Monday, March 25, 2019

Tomorrow, Another Chance

Photos of Pier 39 in San Francisco 
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
A somber cup of coffee,
Waiting for
Light to creep in,
In my early morning,
Well before
Dawn begins.

I wish you were
Still with me.
I’d be still
With you,
In bed,
My tender darling,

But I’m alone,

With my cup of coffee,
Facing a day I dread!

When I must meet
Your family,

A hearse
And a stone-head!


—Joseph Nolan
Another chance.
Another chance to dance
With a beloved—
Another chance to win
A fine romance!

Blessed be the sun
That comes
To bring the day.

Let morning’s virtue
Summon you to greet the
Dawn’s cold fog.
Don’t be a log!

Don’t lie too long,
Lost sideways.
Come away,
From evening’s bed-clothes;
Greet the day!

The day is making way,
As morning
Comes on brightly
Into day.

—Joseph Nolan

Heat, grease,
Scraping spatulas,
Scratching spoons,
The slightest taste-remnants
Of a thousand dishes
Cooked well or ill
Over the years,
Darkened into blackness,

A mother’s warm expectancy,
Coaxing things toward edibility,
Hopefully to tasty!
To please the tongues
And gullets of her young,
The fire
Softly burning,
Down below,
Carefully managed,
Periodically observed,
To let it not
Get out of control,
Despite a thousand distractions,

All these things
Go into
A well-seasoned pan.


—Joseph Nolan

I was the last one she’d tell
The details of her love-life,
But things weren’t going well.

A new one came to visit
When the old one went away,
But the new one didn’t fit so well,
So she had a lot to tell.

So, even I,
Her Mother,
Who’d waited oh-so long!
To hear her open up to me
Finally heard
Her raindrops spatter,
Building, as we took a walk,
Building into little rivers,
Into trickle-down talk. 

Seeing a squirming and suffering earthworm
      lying on the cement pavement after a rainstorm
      Makes me hesitate to consider to help
      But then I hear the birds out singing
      And I realize if I send this worm back to the soil
      I will be denying the songbirds a possible meal
      That’s the nature of some things 
      So I leave the suffering worm and walk on
—Michelle Kunert

—Michael Ceraolo, Euclid, OH

Nature is the greatest sculptor:
some of her work permanent,
at least on the human scale,
thousands or even millions of years;
other of her work temporary,
lasting only a few days
Some of the latter,
in the medium of ice,
were documented by
an enterprising photojournalist
and featured in the local weekly paper

A storm blew across the lake
the third weekend of January,
the windswept spray froze on
whatever was handy on the shore
Three interesting pieces were exhibited
near the mouth of the creek:

         on the pier,
up to six inches of ice in places
on some structures,
a white beard on the pier's arch
and icicles of varying lengths
dangling from the pier,
even reaching down to the chunks of ice
thrown onto the shore;

almost in the shape of a house
in a Gothic horror movie,
decorated for the season
with grossly overgrown hanging ice
instead of grossly overgrown vegetation;

on a railing,
                  ice like
the jagged uneven teeth
of a snow monster with three jaws,
one for each rail
(there may be other rails
cropped out of the photo)

The weather warmed in a few days
and all were gone,
they remain in the paper's archives
and in this poem

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

We all know those awful anti-semicolon remarks when we hear them…

To be boldly dangling a split participle, protestors postulate infinitive.

Careful writers pre-position prepositions before reaching the end.

Another form of verbal abuse is to use adverbs but not endorse the product.

I studied self-defense techniques with the help of a personal pronoun.



Driving around the city, state, and country
I see streets, apartment houses, and gated
communities with names reflecting parts of
the natural beauty of the area, like Meadows,
Vistas, Vineyards, Falls, and such. 

The sad truth is that much of that natural beauty
has been literally taken away in favor of real
estate developments, leaving behind only the
pretty names to remind us.

Will this also be the future for our great land of
democracy, freedom, and peace?  Will foreign,
corporate investors raze and level Capitol Hill
and replace that prized tract of land with a new
shopping mall/auto mall bearing that name?


Put on your fighting clothes and
grab your killer weapons because
The Cradle of Civilization has
opened up its mosh pit to welcome
visitors of any faith as long as it is
your deepest desire to vanquish
anyone who gets in your way.

