wind started again.
What happened?  I was so
Involved with the moment
I didn’t see what happened.

A man with translucent hands
Began to speak to me in
American Sign Language.
I think it was Borges.
He wanted me to get him
A glass of water.
That is how I got here.

 Fairy Dance


 1.  A fountain almost entirely filled with coins.  The water
Is only inches deep and the fountain continues to be filled each day
By those seeking favors of the water.

It is decided not to remove the coins but instead
To build a new fountain much larger than the first
To catch the overflow of water.  The fountain
Had been filling for centuries yet no one will remove
The coins, lest the magic rescind itself.
The water makes the most beautiful of sounds
As it tumbles into its many basins.

 2.  A remote island where sound is grown.
It reaches a noisy variety and is given
To the waves where it will travel the globe.
Its currents are the paths of migrations
Of birds above.  The storks, the swallows, the great
Terns, the eider ducks, the snow goose.

 3.  Three men have the same dream on the same night.
They are not able to recall its contents.

 4.  A tablature that allows one to play the Stations
Of The Cross on any instrument.

 5.  A comb for the hair, designed by bees to be used
Only by the dying.

 6.  There were images before her eyes that could not be
Described without a truly original language.

 7.  When they shook hands their hands burst into flame.

 8.  When the car crashed into the tree, all four doors
Sprung open and over thirty dogs leapt from the vehicle
And vanished into the night forest.

 9.  We were looking at the ocean.  A great hand descended
From the clouds and pressed the waves flat
For several minutes.

 10.  By the time we reached Bournemouth the entire town
Had been abandoned except for the birds who seemed
To be everywhere.

 11.  When he shot himself in the head,
He missed and hit the moon.

 12.  Charles told us of a place not far
From his ranch where the flies
Could shape their bodies collectively
To spell words.  He said they cursed a lot.

 13.  I was looking deep into her eyes.  There
Were cities in there.  People walked
By in there.  I recognized one of them.
She raised her finger to her lips, asking
For quiet.  “Listen to the birds,” she said.

 14.  Twilight built a church on the far
Edge of the field.  It looked as fragile
As the cape that covers the dreams of children
When they wake, surprised in the night,
Seeing the spirits glowing in the air
Of their bedrooms.

 15.  When the spear went into the tiger
It turned immediately into water,
Filling the jungle around the beast,
Causing him to glow with a bright
White-and-gold light.

 16.  There were shepherds on the hills,
Keeping their flocks.  An angel appeared
In their midst.  Each shepherd recognized
It as someone who had loved therm deeply
And had disappeared long ago.

 17.  A sudden pouring of salt.
The moon rises.

 18.  Some men had gathered around the fire
Pit.  The dogs at the edge of the light
Recognized them and set up a bawling
That stayed mostly in their mouths.
They did not come closer.

 19.  The women were made of a magnificent
Glass that vibrated when touched.  They
Talked among themselves.  It was as a
Cantata filled with lightning
And a carillon discussing friendships.

 20.  No one has believed anything that was said.
They claimed it was poetry.  It was
The same sound as waves lapping
Into a shingle beach, almost like talking.



It bothers me
that the night
is outside minding its own
business while I am
in my room half
expecting you to appear
in the bed next to me.

You, with your brow arched,
surprised to have been
shipped across the night
like so much luggage;
the white roses of sleep
still in your skin.

I would be as surprised.
Hello?  It would be like
saying hello to
myself on this late August
night, where the voices
of dogs are so small
in the distance that my breath
seems huge.  No, hellos
would never do.

The dark just outside the
window waits for me to put
the lights out.  It has ways
of getting to me, of opening
the dreams like oranges
and spilling these thoughts
of you all around me
before I can catch a glimpse
of you shuttling across the
night air, not alarmed
at all by this thinking that
it is just the changing
of the season that causes
these things.  Not alarmed
by the love of it.  Not at all.

Knowing you will wake up
far away from this room,
the night being busy
with so much else.  With
traffic and dogs and things
of its fabric so as to
make such journeys a
matter of reaching to the end
of the bed and pulling
another blanket up above
your shoulder.


            …for Alvaro Mutis
She came into the room
With the moon tucked
Under her arm.

Her fingertips were dusted
With that blue, yellow, gold
Rubbed from the moon.

“You can’t keep that,” I said.
“Ah, but I can,” she said.
“I will and I shall dance upon it.”

Stars shot from her mouth.
I clamped my hands over my ears
So as not to hear.
I could feel the tides
Calling as they moved through me.

