Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Wearing That Old Song

The Singleness of a Flower
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


a flurry of birds
a white fence
a house

an old road stretching by with no one on it
a time of day
not noted for this verse
. . . all that motion . . . all that stillness . . .

a wide play of sky to hold the birds
a frame of land to hold the house
a boundary to hold the fence

an isolation so severe the birds break free to escape it

a house
a fence
a lack of birds

two disappearing ends for the road that stretches by
with no one on it


You are the one I almost love.
How will I hold you now,
my arms are cold and distant;
I wear an old song in my mouth.

You are coming toward me in warm light.
You are carrying a rose,
oh, you are carrying a rose.
I reach out into the emptiness between us.

You are walking through me
in the warm light. It is the mirror.
It is the mirror between us.
I am on both sides. You are on neither.

It is the false light that hinders everywhere.
It shifts and loses us too easily.
It cannot hold.
No wonder I cannot find you.

Now you are sitting in a circle,
your own reflection, a new-formed sea,
surreal as always,
I move toward you,

but there is no substance of reality,
you cannot hear me or see me.
I am under water,
deeply breathing.

 Questioning The Dark

After Tree by Alice Neel

It is so far now to the house, past the old tree
that is such an embarrassment in winter and
such a poor hiding place for winter birds
and summer’s memory, the snow
piled up against its trunk
and the empty doghouse
in the yard, the snow
covering any
that were
unlit and
cold, showing
no new sign of
chimney smoke
or curtain pulling
back to look out—no
breath-circle on the glass—
best not to make the effort—
best not create a new disturbance
in the snow not deep enough yet
to become an isolation from the
world—best let it all obliterate and
swirl away again; it’s all an old ghost-look
can really do—there’s nothing there except
the privacy of snow, not ever me, not ever you.

 Stem As Answer


Angels flutter their wings
In their transparency
I see them

or is that an error of human imagination :
what are gods without angels
angels without gods

but I see them from the hundred windows
that my mind creates,   believes,   denies,
these spellings of illogical truth.

I feel the chill at my back
and turn around to the disconnection
of a receding, dispassionate landscape.


               the white pallet the moon
               spreads across the leaves
               is like a fairytale
               turning dark at the edges
                                —Lloyd Van Brunt

You hear yourself weep softly in the night. 
You hear night answer with its own release.

The room of misery opens out
into a sad endlessness.

You feel yourself enter the permission
of the dark.

You are unhealed.
You are unfound.

Nowhere is there light,
though light surrounds you—

elsewhere—in some soft memory,
like a sheet.

It hums with direction—melts against
the cold enclosing shadow, and goes out.

 Against the Unknown

Brussels, 6 Rue du Lac

The beautiful blue door stands in the way of the city and
the vanishing land. On one side is the ideal, on the other,
the real. Which is which, asks the glorified blue window
through which the difference intensifies.

The door is the art of the mind, holding time against the
forces of time; there is only this division, praise for the
developers; upheaval and crumble vie for balance.

What is the door to this; it is one of a kind, designed
for awe and envy; it has only one true side for its
admiration—who would know otherwise—
the door is bewildered by what is demanded:

remain thus forever, open to eyes of passersby,
fame for its creator. The entrance is closed to all but
the curiosity of wealth and elegance, of rank and stature.
The door is the reminder of the work—the house of it—the
unattainability of it, though the unprivileged are told otherwise.

 Mysterious Depths

After Le Peintre by Henri Matisse, 1916

Swaddled on the canvas, on the chaise,
the room light barely there. Outdoors,
the small tree shivers, casts no hint
of shadow in the watery sunlight.

The artist—nude—
and from a wooden
chair, contemplates the
wretched model, huddled
from the cold—her dull face
turned toward the open window.
Time ticks forward—involves the
trio : nude, canvas, model, waiting
for the winter light to be sufficient.

 Many As One

After Flight of Birds by Morris Graves, 1955

terror-force of movement—
the skies intruding—a collage
of birds becoming a wingless blur
taking on the shape of one comet-fall
through ultimate migration.  

                              which way forward
which way back ?
                              the skies change,

making a hole (  ) to fly through.

now they are each  )(  part of the other,

each one leading  >  <  each one following:      
                                        remember them ?