One conquest after another has Jews,
Christians, Muslims, and others making
an abundant assortment of holy, smoly
declarations and statements of authority
meant to rid the land of all intruders who
just don’t accept whose truth should rule
the world.

There is only one God, but damnit if we
don’t have thousands of versions and
variations as to which is the highest and
best use of that heavenly domain. So
enjoy your visit, then go home and lick
your wounds.



Part and parcel of our constitutional right to
bear arms, the framers explicitly included the
expectation that gun bearers would belong to
a well ordered militia.  Giving no support to
the “well ordered” component is like ripping
away the frame from a skyscraper.

So now America is left with gazillions of guns
in the hands of gazillions of people who are
anything but well ordered, and who in turn
leave a deadly trail of misuse, neglect, and

The situation has gotten so out of hand, law
enforcement officers routinely presume that
anyone who is acting out of line is likely also
toting a gun.

Case in point:  one evening when Sacramento
police responded to complaints of vandalism,
two officers saw the flash of a cell phone in
the subject’s hands and reacted desperately
as if their own lives were about to end in a hail
of gunfire.  So they did as they had been duly
trained and “returned” fire, killing the suspect.

Just assigning blame to these two officers will
not solve the larger problem.  One way or the
other, we need to enact and enforce effective
gun control laws.                           End of rant.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

So many things about which
I stopped thinking
When I was
No older than nine;
Still, that level of thinking
Inhabits my mind.
It takes too much time
To keep thinking.
I’m a little too busy for thinking.
In my world, I’m still nine.


Our thanks to today’s potpourri of contributors! We’re on the cusp of April, which is National Poetry Month; more about that later. April also includes Earth Day on the 27th, and the calendar has events in Georgetown, Placerville, Sacramento, Davis, Grass Valley and elsewhere. First up, though, on April 6, is Sac. Poetry Center’s Spring Conference, celebrating the Center’s 40th year! (Info/reg: And April always brings a plethora of poetry events in our area, too; be sure to let me know ( about yours!
This Week's poetry events in our area begin tonight, 6pm, with Poetry in Motion at the Placerville Sr. Center in Placerville, then continue at Sac. Poetry Center with Gene Berson, Even Lourie, and Judie Rae 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, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop on Wednesday at SPC for writing poems, facilitated this week by Christin O’Cuddehy, 6-8pm.

On Friday, SPC presents Sandy McIntosh and Mary Mackey at 6pm, and Speak Up: The Art of Storytelling and Poetry meets at 7pm at The Avid Reader in Sacramento. Then on Saturday, The Soft Offs present An Evening of Moetry as a fundraiser for SPC, 25th & R Sts., Sac. 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.

Last Friday, Neil Fullwood visited the Kitchen, and I posted photos of pubs from his hometown of Nottingham, England, saying I hoped I had gotten them all correct. Neil writes back, “Yes, all of them are still open and serving pints. I thought I’d send you a more recent photograph of the Robin Hood and Little John Inn, in the suburb of Arnold, only a mile or two from where I live.” So check out the photo below for Neil’s update picture of the R.H. and Little John. And thanks, Neil!

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)

 Robin Hood (and) Little John, Arnold, England

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, March 24, 2019

Not This World

—Joseph Nolan

I can imagine a world in which unicorns exist
And dance across rainbows in the sky,
Where tiny fairies lure children
Away with them, into the woods
To dance around campfires
To the sounds of pipes and flutes until dawn,
But it is not this world.

I can imagine a world where one day
The Left split
And anarchists and communists
Began shooting at each other,
On purpose, for some reason,
Now obscure,
In the Spanish Civil War,
While fascist, Franco,
And the Nationalist forces
Laughed out loud,
And that world is this world.

I can imagine a world where
Trotsky, the leader of the Red Army
In the War of the Whites against the Reds,
Who proved clever enough
To bring the army he led
To victory
Would later be murdered
By an assassin,
Sent by his former comrade,
With an ice-pick in his head,
To die a slow and painful death,
And that world is this one.

I can imagine a world in which
Bolsheviks cannibalized each other
In vast purges
To overcome internal dissension in the Party,
Capitalist Roaders, Revisionists,
Reactionary Elements, Crypto-Monarchists,
And saboteurs,
And war against the Kulaks,
And starve the peasants into submission,
And force them into collective agriculture,
With over three million starved unto death,
And that world is this world.

