Monday, December 10, 2018

Dog Vacations and Doughnut Holes

—Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

—Ann Privateer

It's the first of the month
At the end of the year
People are thinking
About presents
About how to live
A good life
About family and friends
In the key of C
Christmas and Hanukkah
Here we come.


—Ann Privateer

Living well
Spells other people
Sharing and caring
In a less is more
Way, linking up
Increasing enjoyment.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Ann Privateer

Carries a baby
Holster style
Dangling in a sac
From her neck

He sobs and sobs
She coos and rocks
Back and forth
There there

If only he could speak!

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

The world’s not flat
It’s round
With a hole
Right through the middle,
Engulfing me and you.
It’s why the sky is blue.

Something is sorely missing
We can feel it in our hearts.
Something from our middles
That was torn apart
From the rest of the dough
And we miss it, so!

It’s why we don’t mind paying
Through the nose
For doughnut holes.

 Dramatic Waves
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Joseph Nolan

Dogs never go on vacation.
Why should you?
Dogs honor you with their
Willingness to always be there
With you,
Their master.

They never take a break
Or feel the need to,
To head out to the local pub
For a few beers
With their fellow dogs,
To gather with their alternative pack.
Why should you?
Why do you?

Have you ever
Wondered why you need to?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


—Joseph Nolan

It’s hard to put a finer point on things.
Getting things half-sharp is easy,
Even routine.
A half-sharp knife is not hard to turn out,
An ax, analogy,
Simile, or metaphor.
It just gets hard when you make it more,
More precise, more perfect, more adroit,
When lacking all weakness,
It is hard to exploit.

 Sun, 3PM, Smoke-filtered
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Joseph Nolan

A time will come for crows to fly,
When they are ready to leave,
When they are tired of being here
And they’d rather be over there,
Maybe anywhere,
Other than here.

Time in one place can be so long!
Too long, for nearly any crow to take.
Crows appreciate a change of place
A change of pace
A place of grace in which to caw,
As they were meant to caw—
Out loud,
Loudly and in graveled tones
Without restraint
That comes from tired places,
Tired from too long.

As they sort their weary bones
Upon the wing again
They may not caw “Good-bye.”

 Shaking Off Spray
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Joseph Nolan

Did you get it?
That thing he said
About understanding the esoteric
As the lambasting of
Post-modernist impressionism?

I’m having a difficult time with that.
I feel I am being triggered!

Whatever happened to rows of crows
Waiting for corn to ripen
Until the rows are covered in snows?
When did that go away?
I just loved the old-style ambiguity there!


—Joseph Nolan

In a moment,
In a second,
Like a rock
That falls from heaven
Into water
So clear!

The ripples spread
Throughout your head
And kiss
Surrounding ground,
When things go solid,
Like a rock that fell from heaven
Just missing your toe,
So you let go!

 Otters Pay Attention
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Hello there! I am
Bick Pentameter, please pay
attention closely


Hold hands with the nice
lady standing to your right
the rest of the night


Take her home, invite
her inside and offer her
the best TV seat


Whatever you do,
just keep your lips closed tightly
and all will be fine


If you two should take
a liking, or fall in love,
so much the better


Now it is time to
stare at pictures on the wall
and write poetry


Please ignore the high
coo of the doves dying from
oven-cleaning fumes

 What ARE They?
—Photo by Katy Brown


Creation or Darwin, take your pick
at some point Fire
a miraculous Exodus from Egypt
don’t forget the Ten Commandments
and those Old and New Testaments

the marvelous Printing Press
showcased an Industrial Revolution
the New World
our Democratic Experiment
the War to End All Wars, plus another
Nuclear Proliferation

The Cold War
Global Warming gets the cold shoulder
daily Armageddon forecasts
Jehovah’s Witness Protection League
The Cubs win the World Series
President Cofefe

 Just Watching
—Photo by Katy Brown


On a green grassy knoll
quite bare of utility lines,
stands a playful structure
built of square roots and sines

Its yellow light shields the gray
of threatening clouds above,
inside dance seven turkeys
all madly in love


Today’s LittleNip:


There has been
calCUlated with
conTINental reach
to disrupt our
conCENtration from
kinDERgarten on.


