Monday, June 17, 2019

Pretty Cool

Green Tomatoes
—Photos by Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA            

Cal Expo, walking along blistering cement,
our crusty, deep-fried onion in hand,
daughter, granddaughter and I rush
toward a small table in scarce shade.
We cannot resist fair food.  I’ve just
finished a large order of fried zucchini.
Now, our onion has exploded into a sweet,
crunchy, greasy blossom. We dig in,
thinking one will not be enough
for three. Each slender piece
is swirled in the ranch dressing,
white as its Styrofoam cup. The first
few bites fulfill their promise,
but saturation catches up, we slow
down, leave half for the birds.

I remember the old fair grounds,
pregnant, sitting in filtered shade
on a worn cement curb, eating melon
in scorching 104 degrees, feet swollen,
shoulders sunburned, chocolates
melting. We all thought it was permanent: 
brick buildings, one for each
—Swine, Equine, Poultry,
and the barns for sulky racing—
all uniform, white wood with green trim.
You could sit near the bandstand
under trees, leaves big as dinner plates,
spend the day lounging with lemonade
and local musicians. Or, wait till evening,
when Curly the clown would lasso
the bull riders and your son
was thrilled to get his autograph.

We traded candy apples and classic buildings
for progress, concrete and indigestion.

(prev. pub. in Art with Words)


—Jeanine Stevens

Wanting to write about small things,
like violet lupines, tangled sweet peas,
wild rose and redbud, four stallions
interrupt me, roaring, barking
like old dragons at the sky, barn, pond—
anything that will listen.
They make me think of larger things:
green chaparral dotting scorched
flower falls and fire eroded canyons.
I’ve seen scant streams fed by thin springs,
a few spewing silent as a baby’s easy
regurgitation, leaky mountain milk
from a weak wet nurse. Those withering
breasts slump arid and dry as Black Butte,
the cinder cone around Mt. Shasta.
Born in a firebomb, this earth reveals
so many remnants of a molten birth,
now dull, fading like striped awnings
on old brick porches. I shade my eyes
from scalding arctic ice wedges, sinking,
leaving spongy depressions. Spotted rinds,
like over-ripe fruit, render the soil useless.

(prev. pub. in South Dakota Review)

 The Secret Life of Grapes

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

My little friend,
A spider,
Shares my computer corner,
Resting on his web
Between meals.

My cockatoo frowns at me
From inside its cage
Trying to understand
What I
Have to do
With a spider!?

I envy my spider’s vision
Since only flies
Have more eyes.

We are at truce,
My spider and I,
While spinning, I,
A web of words
With which to
Trace the sky.


—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

The soul of poetry
Does not float
Above a page;
It sinks
Into ink,
And dries
Itself out
Into a
Silent shout.

The ink of tattoo
Into your skin
Is something
You might rue
After you do.
What you
Wanted to say,
One day,
May go away,
But ink will not.

An infant-child learns
By tones and sounds
Bounding from his
Mother’s mouth
With loving rounds
Of milk-soaked breasts,
Holding and caressed,
Harmonies of lullabies
And you’ll know why
Poets are the
First to cry,
Branded by the ink
Of loving touch!

—Joseph Nolan

When the world comes apart,
First, the paint peels.
Next, the shingles on the roofs
Bend and buckle
From years and years
Of beating-hot sun.

Rain leaks in
And mold begins to grow.
Plaster bubbles up
And splays upon the floors
In white-lump rubble.

And no-one goes in there
Except for derelicts,
Harpoon junkies,
Homeless and ne’er-do-wells,
Who bide their time
Seeking satisfaction
In their self-immolation,
Until the roof or the walls
Fall down or in,
Or the whole thing goes up
From burned-out candles,
Calling and end
To the proceedings,
When crows fly off
For other fences’ sitting.


—Joseph Nolan

A crow is not kind.
He has something in mind,
With his seven steps of reasoning.

Does he think of forgiveness?
Can he put seven bundles
Of reason in a row?

