Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Roses and Sun Dust

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


What a surprise to find this room heady with roses—
full of light—full of you, sinuating toward me. And
what a surprise to find myself going toward all this
with my old rhythm, caught again on this drift of

False, says the sun dust, swirling with disturbance
as I approach—as I enter the image of regret.

But you are waiting—wrapped in rose-scent—rose
petals falling all around you, the soft floor rising
with a subtle feel of dizziness. I merge toward you
as if we loved each other; as if there were gifts to
offer and receive; as if you were not only made of light.

And you are fading into the sun dust—only an open
window now, where a frayed curtain flutters with some
movement I misinterpret out of an old sensation. 



What are roses when they wilt—
wilt and die—scented and soft,
as the softest words to say this?

Expensive when alive :
roses for lovers
as token,
as symbol,
perfection without claim—
roses with long green stems,
innocent thorns, warning against touch.

Roses cut from bushes are for sacrifice.
Shrubs cannot hold them against this.
Vases will oblige them—present them.

or by the dozen,
roses will pose for you with their presence—
admire them,
sigh over them,
take their picture
from bud to fullness, to petal-fall,

trash now—
tossed away—given to loss—
leaving a trail of sadness behind them.

 The Day of the Day

THE DEADLY ROSES              

I am not so content with roses now. They crowd
and suffocate. Their petals drop like prayers—
unanswered and obscene. They bruise my carpet
where I pace in all my fury. Love has killed me, so
I kill it back. I tear it into screams. These roses
that you send compress the air. Why send me
roses now! Why offer insult upon pain! Words
cannot be taken back. I scorn your roses—keep
their thorns.



Meager though the tokens are
I hoard them now.

A paper clip will fit them all :

One letter, and one formal card,
one small note from a shop bouquet.

(first pub. in Muse of Fire, 1997)

 Remembering Goodbye


Light—and the power
within light—
lingers past the season.
She flows under time
in her dress of wilting roses.
She will become unreal.
She will not be held by dull formality.
She can feel a tone of weeping. 
She moves away from it.
It follows and waits. Every love
has its sadness, hers is given back now
to the old enmity and need. It is
the music under everything,
far away and merciless.
She finds herself humming
and it makes her throat ache,
and her heart—grief, useless grief—
and the way grief tries to hold her
against life like an accusation.
Why does grief still want her?
Time has slipped beyond her, bringing
her back, through the moment, into the hour—
into the year, and she is back at the beginning.
She picks up the thread of conversation and smiles.

 Aging Beautifully

After Memory, 1937, by Agnes Lawrence Pelton

Let’s take this apart, discover it,
wonder is for wonder :

A pure white vase over-
spills with rose petals, floating off.

The vase gleams from within
with contained light.

A new-born sea erupts from its base,
teeming with new realities.

The white vase becomes white heat
no longer able to contain form.

Was it always meant to spew roses?
Create stars? Why is it familiar?

Memory: white flare, white burst
of energy taking shape,
fragile with illusion . . .

Memory: Needing to find you
in the swarm of thought, even now
able to define me.

Memory: Contrived image now,
talking on its own memory. . .
memories . . . on and on . . . beyond mine. . .


An Inverted Terza Rima

Brush touches canvas. Something knows,  
or seems to know, what must evolve;
the mind envisioning a rose.

The artist knows what will involve          
the vision and selects pure white,
proceeding on this firm resolve.

Brush tries to bring the rose to life,           
turns shape and color to a smear,
turns early effort to a blight.
No brush nor artist can be seer.                     
The rose itself wants to be red.
The finished painting makes it clear:

Surely the canvas is to blame.                   
The white rose, sacrificed, and bled,
gives up its purity. It wanted fame.  

(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)



Rose I am,
here mid the stems and leaves,
the thorns,

the opening buds—
the dying others—
here among the winter roses
in the gathering flow of time.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

Rose, and echoed rose, single-hued
in mirror-facing windows, where
the twilit glass mirrors her rare
garden roses—publicly viewed.

Her Silk Rose now takes all her care.