I can imagine a world in which
God exists,
God, Who Is Love,
Who looks down on our tiny planet
And nurtures each and every living thing,
Where there has never been a war
A genocide or murder,
Or any other form of evil or cruelty,
But that world is not this world.
We live in the other world.


—Medusa, with thanks to Joseph Nolan for today’s fine poem!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Praying for Merwin in the Bardo

Time for Planting, Yolo County
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Strong coffee, Thelonious Monk playing solo,
And some poems by W.S. Merwin.
We lost Merwin last week, 91 years old.
He’s been on my mind;
The poetry, his work with the trees,
Restoring a piece of the earth.
And a Buddhist like me.
Keeping his own practice, I’m sure.
I turn off the music and close the book.
I did my morning zazen hours ago,
But another quiet time has come.
I can feel it. Prayer beads
And the Loving Kindness Sutra—
I’ve worked out my own ritual with them.
Praying for W.S. Merwin in the Bardo.

 Olive Trees, Yolo County

My skeleton is walking under the valley oaks,
Half past October already,
But the leaves still are green and firm.
Autumn in the Sacramento Valley is brief and late.
My bones move along through the shade.
The leaves will turn and fall soon enough;
Perhaps they are whispering among themselves
And I am not allowed to listen in.
On skeletal feet I move into the pines,
Their green lasts all year. There comes a breeze
And from the pines comes a lovely scent.

 Yolo County Countryside

Valley sky. Like a steel sword, silver.
Valley floor. Like a tilled field, rich soil.
Valley man. I haunt the creeks and woods.
Valley poems. Words growing like corn.
Like sunflowers.
And I am here for the harvest.


“Who were you?” —I ask the younger me.
“You, but not completely,” he says.
I didn’t want to look at him anymore, you know.
I didn’t want to hear his words, as foolish
As I already knew him to be.
Late afternoon. Dust mites
Were floating in the softly sunlit room.

 Walnut Trees, Yolo County

I could have spent my life making hammers;
It’s honest work, and someone has to do it.
No crimes are committed in hammer making,
Even the wood is replanted.
And so it might be that as I drive down the valley
I could see a fine house or a tool shed
Build with one of my hammers.
Wouldn’t that be nice? To be a part of someone’s home?
Or maybe a big red barn with the loft open
And a young lad up there,
Forking hay down to the waiting cows,
Sweating even though it is a cool morning
In earliest days of Spring.

 Sacramento River, from the Yolo County Bank

Boulders in the shallow water, covered
In clean white snow. The Yuba River
In the depths of winter. The sounds
Of water on rock is as true
As the Dharma. Ssh. Listen.


Today’s LittleNip:

Let me be small, let me be empty.
That I might be but a breath in the wind.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his quiet thoughts and images on a NorCal Saturday.

Starting at 10am today, Writers on the Air presents The Celtic Hour at Sac. Poetry Center, with readers, storytellers, and open mic. Then from 2-4pm, Poetic License poetry read-around meets in Placerville at the Sr. Center. 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 W.S. Merwin, go to

 W.S. Merwin (1927-2019)
—Photo of Merwin on his land in Hawaii

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, March 22, 2019


—Poems by Neil Fullwood, Nottingham, England
—Anonymous Photos


Every single day, hot and sunny. And they love it. 
"Isn't it great, every day, hot and sunny?" What  
are you, a fucking lizard?
                                            —Bill Hicks

Here is your pre-recorded weather forecast,
here is the next twenty-four hours
extrapolated from the lazy predictably of L.A.

Here is meteorology as existentialism—
watch as an indolent front sweeps in,
a graphic pixeling across the map, isobars

a picture of ennui. Here is another day,
week, month, year, decade of the same.
The Gobi desert considers L.A. and muses

that at least the temperature drops at night.
Humid jungles shake their heads at L.A.,
grateful for their ecosystems’ complexity.

The polar wastes, snowblind against the thought
of L.A., are too busy existing to have an opinion.
The British summer expends its two-day duration

in a beer garden, convinced that L.A.
stands for Luton Airport and all flights
will be grounded next week after an inch of snow.

 Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
(The Oldest Pub in England)


"... the strange career of a personality begins 
at five and ends forty minutes later in a fog ..."
                                   —Frank O'Hara

My reassembly begins
at five o'clock, the pieces
forged in the white-hot rush
of the me-shaped blur
jetting from office to pub.