Our thanks to today’s fine poets and photographers for today’s gathering in the Kitchen!

Poetry events in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm, with readers from Kate Asche’s workshops, plus open mic. Joey Garcia will read at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe on Thursday, plus open mic, 8pm.

On Sunday, Davis Arts Center Poetry Series will present readers from the new anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, 2pm. Also on Sunday, Poetry in Placerville (changing its name to Poetry of the Sierra Foothills) will meet (this month only) at Caffe Santoro in Diamond Springs and will present Yuyutsu RD Sharma. 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.


 —Photo by Katy Brown
(Celebrate Poetry!)

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Mind in the Heart

—Anonymous Photo

—Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

When I am able to pray with the mind in the heart, I am joyfully able to affirm the irrationality of Christmas.

As I grow older
I get surer
Man’s heart is colder,
His life no purer.
As I grow steadily
More austere
I come less readily
To Christmas each year.
I can’t keep taking
Without a thought
Forced merrymaking
And presents bought
In crowds and jostling.
Alas, there’s naught
In empty wassailing
Where oblivion’s sought.
Oh, I’d be waiting
With quiet fasting
A joy more lasting,
And so I rhyme
With no apology
During this time
Of eschatology;
Judgment and warning
Come like thunder.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder.

—From The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle


—Medusa, wishing you a glimpse of wonder…

For more about Madeleine L'Engle, go to

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Warm on a Cold Morning

Red Tailed Hawk, Capay Valley, CA
—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

Warm on a cold morning, I have the blood of my father
And the strength of my mother. A gray mist
In the air is stimulating. I can live with that.

The music of Coltrane and Sonny Rollins,
Dexter Gordon and Bill Evans; I can fill my time
With notes in the air like lovely birds.

I have a fierce wife, she takes on the crimes
Of an unjust society. Sometimes I join her,
Other times Coltrane and these poems are enough.

Sometime ago I passed sixty years on this Earth.
A grandchild joined us and a son was lost,
I cannot walk as well as I did, such is life.

For no reason at all I am updating you.
The jazz is up loud. The coffee is strong and fresh.
Were you to join me here, I’d pour you a cup.

 Tule Elk, Pt. Reyes

A clear mind in life, a clear mind at death, and in between I will love the earth below me and the sky above me. I will love that water is life, and that kindness heals the troubled soul. At night when I lay my body down I will do my best to forgive people their slights, and hope that I am worthy of forgiveness for my own slights.


If the cockroach could sing,
What would be its song
While crawling through the kitchen at night?

 Otter, Putah Creek

I draw circles around the things I love.
I prefer to wait until life quiets down.
At night.
Or mid-day.
When I am alone.
I have this pencil filled with thanks instead of lead.
I use this pencil.
To draw my circles
Around the blessedness of my own humanity.
Or around a picture of my granddaughter.
Or even something as simple as my coffee pot.
A favorite album.
Miles Davis or Monk or Jamal.
Now I am at it again.
A circle around my soul.
A circle around your soul.
A circle around tonight.
Another circle around tomorrow.

 Rattlesnake, Knights Landing

In spring, my peach tree blooms,
And the bright sun covers the tree
With a million tiny kisses.
In this way, my sweet peaches are born.

 Woodrat, Woodland

Spring comes on in waves, cool, then warm,
Then cool again. Back and forth
Until warm finally wins, just before summer.

So it goes with the ups and downs of living.
Some good things, some bad things,
Some easy, and some hard, joy and sorrow.

One of them wins out just before death,
But which one? It doesn’t matter.
Live in the moment,

Embrace your troubles like they are blessings.
The end matters no more than the beginning,
And the beginning doesn’t matter at all.