(first pub. in
Poets’ Forum Magazine, 2008)

Our thanks to Joyce Odam for the heady scent of roses in her poems and photos today! Her “Single Rose in Bud Vase” is a Quintilla: Five 8-syllable lines: ababa  |  ababb | abaab  |  aabab  |  abbab  |  aabba.  (See www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/quintilla-poetic-forms/.) As for her “White Rose, Red Rose”, the Inverted Terza Rima is based on the Terza Rima (popularpoetryforms.blogspot.com/2013/01/terza-rima.html), only it’s rhymed as aba | cac | dcd | ede | fef.

Our new Seed of the Week is Smoke. Write about smoke—lovely or lethal, memory or fear, cigarettes, forest fires, burnt toast—and 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, dreaming of smoke and roses ~

—Painting by Agnes Lawrence Pelton
For more about Agnes Pelton and her work, 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, November 18, 2019

Sweet As . . .

Sugar Skull by Rob-O, Sacramento
—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Anonymous, eponymous
Amorphous, enormous
Unanimous, poly-amorous
You’re gorgeous!


—Joseph Nolan

I’m living,
I’m dying,
I’m loving,
I’m crying!

There is no escape,
From meatloaf
On your plate,
Unless you order chicken,
Or meandering daydreams.

Every animal should know
There is only this moment
And the Universal Soul.

 Chicken w/Pole

—Joseph Nolan

“We like to spray some of this stuff
On the heavy-traffic areas
To loosen up the crusty top-layer,
Before we scrub
With our steam wand;
It’s called ‘footprint-be-gone’.
It’s for the best result.

It’s another fifteen.
You want it?

And this spot-remover
Is good to make sure
Your carpet won’t look
Like a collection of polka-dots
When we are done.

It’s another fifteen.
You want it?

And this deodorizer/freshener
Is so your house
Won’t smell like monkey-breath
For a couple of days
After we are done.

It’s another fifteen.
You want it?

I know it was
Only supposed to be
But you want it to be clean,
And smell good,
Don’t you?”


—Joseph Nolan

We are innocent victims
In the crossfire
Of the wires!

We live in the fires
That come from desires,
For which PG&E
Has no wisdom.

Burning, burning,
All aflame,
In the nescient
Preacher’s name,
Who loves things
All undone!

How we love to see thee
Fighting furtive fires!

Have you any idea
How to string
Fireless wires?

—Joseph Nolan

We dance the dance
Of burning flames,
Thrown into the sun,
Consuming all,
Into the thrall
Of coming all undone.

What can be won?
What matters
If all matters
Will just be
Bells, un-rung?

Sing your song
Into the crackle
Of the roaring flames!

Commit yourself
Unto the blazes
That consume the ages!


—Joseph Nolan

I weary.
I tire.
I fail to inspire.

I set
Hills and towns
On fire
With electrical wires.
I am PG&E.


Run for it!
There’s a fire coming
To a town near you!
There’s only one way out
And it’s plugged up
With burning cars!

Let’s all move to Chico!
We’ll camp out
In the Wal-Mart parking lot
And remember
What we haven’t got

    Unlike other flowers,
    when roses wither away in the Fall
    they leave edible “hips” where the petals dropped off
    in which are contained seeds
    These you can dry and save for planting next year
    or else grind them up to be steeped in hot water for tea
    Also to be used as medicine high in vitamin C,
    rose hips can help treat a “cold” in winter

—Michelle Kunert

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(According to Wikipedia, this is the way he prefers his name to be spelled on his passport.)

An onlyy child
no phoneyy baloneyy
likes to layy in the hayy
on payy dayy
in the merryy month of Mayy
playing with his Sillyy Puttyy
while sipping a Bloodyy Maryy



Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Americans

Broken And Confused

Corned Beef Sandwich

Deeply Mysterious Vortex

Every Rose Is Sweet Affection

Find Better Information

Gladly Party Anytime  


(inspired by “places of annihilation”
from “If the Galaxy Disappeared” by
Joseph Nolan, Medusa’s Kitchen, 10/7/19)

Hitler’s Reich
North Korea’s army
KKK rallies, plus

American citizens are called for jury
service and are presented with Rules
of Court they would never have thought
of on their own

break any of these iron-clad Rules and
face Contempt of Court which can end
up denying that same precious Liberty
and Freedom we cite when saluting the

and so a panel is chosen, all expected
to remain in lock step with those Rules
or be removed and put where no one
will ever find them



