Friday, November 01, 2019

Flawed, Yet Fabulous!

Six Sunflowers (1888)
—Painting by Vincent van Gogh
—Poems by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA


It is written that van Gogh
in a frenzy to paint
ate paint in his food

turpentine tainted soup
potatoes and linseed oil
verde corn, ochred artichokes
peaches and oranges
tainted blue

those sunflowers!

Blackbirds bathe in dust
on a country road.
When we drive closer
flexing wings, they fly off
frenetic shadows
doubling the flock.

During van Gogh's final work—
a wheat field, a sky dark
with blackbirds, Vincent shot
himself, fell to the earth.
Sunflowers near his easel
bowed their heads.

 Detail, Sunflowers
—Painting by Vincent van Gogh (1888)


I never tried the scent
an early lover gave me—
too shaken by our breakup.

thirty years later, I under- and
overspray this fragrance
christened "Beautiful,"
wondering if it underwent
some odd chemical change.

Yet,  just like love,
the liquid remains
clear and golden.
I spray!

—Anonymous Photo

(a poem of the ‘70s)

I wrestle my demons
not over liquid laced with lies
but on long walks in fresh air.
Climbing hills relaxes,
loosens shoulders, enlivens legs,
stirs the blood into honesty.

Resting on a hilltop
I weigh mercurial moods,
blurted words that hurt,
jaggedy contours of courage,
"pigeon holes" used unfairly,
I review my part in rough encounters,
check my lagging, then vaunted, vanity;
wonder who could love me
and do I even love myself?

Walking far and far I arrive
at an aspen grove, stretch out
among pale trunks,
charcoal scars,
tremulous leaves.
Fallen angels encircle me
like auras of autumnal sun.

They pull off my boots,
wash my feet, offer wine.
They welcome me as a vital member
of the tribe, one of the quadrillion
flawed, yet fabulous!



The moon flowers
into full bloom.
We cradle hands
for mystical light.
We have waited years
for such a night.

splendor slips
into cupped hands
like a prayer
we were born to



The stars stand still
as the full moon awaits the
shadow mask which physicists
and astronomers predict
to the very night,
hours and minute!

All I recall of Astronomy is
exotic names of stars and
constellations: Betelgeuse,
Cassiopea, Aldebaran, Ursa
Major, the dippers—not that there's 
water to dip into, and super novas,
rings, black holes. pulsars,
comets, quasars, men clunking
on the gray surface,
collecting specimens.

During the total eclipse
my sheltie curled on the couch
curls tighter, as if to fully
experience her own
phenomenal night sky.



What a grand adventure, when
we set oars aside, glide
downstream on a slower tide.
Suddenly, white water and rocks!
We ride the turbulence,
somehow survive...

We teach the River's ways
to our young, then
stand by for rescue.

And we tell them
that in calm wide stretches
lush islands appear,
that at night on the River
the moon
whispers to stars.


Today’s LittleNip:
—Claire J. Baker

We see
for a moment
aspen leaves quivering
from soft landings of delicate
moon flakes.


Thank you, Claire Baker, for your fine poems today, speaking to us of sunflowers and moon flakes! For more about the photo of the last van Gogh painting at the top of the page, see And thanks also to Katy Brown for her day-after-Halloween photo!

Tonight at 7pm, Writer’s and Poet’s Cafe features Jeanine Stevens, Ed Cole, Donna Fado-Ivery, Marilyn Reynolds, Linda Jackson-Collins plus open mic at St. Mark’s Methodist Church out by Country Club Plaza in the north area of Sacramento. 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. 


We used to have a weekly feature called “Fiddling With Forms” which, over time, fell out the Kitchen door. But there is still 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. (By the way, there is some information about haiku vs. senryu on there that I wish people would pay attention to.)

Anyway, from now on for awhile, there will be a poem posted here from one of you that uses a form, either one which was mentioned on Medusa during the previous week, such as this Oriental Octet which was used by Joyce Odam this past Monday, or whatever else floats through the Kitchen and the perpetually stoned mind of Medusa. Give ‘em a shot! Whaddaya got to lose….? If you send ‘em, I’ll post ‘em.*

*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.

More about the Oriental Octet may be seen at And as to Claire’s Cinquain today, there are many websites describing the Cinquain form. Here’s one of them:

This is Carl Schwartz’s response to Joyce’s Octet:

(An Oriental Octet)
 —Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Tanglewood forest
unrhymed clothes lines, unbrined limes
its mirror holds the
world’s record for bark wrinkles

a fallen tree still looks tall
to height-challenged men
who dig for gold because real
daylight frightens them 


Bravo, Caschwa! And thanks!

—Medusa, still dreaming about those moon flakes ~

 Forgotten Old Jacks
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

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.