Today’s LittleNip:

Psychological Morphology by Roberto Matta

The sun is the eye now
How it sees

Spilled jars of colors
Oil on water    Caught by the eye

A fold in the middle
A division     Two sides and an edge

Somewhere a signature. In code.
An “N” and an “N”: no vowels.

There is always a focal point
That shimmers      It has a center.

There are knobs and tryings
Too slow to verify.

Let us leave this panel
Before it overwhelms.

—Joyce Odam


Our thanks to Joyce Odam today as she weaves her way through our Seed of the Week, Marooned, playing up the isolation of people and hearts and houses, even  some “concrete” poetry to help drive home her images.

Our new Seed of the Week is Dead Ends. Send your poems, photos & 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 of others to choose from.

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)

 Psychological Morphology
—Painting by Robert Matta, 1938

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, January 21, 2019

All Alone

—Rainy Day Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Ian Copestick, Stoke on Trent, England

Living apart from you is like
Being in prison, there is a
Constant pain inside of my
Head. Telling me that a part
Of me is missing, an important
Part, like an arm, or a lung.
I suppose that I could learn
To live without it, but it would
Be painful and I simply don't
Want to. Without you, that's
What I am, half a man. The
Best part of me disappears
With you.


—Ian Copestick

They lobotomised the woman next door.
I don't know why, but they did.
One day she was a normal woman
Same as anyone else. The next
She was just a vegetable. They
Say she was found wandering the streets
Not knowing who, or where, she was
All I know is that I didn't see her
For a week or two, then the next time
I saw her, she had forgotten how to speak
Then she was in a wheelchair
When before she had no problems
Walking at all. I just saw her
In the street, with her husband
Pushing her, I  bent down to
Say Hello. There was nothing
There, nothing at all. Her poor
Husband said to me, "I'm sorry
Ian, but she won't recognise
You anymore."
How the hell did this happen?
I didn't think they'd be allowed
To do this kind of shit anymore
People have rights, surely?
All I know is that she was a
Normal, if slightly opinionated
Woman, and they reduced her
To nothing, less than nothing.
How do the doctors sleep
At night?
They've gotten away with murder.
No, it's something worse than

On these wintry days with
storm systems lining up like
masked executioners ready
to deliver volumes of volleys

my long-ago crushed and
broken ankle, now healed and
toned, only knows one song
to sing, knock and ping, loudly

appetite unmet by pantry bare,
confining me to my favorite
chair, easy to tell which one:
it has the warmest armrest

and an electric motor to power
the footrest, as long as we don’t,
in fact, lose power as has happened
countless times before and more

provoking comments so sour they
make all 7 of the deadly cinquains
so red-faced ashamed they hop
and sputter back into the gutter



Ages before a thermometer was
ever invented, people were aware
of temperature and its changes.
So by the time a device was made
to measure temperature, we didn’t
feel the need to express those
feelings or sensations as a by-product
of the device (e.g. “thermometric

Same history for air pressure, but once
barometers were invented some 400
years ago to measure it, we have been
inundated with “barometric air pressure”
readings, as if no one had ever recognized
this experience before barometers were
invented.  Where will this take us?

Future generations may have to deal
with terms like “rain gauge flood waters”,
“radar gun speed violations”, “egg timer
undercooked breakfast”, or “calendar
missed appointment”.


I admit to being a regular viewer of this
television show where the moderator, like
a hungry alley cat, lies in wait to pounce on
anything that moves, whether valid foodstuff
or not, because that makes for good TV.

Say, for example, the discussion topic is
how to bake potatoes.  As befits our messed-
up world today, one of those potatoes is
actually a live hand grenade. 

Just dare to bring out that point and the alley
cat dons his debate police uniform to force
the discussion to cover only citations that can
be duly attributed to a reputable cook book. 

Good luck finding that book!



Like the taste of Welch’s Grape Juice
but don’t want to support the John Welch Society

Love the wonderful sound of the Empire Brass
but don’t support the overthrow of free democracies by
totalitarian empires

Enjoy the catchy phrase “it’s the economy, stupid”
but not on board with an economic system that only
works well for the top 1%

Appreciate the convenience of smart phones
but some cited sources are sorely lax on fact-checking

Happy with the performance of our new freezer
but the standard warranty didn’t cover certain parts
most likely to fail, and they did

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
Things I notice
As we lumber
Through our sixties
Is how you never call
To tell me of your day,
When you are away.