Sodom gave us

Gomorrah gave us
“give me more aah”

our answer today is
Sodom & Gomorrah

Put one in your mouth
lick it, suck on it
add flames to kill the sin

enjoy to your
heart’s content
again and again


A fellow in Texas
went to a bar
then drove drunk in his car
to his ex’s

where he pulled out a gun
and shot 8 people dead
who to blame for this dread?
O the stories that were spun

the bartender was accused
of serving him too much
letting him escape her touch
lighting his short fuse

the Creator could be blamed
for giving him life and breath
free will to cause other’s death
the Devil’s plan enflamed

a grand jury declined
to indict the bartender
home free they would send her
but no peace will she find 

 —Photo by Ann Privateer, Davis, CA

Today’s LittleNip:

—Cynthia Linville, Lincoln, CA

The round moon blinks
blooms into a lotus
opening and closing—
dances on the water
shimmering my skin
with soft lashes


Monday thanks to our fine contributors today: saucy (Carl and Joe), seasonal (Ann), sultry (Cynthia) and Seed of the Week (Michelle).

This week’s poetry readings in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Wren Tuatha and Sally Ashton plus open mic, 7:30pm. Thursday begins at noon with Third Thursdays in the Sacramento Room of the Central Library in Sacramento. Bring your favorite poems (by other poets) which express, explore or celebrate gratitude, thanksgiving, appreciation.

Also on Thursday: Poetry in Davis features Katie Peterson and Candice Reffe plus open mic at John Natsoulas Gallery, 8pm.

Sign up for the Poetry Appreciation Class with Marie Taylor this coming Friday at Hart Center on 27th & J Sts. in Sacramento. This session will be about Emily Dickinson, 1pm.

And Saturday is the Poetic License read-around in Placerville at the Sr. Center, 2-4pm. The suggested topic for this month is "mischief”, but other subjects are also welcome. 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.

Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.

A reminder that the deadline for submissions to
The Poeming Pigeon is December 15. This issue is devoted to “pop culture”. See thepoetrybox.com/the-poeming-pigeon for details.

—Medusa (Monday?? Bring it on!)

 May your week be as sweet as… well……
—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.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


—Anonymous Photo

—Ishmael Reed

tonite, thriller was
about an old woman, so vain she
surrounded herself with
        many mirrors

it got so bad that finally she

locked herself indoors & her

whole life became the


one day the villagers broke

into her house, but she was too

swift for them. she disappeared

        into a mirror
each tenant who bought the house
after that, lost a loved one to
       the old woman in the mirror:
       first a little girl
       then a young woman
       then the young woman's husband

the hunger of this poem is legendary

it has taken in many victims

back off from this poem

it has drawn in your feet

back off from this poem

it has drawn in your legs
back off from this poem

it is a greedy mirror
you are into this poem from  
       the waist down
nobody can hear you can they?
this poem has had you up to here
this poem aint got no manners
you cant call out from this poem
relax now & go with this poem

move & roll on to this poem

do not resist this poem

this poem has your eyes

this poem has his head

this poem has his arms

this poem has his fingers

this poem has his fingertips

this poem is the reader & the

reader the poem

statistic: the US bureau of missing persons re-

        ports that in 1968 over 100,000 people
        disappeared leaving no solid clues
        nor trace     only
a space     in the lives of their friends


Two readings in our area today: Sac. Poetry Center presents Anara Guard and Lois Ann Abraham for Prose in the Afternoon, 25th & R Sts., Sac., 4-5:30pm. And Poetry of the Sierra Foothills features Sally Ashton, Wren Tuatha plus open mic at Caffé Santoro in Diamond Springs, 1-3pm. 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 Ishmael Reed, go to his website at ishmaelreed.org, including his bio at ishmaelreed.org/drupal/node/1/.

For a comprehensive list of “Poems on Poems” by Ted Nellen, see www.tnellen.com/cybereng/poetry/.

—Medusa, wandering around inside of the poem ~

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, November 16, 2019

Ten Thousand Mountains

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

The street is lit with the beam of years, 

The swallow and crush of living, 

And the kindest thoughts of solace. 

We are the cherubs in an ancient painting, 

We are the stone gargoyles 

That protect the stone grayness of the buildings. 