 Barn Owl, Cache Creek

Today’s LittleNip:

Zazen at midnight,
The quiet mind, still at last—
And then, a hoot owl.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for today’s fine poems and photos!

Stop by Sac. Poetry Center Gallery today, 2-8pm, for the Second Saturday Reception featuring Women’s Wisdom Art, with refreshments and music from The Cowgirl Sweethearts from 4-8pm. 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.


 Celebrate poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Still Ticking

—Poems by Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH
—Anonymous Winter Photos


It was sometime
during my senior year of high school,
either late 1975
or early 1976,
I don't remember which,
I do remember wearing a winter coat
when heading there
My French IV class went one evening
to one of the local colleges,
John Carroll University,
whose French Department was staging
a production of Racine's Phedre
(Phaedra for those opposed to French)

In one of the climactic moments
in Act V,
              the heroine kneels down,
puts her ear to the supine hero's chest,
and makes a dramatic utterance
in French alexandrines
                                    From those
who either weren't strong in French
or weren't familiar with the play
in English translation,
                                came the whispered
What did she say?
What did she say?

                               And I,
keeping in mind the ubiquity
of John Cameron Swayze's
Timex watch commercials,
It's still ticking

At least six rows of the audience
erupted in laughter at my remark,
and though neither of the actors
onstage was a professional,
they were unfazed by laughter
at a moment in the production
calling for the opposite response;
they continued on the finish
without missing a best,
and then took their bows to a round
of well-deserved applause

Forty-plus years later,
I would like to apologize,
perhaps satisfy their curiosity
as to what prompted the laughter


Frozen winter moon—
seventeen below zero
on my fifth birthday

* * *


Prolonged spring fever—
weather doesn't coincide
with the calendar

* * *


Fishing spot—
discarded lures wound around
an electric wire


It is near the boundary of two watersheds,
a little ways down the road
from Notre Dame College,
it's a little bit boxier
than the rest of the surrounding houses
But when it was built in 1932
it was not merely distinctive,
it was pioneering:
                            the first
one of its kind built anywhere

The Ferro Corporation,
first incorporated in 1919
as the Ferro Enamel Corporation,
decided in the depths of the Great Depression
to build an experimental model home
at the above address
as a way to showcase other applications
of its relatively new product,
porcelain enamel

(porcelain enamel, aka enameled steel—
a thin coating of glass fused to the metal
at temperatures between 750 and 850 degrees Celsius—
1,380 to 1,560 degrees Fahrenheit)

The house was designed by
local architect Charles Bacon Rowley
(designer of
the Shaker Heights Public Library,
the Mayfield Country Club,
the Clifton Club,
several schools and other houses locally
as well as three halls at Kenyon College
and buildings in Cape Cod;
some are gone, some remain)

With a steel frame,
and the porcelain enamel used as siding,
it had two main selling points:
it was fireproof,
the exterior never needed painting
A similar design would be used
the next year for a house at Chicago's
Century of Progress Expo,
porcelain enamel was a major component
in the prefabricated Lustron homes
built after World War II

Today, without trespassing
I can't tell if the porcelain enamel
is still in place; I find out later
it has been covered with vinyl siding
(because of rust?),
one of the many changes one might expect
in a house over eighty years old

There is, as of yet,
no historical marker on the site

Today’s LittleNip:

The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.

—Lee Iococca


—Medusa, with thanks to Michael Ceraolo for his fine poetry today!

 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The End of Beyond

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


This morning after rain
every footprint’s washed away but
my dog catches scent—something on the wind
or rising from earth—as early sun
strikes wet pavement at a certain angle, mini-
dazzle. Listen! Wild goose is calling
overhead. And here’s a dirt path into woods.
Oak woods, leaves tarnished pewter.
This one old oak, gray wrinkled bark, a wisdom
of acorn-lore. Toyon's heavy with
One step and then another, as one word
leads to the next, a typewritten line I can’t take
back. Life’s paragraph. It takes me
on a winding path that climbs
then branches as a tree might, as a life.
Cloven hoofprint fresh this morning;
all the quick, unseen creatures who live here.
Who knows where a walk, a poem leads?