I made a grab for the moon
Just as she was about to dance on it.

It wobbled across the room
And we are both chasing it
As it heads for an open window
With a serene, imposing dignity
That one sees occasionally
In the unvanquished; a certain
Uncommon re-ordering of reality.

For a moment it looked to be
Made of marble.  It quickly
Mounted the sky, cheered on
By the voices of night.

I could see it illuminate
The spider web
She used to trap our precious moon.
“Now look what you’ve done!”
She says reaching into the night.

The seas rise in approval.
We are once again only travelers
In the service of great mystery,
Its amorphous light, its myth,
Its epic wonder.

 Illuminated Manuscript


Now I’m standing at the corner and I see
The lights are changing and still I want
To cross here for it seems so damn important
And it doesn’t look like heaven
And it doesn’t look like mercy
And it doesn’t have a room where I can
Hide away forever, but I know I really need to,
Yet still remain outside the fortress.

I will break bread with the sailors.
I will expect the unexpected.
I will stand beneath the royals
On their yards as we are sailing.
I will sing the crazy chanteys.
I will disarm the madding pirates.  I will open
Up their lips for them and speak the words
Into their ears.  And they will hear me like a savior,
Still they know I’ll never answer.
And I’ll tell them of the dark seas
And the weather caught within them.
And they will want to go there,
Though they know it means forever.
And I’ll sign their names on parchment.
I will hold them to their promise.
Yet they hasten to forgive me when
I swear they will survive this, but they still
May wind up crazy, for they’ve heard
The songs I make up and they have come
To believe them as I abandon them like
Sinking ships and refuse to look back
Toward them.  And still they will forgive me
And I’ll be allowed to kiss them.

They will not be men or women, they will
Cease to dream of crosses.  They will engage
In battle, recognize their brother’s face
As they hack across the meadows
Thinking they have found him,
The one who’d be their keeper.
But they will be mistaken and the tides
Will rush before them and they cannot
Launch their landing boats and they will see
Their packets leaving.  They know they’ll
Never reach them and I will hold their names
Within me and repeat them at the moment
When they sink beneath the wave tops
All alone.


Today’s LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

This string is so taut it
Barely holds anything the
Wind can say, yet it
Holds and I will beg
It, say, “Look up, look
Up, see me there.  I am
Your love.  I am I am.
I hope to find you there.”

And watch the knotted
Tail dance against
The breeze and watch
The twists and turns it
Makes and watch the
Way I love you, for that
May be all there ever was to know.


—Medusa, with hearty thanks to D.R. Wagner for starting our weekend off right, as always, with his poems and these fine pix he has found for us!

Gabrielle and Kelly
Celebrate poetry! And don’t forget Poetic License
the poetry read-around in Placerville today from 2-4pm, 
Placerville Sr. Ctr, 937 Spring St., Placerville. 
The suggested topic for this month is “phone calls,” but 
other subjects are also welcome. Bring your own poems 
to share; read from your favorite poets; or just come to listen. 
Free; all ages welcome. 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, February 24, 2017

Right Left of Wrong

I'm Watching U
—Poems and Photos by Smith, Cleveland, OH


Crawl slow and deep
from slink of sleep
to thick awake
to foot the fog of day
till sleep's return
in constant loop of voodoo rue
we do do oh so well

Pour black coffee down dark hole body
reboot mind to lighten way

 This Little Piggy


We are born in cave of shadow
washed in birthing pan
walk with shadow in search of sun
till washed again at end

How well are our ways wound?

If I put left sock on left foot first
instead of right sock on right foot
does it make a difference?

Or yesterday's right on today's left?

Does the moving shadow
of my belt buckle on the floor
portend play of day?

Do things change if I put my pants
on left or right leg first?

What about both legs at once?

I know kindness to others,
listening, caring, compassion, patience
sways day's way.

But what of stretch or no stretch?
yawn or no yawn?
left or right side of bed arise?

Is there a right right
and a wrong right?

Of the mother thread of life
Clotho spins and sings of is
Lachesis measures song of was
and Atropos cuts will be

Do they care what sock I wear?
or right left of wrong?

 Wonder Woman 


I chop big batch carrots, celery,
onions, garlic, chives, parsley,
cilantro, thyme
and toss in Dutch oven
with quarter cup extra virgin olive oil
and sauté while wondering
how virgins become extra virgin
and do they have to fuck extra hard
to lose their extra virginity
then add generous tablespoon ground cumin
3 small cans black beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
4 caps cream sherry
shake some MSG
small plop of salt with serious black pepper
little water
bring to boil
simmer 50 minutes
puree half in blender
pour back in with half bag frozen corn
simmer 40 minutes
serve with a dollop of sour cream
and good bread and butter
to help harried wife's hurried life.