Moonlight to dress the city for bed. 

Moonlight to court and seduce 

Those who need to be courted, 

Those who lack seduction. 

The old clock in the tower strikes midnight 

And the gates to the next world open; 

Dreams pour into this world 

And souls pour into the next one. 

Are you coming, my friend? 

This is the hour for which you have waited 

So very long.


It rained hard all day,
And the bucket that I left out
Is full to the top. The moon,
Nearly full herself, shines
Like a gem, reflected across
The surface of the still water.

I dream some mad adventure where reality has no place, and wake to the reality that dreaming only keeps me separated from the present. Only the present is real. All of this with my morning coffee as the new dawn slowly floods the sky and the earth with its perfect and beautiful light.


I can say the names of my ancestors,
I can say the names of their places.
I know their years. All of that is a part of me.
I know this, but I don’t obsess on it.
Their DNA is my DNA. The past is a fog
That you walk through, nothing more.
I cannot know my descendants.
They will come when I have gone.
I can try to improve the world a little for them,
And I can leave them some poems.
Perhaps that way they will know my name
And my place. And my DNA will be their DNA.
There is a pattern to it all. Can you see it?

Ten thousand mountains, and each of them has a heart of its own. Wind and birds for crowns, forest and snow for robes, or rock and cactus. The mountains are the kings of the earth, and the oceans are the queens. And the soil where life grows from seeds? That's the royal offspring. We are family, and family is us, and time is our silent partner as we orbit the sun, again and again.

This is the first night of your solitude.
The window is closed;
You are on one side of the glass,
And the strength and power of night
Is on the other. The darkness cheers you on,
Like cheerleaders at a basketball game.
Someone has passed the ball to you,
And you were not expecting it.
You are moving quickly down-court,
Watched by the eyes of a thousand strangers,
And yet alone.

There's that song from The Wizard Of Oz,

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow;"

That could be a clue. The blessing of life 

Came here from over a rainbow,

Flying through the invisible tunnel

From the universe to my mother's vagina.

There was an orgasmic explosion of life

Empowering my father's sperm. There I was,

Leaping out with with a poem

And a head for nonsense.

Oh life, thank you for the ride.


Today’s LittleNip:

The instructions said to plant the seed in moist soil and then worship whatever grows there. The wind whispered to me as I turned the soil.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to Davis Poet Laureate James Lee Jobe today for singing to us about ten thousand mountains and the whispering wind! Christmas decorations have been up since before Halloween, but Thanksgiving comes before that—and visits us every day, as James Lee reminds us…

—Medusa, celebrating those ten thousand mountains ~

 This is a wonderful photo that appeared on Facebook 
of Davis poets James Lee Jobe, Andy Jones, 
and Sacramento poet Mary Zeppa
Kudos and thanks to Katy Brown, who took it!
Both Andy and Mary will be hosting readings this
Thursday; scroll down in the blue box for info.

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, November 15, 2019

Bluebird of Happenstance

Fire Down Below
—Poems and Visuals by Smith, Cleveland, OH


Gimme that TV I.V.
for vain in vein insane
gimme booze, sex, gambling
highline fashion
low blows
gimme local lobotomy
drill my lobal monstrosities
gimme gone
gimme go
gimme fast cars in red glow
neon no one’s run low
jazz jumped slow
gimme want and went and wan
night in sight of sun
anything to numb
this shit world dumb
to doom due profits sons
in never pure
ever slippin' strip stream whirl
gimme never when
back then
but get me gone
I don't belong
nor do

 Wittgenstein's Chair


a temporary leaf
on a temporary tree
on a temporary earth
sucking sun
from a slightly less temporary star

for a season

this moment
being leaf
waving in breeze
licking light
dancing with wind
bounce of branch
wet of rain

is it not worth death
for such life

 Evening Star


Night runs its westward way
dragging day behind.

Not thought but thrum of ought
tugging at my mind.

It's mostly Garden/Apple mess
with unoriginal sin staining rest.

Snake or Sky Weasel?
Both lessen my legal.

In hard highway heave or Dead Man's Curve
we swerve from lost to learn.

Tomorrow never comes
yesterday never leaves.

I do what I can I do what I can't
but it's mostly in-between.

We are all Sisyphus
the rock we roll within.