Curiosity or too much energy
for anybody’s good? She’s namesake
of mischief’s god, shape-shifter,
snuggled on the couch this moment;
the next, scouting mice
from pantry to antique desk, never
quite at rest. Her ambition,
to sniff every inch of earth; for what’s
above or underneath the surface;
what’s there now or once has been;
pulling her handler head-
long by the leash. Ambition?
It’s her dream to know the world
and all that’s in it. Just
a dog? An untamed heart.
While humans classify by species, 
color, race, her race has no finish-line.


A winding road by sun or moon and star,
by sea-wind, tide, by train or bus or car,
by caravan as homeless travelers go,
she wound up here. A bench. A door ajar.

And still she weaves her ink-strokes tiny, slow
and measured into tales of long ago,
of signs and symbols, wisdom passed along
down generations. Eyes of ancients glow

in hers like rivers weaving land to song,
a landscape parched to desert far too long.
From exile she can see beyond the war
a universe where all things still belong.

    “Resilience” at the Confidence Lab

This living room replicates forest, trunks
of fabric painted to look like trees. Building
has stood 150 years, repairs are needed
in upper floors. Chain across the stairway:
“Don’t even think about it.” Keep out
of dark you can’t see. We stay in the lower,
living room; walk among textile trunks
that waver with our steps, our conversation.
The floor seems steady but fabric trees
take on a living of their own; ghost trees,
breathing as we inhale green.  Do they
mourn the solid trunks that used to grow
here for ages before the place was town’d?
Town still growing, trees on shaky ground.

    “Resilience: A Living Room”

A venerable pine cone like a sacred hat
in burnished wood-tones on ebony pedestal.

This is where they keep precious things
dormant but alive. Seeds. Fir and pine,

hope for generations of breathing life
like sunlight secrets, safe in a black box,

a lamplight beacon in a dark cabin
in the wilderness; our future.


From Fairplay the road climbs
into forest, unearthly this almost-winter
morning. A winding road
flanked by spectral pine and cedar,
their constant cool breath hovering in fog.

No other traffic on Mt Aukum Road.
My dog says Stop. I find a wide spot, inhale
the scent of green; think of becoming
woods—December silence
restless in time while my dog

orients her nose-map, then looks back at me.
Time to move along, road cutting
through gray toward the end of beyond,
weaving us into forest as I drive,
forgetting destinations.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

River shaking earth
under mountain dark
and light diffused by cloud mist,
it squats tiny but sturdy.
Its windows have gathered sun.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos as she circles around that cabin in the woods, last week’s ekphrastic Seed of the Week. Her “Confidence Lab” poems were inspired by the "Resilience" installation at El Dorado Arts Council’s new Confidence Lab on Main St. in Placerville.

Tonight there will be three different poetry events in our area, each beginning at 8pm: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, with featured readers and open mic; or The Love Jones “Chill Night” of love poetry at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac; and Mary Mackey will read at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, 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.


Beautiful Loki: An Untamed Heart 
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
Celebrate poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Luminous Spirits

—Poems by Dah, Berkeley, CA
—Anonymous Photos


The spirituality of a rainbow:
a colorful thought
from universal consciousness
manifesting across the sky.

The living colors of water and light
illuminating in silence,
as if a wisp of innocent beauty
from eternity’s memory,

smearing, stretching, arching,
its raw finish, its vibrant nakedness,
for all of creation to delight in.
I bow to the ephemeral visits

of rainbows,
to their
fleeting impressions
of luminous spirit.


Stillness: at the edge of this meadow,
motionless against air’s clear skin
a luminous red coat’s white-tipped ears
are on the sound of my breathing, with
ancient eyes on the motion my bones make.