Does this besmirch my bad boy rep?

 Cleveland Flats


Early autumn late day light
unshadows tops of trees
with golden slant
of setting sun

slow traffic
in fading light
makes soft water sound
of whine on road
rode somewhere
from there
to there

and yet here's here

 This World or That


If autumn ascending, watch for the fall
If tall depending, look to the small.

If spring unsprung, speak to the snow.
If too young, wait for the grow.

If no truth eastbound, westbound I'll go.
If ending unfound, outbound is slow.

When you wander don't wait too long
for your offender to admit that they're wrong.

Since outside is in and inside is out
just cuz they sin don't mean you should shout.

Your life is yours, mine's my own.
I ain't sure but I think I'm the clown.

 White People


There’s a cult of African ants
who construct arched hives

But only when populous enough

Until then,
they specialize in false starts

When enough exist

not enough workers
or enough pushers
or enough grasshopper guards

but simply enough ants

Mass mind kicks in
and arches arch

Pre-mind arches arch up and over
till over

Mass-Mind inserts keystone

Why do more ant units = keystone logic?

What evolutionary advantage accrue arched ants?

No Ant Popes?
No Arch Ant Conservatives?
No SubCult MassMind McDonald franchise?
(tho believe too late for latter prevention) 

Ant politicians must be one happy critter:
For once it IS quantity
NOT quality

The Texas rabbits I understand
They reach critical population density
They develop nervous disorder
They die
Make room for daddy

Which are we?

Mass Mind in bloom of blossom?
Or rabbit run?

 The Whole Thing


Don't call us
we won't call you

The system's not broke
it's fixed

It's always been fixed
in favor of the few

Who with fear and force
control the course

Sometimes you just got to bite the bully
and carry on

No glory without grief

 Velvet Claws


The trees they are dancing
Wind playing the tune
In sky tall prancing
Beneath a full moon

Clouds chant the chorus
Direction and sound
In song sung just for us
We being earth bound

       Romance abounds
       Adventure exists
       Just look around
       At all that you’ve missed

Our feet stuck to dirt
Our hearts leap for air
With happiness we flirt
And shirk our despair

Yes the trees they are dancing
Leaping for the moon
My soul sky chancing
Laughing in loon

To hear my one vocal that I like, go to 3:52, 2011, Peter Ball (1949-2015) music, Smith words&voices: www.reverbnation.com/mutantsmith/song/12074804-high-wind-whether

 Mandy Magic

Today’s LittleNip:


coffee in the morning
kitty with the purr
wife with the kiss lips
happiness pure


—Medusa, with thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for today’s nummy brunch, as he continues to heal from spinal surgery! 

Celebrate poetry! Tonight, 7pm, Women’s Wisdom Art poets 
will read from their new anthology, Lift It Tenderly, at 
Parkway Theater, 5051 47th Av., Sac. And check out this article 
from Dana Gioia, State Poet Laureate of California and
former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, 
 about NEA funding: 

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, February 23, 2017

What Did We Know?

Vermont Snow
—Anonymous Photo
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


With an invisibility
of shadowy flakes
over the windshield
resonant by my fast feet
moving to Mozart's
piano concerto
now going up to Vermont
we can already taste
a spinach and cheese
hot croissant
at my aunt's Bread
and Breakfast.



On sunny trails
of ski lifts
out of sight
up here in Vermont
light sifts through
on surface of the hills
in a frequented breeze
from brightness
by birds on branches
of barren trees
exiled within my words
in the morning mist.

 —Poster for Rocco and His Brothers 


Becoming myself
in the Italian film
Rocco and His Brothers
going through
with ease
of open-ended
taking us up
on the sidelines
of five sons
moving to Milan
needing work,



At the museum
we watch so much
of the Dutch masters
even Rembrandt
then on balance
the abstract modernists
facing us by the avant gard
touching us by being
transparent in their paintings,
fact checking these:
the Bauhaus
de Stijl, Bonnard
and Matisse.

 Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld, 1918, 
in Bauhaus de Stijl 


at a re-doing venture
as if at a lecture
in French literature
at the Sorbonne
going on about Proust
as if the teacher
is sharing his polling
numbers of who
is really paying attention
with a rambling
of talking points
at the unfiltered hearts
in a clever gambling lesson
of a literary history
unloosed in a raw skin
of a chicken coming
to roost
as one visiting law student
slumbers at his bench
and one poet is indulgent
with rapt attention
another is in a rapture
of refreshment forever.

La Disparition d'Honoré Subrac (1960)
—Photo by Kitasono Katue


Sleeping among
a bird's nest
and statue
on the Common
resting with a daydream
asleep again
now keeping awake
among fallen branches
from a recent snowstorm
reading the dark surrealism
of Kitasono Katue
a tourist to Boston notices me
takes my photo
in the sunshine
we speak in French
then slowly reads
to me from an anthology
on my park bench
of his Japanese poetry.

 Kenji Miyazawa


Only the theatrical color
in eager lights of the T.V.
by this sleepwalker
reading in the early morning
your Japanese poetry
sustains my will
on a winter day
running down
the white hills.

—Photo by Yamamoto Kansuke, 1953


Outside your studio
mirrors of swirling snow
by river streams
at an out-of-doors rendezvous
near the sea
as engaged for a surrealist
complexity from photos
in question marks
from a glass house reality.



We Beat poets try
to find connections
which puzzle
us into inflections
like a prospect
of a new translation
even from our passport
when I saw
on a woman's arm
who told me a child
in an accented voice
with her wrinkled smile
in a long line
at L.A.X airport
she had lived there
(as a child)
and almost died
in Germany.


Today’s LittleNip:


With a new jersey on
he shouted a name
kissed a swimming figure
in the midst of deep snow
at midnight
after the Warhol show
from entangled shadows,
what did we know!


Many thanks to B.Z. Niditch for today’s reminiscences, inspirations and improvisations!

Local teacher/storyteller Mary McGrath is offering a four-week workshop (2/26, 3/12, 3/19, 3/26) on Storytelling, Sac. Poetry Center, 25th & R Sts., Sac. The series will begin this Sunday, Feb. 26, 3:30-5:30pm. Reg. (at the first session) is $100, materials included. Info: 99storytellers.blogspot.com or storytellermcgrath@yahoo.com (916-447-3557).

In addition, poetry readings will be held in conjunction with the workshops on four Thursdays (2/23, 3/23, 4/27, 5/25), beginning tonight at 7pm at the Avid Reader at Tower, 1600 Broadway, Sac. The series is called Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry, this week featuring Sue Daly, Graciela Ramirez, and JoAnn Anglin. These readings will be coordinated by JoAnn Anglin; for info, contact her at joannpen@icloudcom/.

Also tonight, as every Thursday at 8pm: featured readers and open mic at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. Free, but please partake of Art Luna’s fine food and libations!


 Allen Ginsberg
Celebrate the arts! 

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, February 22, 2017

As Persephone Leaves Hades...

—Poems by Linda M. Crate, Meadville, PA
—Anonymous Photos


i walk in
a world of darkness
with light
because i am both the sun
& the moon
both shadow and lantern
i choose goodness and virtue
there's bad in me,
but i choose
the good;
i think i could be really cruel if i wanted to be
but there's no strength in bitter roots
aren't there already enough
pomegranates in this
once the blood of one ran down my arms,
but i didn't like the taste;
i can't blame persephone for leaving hades—
when the world screams so loudly
it gives me such awful
and i don't want to fathom a world where the
nightmares win
so here i am.


you told me that i couldn't,
that i wouldn't
achieve my dreams
just ripping every sun out of my skies
that you could;
but i no longer value your opinion
so you can't insult me
i put all the suns back and then some
shining so bright that you'll
never stop me,
and i won't allow anyone else to cut me
through to the bone
for while i am capable of rising from death
blooming into a new flower
stronger than the last
i won't deny that it's painful;
and it gave you more dignity than you
deserved because you're just a dog after a bone
no wolf like you claimed because
wolves are loyal and there's nothing in you
of loyalty.


behind all those masks
is there a face
or just another
because i don't know if
you're even honest
with yourself?
it wouldn't surprise me if you
don't recognize your
true face
because you never could give me
anything other than lies
or false sincerity,
and i think there was a part of you
that wanted to be truthful to me;
but you always swallowed
him down and became distant if i asked
the wrong questions—
i was only a good time to you,
and i had fallen in love so you could fall
in lust;
just another dog after a bone
another man that couldn't
i guess i wanted to believe you better
than you could be.