I am not now.
I was not when.

Cat in lap reminds it's all a trap
best take pleasure where it's at.

 Happy Yet?


In broken note of wrongful song
heading for sky and empty branches
your little rat dog quivering in my lap
I court bluebird of happenstance
empty highway going my way
though some say road is rotten
and dead cat down the line

so I tighten my wig
knowing known darkness
and darkness not yet known
the dark within
the dark without
dark that sparks revere
and dark that arcs from heart
darkness at the edge of town
darkness all around

but still

is and isn't run the sphere
for farce and fear's new-made here
has inbred threads
rat bound out from always in
the bitter sin
buttered up from battered bin


(late-winter letter to sister Sue who's disowned me twice)

Thousands of icicles hanging from tree branches outside window.
Snow falling from sky.
Electric heat eating up money.
First day without coffee, voluntarily.
Fourth day without grass, voluntarily.
Bad sleep last night.
Life goes on.
Waiting for spring and sun and some money from somewhere somehow.
How you?



Alone in my youth
first-wave baby boomer
younger than adults
older than kids
amusing myself
walked out to train track
in wheat field
and put a penny on the metal
to be flattened

Train came
penny gone

I greased the next penny with lard
thinking it wouldn't stick to the wheel

Train came
Penny gone

So went to barn
drilled hole in penny
tied copper wire through hole
to heavy rock

Train came
penny stayed

But misshapened slug
was graceless

Expected more

 Interstellar Overdrive


Long time lone
leaves room to weed loam
maybe even atone
for the lie

Bellied worm wanting sky
ancient answer ever sly
though I fail I still must try
for the never known

I-am is not is
I-is am not am
not quite human
no clear clan

Here on the Entropy Express



The light fades
but it's still light
the leaves dim and thin
still green
the sky grey and low
today dying so tomorrow may live

 Sorry, Dave, I Can't Do That

Today’s LittleNip:


He's gone, gone
chairs are in
lights are off
coffee man is not around
gone to ground


Four years, forty features! Many, many thanks to Smith (Steven B. Smith) for his monthly sizzling poems and visuals over—wow!—four years, dating from when SnakePal D.R. Wagner returned to his hometown of Cleveland, and then encouraged a Smith/Medusa team-up when he got back. The world of poetry is full of many blessings and the possibility of wonderful friendships, even across the country and across the sea!

The Other Voice in Davis presents Dr. Charles Halsted tonight with his new book,
Excruciating Circumstances, plus open mic, at Unitarian Universalist Church on Patwin Road in Davis, 8pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


It’s time for another contribution from a Form Fiddler. Today we have a tritina from Taylor Graham: 

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

A ghost moves through forest picking up
what trees let fall. She’s in trousers wood-green
and a worn denim shirt—lavender ash—

color of mist on pond, or hearth turned ash.
She moves as breeze to wind that’s picking up
the news: wildfire burning trees once green.

She haunts her autumn woods still living green,
tidying as a ghost can, knowing ash
and need for saving, bending, picking up—

picking up twigs once green, this ghost of ash.


Thanks, Taylor! Each Friday for awhile, there will be a poem posted here from one of you using a form—either one which was mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. If these instructions are vague, it's because they're meant to be. Just fiddle around with some form and get it posted in the Kitchen. 

There’s a link at the top of Medusa’s Kitchen called, “Medusa Mulls/Forms, Etc.” which expresses some of my (take ‘em or leave 'em) opinions about the use of forms in poetry. Anyway, give ‘em a shot! Whaddaya got to lose….? If you send ‘em, I’ll post ‘em.

For more about the tritina form, go to www.baymoon.com/~ariadne/form/tritina.htm/. It’s not as easy as it looks to find new ways to use those same words at the end of lines.

—Medusa, scratching her snakes, trying to find words that rhyme with medusa….  Colusa? redus-a? abus-a??

 Far-Eye Smith
—Photo by Four-Years-Forty-Features Smith!

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, November 14, 2019

The Empty Bowl of Morning

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s a frigid November morning.
No basketball game, not even some kids
shooting hoops. A crow tumbles on air
as if yearning to be pure wings.
Growl of autumn chainsaw
assails from every direction, and muffled
grind of Hwy 50—no official
Interstate, but it’s headed for both coasts.
Someone’s been digging in the garden
thinking spring. Everyone’s going
somewhere else, building, tearing down.
This morning’s an empty bowl.
What shall we make of it?