An air current streams my human scent
to the fabric of its sensors. I stop
in a space that inserts the intimacy
of our understood curiosity.
I ask nothing more of this divine red fox

than to know my friendship or my eyes
that adore it or my spirit’s dignity in offering
peace from the tribe of creation that we are.
I sit as the fox sits along the countryside
of our ancestors.

In silence: within the instinctive expression
of stillness together we breathe and take in
dawn’s nourishment as if estranged friends
remembering an old friendship
from another lifetime.


The wind kicks up the baked sepia dust, turning it
to a vigorous cloud in low motion over a thirsting ground
mixing its physics into sails of circling yellow leaves and debris.

I walk across the early evening light like Jesus lightly
over the water, my eyes stuck on some distant crow ascending
with its mouth yakking.

The wind tips the bird to the right then to the left
refusing to leave it alone. The air, the scent, the light
emphasizes autumn’s arrangement: the night’s breath is more liquid.


Much older now: I have returned to my soul,
holding earth’s stained skin in my hands.

A great illusion is in front of me,
the sky spreads its moons.

Time is dying yet never stops creating
and destroying life.

I have spoken of perfect hours, the accomplishments of years,
unfaithful silence, a rush of salt from the seas.

In this world the sky is a poet and the whole of life
inhales dawn and dusk—consider this:

a meeting place upon our mouths.

a shadow a body no longer wants.

give me your hand
and feel my breath spilling over.

a hidden sweetness, the sky’s silence,
a piece of love from a finished kiss.

Nocturnal Love:
wildly scented bonfires, shadows
against emptiness, sunlight
held by the moon.

Winter’s Light:
a fresh wound of delicate aromas,
a transformation of air to glittering rain,
a mouth that sings like a banjo.

Under layers of life death rots to its very end:
life has set fire to us, we must burn.


Today’s LittleNip:


I want to drink
from the trees
from the sky
from the clouds
from the eyes of love

I want to drink
from the rivers
from the deserts
from the fog’s drizzle
from the nipples of love

I want to drink
from the body of love
from the heart of love
from love 
I want to drink


Many thanks to Dah for this mornings poems! Dah’s seventh poetry collection is
Something Else’s Thoughts (Transcendent Zero Press), and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Spain,Singapore, Philippines, Poland, Australia, Africa, and India. He is a Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee and the lead editor of the poetry critique group, The Lounge. Dah lives in Berkeley, California, where he is working on his eighth book of poetry. Welcome back to the Kitchen, Dah!

Sacramento Poet Mary Mackey and Davis Poet Andy Jones may be heard in conversation on KDVS (90.3 FM) tonight at 5:30pm on Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour. 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.


 Berkeley Poet Dah
Celebrate Poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

My Seven-Minded Horse

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


in the sky
like a high
promise made of sunset and
voice of, say God, in His Most

Religious Moment—shining there
like a private illusion, not at all (un)like
some Neon-Cloud Formation
made of pollution dust in a windless sky,

the ocean blazing beneath it
with shimmering red light from the
disappearing sun, and lapping against

the consciousness of everything
even the silhouette of the very earth…
the breathing trees…  the (un)breathing stone
picked up at random and carried in a pocket,

where some divining hand can feel
the comfort of it. Oh, sweet digression,
you have carried me away from

The Number In The Sky
which seemed so vain
with its self-congratulation—and was

so admired by the (un)discerning,
and the envious, like an ad for happiness :
Oh, One;   Oh, Zero;   Oh, Ten.

 Winter Scape


I, with my seven-minded horse,
go through the visions of its eyes.

How high the night
we grip and ride.

Three ears east, we listen.
It is the light.

We make a silhouette
and define ourselves against the sky.

The horse dreams.
I guard its sleep.

Later it tells me :
One innocence. One flaw. One kind forgetfulness.