How you
Like to be
Left alone
And free
When you’re out
In the world
On your own
And how you
Hate to tell me
Where you
Will be going
Or when
You might be home—
How you like to be
Left alone.


—Joseph Nolan

What if nobody’s home?
What if we’re all empty
To the bone,
What if all the ghosts
Vacated all their homes,
And everyone, together—
All were all alone? 

 American River

—Joseph Nolan

All the dust will settle
Obeying gravity’s call
Little by little
All of it falls,
Falling and
Settling, low.

Earth reclaims
All her particles
Briefly held aloft
By electrical charges
And flutter of breezes
To dance the dance
Of separation, independence,
Making a way alone,
Away from the nest.

Rain, too, gives
The prodigal rest
At Mother’s breast,
Back to where
They belong.
She holds them all,
The least, the best.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

There are many forms of madness
Encompassing the seas.
Her majesty’s a mystery,
Her servants, there to please.
She’s got them all bamboozled
With her beauty and her brains.
They all seem pleased to serve her.
None of them complains.


Thanks to today’s fine contributors from near and far on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Poetry events in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Chris Olander and AndYes (David Loret de Mola), plus open mic, 7:30pm. SPC workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop for writing poems, facilitated this week by Laura Martin, SPC, 6pm.

Saturday will be busy, including the fourth annual Sierra Writers’ Conference at Sierra College in Grass Valley from 9:15am-4:15pm; Writers on the Air at SPC, featuring five poets and open mic, 9:30am-1pm; and Poetic License poetry read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center, 2-4pm. 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.


 All Alone
—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.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Dream That Flows Beside Me

Chief Coppa Hembo, 1816-1898
—Anonymous Photo

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
I come to your patient meadow, brown in summer,
boggy with springs this time of year,
and I think of you, Coppa Hembo, last chief of the Hill Nisenan.

I think of you, and of Dr. King,
far-seers moving in your own ways toward the same vision:
Peace, equality, brotherhood, a fair chance to all people.

In this meadow the good earth springs
with clear water to gather in ponds that float lily-pads in summer.

From here the creek flows down-canyon, always aiming—
around rocks, down pediments,
past old abandoned gold mines; by twists, turns and falls—
toward that great water, the sea.

Cedar-bark tepees stand in the meadow, remembrance of your tribe,
and in the grassy center is a great quartz stone inscribed:

Chief Coppa Hembo 1816-98… Leader in Civil Rights
and Humanitarian to All People… .

You lived through the frenzy of our Gold Rush,
miners driving native people from ancestral lands,
the First and Second Indian Wars of El Dorado County.

Sentiments festered against immigrants.
So many nations’ languages gathered in these hills and canyons,
so many colors of spirit and skin.

Chinese and Chilean, Spanish, Mexican, Irish, Cherokee….
miners from the eastern States—abolitionist and pro-slavery—
as our country moved toward Civil War.

Like Dr. King, you saw all men alike, to be treated honestly, fairly,
as neighbors to you and your tribe.
You made peace with them all; made all your friends—

all except the slave traders
who rode across the river to steal your people,
drive them to mercury mines on the coast where they’d die soon,
poisoned by the metal that mates with gold.

What harm one group of humans does to another!
But you saw each man truly. You were made a judge among them.
You built schools to teach all children together,
believing that knowledge makes justice and peace.

Your name means Grizzly Fighter.
You earned it by chance, as a youth, coming upon the bear
you couldn’t escape.
The grizzly almost killed you, you were left for dead.

But you killed the bear
and returned to your village next day
as if a ghost of yourself—
scarred for life, warmed by the skin of the bear.

Did the scars give you voice and vision?
As chief of your tribe, you led your people
in peace and brotherhood, in far-seeing.

I walk the meadow thinking of you
on this day when we honor Dr. King and his far-seeing dream—
the sort of dream you kept in your own words.

That dream flows beside me
down the creek singing on its way to the sea
that gathers all waters in its tides.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her fine poem about human rights on this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Tomorrow she will read this poem at the Placerville Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration in Placerville.

And today at 2pm, Taylor will read with Tim Kahl at the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series, 1919 F St. in Davis. 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.