How deep in thought
Can a crow go?

Does he think of seven-times-seven?
Does he plan on going to Heaven?

 Luscious in the Making

—Joseph Nolan

It doesn’t matter to her,
Why it is broken or how,
Not unless
Knowing those answers
Would somehow
Allow her to fix it.

Knowing a hinge is broken
Won’t repair a door
That goes ajar,
Each time
It’s opened and closed,
As so many doors
Are wont to do
When they grow old
And rusty hinges break
And need replacement.

But children aren’t like doors
And cannot be so easily fixed
When they go ajar or astray,
That happens in so many ways
When they are broken.

But she doesn’t care that much, “Why?”
She only wants to know “How!”—
How to fix
Her broken children!



…lies a great, big book that may very well
foretell the future our nation faces:

“Rise and Fall of the Third Golf Ball”

The ball has been driven far up in the air.
Will it land nicely on the fairway, or plop
hopelessly deep into a hazard?

On-site onlookers stand by, sometimes
whispering their opinions, sometimes
shouting instructions like drunken bowlers
do, telling which pins to fall first.

The media audience at home watches
impatiently while certified experts shoot
down each other’s theories and spoon-
feed us logic that defies logic, analysis
that fails the smell test, etc.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the largest
pond rests the unredacted Mueller Report,
while delegates assigned only to retrieve
stray golf balls make repeated futile attempts
to find something worth sharing.



Some priests and cops
prey on nearby easy pickin’s
that put them on top
like a fox among chickens

big banks, too, are not
worthy of our trust,
kiss your money goodbye
the institution’s gone bust

our whole democratic experiment
is just a fish out of water
Lady Liberty can’t help us, since
another nation has bought her

but the life of a dollar
is impervious to abortion
as long as the top dogs
each get their due portion 

 Strawberry Leaves


Sensitivity for a belligerent incident,
training a government temperament that
kills evidence of a predicament, in
time to splash the media with an event



Just stepped out of a long, soothing
shower and there is an adult, female
with no more clothes on than I have
eyeing me intently

The element of accident is totally
missing here

She will continue to fix her gaze
until I go and refill her
water and kibble bowls 

 Sneaky "Volunteer"

—Ian Copestick, Stoke on Trent, England
Next week it will be exactly a year
Since my first poem was published.
In the space of one year I have had
Nearly 150 poems and 6 short stories
Published online. I have also had my
First book released. For my first
Year I think that this is pretty cool.
To look at it another way though,
I have been writing poetry for 20 years.
Then it's not so impressive, but at
Least I've started getting somewhere
With it, at last, and that's still pretty cool.


Today’s LittleNip:


Esther passed away and then
we needed to interest here we
go again to find arrest room to
spare tire iron ox, I’d never
leave you a loan me some
cashmere sweat urban the
bomb a deer squad run for
off issue made me love ewe.


Our thanks to today’s contributors for a lively Monday morning around the Kitchen table, including a paean to being published by Ian Copestick from Stoke on Trent over there in the UK, and these luscious, luscious (did I say luscious?) photos of Caschwa's garden from poet/photog Carl Schwartz.

The Red Foxes are coming! Tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, ten power-packed poets from Red Fox Underground Poets in the foothills will read, beginning at 7:30pm, plus open mic. This weekly workshop has been meeting for years-n-years, and listening to them is a real treat!

Sac. Poetry Center workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, 6-8pm on Wednesday, in the Women’s Wisdom Art room, facilitated this week by Linda Collins.

Third Thursdays in the Sacramento Room of the Sac. Central Library, 828 I St., meets at noon this week, hosted by Mary Zeppa and Lawrence Dinkins. (It’s a read-around; bring poems by someone other than yourself.) Then in the evening, Poetry in Davis will feature Sac. Poet Laureate Indigo Moor plus open mic, 8pm at the John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st St. in Davis.