I am its strength,
it, my direction.

Sometimes we feast
on grass and rain.

The rest is hunger.
We are lean.

My mind is one.
The horse is free.

And always, it turns just before the
fall from where I lead it.

Sometimes we fly,
but only after death.

The rest is sad :
recapture and simple grazing.



how deep the red sunset water
how steep the blue images of trees
how smoky the sky in the reddened water

how blind the place where the river turns
and you want to turn there
though the blue trees shudder
and the red goes deeper
and the slippery bank is too dark to grasp

but you turn with the water
the redness folds you in
and the clouds continue
and even then you want to grasp at texture

(first pub. in Brevities: A Mini-Mag of
Minimalist Poems, May, 2009)



It was the red cow under the gray crackle of sky in the
gold field-light—the thundering back of sound—the
soft reverberation into nothing—the slightest movement
that the stillness knew. It was the far-off moment waiting
to be this one. It was the timing.

 Looking in Windows


Three levels. High blue sky of blue clouds—
below, two tall trees—nearby, a tall lit house
for night to see—
exaggeratedly built :

square box bottom
red roof
held up
by another
also lit.

The hill is next, rounded in night’s special green,
sloping down to a hidden valley—who lives here
with this sky, these trees, and this beaconed light,
closer to heaven’s own dark mystery,
churning all around, like a scenery . . . .


THE PERIMETER                            

Late afternoon—
the day’s light turning cold—
two girls in thin white dresses
stand on a high slope facing the
gray and distant winter sea, which,
for the moment, is calm. The girls
seem out of context—like future
beings, or ghosts of some earlier
time—one as the desire of the other—
pondering life and questioning the sea,
which always answers with long, gray
sighings that pull beyond the girls’ 
hearing—standing so still—
leaning forward to listen
—outside the perimeter
of the rickety white fence—
where they seem frozen
except for the sheer,
white movement
of their dresses,
flaking shades of gray
thickening around them
in this capturing moment
that threatens to hold them forever.

 Turning Point


Soon they will pleasure to the night and love,
holding the future closer than it is,
yearning that far together with their eyes—

all that they mean and want, hot in their eyes;
all that they give to trust, wild in their love.
What they will learn is what the difference is.

Passion is what the first compulsion is,
and what remains will suffer in their eyes:
infatuation stays in love with love—

and love—before it is—will haunt the eyes.



An unfurling of white umbrellas
from a great height of weightlessness
on a day of spent light—moving
like ripples and bouncing the raindrops

over the wet streets. It was a camouflage,
I thought—a great mass of winter souls
in migration followed by a white singing
of birds that were invisible.

I felt my window tremble with joy
at the spectacle as the floor swayed 
and I wondered how so many
floating umbrellas could fit the space

of my watching. My own umbrella
stood dry and folded beside the door
with my keys and things that I needed.
I wanted to be down there among them,

but did not want to give up my view
as the umbrellas kept touching
and parting in their maneuverings—
occasional bits of sidewalk showing through.

The height deepened and left me no time
to decide—the window opened
and the room-light poured through
and my umbrella flew into my hands.



Note this craggy waterfall struggling down
the jutted rocks—the land broken—

the one tree barely alive

and the tufts of straggle-grass—
the flat white sky—

and the clumsy way we stumble
over this terrain

as we go
from one word to another

and your eyes are hot,
and mine are cold,

and we have left the even ground
for this—

this terrible moor,
something to get across—

admire even—for its significance,

this trickle of chance
for anything to survive until the rain.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The night
off the roof
into the arms
of some beloved
admirer—you flew
—flew down the dark
into the net—caught.


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems about our Seed of the Week, the little house in the dark woods: its roof, the darkness, the rain... Ekphrastic poetry, as you know, is not just a description of the picture—it's about what the picture evokes. It's okay to talk around the picture. And Joyce notes that the Tritina form (as found in The Bird Catcher by Marie Ponsot) is three stanzas, three lines each, each line ending in one of a set of three words, patterned:

1, 2, 3  /  3, 1, 2  /  2, 3, 2  /  1, 2, 3  

An additional line at the conclusion of the poem contains all of the end words.   