i won't be scared
to be who i am
because i realize even
cracked with all my imperfections
i am beautiful,
and it was you that were the
tore me into some sort of chaos that
i couldn't understand—
but i am strong
as a gorgon,
and i will turn you to stone
with just one withering
for while i prefer kindness and flowers
i can now hold my old ground—
not that little rabbit
you killed and left bleeding
upon the winter's crown.


you can have him
i don't want
at least not most days
especially the ones
where i miss
the girl i used to be
before he took me and broke me
in all those places i
considered sacred,
and you can
keep yourself warm within his bones
because they only ever left me
i know you were the other woman
before you two were wed,
and it used to anger me
i got over it;
because we all get what we deserve—
so good luck, honey,
he doesn't believe in honesty or goodness or virtue;
and i deserve better than that
truthfully you probably do, too, but i'm a little
bitter that you took him from me
after all this time.


whispers of light fell
upon the ground
shadows of long and ancient trees
doing battle with stormy skies
snow falling over me
in soft petals of
sharp wit and death without remorse
killing my favorite flowers,
but i would not
this darkness of winter guised by the
white diamonds of his love and his pure opal
crystals hanging in the mouths of unsuspecting trees
and buildings did not sway me to
i burn with a the heart of a summer's moon
cancer in aries
i am not weak, i will wage war
with all those who would take the peace away
even sons of winter;
you laughed at my pain and made a mockery of my
nightmares but my anxiety wasn't something
i could help
one day the ground will remember your name no more
as you're buried beneath the tapestry of stars
known as my fists.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

—Oscar Wilde


—Medusa, with thanks to Linda M. Crate from Pennsylvania for today’s poetry!

 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, February 21, 2017

The City of Lost Love

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

After Leonara Carrington, Self-Portrait (II)
"A L’Auberge du Cheval d’Aube", c. 1938

The room has blocked me. The curtains are a white frill
draped at a dark window, night crowding in. I press my-
self against the shadows and become the wall. Dreams
engage me. I am wearing my riding costume to ride the
white horse of night, though it is rocking on its wooden
rails and stays aloof from me. I let myself go wild—
wait for the mother-beast to give me her instructions.
She appears and prowls the expanding room, then
hunches back and sniffs at the air to warn me. Every
night is like this: I stiffen on the ruffled chair and brace
for transformation, dare not look at myself, though
there is no mirror here. The horse is a wall-shadow
now and the mother beast is gone. My crib stands
empty on the other side of the room. The dream chair
holds me in its satin arms. The window floats off into
a dreamy distance of its own.



What is so lonely as a chair
in broken light by a cold window,

a chair that rocks
or stays still in the settling dust,

a chair with a rigid back
and no arms—

maybe a curtain blowing back
and brushing its legs.

Let the dark corners brood—
there is enough light

for the chair—
even if only moonlight.

After “Man at table” by Thomas Cowperthwaite Eakins

The man at the table in the dark is counting his sorrows.
His life has not been fed. There is no one to serve him. His
heart has fallen from his sleeve to the disconnected floor.

He forgets to breathe. The shadows leave his shoulders and
float around him. He cannot trust the light to return. There
is no path to his eyes. We are free to surmise which way

his life will turn. He does not wonder aloud. He has drifted
inward and taken the dark with him. Only now do we
begin to realize how long he has been gone.



Pure lines of blue moon shadows
on the road—crossing the light—
the dark.

imaging horizontal,
stillness moving in optical illusion.

Nothing unsettling :
this is road, mysterious;
here is silence made, of beautiful light.

Dark remembers this—
is fortunate for timelessness
caught by moon-shadow on the road.


     Take a list of words—any
          words. Run them down the
             page.  Force a connection:

red rim in winter
water over leaves
hallucinations in glass

     Now stare away, toward light
            or toward dark. Open or close
                    your eyes. Force a connection.

wild willow weed
grope of envy
hollows in the woodwork

     Play the shadow game. Enter   
           and become, or pull away and
                  disappear.  Force a connection.

a singing in the shadows
a bell distortion
the howl of a monkey

     Now wait for the mother-bird.
           Listen to the flying.  Feel your
                  heaviness.  Force a connection.
Red rim in winter, water over leaves—hallucinations
in glass. Wild willow weed, grope of envy—hollows
in the woodwork. A singing in the shadows, a bell
distortion, the howl of a monkey: force a connection.


In the garden, O fated one, I sit with my cup
     extended and empty, waiting for the wine
     of rain to fill it to the brim and overflow.