Speaking of power-packed, a heady line-up of well-known poets will read in Grass Valley this coming Friday as a benefit for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, beginning at 7pm. On Saturday morning, Writers on the Air features Capital Story Tellers Sue Hobbs and Suzi Boyd plus Poet Mary Zeppa and open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, beginning at 9:30am. Then in the afternoon, ride up to Placerville for the monthly Poetic License in the Placerville Sr. Center lobby, starting at 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.

And finally, check out yesterday’s
Verse Daily ( for a poem by Sacramento Poet and Ekphrasis Co-Editor Carol Frith! Congratulations, Frannie-Alice!

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of the garden

Did I say luscious...? 
—Anonymous photo

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Cottage

—Russell Edson (1935-2014)

    He has built himself a cottage in a wood, near where the insect rubs its wings in song. 
    Yet, without measure, or a proper sense of scale, he has made the cottage too small.  He realizes this when only his hand will fit through the door.          
    He tries the stairs to the second floor with his fingers, but his arm wedges in the entrance. 
    He wonders how he shall cook his dinner.  He might get his fingers through the kitchen window, but even so, the stove’s too tiny to cook enough food; the pots are like thimbles and bottle caps.
    He shall also lie unsheltered in the night, even though a tiny bed, with its covers turned down, waits for him in the cottage.
    He curls himself around the cottage, listening to the insect that rubs its wings in a song . . .


Today at 1pm, Poetry of the Sierra Foothills presents Deborah Shaw Hickerson and Allegra Silberstein, plus open mic, at Caffé Santoro in Diamond Springs near Placerville. And at 2pm, Davis Arts Center Poetry Series features Patrick Grizzell plus open mic at the Davis Arts Center on 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 Russell Edson, go to, and while you’re there, be sure to check out one of my favorite poems at

—Medusa, celebrating the metaphor in poetry!


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Saturday, June 15, 2019

This World Goes Around

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

A fan in the window to pull in the cool, night air
Sleeping under a favorite blanket—waking once
Around 3 am to read a couple of poems
—Wang Ping’s Ten Thousand Waves—
Then sleep until the soft sunrise
Sings me awake to go make the coffee
That’s a nice night, isn’t it?
Yes, nice indeed


A rainy day, cold, gray
And empty.
Drinking coffee alone by the window
When a lone sunbeam breaks through.
Hello, world.
I’m still with you.


Not yet sunrise. Another day.
I take the washcloth and soap it up,
And I wash away the number written on my wrist.
785. Written with the ink of a ballpoint pen.

“785 what,” a friend had asked yesterday.

“785 sunrises without my son in the world.
785 sunrises since he died at age 26.”

My friend, who had no way of knowing
That I do this thing, looks away,
Trying to think of something to say.

“Maybe you should try to... move on,”
He suggests in a whisper, touching my shoulder.

“Everyone gets to grieve in the way
That is best for them,” I say,
“So I keep the count of how many days
I have carried the weight. I’ll never stop.”

I have that conversation every few days,
Whenever someone see the number on me.
It’s alright. I don’t mind
And I am not in the least embarrassed.

It is what it is.

5:29 AM. I haven't slept much tonight.
That’s alright. There is always tomorrow,
And until then I will keep the count
For one more day.
One more sunrise.

I take the pen and write 786
On the inside of my wrist.
Then I write it again,
Tracing it over so that the ink is bold.

Do you want to see what grief looks like?
I’ll show you. 786.
I’ll show it to you anytime.

We met when we were still young, but just barely. I was the river and you were the trees, the forest. Your woods were filled with many creatures, deer, rabbits, owls. My river held trout that flashed like silver and they recited quick poems in the deep quiet. My body was a river. Your body was the woods. The world went spinning around the warmth of the sun.


Is the universe endless? Why, sure!
And I am the universe
And the universe is me.
I am also endless, but I am also impermanent.
How can that be? I don’t know!
(And it doesn’t matter anyway.)
When I die, I will go on and on,
And yet there will be nothing.
I hope I have time for a good laugh
On the way out.