Our new Seed of the Week is Too Rushed For My Own Good. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in El Dorado Hills tonight, 5-7pm, at the library on Silva Valley Parkway. And there’s an addition to our Thursday calendar: Mary Mackey will read from her new book at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis (plus open mic), 8pm. Mary and Andy Jones can be heard in conversation on KDVS (90.3FM) this Wednesday night, 5:30pm, on Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour. 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 the art of slowing down!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Color of the Day

—Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Michael Brownstein, Chicago, IL

They lived on the edge of the graveyard
Their yard lit by spirit light
Their side door always welcoming.
They kept their garden courteous
And they never deceived or angered.
Their home was not rooted in dispute,
Their evening walks samples of simplicity.
They held hands long into their years,
Spoke to few and kept to themselves,
Ate what they grew and ate simply.
We did not know of their death
Until the lights from the edge careened
Outwards, stopping traffic nearby
And causing havoc near the hills.
Their door was wide open, lights
Were in motion, and they were seated
Comfortably on comfortable chairs,
Dinner before them. They must have
Passed away together, hand in hand.
Go past their home now and hold
Your breath. You know they are
Watching and remember—this is important—
If you are with someone you like,
Never walk past their house
Without holding the other’s hand.

—Michael Brownstein
Let us rise and shine
and see the color of the day.
dawn is drawn in wine—
let us rise and shine,
enter the Antigua blue design,
find the turquoise water of the bay:
Let us rise and shine
and see the color of the day.

*A 13th-century French poetic form

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Flipping through another magazine
I see some pretty actresses
As they’ve made the scene,
Showing off some skin
In glamourous dresses,
Sidling their boyfriends.
Later, there’s caresses,
I assume.

Shifting to the cell phone
For the news—
A way to pass the time away,
Escaping doldrums’ blues.

Time spent alone on a train
Coming and going
Thinking things one thinks
When so alone,
Surrounded by so many,
Going home
When it’s getting dark. 

—Joseph Nolan

Your place
Looked lovely
In the summer,

When the rain
Washed down
The tree leaves,

When the heat
Was just

And no-one
Ever wandered
Down the street
In pouring rain,

But I loved
Sweet September--
Indian Summer,
Warm and plain,

When it seldom,
If ever,

And grass
Went brown
From the
Farmers’ fields,
All the way
Into town.

—Joseph Nolan

Angels have always known
And they are knowing still,
Strengths and weaknesses
Inside of men,
Things twisted and broken,
Wounds unhealed,
All secrets revealed
In the light of
Twenty-thousand suns
Focused to a single point
Of penetrating light
That shines through skin,
Through bone,
And all within,
In the burning clarity
Of an angel’s eye,
Contrasting you with Eternity,
Your life
And the place you will lie
When your life is done
Angels have always known,
And Angels are knowing,

They can see the ash
Of things that burned away
Inside a man,
Ground down—
Things lost, released, abandoned.

Angels say,
“Don’t beguile yourself
With manufacturing
Your own internal shadows,
Or confuse yourself
With imagining
The opaque
Might remain so,
Before the brightest light
That pours past every whirling atom
Throughout the day
And even through the night.”

—Joseph Nolan

The wise fool
The crazy sage
Rumpelstiltskin laughs,
He wants his fee,
A newborn baby
For his posterity.
How horrible
Contracts can be!

I wake with sandy eyes.
I hear a baby cry
In the next room.
I am so relieved.
Such strange dreams!
Where do they come from? 