He’s a pendulum on an orange rope
high above Green Valley Road—
fifty feet above ground
or more—
an orange pendulum swinging
thin air between
upper trunk of a great Valley Oak
and a lesser limb.
A pendulum with a saw
for trimming,
clearing the line. Now
he rappels lower on the tree
as traffic—cars, pickups,
18-wheeler—passes beneath him.
Will he bring
the whole tree down,
this bravo man? A risky job,
safer than wildfire.


Leashes of webbing and leather;
       long-lines braided or woven, frayed
by dogs pulling me over rocks, curbs,
broken branches in the woods.

Collars—all sizes, puppy to old-dog. Purple
for Piper; Cody’s was green, but it’s with her
in the grave, token that we’re still together.

Bumpers for tugging; dumbbells
for teaching retrieve. Whistles and clickers
(a praise-voice is better).

Flat combs and curry combs, brushes imbued
with the scent of four decades of dogs.

Weather-proof pad for field-notes
I won’t read again, they’re all in my mind—
search-missions now history,

like the old dogs long gone who still
find me in dream, running joyous without
bother of collar or leash;
                dogs who will never stay
put in a drawer.


Another safety power outage? Back to the past: in a desk drawer, notes from a blackout years ago—a real blackout, Nature dumped a couple feet of snow on our ridgetop. Snowbound without power or phone, 20 miles from town. Enforced solitude, everything silenced underfoot. How young we were, back then. No pump for the well, no water, no toilet—a cold dash through knee-deep snow before bedtime. Gas oven—pilot won’t light without power. No phone? no one to bother us. No computer? call it a holiday. Time to read, write poems by snow-dim light through the north window. Ski out the ridge, dogs scout the way. After 6 days, a hoarse whistle… refrigerator hum; TV news—the world went about its business without us. Time for a shower.

blank white solitude,
every tree bowing to snow—
but not forever


End of day, my quiet time.
In all the house no TV, radio, computer.
No kitchen light reminding of things undone.
Only, from down the hall, a soft steady glow
of solar-stored sun—my Luci lamp—
with its promise of another dawn.
Through the bedroom window,
a single bright spot across the canyon—
home-security light prying through trees.
And now, the reflective moon,
barely-waxing Beaver Moon gnawing
at the dark, pooling a meditative luster
over the deck outside my window,
lighting me to sleep.

 Can You See Him?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

into my rag-mop—
small frogs find the wettest spot
in this dry landscape.
Mid-November, when might they
make it rain again for frogs?

 Diligent Poets Reading During the Blackout


Greetings from the Western Slope this morning, and thank-you to Taylor Graham for news of the foothills (power all week!) and her local goings-on. Love those frogs! And thanks to TG today for Medusa-mention on www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/. Check it out for what's going on in Western Slope poetry!

Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets today at 11:30am at the Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Ave. in Sacramento. Then tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th St. in Sacramento features Leonard Geminara plus open mic, 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, celebrating the poetry of flight ~

 “A crow tumbles on air as if yearning to be pure wings.”
—Taylor Graham
—Anonymous Drawing

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, November 13, 2019

The Girl With Blue Butterfly Hair

—Poems by Andrew Darlington, Ossett, West Yorkshire, England
—Anonymous Artwork 


questing the air for words,
eyes stalk the hotel lounge
across carpets of faded red concentric circles,
patches of wear in tonsures of thinning hair,
beyond the faintly reflecting glass doors with
their reverse lettering in cuneiform symbols, an
out-of-season promenade is predatory, while a
steel-grey ocean flagellates itself with silent
gull-patrolled waves