For more about El Dorado County’s Chief Coppa Hembo, go to cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SDU18920407.2.53&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------1/ or to see his biography,
A River Divided, at www.amazon.com/River-Divided-Story-Biography-Chief/dp/1477133526/.


Celebrate poetry—and the rights of all peoples!

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.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Empty and Still

Poet Trees
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Part of my way of being a person in the world
Is to say Good Morning to that first glimpse of light
In the morning sky.
Around me the earth still seems asleep,
But I have been up for a bit already.
Meditating. Sipping coffee. Puttering around
Since the morning was really still night.
I have no job to go to, no real reason to be up then.
I just love that first bit of light.
It opens the dark sky like a child opens a gift
And then graces us down below on this earth.
It is a kindness. A blessing.
And I am there to receive it.
To give praise, to give thanks.

 A Poet's Reading Material

Midnight. Last quarter of the moon.
Fascism rises up across America.
Race hate. Religion hate. Above all,
A hatred exists for the people in need
And for those would want to help them.
White America. Christian America.
Step in the wrong yard and it’s death.
I say the same prayers as I always do.
I meditate, sometimes at midnight,
Sometimes at dawn, sometimes both.
The fascism has a name and face,
And it is easy to find. It lives next door.

 Mt. Diablo, CA

A small boat crosses a still lake,
A plane flying through a gray sky.
After? No mark that anything happened.
Such is life.


I live. And those I still hold close bring me comfort.
Family. Home. Earth. The green pines.
The owls. The sounds and sights of living. Still.
Come death, I will depart this valley. Not before.
With death I will let go of those few things to which I still hold.
Family. Home. Earth.
I do not need to know what comes after,
Or if anything comes after. I accept it,
Even if it is endless darkness, endless silence.
It is what it is, and I am mortal.
Such is the way of all flesh.

 What a Poet Needs

Sweet sleep, under my own roof.
Breeze for a blanket, night sounds
For my entertainment. A quiet house.
Empty and still.
Empty and still.
Night is my friend once again.


Today’s LittleNip:

High above, in heaven, big winds.
Here below, on earth, all of our souls.
And in between?

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine wake-up poetry and photos! Tomorrow, James will be hosting Taylor Graham and Tim Kahl at the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series on F St. in Davis, 2pm. And this afternoon, Pachamama Coffee Co-op and Akinto will be hosting poetry and conversation with Margaret Ronda and Marilyn McEntyre (plus open mic) at 919 20th St., Sac., 5-7pm. 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.


 James working part-time as a Playboy Playmate
(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, January 18, 2019

Hope's Possible

60 Pigeons
—Poems and Photos by Smith, Cleveland, OH


I was born in Dead Leaf Montana
raised near Brown Grass Gone
my momma loved walking the ridges
daddy was the Devil's son
ate insects in swamp water for dinner
for fun watched roadkill drying in dawn
trying to catch our breath
as pus oozed from corporate spawn
so took what we could from the dying earth
knowing we wouldn't be here long

 Tin Woodman


Sitting in dead woman's chair
facing north
third floor of Victorian house
looking east out window 30 feet up
at 80-foot Sycamore in next yard
its upper 2/3s a friendly glow
of setting sun slanting up
softening through added air
to an old glow
of once-bright memories
the leaves rustle shudder shimmy shake
in breeze as branches sway and bounce
a thousand leaves agleam
in suss of gold and bustle



Coyote waits with trinkets in bushes
to trick you out of your foreskin
baubles as bait
the luxury of lie
he'll fuck your wife
eat your kids
crash your car
and debit your deeds in doubt and deception
Coyote lies
that's what he do
what Gods does
he points here while stealing there
nowhere good
he'll wear your skin better'n you
make your wife happier too



Give us a kiss, miss
the male men say
as they reach for her tits
offering to pay
to play with the possum
between her legs
swearing it'll be awesome
and hopefully often
their bag in a beg
broken body bits
dripping down their leg
between this the myth
and the mist that it made



The three wishes way
is complicated in cost...