Some would say I was lying, and
others that I was laying, anyways I
was in a bed in ICU, sometime after
10 days in a coma they tell me, with
a full left-leg cast and a big bandage
wrapped several times around my
right thumb

They asked me to wiggle my toes
and were joyously happy that I could

I have zero memory of the fateful
motorcycle crash, and was later
told by some kind of “mental expert”
that if I had actually seen the car hit
me, or witnessed being hurled 45 feet
till I landed head first on the pavement,
that the very trauma of the experience
would likely have blocked that from my

Why, oh why, is that mental protective
feature not working now, when we have
taken the kindergarten class clown and
put him in charge of the White House?

After reading “Cover Design As
A Torn Page” by Joyce Odam,
Medusa’s Kitchen, 11/27/18

Kids today navigate whole
libraries of databases held on
little microchips, built into one
or another pocket device.

No more need at all for those big,
heavy books to look up a fact or
a phone number, no more need
for stone tablets in backpacks.

The open invitation to “correct me
if I’m wrong” has now become a
solo scenario, the quiet, covert
pressing of a few buttons.

Pose with me for a selfie and
then we are done here…
you own the world, right in your



Born to rich parents
who hire the best advisers
to create the right optics
so we look less like misers

“Thoughtful” is measured in
rounded dollars, skip the cents
they are beneath our calling
like loose ladies for the gents

Problems disappear because
we hire strength and grit,
owning land gives us money and
clout…that about settles it.


Accidents all, no good cards
show up in our deck,
our dream is to rise to living
paycheck to paycheck

A dilapidated derby is our
fancy three-cornered hat,
broken mirrors never lie, and
that about settles that!


(sung insincerely to the tune of
"Away in a Manger")

Alone in a tower, no wife in the bed 
Petty Tyrant Donald paid a whore, it was said
Media up high recounted each throb 
Petty Tyrant Donald, asleep on the job.

The stories are flowing, The Donald awakes 
Petty Tyrant Donald, no crying he makes
I love me, white hero, he looks in the mirror 
Let’s rest in my tower till morning is here.

Please hear me, white woman, I ask you to stay 
Close by me for awhile, and love what I pay
Hope all the dear white folks in my tender care 
Don’t open that tower to clear the foul air.


This is going to take some imagination
as if you are an envelope, and someone
is going to push you and contort you in
ways that you really didn’t anticipate.

Let’s just ponder the advantages of
replacing our real estate tycoon president
with a truck driver:  big semi, tractor double
trailer, loaded, and consider how much
better off our whole nation would be.

Such a driver would professionally check
the rig to make sure it is trip-ready, not
leaving significant gaps for others to later
find and fix, and negotiate that behemoth
machine along steep, winding, challenging
highways, always keeping focus on the road,
much, much too concerned with precision
maneuvers than to waste any precious time
or energy finding new ways to shame people,
or separate families, or tweet messages
meant only to hurt people.

And for this driver, backing up is something
done artfully to contribute to a healthy stream
of commerce, not as an afterthought to take
back those sharp barbs thrown in hateful tirades. 

Dream on.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

I dream of marsupials
Clinging to a tree
Eating eucalyptus
They can get for free.

I dream of cute koalas,
Cute as they can be!
Eating eucalyptus,
Clinging to a tree.

What’s all this to me?
It’s only what I dream.
I’m fond of cute koalas
And eucalyptus trees.


Our thanks to today’s contributors for today’s poetry and to Caschwa (Carl Schwartz), in addition, for his photos! Poetry events in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with readers from the latest issue of
American River Review, 7:30pm. On Tuesday, 5-7pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves will meet at the El Dorado Hills library on Silva Valley Pkwy in El Dorado Hills.

Thursday, in addition to Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm (featured readers and open mic), chill out with the Love Jones Chill Night of love poetry at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sacramento, 8-10pm. Then on Saturday, the Second Saturday Reception from 2-8pm at the Sac. Poetry Center Gallery will feature Women’s Wisdom Art, including the Cowgirl Sweethearts performing music from 4-8pm. 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.



Celebrate poetry—and read relentlessly!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.