Enthusiasm, hammered flat
by eight hours of ennui,
re-inflates. Purpose renews.
I am just moments away
from that first-of-the-day taste.

Fireworks would be appropriate,
a marching band understated.
White-gloved barstaff lining
the entrance, an RAF fly-past.
I'll forego the 21-gun salute.

Give me instead the small ritual
of a pint of ale settling
on the much-swabbed surface
of a bar straight-edged
by a copper rail. Give me

the first sip and the sigh
of appreciation, then the long
satisfying pull and the lip
slicked with foam. Give me
the next forty minutes

and of the fog that follows
let me earn every cubic inch
of its blurry moisture. Of the
slurred words and shuffled steps,
of the hangover now on standby

let me entertain no regret.

 Robin Hood and Little John Inn


You announced it on social media,
a titter-behind-the-hand secret
as public as your privacy settings:

it was Wednesday and you’d had
“a cheeky midweek drink”,
a large G&T on a school night.

A. Cheeky. Midweek. Drink.
A. Singular. I left a comment
about only drinking on a day

with a “Y” in it. Seemed politer
than calling you a friggin’ amateur.
A drink isn’t something I’d call cheeky.

A cheeky rolled-up twenty
hoovering the fat stash
of some clown who can afford it.

A cheeky lunchtime knee-trembler
against the stationery cupboard,
box files shunting onto Rexel staples.

A cheeky overview of Pornhub’s finest
on the work moby in the team meeting,
#milf bookmarked for later.

A cheeky vindictive prank, maybe,
involving the remains of a kebab
and the boss’s Audi’s upholstery.

A cheeky summons to the HR office,
a cheeky hand gesture, a cheeky
thrown punch, an oh-so-cheeky P45.

But never—never!—a cheeky drink.
I have too much respect for such things. 

 The Old Bell Tavern


It’s as if the house has been inverted—
a dreamscape rearrangement
or an elaborate camera movement
in a film you caught at a strange hour
one night years ago, the title lost
and Google no help. A film you itch
to see again to recapture that sense
of something truly weird unfurling
from screen to synapse. But all of that
is neither here nor there. It’s the thing
reaching down to grab your attention
that’s got you thinking in terms
of the topsy-turvy. It’s as if the deep
comforting weave of the shag-pile carpet
has flipped up to the ceiling. But this
carpet is no welcoming expanse
that rewards slippers slipped off
and the scrunching of toes. Fronds
is how your mind makes sense of it—
like something wavering slowly
underwater. Murk is how you identify
the hue, eye and brain zipping through
and rejecting any conventional colour chart.
There’s a hint of something moving
behind the surface movement. You’re sure
this is a dream (maybe it was only
yesterday you watched the movie)
but the whole scene is in sharp focus
and there’s no lurching shift into wakefulness
as the thing on the ceiling continues to move.


Today’s LittleNip:

There were two Irishmen eating sandwiches in a pub and the landlord said: “You can’t eat your own food in here.” So they swapped sandwiches.

—Frank Carson


Here’s to Neil Fullwood today for his fine poems and a wink to the wonderful institution of the British local pub! I’ve taken the opportunity to post a few photos of pubs which—I think—are in Nottingham. Just a little Friday trip across the pond. Wish we could share a pint, Neil!

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry on all the sides of the sea!)


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, March 21, 2019

Springing From The Silence

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


    a gloss for the goat of Spanish Hill

Sprung from the silence of the hill
He hangs upon the ledge a-glisten.
And his whole body seems to listen.
      —Edwin Markham, “The Lizard”

A steeply hard-panned, rutted road
to climb, where miners took their fill
of gold, and left. Yet something lives,
sprung from the silence of the hill—

whether he-goat gone wild, or some
earth spirit no one would christen
with bell or name. Up there, standing,
he hangs upon the ledge a-glisten

with shattered gold quartz, human dreams—
and this: a survey stake lodged in
firm ground. To grade and pave his wild?
And his whole body seems to listen.


A tree fell root-side up, roots
weathering in air, from rain and sun
unsheltered. And look, a small
creature peeks out at daylight.
A root-piglet, or a small root-dog
in the crown of roots. Its eyes
regard me. “And so,
what are you?” it wants to know.


Between Thanksgiving and Christmas,
three wild turkeys paraded the Spring Street
centerline, oblivious to traffic dodging potholes.