Two days of rain, then a break,
Followed by two days of clear skies,
Cool air. And tonight? No moon yet
As I ride the bus downtown
To hear poet William O’Daly
Read his fine poems and translations.
I stop for a coffee and scribble
In my notebook for an hour.
          My goodness!
It's a pleasant life to be a poet
In this Northern California valley.


My mother whipped me with a belt, a serving ladle,
A hairbrush, a spatula, and her fat, heavy hands.

Every blow was like being struck down by God.
Every blow held the taste of terror to me, a boy.

When the whipping was through, Mother held me,
Whispering, “I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to.”
Do you see how she loved me with scars? Fearing her
Taught me compassion. I did not whip my own children.

A perfect darkness, no moon
As the Sacramento River marches south.
This river is an army on the move.
And what am I? I am a pine tree,
bristlecone pine obscured by pitch black night
Among all the trees along the river bank.
        Well, no man is really a pine tree
And no river is really an army.
It is the strength of living I am talking about.
Midnight here, it is morning in London and Paris,
Along the banks of the Thames and the Seine.
A dark night, a new day.
Rivers in motion as the earth is in motion.
People in motion.
Light and darkness, life goes on.
This world goes around.


The trees are here to watch over us. In turn, the mountains watch over the trees, and the sky watches over everything. Is it true? I don’t really know, of course, but I can tell you this; the thought comforts me, and the pine tree above me is perfect and true.

Today’s LittleNip:

The true person is one with the earth,
One with the sky and the seas.
And the self? Left far behind.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for today’s poems of resonance! Tomorrow, Sunday the 16th, James will host Davis Arts Center Poetry Series with Patrick Grizzell, plus open mic, at the Davis Arts Center on F Street in Davis, 2pm. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 “One with the sky and the seas.”

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Friday, June 14, 2019

At the Crossroads, Everything Changes

A Timeless Dance
—Poems by Eliana Vanessa, Mandeville, LA
—Visuals by James Maj

a timeless dance

skeleton newlyweds
tend to get hot and bothered
during summer,
though a little less sweet with the sour
never left desire well enough alone,
tonight, necromancers
march in a second-line
to guide restless bones home—
gathering skullcaps, stirring mint juleps,
emptying out loose change,
and, with Miles Davis
in the background,
they’ll carefully
rearrange cemetery dirt to show
how true love, frozen in time,
once embodied,
always plays nice,
as its ancient tongue begins to thaw,
moving like so much hard ice,
just to come back to life
within a lonesome blues tune,
entombed for a honeymoon,
where they are meant to rest in peace.

suspension of disbelief

in the space
where night
and the river
two bodies
lose themselves
to loneliness
as hope
hollows herself,
in the burn
of crimson lips
that wildly kiss,
to melt
the frozen face
of disbelief

lost in the skin

every illusion
is made for flesh,

and it is no surprise
that i cannot walk straight

when all these crooked veins
beg for more blood

with which to circulate
the body of a perfect lie.

shadows on fire

skin cringes
attempting to flee
the licking heat
of burning memories,
as resurrected truths
hold strong
within repressed consciousness,
relegating pain to the role of bystander—
the soul, scorched,
caught in the aftershock,
having no other choice
but to descend the spiral of defenses
that, like so much self-torture,
seems hellbent on lighting the way.

notes on how to decapitate an angel

remove wings.

keep flyaway feathers
as an offering.

cut deep into
the heart of its jugular,


for the regrowth of faith
is vulgar,

and will rear its ugly head,
again and again.


at the crossroads,
everything changes,
as if on cue, the blindfold,
at one point, having been
neatly wound about your skull, unravels,
and all the prophecies
you thought would guide you
during your darkest hour,
forward your prayers
to a voice mail in the sky
because nothing is
of imminent importance,
and, you are comfortable with this,
comfortable with all of it,
as you justify
that some spirit has surely by now
answered the question,
pressing your ear to the ground,
on the side of a familiar highway,
where it gets hard to listen,
as the stakes got higher over the years,
whether you are here, or there,
destined to remember
a pregnancy test,
buried near the house you grew up in—
what summer was it?
who saved you from yourself then?
it’s not over, but it’s over, cries the wind,
as, suddenly, you feel older, all the wiser yet,
to make another offering of gin.