sometimes a finger, sometimes the forearm
sometimes forever lost

the cost of complicity
factors the formula:

you wish for money,
your insured child dies   

you wish the child back,
it shambles in rot from grave

so wish three must always be
"make it like it was before I fluxed it up"

it always costs, each and every way,
all the time, every day

pay now, pay later,

wish, or not
costs a lot

 Eye of Darkness


Some run with rabbits
some hoe the corn
come daylight in Damascus
it's all part of morn
morn built on yesterday
morn torn from tomorrow
form come what may
in shadow, silence, sorrow



There's no reward
for getting rock to top
no good job, no take a rest
no go home, you're done
so always when almost won
I stumble strain
let rock roll back
rest as it tumbles low
while I look long at valley
from mountain's high
the trees
the breeze
the sun in ease
delight sight
then slow stroll down
to start up again
dropping one chip of rock
since with each failure at top
I chop one chip of hill
to carry down
so day after day
rock roll after rock roll
mountain gets shorter
one nick at a time
till eons down the line
top of mountain and bottom
will align
and rock won't roll



Dodging disasters
dancing thin ice
checking for monsters
who aren't very nice
salt over shoulder
creeping down stairs
bad getting bolder
playing unfair
mirrors of Narcissus
snorting up sins
rocking with Sisyphus
boredom within
holes in my pockets
no cash to fall through
my future's a fuck-it
of past payment due
heart she be hurting
brain may explode
rich out there lurking
life to erode
yet loved in my loving
and friends to abide
though society's grueling
right here is right fine
my wife is my sweetheart
our cat quite divine
in poetry art
we walk one fine line
so pockets of pearls
in pus must one seek
for life but rehearsal
of endless repeat

 The Temple Pillars

Today’s LittleNip:


I am tall, the ground far,
gravity heavy, back ache.

So? Better over than under,
better running than rot.

Hope's possible, though not probable,
no one yet may save the day.


Thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for today’s fine potpourri of poems and pix! As he says, hope’s possible . . .

The Other Voice in Davis meets tonight, featuring Deborah Shaw Hickerson plus open mic. That’s 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Patwin Road in Davis. I misspoke on the early edition of the Kitchen yesterday, saying Taylor Graham and Tim Kahl would be reading there tonight. (I also said Taylor would be reading at the Placerville MLK Commemoration on Sunday, when it’s actually Monday. WhatEVER was I thinking…?) Actually, Tim and Taylor will be reading on Sunday at the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series on F St., 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.


 Coconut Sloth
—Photo by Smith
(Celebrate poetry—and hope!)

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, January 17, 2019

Home by Twilight

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s Senior Fitness Class. “Rock Around the
Clock” is playing on Pandora. Dolly and Flo
can’t quite manage the boot-camp cardio
routine anymore. An upwards leap becomes
a slide-subsidence-lean to the right, lift
the arms high, graceful as ballerinas—two
old gals facing each other on the floor,
doing the latest Jumping-Jack slow-dance.


Loki’s softened her intensity of stare as she
watches the new kitten closely, set to castigate
when he attacks a tangle of electronic cords
and cables under the desk. A shepherd-dog’s
portion in life is to keep order; her breeding’s
her credential. And still, I’ve caught the two
of them—Loki and Latches—companionably
stretched out on the bed meant for humans.


I was cleaning out old webs,
busy with spiders all summer, dusty now.
I’m with Issa—Don’t worry, spiders, 
I keep house casually.
But the repairman
was coming, I was sweeping out
derelict kitchen-corner webs.
Wait! in a far corner, the largest live
Sierra Dome I’ve ever seen,
resting at easy indolence on her web.
Body engorged—household spider
“pleasantly plump.” No caught flies
ready to be sucked dry; no husks of fly
already consumed. What was keeping her
alive? I spared her web.
Next morning, just before dawn, I checked
again. Flicked on the light.
Grandmother spider was a skeleton—
bulbous body gone; splayed legs
part of the furniture now. And a smaller,
younger Sierra Dome was lounging
on a lower cobweb level, digesting. So much
I don’t know about spiders.