Then one morning, only two turkeys,
as if Spring Street were our town’s Bermuda
Triangle. The two stood sentinel, awaiting

a return; finally, calling loud and mournful.
Just two turkeys. In winter rain and fog,
everything but slick pavement disappears.

Now it’s almost spring. Blue skies, white clouds.
Today I hit a pothole to avoid two turkeys:
tom in full tail-fan, the hen with head tucked

demurely or wondering, is this
the only guy left in the world? Have I
no other choice?


    a lisana

branches, young oaks awaiting sun
to spring their buds beyond our sight,

and guess
what’s just bursting to be undone
from this closed room as dead as night.

sparkling clouds on blue sky and one
bird singing up the woods with bright.


through bare blackberry
bramble whistles a chill wind—
listen, spring’s coming

prints on a dirt road
waffle-tread, cow’s cloven hoof—
so many histories

no wildflowers yet,
buckeye just leafing out—look!
red-bark blossom-bells

white clouds race across
blue sky, whipped by a cold wind—
spring fleeing winter?

on a rainy day
trespassing a vacant lot
daffodils in bloom

BOOK, CAT, COMPUTER                   

            In the night
his eyes carry him
        to unknown places.
            He is your friend.

—William Carlos Williams, “The Turtle”


I got to the end,
skimming lines and lines—
ink on pages
once crisp white, stained
with fingers briefly
touching a word
caught between covers
left so long
closed on the shelf
in the night.

I was looking
for I didn’t know what.
Part of my brain
skipping from The Turtle
to my cat intent
on dallying
with computer cords
& cables,
scouting dark corners.
His eyes carry him

through office-jungle
to tangle of cords
energy to
circuit and screen.
What have I to do
with Turtle
but with cat-mind
to unknown places?

My kitten, Latches,
with prehensile
ability to
open doors, explore
dark cupboards—nothing
contains him.
His purr might
be the original song,
as the book tells me
He is your friend.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The rocking chair belongs to Latches.
It used to be the man named Hatch’s
chair, but cats take precedence in all
matters from the great to very small.
By the good grace of black cat Latches,
Hatch may sit there in timely snatches
but only with Latches smug in his lap—
both of them snug in the black cat’s nap.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos, including some thoughts about our recent Seed of the Week, Blue Sky, White Clouds. Don’t forget that Taylor will be co-leading a Wakamatsu workshop with Katy Brown this coming Sunday, Mar. 24. Contact to sign up, or call 530-621-1224.

The Spring issue of eco-journal
Canary is now available at, celebrating yesterday's Spring Solstice.

Lots to do today in poetry in our area:

•••Starting at noon, Third Thurs. at the Central Library in Sac. meets for a poetry read-around;
•••Ladies of the Knight read in Yuba City at Justin’s Kitchen, starting at 6:30pm;
•••Don Schofield (plus open mic) is featured at Poetry in Davis, John Natsoulas Gallery, 8pm;
•••Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar has featured readers plus open mic on 16th St. in Sacramento; 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.

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)


 —Anonymous Photo of Anonymous Cat
Caught Reading Human Books in His
Rocking Chair

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, March 20, 2019

Sea-salt, Seaweed, and Seaworthy

Sunset, Sidney Island
—Photos by John Westling, Placerville, CA
—Poems by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, CA


This day I go to walk the dog:
it is the edge of dawn,
I with my jogging suit and
he with jog-suit on.

We’ll walk the narrow path
that leads past those who drink
their tea and those who gather
all their gear to go into the sea.

And so we’ll saunter here today,
with cool winds picking up.
Walking slowly to the pier, he
with cap, me with my cup, we’ll

watch the yachts, the fishing boats
the pelicans and gulls. We’ll hear
their cries, the waves that crash,
the clanging of the bells.

But he and I’ll not stay too long,
nor venture very far.  We must
go home, and there we’ll watch
the sunset with its fire through
picture windows, nice and warm,
then early we’ll retire.

 Columbia Cove


Springtime usually has her way—
as well she has her will.
It’s hot here and the wind is still
on a sea-salt sultry day.

Springtime usually has her way.
Cayucos ‘neath a flowering hill,
a beach town and an calm idyll.
Seashells lie in disarray—

a scattered treasure-chest display.
The lupine found atop the hill
are joined by the merry daffodil
on this idyllic springtime day.