Today’s LittleNip:

honesty is the best policy
—Eliana Vanessa

i murdered you
into every crow,

using a pink and yellow
arrow with bow,

looks like i worship Satan,
after all.


Eliana Vanessa is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana at a young age. Her poems have been selected for display via a community project called “St Tammany Poetry on the Streets”, and she recently participated in the Jane Austen Festival (2017, 2018, 2019, upcoming) as part of a panel of other selected poets. Eliana Vanessa’s work appears in
Siren’s Call, The Horrorzine, The Rye Whiskey Review, The Ramingo’s Porch, Fearless Magazine, and the anthology, Masks Still Aren’t Enough. For more about Eliana, go to For more of her poetry, go to Welcome to the Kitchen, Eliana, and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight in Sacramento, the Sac. Poetry Center will present a special event: Soundscapes & Poetry with Thomas Antonic and Michael Fischer from Vienna, Austria, with improvised sounds and poetry, 7:30pm. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating new poetry friends!

 Eliana Vanessa

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Facing Homeland

 Bamboo “wishing” or “haiku” tree at WakamatsuFest150,
Placerville, June 6-9
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


           from the Yelp reviews
The perfect Father’s Day present.
A rustic candy store with bare bones décor.
All kinds of candy from your childhood,
that small town life, a time that was so long ago.
How underrated.
A little history and a story behind the chocolates.
I didn’t know so much candy existed.
Like home made except you aren’t afraid
of salmonella.
Quaint little shop, dated & worn down
but appeals to the old town charm.
As though I’m stepping back in time,
the type of candy store I always dreamed of.
Decisions, decisions.
Almost too pretty to eat.
I’m glad we don’t live nearby.
A lot of things missing, rearranging,
the store is closed, boarded up.
Windows papered up. Making some changes.
Sad to see it close.

 Poets Under the Oak


An oak tree for shade,
a few small books of verses—
on the winding road,
this and a brown bird singing
cheer us along as we go.


lavender and pink—
girl’s face concealed by hat brim
she becomes design

 El Dorado County Poet Laureate Suzanne Roberts 
works with youngsters on haiku


Delta breeze whispers
to kids counting syllables
into lines to hang
on the bamboo wishing tree—
sea-wind gives their haiku wings.

 Haiku with Wings


wind through high oak boughs
carrying news from east, west—
oak has known it all

her shade shifts with sun
but always canopies one
grassy spot for us


It must be synonymous with duty and patience,
with loneliness and longing for a far-off
homeland. This festival is anniversary
of her coming here, where she forever stays.

Visitors from the homeland will honor her
solitary grave. Four days of ceremony, overflow
parking in a pastoral setting; tickets, shuttles,
and booths with vendors. What would she call it?

I’ve read the name on her stone: English
facing the rising sun, Japanese facing home.
But I know her name as solitude, evening walks
to a point of land where she could

send her dreams west, wind-blown ocean foam.
Here, her bones have taken root under oak.
Can living voices of her homeland,
in her native tongue, now call Okei home?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Weed-eating in cut-
off jeans—grass-chaff sticks to my
shins, I’m bleeding green.

 Three Wakateers: Taylor Graham, Sue Crisp, Katy Brown
(Three Volunteers Who Helped Make It All Happen!)


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poetry and photos today, giving us a taste of WakamatsuFest150 which took place in Placerville last weekend. For more about that, go to

American River Conservancy will host another poetry workshop, Capturing Wakamatsu, on Sunday, Aug. 25 from 10am-12pm, facilitated by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown. More about that later.

Taylor Graham will read at Sac. Poetry Center this coming Monday, June 17, with Red Fox Underground Poets, a power-packed passel of poets from the foothills, plus open mic, 7:30pm.