Strange twilight vision. You were sitting on
the couch, eyes open. An infinite line of people,
bundled against cold, filed silently in front
of the TV (not turned on), around the living
room. Like an old-time newsreel drained
of color, bonafide refugees, applicants for a job,
or bread. A reminder of traveling in another
country. I think of that woman in rebozo,
selling jalapenos fresh and smoked chipotles,
and men lined up elbow to elbow on a curb
at dawn, hoping for day labor. And still
you watched the human procession circling
the room never stopping. In my mind, one old
woman walks the berm of a road, forever
walking. Alone. Not bundled in drab; wrapped
in all the colors of her life against the twilight.

        on “Smog Collectors” by Kim Abeles

Dusk has settled on the porcelain.
It’s darkened the features on collectors’ plates,
the faces of decades that saw blue sky
as entitled, as not requiring
blessing. It darkens with particulates
what we’ll eat for dinner, on table linen
patterned dark with acid in air. An artist’s
vision, like the ceiling downtown,
mosaic of photos from around the world,
so many views of sky. Blue or brown or stormy.
The sky above us that’s not ours, but moves
above us gathering its share of every
human gathering and riddance. It becomes us.


Sun’s dropping through storm clouds,
eyes brilliant white. More rain’s due with dusk.
I’m at edge between gated community
and chaparral wildland—neither’s mine. All
changed since last time. Someone used
a lot of initiative and muscle to hack a way
through mixtures of chamise, manzanita,
scrubby gray pine. Not just a way—a maze.
Paths broad and beckoning, others sly
as game trails. Who lives here?
Memorize the camel-back of a leaning
ghost-pine—landmark for finding my car.
Lock and leave. A path pulls me
down twists and windings, forks, dead-ends—
a labyrinth. Who made this?
Suddenly, a clearing. Someone’s leveled
the space of a room graded smooth and level
as a floor; a pile of small boulders at a corner.
So far from the nearest road. No sign
of occupancy, no belongings left behind.
A mystery. Did someone evacuate in a hurry?
Time to get back to my car, unlock
and leave, be home by twilight.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

By the front door, the old dog
collects stiff joints for the steps down
to morning. Dogs are trust and patience.
Acceptance, anticipating kibble in his
bowl. The cat appears from dark corners
spiderweb-wreathed with night hunting.
Behind the ridge, sun collects all its
colors for the graves of old dead dogs;
ready to bloom as white-saffron crocus.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos about the magic hour, Twilight, our recent Seed of the Week. Taylor will be reading with Tim Kahl Sunday afternoon at the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series at 2pm, and she will also be reading a poem in Placerville this coming Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Poetry events in our area today include Third Thursdays at the Central Library in Sac at noon today; Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe (featured readers and open mic) at 8pm; and Emily Wallis Hughes and Meredith Herndon (plus open mic) at Poetry in Davis, also 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.


Waiting for Twilight
—Anonymous Photo
(Celebrate Poetry!)

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Committing Poetry

—Poems by Marilyn Wallner, Carmichael, CA
—Anonymous Photos


I no longer consult mirrors.
They have nothing new
to tell me.
Oh, there’s no avoiding them
when say, brushing teeth or
hair, obsequious intruders
on my field of vision.
Orthodox Jews cover them when
there is a death in the family.
Vanitas vanitatum.
To do this for the death of one’s youth
would not be kosher.

I note the young
checking themselves
in any reflecting surface
like store or car windows.
I want to shout
“If you’re not sure
you are here, why
don’t you just ask me?”


I have joined the ranks
of old women
who move among you
food stains
on jackets
glasses occluded
with dust motes
manufacturers’ labels
at attention on
neck’s nape
telling the world
“I live alone.” 


This is how I like it best.
Just my little dog
and I owning the neighborhood.
Nobody out but us.
I can concentrate on
what there is here:
the season’s colors,
bird gossip, airplane’s drone
Union Pacific’s distant salute,
agonizing sound of old redwood shakes
yielding to the workmen on 
Yates’ roof.
They are going with wood again.
Tomorrow this stretch
will smell like freshly sharpened pencils.


Once a neighbor’s rooster
brought it up
even adjusting
for daylight saving.
But they moved
taking their egg factory
with them.
So it fell to Tom
who Romeoed out
our east window
“But, soft! What light
through yonder window breaks?
It is the east and Juliet is the sun.”
It never failed.
Now he’s gone so
I stand in for clamoring cock
and poetizer,
mute, offering
neither gift nor incantation
still it rises
in spite of me. 