Soaring gulls fly in to play,
to dive, to fish and have their fill.
As well, the pelicans will
surf the waves in this bright bay.

 Columbia Cove


These are not her socks of
blackened green, but her bare
feet that she might feel the sand
between her clumsy toes.

The hair you see is not her hair,
but seaweed lying on the cold, cold
shore.  There are bladders, ripe,
on each their rubber ends if you
would care to pop the seaweed bulbs.

Within, is wash to wash your graying
mop—to shampoo with the brackish
ocean tide.  Then move along the shore
to find some shells.  Of these, then,
make what you would wish.  Perhaps
you see her face in this sea star.



It was not a dark and stormy night
and the old sea captain was not
on the deck of his ship.  He was
at the old Spanish Inn at a table
by himself.  I asked him what he
was eating.  He said, “Tuna on rye,
coleslaw and a mug of beer.”  He
was furiously writing something
on a paper napkin.

“When it’s not a dark and stormy
night,” I asked, “and you’re
not on the deck of your ship,
do you often come to this table?”
‘Though he was busy eating his
tuna on rye, coleslaw and sipping
his mug of beer, he replied that
he liked to sit here and write.

“And, what will you do when
you retire?”  I asked.

“If it’s not a dark and stormy
night, and I’m not on the deck
of my ship, I’ll probably come
to this old Spanish Inn and
sit at a table by myself and
order tuna on rye, coleslaw
and a mug of beer.  Then I’ll
probably sit and write for
a while.  Here’s one I wrote:

It was not a dark and stormy
night, and I was not not on the
deck of my ship.  I had come to
this old Spanish Inn to sit
by myself and write at a little
Spanish wooden table.  I had
just ordered tuna on rye when
the waitress asked me what
I was doing.  I told her I was
retiring and had come to this
inn to sit and write poetry,
repetends mostly."


Today’s LittleNip:

—Carol Louise Moon

Two harbor seals
circle our small boat at anchor.
Two harbor seals
whose gray coats glisten like two eels
in this cozy sheltered harbor.
A summer’s day surprise in store—
two harbor seals.


Our thanks to Carol Louise Moon for these poems from her new series, “The Old Sea Captain”. The photos were taken by photographer John Westling during his voyage in a small fishing boat, circumnavigating Vancouver Island in 2013 with his pal, Richard Golden. He has recently published a novel about the adventure, called
Counter Clockwise, which is available on Amazon at 


Tonight from 6-8pm is the weekly MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at Sac. Poetry Center, facilitated this week by Laura Martin. 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 (Celebrate the Poetry of the Sea!)

 John Westling, Photographer, Writer, Sea Captain

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, March 19, 2019

A Sharpness of Birdsong

Blue Sky, White Clouds
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

After Edward Mycue, Cover Art for Mindwalking

Black leaves against sky of mottled blue,
small clouds forming—the hour turning
the wrong way on the chalk-white wall,

losing time and meaning, and through the
latticed window an empty face looks down
at the woman fleeing from her dream—

hands held wide with effort to run, pushing
against escape. She turns her head back and
the dream can be seen through her skull—

her head full of bees where the viewed dream
is a black swarm—buzzing with warning: 
hurry,     hurry,      she is about to waken.



The sky, filling with morning blue,
a fragile cloud or two, threading.

A sharpness of birdsong penetrating the silence—
brief—and from no distance other than

where it was a startled moment back. Then
that slow, soft tone of whiteness

that takes the place of early blue. 

The way you surrender the owned moment

to the intrusion of sounds and urgencies,
your reluctance to rise from the warm bed,

seductive with comfort, warm around you.
The sky again, gone flat

outside your window measure,
full of daylight now—the clouds

losing their pink direction, taking on
the heavy factory gray

that smudges them. You stretch, and sigh . . .
You look at the clock . . . 



Today is a day of false light . . .
day before spring . . .
day of swift clouds . . .
and changing motion.

It has rained.
A small rain.  Last night.
It washed my car
and gave the grass reprieve.

I felt a moodiness.
Could not believe my lethargy.
Wasted the hours.
I should have started

some big change—
I felt the thought,
but could not follow.
All day I felt

myself recede
while I watched
the intricate weather
spread its rumor.

Strangely I heard no bird sing
nor felt
its shadow cross my window.
All day

I waited for something
that never came, wanting something
that I could not have,
though I could not find its name.