Today at 11:30am, Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets at the Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Av. in Sacramento. Then tonight at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento, Poetry Unplugged presents Brad Buchanan plus open mic. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating our busy poetry season!

 Katy Brown, the Magnetic Haiku Gremlin
—Photo by Taylor Graham

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Knowing Where to Look

—Poems by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
—Anonymous Owls and Their Photos



I'm at my computer desk.
When I type the word "child,"
am drawn to turn. At my door
a grandmother & grandson—
he in full Afro, cutoffs,
tank top & flip-flops.
Handsome wears a steady gaze
as if he often waits for me.

As grandma offers: "He wants
to say good morning," he smiles.
"O, good morning," I grin.
We all proceed to the rest
of the day—I, back to my poem
addressing God as    Dear Sir,
Dear Lady, and now Dear Child.

(on California Coast)

Our tents are colorful mushrooms,
nylon geometry over duff down.
A camp log weathered silver
collects ropes of kelp, orange peels,
a bathing suit, thick socks.
Our fifteen tents clump inside
a redwood clearing near
water willows by Butano Creek.

We explore tidepools, the creek,
succulents along the beach.
After campfire, kids scramble
among sprawled parents, snuggle
into sleeping bags or army
surplus blankets, laughing.

A matriarch,
I prop up a low star
as young redwood fronds
sweep over my tented cathedral
flashlight-lit from within.


Young tree climber,
you scar the skin of trees
by climbing so fast,
as if branches were Himalayas
and you will reach a top peak,
wave a flag, your arms
stretched up to God
for praise.

Young man,
your boots need not touch
the tree's skin—
nor hands or knees.
When you climb
with the iris of your eyes,
limbs will christen your body
and leaves will whisper
your name.



of leafy



to the silent sound
of rain pooled
on the porch
pulled back, drop
by drop, into a citadel
of cumulus clouds.


Fellow seniors
cart groceries past
my open apartment door—

colorful veggies, whole
wheat bagels, fruits,
pasta pic-up-stix, & Ah,

over-the-rainbow sherbet—
and pies, some "humble,"
others not at all!

(at One-Act Plays)
A friend from years ago seems
well, but her eyes no longer
sparkle. I wonder if she still
collects paintings, antiques,
stray pets, is happy, unhappy.

Her handful of words
then light rain.
I almost venture a joke
to ease the room's static,
the squeaky floorboards.

Awkwardness trapezes
between us, garishly costumed.
When the house lights dim
she sits yards away, alone
across the aisle.

At intermission
when house-lights flare,
I glance her way.
She is gone.
What I have needed to tell
this once-close friend
will wait, maybe forever.


Hearing the local owl
in a nearby eucalyptus,
we mimic those mournful
hoooos. Who indeed!?

The cat-eared papoose
ignores our calls,
wings west, arcing into
a stark ascent

toward embers of sunset,
as if he sought God
and knew where to look.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker

We see
for a moment
aspen leaves quiver
from soft landings
of moonflakes.


Many thanks to Claire Baker today for her fine poetry from Pinole, cheering us up as we swelter over here in the Valley and foothills. Tonight, in addition to MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at 6pm at Sac. Poetry Center (facilitated by Ann Michaels), El Dorado County Poet Laureate Suzanne Roberts will read at the El Dorado Hills Library with Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas (plus open mic), 5:30pm. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating the “soft landings of moonflakes”

 For “Whoo’s Who” in the owl world 
(and some wonderful, startling photos), go to 

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Do Not Starve The Mouth

Grab Bag
—Poems and Original Art by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


I am the black honey for your soul
sticky and sweet
I have been brought
by old bees
that died long ago

I came from all sources
in tiny portions
until I was here

you taste me
crave me
smear me all over yourself
with starving words and motions

we are bread and honey
oozing over edges



This is sweet—
this is sour.

One is fine grape—
one is mysterious lemon.
Both are true to the mouth
which responds with different pleasure
which gets hungry so often
which needs…which needs.