Nothing good can come from this:
six heads, mine among them,
parallel with blank paper
fingers strangling pencils
trying to squeeze metaphors, similes,
words, anything out of them.
The professor tilts back in his chair
behind the desk, eyes half-lidded,
and the faint smile of someone
who has committed poetry
and gotten away with it.
Nothing good can come from this
save something wonderful.


Today’s LittleNip:

A workshop is a way of renting an audience, and making sure you're communicating what you think you're communicating. It's so easy as a young writer to think you're been very clear when in fact you haven't.

—Octavia E. Butler


Many thanks to new SnakePal Marilyn Wallner for her poems today! Marilyn writes: “I am a 90-year-old poet in Carmichael, eternally vigilant to keep technology at bay, writing my poems using a pre-WWII manual typewriter. I entertain a troupe of wild turkeys in my backyard who graciously reciprocate with feathers for my garden hat. My wish? That when I am speaking, my companion will give me the gift of their listening, and when we are walking, will walk at my pace.” Welcome to the Kitchen, Marilyn, and don’t be a stranger!

 Marilyn Wallner and Pal

Speaking of workshops, MarieWriters meets tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 6pm, facilitated this week by Cristin O’Cuddehy. 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—and the noble art of the pun!)

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, January 15, 2019

Leaning Our Shadows Together

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


Dust of silence.
Dust-light at the windows.
Time flowing backward into time.

Light cannot enter windows now.
Grime of old light has built to a refusal.
Memories have no wish to be remembered.

Emptiness is heavy with an old weight.
A barrier now. Breath cannot breathe.
The door too far—the lock too rusty.

Folding chairs move in the light,
It’s not just their shadows,

dusk is forming.
Soon the moons will enter—
every window with its soft light,

 Winter Woods


Where does it go, the old prayer, the old
“for the sake of mercy”
where does it go?

The words are spread over the mind
like falling    like fainted gulls    made of
slow, indelible ecstasy.

If this twilight takes them
under its broad wing    under its darkness
may they be simplified
into landscapes and drawings.

(first pub. in Yes, A Magazine of Poetry, 1974)


After “Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer”
by Jane Kenyon (from Otherwise)

It was simply this—as simple as
simple is—as slow and careful
as procrastination—almost
deliberate, the way we

drifted away from tedium
and went out into the
cool sad dusk to let our shadows
touch the shadows there.

It was something we would
remember and care about—
our little deviation from duty . . .
from clock . . . from need to do . . .

we took a walk—
it was as simple and easy as that,
not caring what piled up
behind us, or out-waited our return.

 Winter Tree

(An Octo)

Wandering through the mauve garden,
bending like old trees toward night,
leaning our shadows together.
Is it sadness that we feel—or

something unknown that we deplore.
Leaning our shadows together,
bending like old trees toward night,
we wander through the mauve garden.



I fake no grief, nor listen for its doom;
I watch the way the late light fills the room
and listen to the noisy shadows loom

removed awhile from time and timeless space
I watch the way the mirror tears my face
with light and shadow as if it were lace.


After Thoughts of the Sea, 1919 by William Cahill

Thinking of the sea,
how it seems to follow you
as if it needs your return; 

this morning’s wet blue air
brings back the sound and scent
of long-ago summers.

The harrowing cries of gulls
fill your open window,
the sea so close now

it could be right outside—
you could step out the door
and walk out to its edge.

The power is yours, this memory.
You open your door
to the sea—

gone quiet now that you have returned.
This calmness
is what you have waited for—

the three levels:
earth,      sea,      and sky
all perfectly fastened to each other.

 Coloring Book


Fading twilight pulls toward the hills
which turn to lavender in softened light—

that interval of time just as the winter sun
goes down and shadow cancels out the light.



This is where the gold metallic water
and the swans drift out in elegant relief,

where the buildings illustrate themselves
with their reflections along the banks,

and where the dark descending light
drowns in the gold metallic water.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

. . . it was the burnished way
light shook itself from trees

and spilled into the red air,
closing down the day . . .


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for painting visions of our past Seed of the Week, Twilight, with her poetry and original artwork. Our new Seed of the Week is Marooned. Has your boat sunk? Are you stuck on a deserted island? Or are you marooned in some other place, some other way, some state of mind, maybe? Send your poems, photos & 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 of others to choose from.


To see how to live on a deserted island, go to 
(And celebrate poetry while you're there!)

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.