I lean forward,
“how to describe a squalid romantic?
the fin-de-siècle of Barnsley reading
Pound’s Cantos in a book-lined room
that smells of stale cooking and sweat,
or then again,
him emerging late afternoon in off-white underwear
from a brass bedstead mountained with a patchwork
of jackets and unmended sheets, him talking of frost
sparking on bottle-tops on a pre-dawn milk-round,
natural bohemian intellectual scratching his beard
with grace—‘poetry is the point of light at the
end of a long dark corridor, there’s nothing else,’
me, upstart prole with hazy pretentions of seizing
and encapsulating all the words I can never speak,
or then again, first meeting,
me drawn by delicate poems on obscure small-press pages,
him working a mustily twilight second-hand bookshop,
sat on a stool with manuscript pages strewn on piles of
trash-paperbacks, untouched by their dog-eared mediocrity,
mentioning Orwell’s Aspidistra that sits in my anorak,
standing back as he irritably sells economic histories, me
wanting desperately to buy a certain garish science fantasy
but feeling intellectually intimidated,
coming away with Ovid in Latin instead…”

I lean back, glass in hand,
beyond the reflecting glass lounge doors
a carrion wind lacerates dead privet,
‘yes, perhaps that’s how it was’

(one by Pris Campbell, and my answer)

scrap metal yard
future archeologists
peer in wonder

future archeologists
peer in wonder
a mountain of ring-pull tabs


(for Bruce Hodder)

sometimes I forget
I'm an old guy,
other times
my body reminds me...


she bleeds from the eyes
in the painting on the hotel wall
a trickle of pigment stain
smears her cheek and neck,
through bleeding eyes she watches
the sketch perfectly aligned
on the opposite wall
of the sleeping girl
with blue butterfly hair,
they watch each other
across the hotel room
where illicit lovers snatch
moments of fleeting paradise,
married one-time lovers
now sleep back-to-back,
lonely travellers jerk-off to
internet porn, drunks throw up,
junkies take pharmaceutical trips,
suicides weep into the night and
the sad Polish maid dreams of Kraków,
she bleeds from the eyes
in the painting on the hotel wall,
watched by the sleeping girl
with blue butterfly hair


Today’s LittleNip:

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.

—Madeleine L’Engle


Welcome to our latest poet from across the pond, Andrew Darlington! He’s had masses of material published in all manner of strange and obscure places, magazines, websites, anthologies and books. He’s also worked as a Stand-Up Poet on the “Alternative Cabaret Circuit”, and has interviewed many people from the worlds of Literature, SF-Fantasy, Art and Rock-Music for a variety of publications (a selection of his favourite interviews were collected into the ‘Headpress’ book,
I Was Elvis Presley’s Bastard Love-Child). His latest poetry collection is Tweak Vision (Alien Buddha Press), while his new fiction collection, A Saucerful Of Secrets, is now available from Parallel Universe Pub. His Scientifiction novel, In The Time Of The Breaking (Alien Buddha Press) was published in January 2019.

And check out Andrew’s website, Eight Miles Higher—The Blogspot for People Who Don’t Like Blogspots. Latest postings include “Tales Of Wonder: the fully detailed story of Britain’s First-Ever SF magazine, The Walking Dead: The First Nine Seasons.” See andrewdarlington.blogspot.com for monthly updates.

Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen today, Andrew, and don’t be a stranger!

Tonight at 5pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves poetry read-around meets in Placerville at the El Dorado County Library on Fair Lane. 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, dreaming of blue butterflies in her hair, instead of these darned snakes ~

Andy Stoned
Andrew Darlington

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, November 12, 2019

Looking Through Time

Mysterious Perhaps
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA


Things my mother saved: sunflower doilies
with bright red centers, sooty-white pillowcases
embroidered with blue thread.

Clay dolls with broken fingers.
Her old lullaby—words in a gibber.
Her standard recipes for love, fragile with use.

Books in a foreign language.
The moody window she stared out of—
taken down and wrapped in old newspaper.

Letters she never opened. An envelope full of
hair. A plastic box of unpainted fingernails.
A tiny black emery board, worn down.

Maps of where we’d been,
the little towns circled in pencil—then erased.
I don’t remember any of them.

The year she left me when I died three times
before she came to get me—the toys I left
all gathered back, like explanations.

The years between
this one and the year when I was born—
the first and last coincidence. 

 The Cachet


It was the looking through time
        through the eyes of

the old tree watching me . . .
        it was the birds in the tree

with all their sweet ferocity
        singing down to me . . .

and the old tree whispered
        and flickered its leaves,

and a thin breeze sang through,
        carrying thinner memories . . .

and the day let its light go soft
        and I felt myself lift

into the sound
        and the way things moved,

yet stayed where they were . . .
        and I was asleep as a child.