Do not starve the mouth.
It has no kiss to protect it.
Do not starve the mouth.

 Lime Slush


(This has nothing to do with the sonnet of
blackberry eating—the old thrill of sunlight
on the passion of berries :
the taste,
like something forbidden,
the stain on the mouth,
the hands,
the clothing,
the child who will live
because of blackberries, wild and wonderful.)

When I lie, I lie deeply :

This is about blackberries—
where they grow,
and what they know,
though I question this.
We are here for each other,
rare as life,
with its seasons, and completions,
and beginnings—meaning what it means,
since we need meaning
and offer it when needed— 
and after blackberries, why we hunger so.



Banana skin flowers,
limp and brown as the wilt
of yesterday’s hunger,

lie in disarray,
a discarded bouquet
from yesterday’s feast.

That was a yellow time,
ripe in the over-indulgence
of our taste

and good . . .
and so good . . .
too bad we must waste

the bright petals too
that fold down
in such squander.

(first pub. in Atom Mind 7, 1970)

 Oreo Centers


Sweet cups of brimming light—and should we drink
from all the goblet-flowers of this place,
would we, like Alice,  grow in size—or shrink—
lose our senses—feel ourselves erase . . . ?
Oh, careful one, how pale you turn to think
I’d poison you by urging you to taste  
such heady light—intoxicate your soul—
risk some addiction you could not control.

 Snow Cones

One summer more
After Charles Demuth, Plums, 1925

and the plum tree
weights its heavy branches down.
the plums too tight together,

and too high. Each year
another branch breaks
and the plums fall to the ground

Much is remembered and expected
of the taste of plums :
one sweet bite,

before the sour taste within.
These are not plums for the finicky;
these plums are meant for jam,

or wine
and have no further use
except for the birds. 

 Marshmallow Melt


The page, half-purpled with spilled wine,
assumes significant design
for the poem.

And the pale, non-color of each word
transcends the shallow meaning, blurred
by truer tone.

And you, my clumsy reader, flush
and jump the blot the noisy hush
of your chagrin.

But words must wear whatever taste
our living spills on them—we waste
no metric stain.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Each night they share the chocolate—after dinner,
when they claim their separate chairs and prepare
for the boredom of comfort, when their differences
bring them together in the ritual truce of sharing
something rich and sweet.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems and artwork exploring the sweet-and-sour—just like The Candy Store, our Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Heat Wave. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating those sweet murmurations…

 Plums, 1925, by Charles Demuth
For more about Demuth and his work, see 

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, June 10, 2019

O Sweet, Sweet Poetry!

—Anonymous Photos

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

The years
Lay like pearls in a line
Stretching back in time.

I remember each one,
But not that well.

Where each one ended
Is hard to tell.

Difficult to say
How each one
Slipped itself away,

Its view
Blocked by the new—
Newness reappearing
The fog of
Winter’s solstice


—Joseph Nolan

All the time,
From time to time,
I think of things
That matter,

Like what is what
And which is which
And how to flip a switch
Into the sublime.

I think of these things
As being mine.

Oh, beyond
The caravan’s assay,
Out in the desert,
Day to day,
We move along
Shunning all complaining
Since we must do the same
Next day, and always.

—Joseph Nolan

We have diamonds in our pockets
That sparkle and shine
When we rub off the dust
Over Sumatran coffee     
Oolong tea
Or wine.

Do you Oolong for me,
From time to time?
I know I do,
For thee!

It’s good to hear you whistle
When you feel pleased;
Pleasure’s a necessity
That puts us at ease.


—Joseph Nolan
Why wait
For gray
Hairs to sprout
From your
Lovely head?
Seasons are passing.

With grief,
You cleft
The shade
Of daylight’s seam,
Preferring duller light
Of gray moon-beam.

What will it mean—
These idle years
Still alone
And childless,
With time
That weighs like stones
Too heavy carried?
It’s time now—
Time for you to marry.