                          After Vasarely's Harlequin

                 you are fat balloon   escaped
                         from a circus   waving goodbye

                           you love the  diminishing blue sky
                              the clouds  you pass through

                           you feel like   a safe childhood dream
                               the same   black edges find you

                          you become    closed pattern of light
                       beloved toy of    darkness


these levels of hills
beyond which reach the sky
and my yen for distance
one blue upon the other
shades of distance recede into the
pale-to-darkening sky
the hills come to me now with their
overlapping tones and shadows
old twilight hills that I am watching
a thin line of river flows up the mountain
leaving behind a small lake
upon which a small island is floating


After The Corn Poppy by Kees van Dongen

Wide sweep of wind across cloud-torn sky,

gray upon blue,
wild yellow grasses bending below,

a lone tree struggling in a nearby field—
this is free country,
nothing to surrender or resist,

no bird or sound but the wind.
The day is gathering the hours.
The grass is rustling.  Something

must happen, else why are we here,
the only observers, a place of no
landmarks and no roads.

There are many trees like
this lone tree. The clouds turn ragged
and tear through each other, hurrying, hurrying.



That winter day when we walked in rain
and wind, and I wore a coat, and you wore
a thin white shirt, and our wet hair
flattened to our faces as we leaned

into the elements of our discussion,

and the cold skies moved in heavy
tones of gray—immense and rumorous—
though we were only out for an easy,
winter walk, around the windy, rainy block.

(first pub. in Zambomba online, 2002)

 In the Quiet

After The Trail by Joan Miro, 1918

That pale stone house between the soft green dis-
tance of those far trees under this generous blue
sky full of nervous clouds—this random vegeta-
tion that tangles and leans—this almost-road that
wanders through it. Here is where we will sort the
morning. Take off your shoes and feel the warm
silt rise; go in a crooked line—whichever way you
choose—but end up at the house. It hasn’t rained
here yet, so the colors sift and fuse to this soft day
of pink sun-shadow where the warm light lies. And
all around us is the silence that I brought you here
to hear—here in the way time does not fly, but waits
for us to catch up with it—here! this here! this now!—
is where we are together. Feel the quiet. Feel the cool.
Feel the promise in the air. Be content with me. No
other time will be this rare.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

. . .tree-leaves in table-top reflection
from skylight/upside-down-tree/flut-
tering   green  sun-light  in   glass top/
blue sky below . . . pleasant vertigo. . .


Many thanks to Joyce Odam for serving us a hearty breakfast in the Kitchen today: lots of blue sky and white clouds, our Seed of the Week! Feel the promise in the air! Spring is headed straight toward us!

Our new Seed of the Week is Angry Birds. You can go with the obvious, the cartoon/video game, or you can listen and watch the landscape around you for birds protecting their nests, for example, or chasing cats, or...? 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 (Celebrate Poetry!)

—Painting by Victor Vasarely (1904-1997) 
For more about Victor Vasarely, go to 

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, March 18, 2019

Dancing and Dust

Blackbird Keeping an Eye on You...
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

First the monotone of two left feet in
a rental tuxedo, meandering onto a
shiny, hard wood, dance floor

duple and triple meter call out from
the printed score, light years distant
from muscle groups in the legs

the dreaded wall mirror refuses to be
calm and reflective, choosing instead
to send raging waves of discontent

maybe someone will call a bicycle to
comfort this misplaced soul with a nice,
even, level, symmetrical, ride home

the next time an agent of the royal court
comes calling, they can just wait in line
behind blue skies and white clouds

(CS paired up the SOW and Joyce Odam’s 
recent reference to “monotone” for this 



Still have a pair of crutches I used
a long time ago, wooden struts with
holes drilled for inserting machine
screws and securing with wing nuts
to adjust the length to your height.
Those crutches hide in the closet,
still set just as I had left them.

Seems like some peoples’ memory
works like those crutches, and once
they experience an image, or event,
or some dialog, it stays there hiding
in their closet just waiting to be
recalled at a later date.

Not so with my memory. Déjà vu is
the best I can do, wondering if I had
ever encountered that notion before,
often having to resort to starting
back at square one.

Sure looks familiar,
maybe I’d seen it before,
maybe on TV.