I reel
to your presence.

You are a long sorrow
lengthening even as I
mention this.

You are spreading
over my entirety.
I am helpless under your

You have such a wide
cold and forever.

How come I nuzzle
against you and weep
like a lost child
to a lost mother?

(first pub. in HALJ [Haight Ashbury Literary Journal], 1992)

 Time Lingers


We talk of shadow-stuff in the quiet where it is blue,
and where you use words I know, and I use words
back to you; and we are shadow-stuff in the use of
words and what they mean, as is love, always in sil-
houette, back to the light, using words, expression
lost in the shadow that love holds for everyone—oh,
I know shadow-stuff is all we have of life and love—
don’t argue this—I know it’s true, some words more
so than others—let us begin our conversation.


After “Meditation in the Gutter” by Charles Simic

Another lapse of understanding. Guitar from gutter. Such a
leap for the mind to play with. Connect or sever. 

Throw in some moonlight, easy to obtain. Add “things” to
emphasize distance—from where to where of this far-fetched

For this, the guitar is but a symbol for its music, irrelevant,
a faint shape and texture—brought to a surface unprepared.

The gutter is a word, thrust in the way. Of what value—out
of context? Now use it here: a quick misspelling to the eye.

And now—this need—overriding the absent flute music. 
Simic’s black cat—mysterious—listening—hearing what
is there.

 Dark as the Question


It was winter with its lack of leaves on stark trees. And
the hurrying of cold things at the corner of the heart. And
the length of gray that became monotonous. And no win-
dow was enough for hope with its frail wing made of frost
or the bleak eye of following. It was a postcard with its
angel stamp and its illegible message, and the mailman
who read it and wept to know so much about himself. And
the cold gray music that followed the girl of winter around
so she would know she was not forgotten, but adored. And
every mirror wept to know her. And in each one, her face
was smitten. And she never returned to them—for that is
the rest—yes, that is the rest of this small story.

 Depth of Finding


1. It was only the slow sleep into the waft of surrender,
the fluttering curtain at the doorway, pulled for quiet,
the way the light remembers here, to lie quietly against
the floor where a prone figure, in one of its spells, faces
the rigidity of anguish.

2. A soft singing emanates from somewhere and thins
into some listener’s reluctance to believe such sounds
can be bestowed—perhaps the guilt of reverie, or the
way some hand is muffled over a mouth.

3. It was always so—this used tableau, soliloquy and
melodrama, written for someone to say into an admir-
ing talent for such things. Note how subtle becomes
the turn of telling, how now the very existence of light
is challenged by the fall of a heavy curtain upon which
a marvelous scene is playing between acts.

4. And elsewhere—oh, elsewhere, the dissolving begins.
The bit of light is swept away and its gold dust rises into
the folds of the curtain. A great hollowing absorbs the
last echo and the sweet voices are no more. The listener
must now remember all it can of this, because it’s over
and the storyteller has fallen asleep in the chair, and some-
times this is the way some stories end.

 The Secret of the Rose

Things that love the light,
then fall—
a long dark fall
what is not there:
the silky wish,
the sad path of flowers,
the last golden bee
with no explanation for its falling.

There is a plateau of light
where everything goes—
goes in a quiet surrender
to have its future told.

A lady with a turban
sits staring
into the sun
she keeps
in a dusty globe
she fills with truth—
what she says,
you must believe.
Do not believe her.

Silhouettes crowd the wall
at night where windows
flare with light.
There is nothing outside:
only the non-sound,
the possessive feel of eyes,
the dispossession of the shadow.

(first pub in The Ophidian, 11-10-10)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

clock faces
tips of blue flame on the stove burner
your face when I tell you the news


A big thank-you to Joyce Odam for today’s poems and photos, as she writes about old desk drawers  (our SOW) and memories and stories to keep us warm on coming winter nights. Our new Seed of the Week is The Last Rose. 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.

It’s probably not too late to register for Cal Lawyers for the Arts’ presentation tonight, Best Practices for an ARTREPRENEUR, 6:30-8pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, thinking about the secrets of the rose ~

 For Charles Simic’s poem, “Meditation in the Gutter”, 

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.