I wait until nightfall. I wait until dawn. I wait
     through all the promises with my waiting.
     And my hand does not tire, O fated one.
My face is serene, O divine one, waiting for
     the expression of your approval—the
     dark mirror of your face into which I stare.

The twilight shadows creep across
     the ground, and up the hem of my robe,
     and even myself, to conceal the waiting.
O, I wait forever, with patience, which is all
     I have, and in which you are timeless.
     Even so, the dawn brings more waiting.
My loyal cup waits for the rain, O fated one,
     empty and thirsty and sure of patience,
     though my hand now trembles
     as does my mind in the concept of waiting.

What do I see in the shadows that touch so
     lovingly around me;  what trembles there
     with confusion and brings no news of rain?

After Beautiful Rafaela, 1927 by Tamara deLempicka

How round she is,
contouring herself among the shadows,
arching into the light that is so aware of her. 

How easily she poses in her roundness,
distorting for the artist
who exaggerates her further—

intent on the position of her arm,
the fingers of her hand,
the twist of her body—

the way
the calf of one leg
presses into the other leg to round her hips. 

A scarf of red silk slips from her lax hand
as she turns her head
and closes her eyes against her upward arm.

The attentive light moves
underneath a swaying ceiling bulb,
though the dark stays still—

still, she makes no indication
that she is
being observed : she knows she is beautiful.



Cacophony now.
Deep thrill.

Dark in the shadows:  Source.

And I, pulled in,
dance there,
whirl in black-sleeved arms,
catch under red light.

My white blouse burns.
The sweat on my body gleams gold.

I am changing as I dance.
Blue faces love near to kiss.

I gasp from the drumbeat to the soul.

I am shimmering in the
dark—part of mirror-blur.

Mosaics watch with broken faces:
Discordances of motion.

In the glass distance
I dance miles . . .

timed to the shadows . . . looking back
from heart pound center
with no pain . . .

guided and tireless in
black-sleeved arms.

After “Wearing the Collar” by Charles Bukowski
Black apples, Love, is what we share;
black seasons, Dearest, to compare

with who we were and who we are,
black reasons that have left no scar.

You sit quietly by the cat.
Dearest, I admire that :

One for one, and two for two.
That is me and that is you :

black cat purring at my hand,
nothing to misunderstand.

Darkest shadows to embrace
the walls, the room, each other’s face.

How we love our dark tableau,
neither one now free to go,

I with apple, you with book,
each of us with tranquil look,

now we’re married, with no ring;
we with only love to bring :

Black polished apple, sleek black cat.
Dearest, what is wrong with that?



Now I feel distance settle between us.
I have won the drift.  Birds enumerate,

their dark gold eyes struck by light.
Wires hold their shadows and extensions

of shadows that loom into evening.
The day’s length is over and night begins.

We have taken another path from each other.
The word I am after

still eludes me.
I cannot put it in this poem about loss.

Perhaps you are saying it to yourself.
Somehow we still receive light

from a flurry of birds
that take to the gray air from the high trees

and thrum over the house to dot the field
with their complexities—

enough diversion for us to leave our quarrel
and exclaim our marveling at this. 


I could not take love apart like that—wrist by wrist,
and sob by sob, into eventual silence.

I could not bear its shadow in my arms toward my
own shadowless dark.

I could only make it suffer within me like that stone
I used for my beginning.

My heart weighs deep with grievings—I am so old,
and memories lie—

like a terrible map over my sleep. My dream worlds
are the landscape for my stories.



In the city of lost love there is only one blessing and
it is yours. Even the shadows will coil softly about you.
Flowers will ignite at your watching; their petals will
swell and fall; your breath will smother when you try
to speak. Do not speak. There is no way out but through
the mirrors—the mirrors will resist you. The walls are
but thick draperies that rustle and murmur in the moist
background. The lost ones who find you will bring you
with them into their desire.  You will not remember
them, but you will sob to find them, leaning against you.
Nothing will last here, though it will all begin again—
exotic as guilt. In the background, a Dark Being with
frail unfolding wings will fly out and hover above you,
and you must protect it from leaving here or it will
lose you.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen,  5-17-2013)


Today’s LittleNip:


Gathering up the old fruit of those
delicious trees . . . Scattering
the bird shadows before they form
their own starvations around us . . .
Hunger is not the only message here.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poetry and original art! And the rain goes on… Has it been 40 days yet?
Our new Seed of the Week is, in spite of the rain, “Finally, Spring”. 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 from to choose.

—Medusa, checking in late today due to Internet problems.
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.