 Quicksand Meadow


The main reason I don’t invite Citizens United to
my birthday parties, even though the Supreme
Court has held that they are “people”, is that their
dominant political influence has acted to effectively
siphon off my discretionary funds

denying money to workers who sorely need it so that
more funds are available to honor the woeful cries of
investors whose needs have already been met many
times over

If only a few
words could highlight what is wrong
and fix it also.



Our present pathetic excuse for a POTUS
has created a monumental vacuum in terms
of leadership in plotting a good path to take
to successfully address our most challenging
issues. The quest to go green, for example,
has put core supporters at odds with each
other to articulate
1) our most pressing needs,
2) feasible funding sources
3) a realistic course and timeline to follow, and
4) legislation necessary to get favorable results

We need to impose
liquidated damages
on laws that don’t work 


A president without poetry is like a grand piano
without strings. From our founding fathers to
today’s assortment of living presidents, ten have
written poetry: Washington, Jefferson, Madison,
J.Q. Adams, Tyler, Lincoln, Grant, Harding, Carter,
and Obama.

On the whole, these poet presidents demonstrated
high regard for reaching out to people, which is the
core of poetic work. They showed the warmth of
sympathetic vibrations with the heartbeat of everyday
people, rather than the fire of war chants fueled by
raw emotion.

The next election,
will we vote for another
poet who feels it?

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Draw up
Hidden clues

We fear
Might one day

Omitted news
We’d rather
Have ignored,

Strange anomalies,
And more,

If we had our
We’d shove them
Under rugs
Or out our


—Joseph Nolan

A mighty knot
Of tightness made
Defied the hand
And needed blade
To cut it all

Such a wonder!
How tightly
We might tie
A knot!

 The Robins Are Back!

—Joseph Nolan

Are the dead
As ambivalent
As the living?
Or have they lost
The need to roast
The living
For their foibles
Since they
Gave up the ghost
Of needing to be
Proper, in line
With a proper line,
And ghosts don’t
Need to work


—Joseph Nolan

It’s useless
To be alive,
To be angry,
To try to find
The meaning of

We all grow tired
We all work jobs
We all serve bosses.

We try to
Save our wins
And lose
Our losses.

We range
And feed.
In our private
We lick
Our painful wounds
And bleed.

We have
No need,
More than this:
To seek
Our bliss,
As though
We were
Not less
Than our


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Only lets light through
If it must;
In blocking light
It trusts—
Into a gray and hazy


A big, almost-springtime thank-you to today’s contributors! Photographer/poet Katy Brown will be co-leading (with Taylor Graham) a workshop this Sunday at the Wakamatsu Farm in Placerville, starting at 10am: “Capturing Wakamatsu: A Poetry Workshop: Observing Spring at Wakamatsu Farm”. Contact to sign up and for carpool info.

Speaking of Spring, Sunday, April 14, is the deadline for the 10th annual “Art Where Wild Things Are” contest in Sacramento for nature-themed works in all visual art media: paintings, drawings, sculpture, fiber art and photography, hosted by Sacramento Fine Arts Center. Works will be judged and then the winners will be exhibited from May 14-June 2 at the Center. After that, all accepted works, winners or not, will be taken to the June 8 Spring Gala and Auction benefit at Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael for sale. Go to and click the “Show Entry” link for info and to enter online.

Poetry in our area this week begins tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Scott Edward Anderson and Alice Pettway, 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, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, facilitated this week by Christin O’Cuddehy, 6-8pm.

Thursday will be busy, starting at noon with Third Thursdays at the Central Library (Sacramento Room); then Ladies of the Knight in Yuba City at Justin’s Kitchen, starting at 6:30pm; Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento, with features and open mic starting at 8pm; and Don Schofield (plus open mic) at Poetry in Davis, John Natsoulas Gallery, also at 8pm.

Saturday at 10am at SPC, Writers on the Air presents The Celtic Hour w/Mary MaGrath, Bob Stanley, Carol Lynn Grellas, Brigid O’Malley, Nick LeForce, harpist Alex ives, plus open mic. Saturday afternoon in Placerville, Poetic License meets at the Placerville Sr. Center lobby, 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.

Can’t get enough of President Trump? Books abound, even poetry books, including:

The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump by Rbt. Sears:
Bigly: Donald Trump in Verse (Make Poetry Great Again) by Rob Long, Ed.:

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!

 —Anonymous Photo

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.