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Little children plucked out,
minds and bodies together,
from the fabulous sights and
marvelous, fresh aromas of
the candy store

to be set down on a dusty
schoolroom floor listening to
the eldest elder remaining on
Earth, obsessed with orders
to obey deadly demands of
discipline or else!!!

There was, of course, talk of
revoking their “privileges”
dumbly delivered to the deaf
ears of an audience not yet
learned enough to even be
able to count quite that many
syllables on their fingers

but then again, how could we
expect a Curriculum Committee
Council composed of calcified
creatures of the purest pablum
to really know what is best for
our children?




Denoting that whole, crazy convolution of events
which enabled hostile foreign agents and moles
to raise the status of mister Trump and mister Pence
as viable contenders for top White House roles

We took it from there, it was all downhill
Second Amendment, Confederate flags
erasing our fine unity until we wonder still:
are all of our Old Glories now no more than rags?


From sea to shining sea
state DMV offices issue
eye tests to measure the
visual acuity of drivers.

These tests are comprised
of random sequences of
letters in different sizes,
printed out on a flat format.

Many have no problem
correctly identifying letters
presented in this basically
two-dimensional display

so you pass that test and
think your eyes are great,
then once on the road you
encounter just one more

dimension and it throws
all that complacency away:
sure, you can read license
plates fine as long as they

are directly ahead of you,
but glare from the sun hits
that raised chrome lettering
used to name the make or

model of vehicles, and it
looks like a prism throwing
rays of light in all directions,
obscuring any logical sense,

especially if the letters are
put in cursive or some other
fancy font, looking great in
the showroom, not outside.



Oh how I dread doing that task!
So many key points to juggle,
clearly beyond my humble limits.

I’ll just wait a bit longer to allow
my ignorance to grow, let karma
take full command and hopefully

deny me from ever attempting to
do that task again.  That’s fine.
Well done, time to relax…..


Today’s LittleNip(s):



* * *


Mad Magazine got into the Kitchen…

On Thursday at Poetry in Dungarees, Bad Blood and Stutter Still will read at the dining room table, 8pm, plus open bar. And don’t leave town, on Friday, there will be a reading by the UnCollectedDebt Dept. “second-year” take-it-up-one-notch students, 7pm, at the UnCivilDebate “Bare the Hate” (living room sofa). Be sure not to miss the “Mildly Exciting Remote Grab Event!” (MERGE!)


Thanks to our fine poets today! Carl (Caschwa) has gone all acrostic on us for the first LittleNip. And I’ve succumbed to the wonder of sweets (our SOW: The Candy Store) for these seductive photos.

Tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, Nick LeForce and James Lee Jobe will read at 7:30pm (plus open mic), 25th & R Sts., Sac. SPC workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, 6-8pm, on Wednesday in Heart Tree Studios, 25th & R Sts., Sac. (across the hall from Women’s Wisdom Art room), facilitated by Ann Michaels.

Also on Wednesday, the El Dorado County Poet Laureate Trail poetry series presents EDC Poet Laureate Suzanne Roberts plus Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas, plus open mic, El Dorado Hills Library on Silva Valley Pkwy in El Dorado Hills, 5:30pm. Thursday at 11:30am, the Wellspring Women’s Writing Group (beginners welcome!) meets at the Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Ave. in Sacramento. Also on Thursday, the long-running Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets on 16th Street in Sacramento, with featured poets and plenty of open mic, 8pm.

It’s a busy weekend in our area, poetry-reading-wise, starting on Friday night at Sac. Poetry Center with Soundscapes and Poetry from Vienna, beginning at 7:30pm, with Thomas Antonic and Michael Fischer, plus open mic. Then on Sunday, Davis Arts Center Poetry Series features Patrick Grizzell, plus open mic, 2pm. Or you can head up the hill to Diamond Springs for Poetry of the Sierra Foothills with Deborah Shaw Hickerson and Allegra Silberstein plus open mic, 1pm.

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.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry this week as every week…


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.